Your Invitation to Join the Amateur Radio Digital Revolution!
Copyright © 2000-2012 Ken Crowston VE5KC
|Things are moving so very rapidly these days and Amateur Radio has
not been left out when it comes to this. If you are not actively using internet, you may
not be aware of the advances that have been taking place in both the digital modes and
digital application software. Best of all much of the software is available free. Like the
sound of that, the favorite Ham word when it comes to getting stuff "FREE"!
What is even better is that to use these new modes will cost you very little! You dont have to rush out and buy an Multi-mode TNC to use this free software. If you have a computer with a SoundBlaster compatible soundcard you can get on the air. A low end Pentium is preferred but there are some programs that will work on faster 486 machines. The interfacing to your radio is also very simple and cheap! A simple overview, speaker audio from you rig goes to the soundcard input, audio out from the sound card goes to the microphone input of your rig. Using VOX this can have you up and running in several modes. PTT control is a more preferred way to operate and will require a connection from a serial port on your computer to the rig. This will get you on the air. RTTY the old standby can be a good starting mode. One of the best RTTY )soundcard) programs to ever be written is MMTTY, see the lik\nk below. Have you heard guys talking about the "DSP audio filter" connected to their rig? We can do that too with your computer! How about test equipment? Read on to learn about the possibilities that await you and your computer.
Lets first start with the digital modes. Most hams have heard of RTTY and Packet. Amtor and Pactor are also more commonly known and some may have heard of a new mode called PSK which was written about in QST.. There are newer commercial mode such as Clover I & II and PactorII that we will leave out of the discussion because they cost money. hi.. We can now add a whole new list of mode to those we already have and many you may not have hear of before. All of the following mode can work with only a computer and soundcard.
ALE Automatic Link Establishment Protocol.
Now if that is not enough to get you trying new things with your computer or you are happy using SSB or CW, how about adding a DSP filter to your station only using a computer with a soundcard. All you have to do is feed the audio from you rig into the soundcard, load the program and get adjusting filters. No need to pay hundreds of dollars for a dedicated DSP when you already have what you need. Another use for your computer, especially for contesters, is as a memory keyer for CW or a DVR (digital voice recorder) for SSB. There are just so many used for a computer in the ham shack.
Still need more uses for your computer? Ever wished you had some fancy test equipment? Here again there are lots of things you can do with a computer and a soundcard. A few examples I have found, oscilloscope, audio generator, spectrum analyzer, radio propagation simulator, and frequency counter to name a few. To round out the collection you can add DTMF decoders, DTMF generators, FM transmitter signal print identifiers and much more. It is all waiting for you on the internet.
Where do I find this software? Here are some links to get you started. If you dont have internet, maybe now is the time, other wise check with a friend or your local library.
WM2U has great site for information - http://www.qsl.net/wm2u/interface.html
Have fun and enjoy Amateur Radio! We need more fun and less politics!
73 . . . Ken VE5KC
The Amateur Radio Link - http://www.amateur-radio.ca