Getting started on Digital Modes
After selling an interface, I quite often receive a call of help
from the buyer. This call usually comes due to the fact that
the buyer has never used digi modes before, and is either
struggling to set up the interface or understand digi mode software.
Believe me I have spent what seems like hundreds of hours
either on the telephone or Skype trying to sort people out. I
can no longer afford to use my time in this way but I am,
however, aware that what appears to be a simple job to me,
can be and is a minefield of problems to others.
Therefore I have created this generalised help document in
an effort to try and help ease the complete novice into getting started.
First Things First
In life, in work, in play I always say “keep things simple”,
don’t run before you can walk, Digi Modes is a key area
where, if you are not careful, you can tie yourself up in knots.
So your number one thoughts should be towards which digi
mode software shall I use.... in my experience most people
choose Ham Radio Deluxe!! Whilst HRD is an excellent
option it is not the easiest to set up and use (my opinion), so
for the complete novice this is not the way to go but you can
move onto HRD within a short time once you have gained experience.
FLDIGI is my choice of software; for me it’s almost the same
as HRD, however I personally find it easier to setup. Please
refer to my help file: “setting up FLDIGI”. FLDIGI is 100%
free, this is something us radio amateurs like, don’t we?
“the good the bad and the ugly”
Your next thoughts should be concerning “how to connect
things up”. You will need to connect your radio to the
computer. I have known a lot of people who simply obtain a
length of screened cable, solder connectors to it and connect
the radio to the computer. When I first started I did the
same, however this is not good practise.
When you directly couple two dissimilar pieces of electrical
equipment together you are creating a bridge, and this
bridge will enable the good, the bad and the ugly to cross
back and forth to each other.
What this means is that “the good” are your digi mode
'OK' I hear you say, ' yes that is what I want'. BUT you are
also inviting the bad and the ugly to do the same, the bad in
this case are stray volts and there could be loads of them. If
these travel along your bridge they will get into your radio
mike circuits and this could lead to severely damaging an
expensive radio. Then we need to look at the ugly, these are
ground loops. If you like this can be heard as a low level hum
on your TX AND RX audio, this we do not want.