Wide boys

What’s the point of PSK125? I just finished a session running PSK31 on 15m (which was really lively, by the way) when I thought I’d just check 10m to see if anything was going on up there. I soon found that there wasn’t much. The waterfall was devoid of traces, apart from a weak, wide, nebulous trace which proved to be PSK125.  PY2DN was calling CQ, but try as I might he couldn’t decode me.

It appeared that he was making some QSOs, presumably with people enjoying better 10m propagation than I had. PY2DN’s signal was far from perfect copy. Most times he transmitted I received mostly garbage. But I’m sure there was enough energy in the transmission to produce solid copy had he been using PSK31.

I guess the point of PSK125 is speed. PY2DN’s CQ and my reply both lasted about two seconds. But what’s the hurry? Not only can I not type that fast, I can’t even click macro buttons that fast. So the time saved is for nothing. I accept there is a role for PSK63 in contests, when speed matters, but only when signals are strong enough to provide good copy. PSK125 is a step too far. It spreads the energy too thinly.

I’ve tried loads of new digital modes but I keep on coming back to good old PSK31. I find it more satisfying in the long run. There’s tons of activity from heaps of different locations. You can often find a PSK31 signal when the CW and SSB band segments are dead. PSK31 is a real QSO mode where you can actually converse with somebody and exchange information with them. And you don’t need to run a kilowatt to a huge tribander to be successful. I was calling CQ on 15m with 40w to my attic dipole and I felt like a big gun: I was getting replies, including DX replies, to every other call.

I think PSK31 has earned its place alongside CW and SSB as one of the staple modes of amateur radio. Other modes are just for temporary amusement.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Wide boys”

  • KK4ITN:

    Hey stupid me,help me understand psk31-psk125-and psk what ever. Yea I passed the General ARRL/FCC exam. Pretty good at cw, but what is psk? Is it like a code reader,and you use your keyboard as a keyer? Or is it like the old teletype where instead of a mechanicial device you use a computer to decode?

  • Steve KB6HOH:


    PSK31 is a form of Radio Teletype (RTTY) but it a very Narrow Bandwidth which makes it very popular and very efficient in terms of Band usage. PSk31 is very popular for QSO’s BUT! it does suffer the same fate when it comes to QRM and Noise but. There are many different modes when it comes to Digital that do a better job of decoding signals even under very poor conditions like Olivia, Contestia and so forth. Please checkout http://www.w1hkj.com for a program called FLdigi. Far superior to some of the other Sound Card programs out there and a lot more user friendly and easy to setup. In fact at this stage of the game you don’t even need a Hardware Interface to operate the sound Card Modes. Simply using the PC’s internal Sound Card and a Microphone, you simply place the Mic next to the speaker on the Radio and tune to a Signal. popular Bands are 20m (14.070mhz) 40m (7.035mhz) and many others. If you have any questions drop me a line. Will more than glad to answer any questions you may have.

    73 de Steve ([email protected])

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