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AD7UF's 1st Digital QSO

posted Jan 10, 2011, 9:02 AM by Charles Boling   [ updated Jan 10, 2011, 10:06 AM ]
Saturday was my first official contact using a digital mode.  I've done quite a bit of listening, even typed a time or two, but this was the first time someone acknowledged me and we had a complete conversation.  Thanks to Zale, KC7FYD, who started a little digital net down on the 80m band Saturday mornings for us to play with different modes.  This week we tried DominoEX and Olivia MFSK modes.

Some of you are old hats at digital.  For example, Terry, KB7IFR, is active in MARS on several modes.  Others have no interest at all in digital, perhaps because they don't have a computer, don't like sitting down (though you can operate digital on the run using an HT!) -- or maybe they have mistaken notions about digital modes.  Maybe they think you have to have a lot of fancy equipment to do it.   You don't.  If you already have a radio and a computer of some sort, you're set! 
See that picture?  The headphones just happen to have a microphone on them attached to my computer, so I tossed it under my radio to pick up the sound.  The little speaker is also hooked up to the computer, so I propped it up on top, conveniently close to my radio mic.

Here's another one from a couple of years ago, showing my first packet receiver.  Yup, same headset.  Click on the picture, and you'll see that my current call sign was still fresh.

(Sorry if the placement of the pictures is wacky in your browser; that's what happens when you don't take time to lay out your page using tables.  If it bothers you, try adjusting your window width and see if that helps.)

Here's a quick screen shot showing some conversations that I ran across.  Yes, it's simultaneously decoding multiple conversations!  There are 3 that are legible, and if I had taken a bit more care in my interface (seriously, the headset was just tossed down there, with no adjusting of volume or anything) I should've been able to easily decode half a dozen more, as you can see by the waterfall display.

Here's another showing Clark County river level data being received over 2m packet.

What I want to get across is that you don't necessarily have to be an electronics wizard, spend lots of money or put a lot of effort into an interface for digital communications.  As with most things, it doesn't hurt to be brilliant, wealthy, and hard-working; but the rest of us can still have fun, and learn new things that have real-world value.  I plan to revisit this theme in the future here, and on the air.

What about you?  Do you have a digital story to share?