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Digital Modes for Field Day

Greg Dean (N9NWO) on April 6, 2009
View comments about this article!

One of the aspects of Field Day is that CW and digital modes will give 2X points over voice. In that most of my CW operators tend to work the shift, I am planning to use digital modes over night in order to gain more points.

My question for those of you who are more experienced is what digital modes tend to be used on Field Day?

We have tried PSK31 in the past but often there are those out there that run too much power making this mode difficult, at best. I am not sure of RTTY being used. Thus I am open to suggestions.

Thanks
N9NWO

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Digital Modes for Field Day  
by N5XTR on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I am going to run cw, psk31 and psk63.
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by VK2FRO on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
For John Moyle I was going to run purely PSK31 and RTTY, but my interface (home built) did not survive the trip. Needless to say once fixed the loan laptop was such an RF hash generator it wasnt worth it, and I operated phone.

Next contest I will be taking my Dell, which I know is a quiet (noise and RF wise) lappy.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by K5LXP on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Depends if you're doing digital modes for fun or points. If you are in it just for fun, you can work any mode you encounter with a basic soundcard setup, software package and a transceiver. You don't have to pick one in advance or stick to any one mode. Tune something in, click the mouse and you're decoding it, whatever it is. If you have any aspirations of making points, you're definitely better off working SSB or CW, no matter how good or bad you are at it. Making Q's with *any* digital mode during Field Day is slow and tedious. Especially when the bands slow down at night you may only find a few stations running digital modes. Once you've worked them, you'll have nothing else to do until someone new shows up. The only time I bother with it is to pass traffic for the bonus points and to copy the W1AW bulletin. After that, it's back to CW and checking the higher bands for openings once in a while.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by K0BG on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Some folks think Field Day is one form of emergency preparedness. Some feel it is fun and games. Some view it strictly as a contest! Others feel it is the camaraderie, and a few say it's for the food. Well, guys, it's all of these!

Obviously, it depends on your point of view what's the best approach. It can be an orange vest, a bigger beer gut, or anything in between. Just make out of it what you will.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by G8UBJ on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Both RTTY and PSK31 are fine and you won't have a problem with people running QRO if you use a rig with good IF DSP filtering or a narrow crystal filter. Using SSB filters seems like a good idea so you can see everyone on your watefall at once but you're asking for AGC trouble.
These are all narrow band modes so ask yourself - Would you expect to run CW with an SSB filter on field day?

BTW try MMVARI if you want superior PSK31 performance.

73 Rex - G8UBJ
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KB2FCV on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The digital modes I've heard the most on Field Day is RTTY and PSK-31. I do pop on a bit when I need a break from CW.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by K5DVW on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
RTTY is always popular in contests. The nice thing about RTTY is you can run high power and dont have to worry about splattering the band like you would on PSK-31. Contacts are short and easy, which means you can make many of them.

With PSK31 you run the risk of some LID sending you a horrendously long and canned station file as many seem to do on that mode.

Have fun!
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by TIMEWILLTELL on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I think that it is good that we are using the new and modern modes of this hobby.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KG4TKC on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I have very little experience at digital modes at Field Day,but I would guess that RTTY would be a good choice. I have to agree 100% with K0BG about Field Day being a lot of things rolled into one. The most important thing is to have fun and make it fun. At Field Day a few years ago one op was using his laptop and making some SSTV contacts. They were trading pictures of their Field Day setup and crowd. It was fun to see. This was after dark when things had slowed down a bit.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KF4KQI on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I ran a lot of digital last year during field day, and I remember at the start of it that the 20m psk window was pretty much trashed with lids running wide with over driven signals.

I moved up the band and worked bunch of RTTY, then moved on to forty and was able to pull out plenty of clean psk31 until it got to the point we worked "everyone"...

I think I also worked a bunch of PSK31 on 80meters, but I can't remember..

I prefer to work RTTY for short contacts, but PSK31 can work too if you work on keeping the macros short and clean.
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by W5RB on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Ummm...how is this an "article"?
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by N0FPE on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
i will be running FeldHell, Olivia, Throb, Thor, MFSK and any other mode I hear or feel like trying out. WAY WAY WAY too many folks are stuck on PSK31. heck i might even run some ASCII, MT63, or other wild and crazy modes. its all abt having fun to me.

Dan
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KE4DRN on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
hi,

W4DW, our 7A NC club station will be running
both psk31 and rtty for 2009.

we've been running psk31 and rtty for the past
five years, that is what got me hooked on the
digital modes.

we used Toshiba or IBM thinkpads, no problems with
these laptops. I run the digital laptop on the left of the table,
an external 19" lcd in the middle for the logger to watch and the
log laptop with N3FJP field day program on the right side of the table,
interface is the Signalink SL1+.

We run a full sine wave ups so we can keep going while
the genset cools off for refueling.

