First Digital-Mode QSO!

Tonight I made my first digital-mode contact! Using PSK-31, I worked special event station VE3FRST (“UN International Year of Forests”) on 40 meters. Michael, VE3NOO, kindly emailed me this screenshot of the moment:

A few things had me fumbling around, but over the next few contacts I started to get the hang of it. After VE3FRST I went on to work another station in Ontario, one in Alabama, and one in France with PSK-31 before retreating to my key and working Costa Rica with CW.

I highly recommend the DigiMaster PRO PLUS! It comes with a USB soundcard and was very easy to hook up and get going with Ham Radio Deluxe/Digital Master 780. It performs both as a CAT interface and as a data interface, and works great.

I learned the hard way that not all CAT cables are worth buying. Buy cheap, and you’ll buy twice like I did. My first one was a cheap cable from “affordableradio” on ebay. It uses the Prolific chipset for the serial-to-USB interface. Stay away from Prolific! The only thing prolific about it was the prolific number of spontaneous disconnections and “Blue Screen of Death” crashes. I tried everything — every driver I could get my hands on, I/O buffer adjustments, etc. but it was junk. I couldn’t bring myself to sell it to another ham, so I returned it. No refund yet, but here’s hoping.

Todd Mitchell, NØIP, is a regular contributor to and writes from Minnesota, USA. He can be contacted at [email protected].

4 Responses to “First Digital-Mode QSO!”

  • Ernest Gregoire, AA1IK:

    That Digital Master Pro + looks like a really nice unit, especially for the price. A unit that does the same thing from other MFG’s cost nearly $400. I downloaded the PDF manual to check it out.

    Tnx for the tip.

    73 de AA1IK

    Ernest Gregoire

  • Todd Mitchell, NØIP:

    You’re right, Ernie. It has received some good reviews over at After my difficult experience with the first cable, I sure enjoyed the plug-and-play ease of this unit.

    Your brother,


  • Charlie wx4cb:

    congrats todd… i’ve worked ve3noo loads of times and always have a great sig from him..

    hope to work you on the band some time

  • William AE5CP:

    VE3FRST was my first ever HF contact. They were also technically my first PSK-63, and my first ever Digital contact. I guess getting a special event station as the first ever contact is pretty lucky. I was running 10 watts into a homebrew wire dipole strung up around the cieling of the shack, and I don’t quite have a radio/soundcard interface so I was getting audio to the rig by keying up the microphone in front of my computer speaker. I was amazed that it worked, and I worked a station 1000 miles away from my QTH on less power than it takes to run the speakers that are hooked up to my computer!

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: