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Stenigot Radio
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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 Interface

“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

signals - these will pass to and from the radio and computer.

'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.