Shifting the focus…….

There has been a big change here since our move with regards to ham radio.   Antenna challenges, finding a spot for the radio, having the setup "eye friendly" to non hams who visit.  The antenna challenge seems to be solved with the MFJ 1788 loop antenna. There are still some hick ups with it, for example not being able to tune 20m below a 9.1 to 1 SWR. I have spoken with MFJ and they have given me some great ideas to try with the loop. (more on that as I venture into the loop's insides) The setup was solved with a great roll top desk all is hidden away and protected with a very fashionable piece of furniture. Now it's time to look at expanding my radio operations beyond CW but still very much not forgetting about CW it will still be a large part of my operating. CW is perfect for low power and simple antenna operating. BUT also with my new antenna it has a narrow bandwidth and needs to be returned as you move up or down the band. With practice the loop can be retuned very fast. I was wanting now to add a mode that would favour the loops narrow band width. The digital world came to mind.
The last time I was in digi land PSK31 was the ground breaking mode and I have come to understand by many of the blogs I read there are some new modes in town!! PSK is still around but it too has changed. There is also now SIM31 and 63,  JT65, Olivia and the list goes on, I have been out of digital for some time now and am not sure what all is out there. What I am looking for is something that uses a narrow bandwidth, (most digi modes do) only requiring low power, would be great to have a "conversation mode" and not signal reports and goodbye and not a mode that takes forever for exchanges as I have heard about some digi modes. Having said all that one thing I can remember about the digi modes is they can be lot of "fun" to setup with your rig and PC! BUT that is all part of the fun I guess. So you digi fans out there help me out with some suggestions as to an HF low power narrow bandwidth digi mode I can scramble my brains with. Oh and if it helps the bands I have available are 10-40m and the rigs I have are the Elecraft K3  and KX3.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Shifting the focus…….”

  • Please do Olivia. It is the only digital mode worth using if you want to have some real conversations. PSK31 has become a 599 exchange mostly and JT65A is sooooo booooring. I worked the east coast of the US regularly in Olivia with as little as 12 Watts. You might want to check into some extra cooling for your KX3, though, since it can’t handle long overs due to the overheating of the finals. Love to work you in Olivia one day.

  • Harry K&ZOV:

    My MFJ-1786 was purchased used for one task .. Digital… As a digital antenna it is nothing short of great…No retuning (or very little if it drifts because of temperature). As a run around the band antenna and constant retuning, it would be my last choice. Have fun with digital. A lot going on and not every PSK31 is a exchange. I am running about 50/50 for hit and run guys and rag chewers, and the rag chewers seem to be growing in numbers.

    Harry K7ZOV

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Hans, I have heard of Olivia but have to do some reading about it. I will only be using 5 watts max with Olivia and I hope that is ok considering you were referring to using 12 watts? Thanks for the input.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Harry, some time ago I was operating PSK31 and did enjoy it. I am going to give most of the digi modes that only require QRP power. It seems to me that the 1788 will suit digi just fine.

  • BX2ABT:

    Hello Mike, I need some power because I am in Asia, but in NA there is plenty of activity in Olivia. Check out the HamSpots website, they have specialized sections for digimode spots where you can get a feel about where and when there is activity in NA. Even with 5W you can get a 100% signal over a distance enough to cover NA. I often work stations from Australia under bad conditions with signal/noise ratio as low as -10dB and I still get 100% print.

    And with Fldigi you can do a ton of modes like Olivia. I recently had my first Thor QSO, although I didn’t find it as robust as Olivia. Contestia is an Olivia sibling, faster, but also a bit less robust.

    And….don’t forget to check out FeldHell. Not pure digital, but a lot of fun and very friendly on your transmitter finals. I wish there was some FH activity here in Asia, but unfortunately they don’t seem to know this mode. Have fun.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hans thanks for taking the time to pass along some great info and it sure does look like the digi modes is an option for me. I also would like to hit some DX as well with the digi modes as well. I will look into what you said and hope to see on the waterfall…..or what ever they call it now.

  • Fred VE7FMN:

    For your information, I manufacture a replacement heatsink for the KX3 made expressly for the digital mode gang, and will ship worldwide from Canada. You may contact me directly for further information. Cheers, Fred, fsmeier(at)telus(dot)net

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