73 james
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by G0GQK on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Why is it that there are always people who have to use excessive power and spoil operating for other users ? There is no need to use more than 30 watts, if you can't get an answer calling with 30 watts, you won't get an answer using a 100 watts either. Some of you may be unaware that when PSK was first designed it was as a low power, narrow frequency mode, using 10 WATTS !

Some are now using a 100 watts of PSK into a 3 el yagi at 60 ft. Perhaps you do have a signal as clean as a whistle, but excessive power "blacks out" the waterfall and will spoil many other QSO's, so what sensible reason would give for doing this ? PSK 31 is world wide the most popular digital mode, followed by RTTY.

G0GQK
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by W9FXC on April 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
As long as the person is putting out a clean signal, he isn't running too much power. It is a problem with the receive side. When a station comes up that blanks my waterfall, I just switch to a narrower filter or use the notch filter. As someone else stated, you would have the same problem if you were operating any really narrow mode (like CW) with a filter that is too wide (like SSB).

If another ham lives a block away from you and blanks your waterfall when running only 10 watts, do you expect him to never work DX because you can receive his signal really well? Just use your receiver's features to tune around him! A signal that is blanking your waterfall may be barely readable to me. As long as his signal isn't splattering, we can use our skills to work around it, since using a receiver is just as important a skill as using a transmitter.
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by OLLIEOXEN27 on April 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Contest are stupid. Do you jump off a bridge because everybody else is jumping off a bridge? Where is your independence and individuality?
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KG4RRN on April 7, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yes,DS, we all run off a cliff --if and when we want to !
I operated D-STAR, in addition to the HF, 6 meters, 2 meters and 440 last year and it was a blast.
I hate laptop modes, but understand why they are there, for the CIA guys to talk on.(hint hint)
Evidently the two non-ham callsign comments need to understand the hobby a little better, it was show and tell for me as well as: heat exhaustion, rain, and finally seperating antenna wire and coax at Midnight, sounds like fun, then you too can do it.
Hope you both become licensed soon, the sky is the limit,and who knows onw day you too can call the ISS, using 5 watts into a dummy load !
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KB2FCV on April 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>Contest are stupid. Do you jump off a bridge because
>everybody else is jumping off a bridge? Where is your
>independence and individuality?

Lol Fiend Day is awesome. You don't know what you're missing. Barbecue, friends, radio, outdoors.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by NI0C on April 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Fiend Day is awesome"

Freudian slip?
 
Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KK9H on April 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I think RTTY would be the Field Day digital mode of choice. With programs like WriteLog with the MMTTY add-on you have a complete digital logging package that is suitable for a Field Day style of operating. There just need to be enough stations running RTTY to make the effort worth while. PSK31, while lots of fun and quite popular, seems to be awfully slow for use in a contest operation. The offset to this would be if there were a huge number of stations to work. The number of stations using a particular mode would be the ultimate determining factor for me.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by 5R8GQ on April 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The Field Day digital mode of choice is the one that you WANT it to be. The one that YOU have the mosy FUN with.

I SO wish that the "Contest" aspect of Field Day were removed. So instead of hearing people "run" stations I can chat with them about their setup, where they are, Equipments, Antennas WX, probs, funny story, etc.

I think PSK is great for Field Day because of low Power requirements for DX contacts. Take an auto battery to the park and find a tree and make a 20m wire vertical with some radials.....now we're having sum fun!
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KI9A on April 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Contest are stupid. Do you jump off a bridge because everybody else is jumping off a bridge? Where is your independence and individuality?"

At least have the courage to use a callsign. You can do it, it won't hurt.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KI9A on April 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
If you are looking for most points, stick with CW, or SSB over the digi-modes. The slow rate of contacts with digital, will not make up for the extra points. You can easily make double the contacts on SSB, in the same time period, as digital...

BUT, part of FD is having fun, and trying new things. One ham stated he is going to do about every digimode out there..that is very cool in my opinion, even though I have zero interest in digital. It is still cool!

Have fun, guys!

73- Chuck Ki9A
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by WD5CCW on April 18, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I would go for CW, but in psk contest, I would go with either psk63 or psk125 for the speed.
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KG6MZS on April 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Wow, I'm glad I stopped by this thread.

Last year our emergency group tried Field Day for the first time. I'd run an emergency power station from home before but none of us had ever set up a full-blown Field Day group of stations. We had a lot of fun braving the coyotes and scorpions.

I had only used PSK-31 last year but in the interim I've gotten comfortable with many other digital modes. I will be looking for them - especially RTTY - this year.

Eric Fitzgerald KG6MZS
Digital Captain for the K6TI team
Topanga Disaster Radio Team
 
RE: Digital Modes for Field Day  
by KG6MZS on April 22, 2009 Mail this to a friend!

>>>Why is it that there are always people who have to use excessive power and spoil operating for other users ? There is no need to use more than 30 watts, if you can't get an answer calling with 30 watts, you won't get an answer using a 100 watts either. Some of you may be unaware that when PSK was first designed it was as a low power, narrow frequency mode, using 10 WATTS !<<<<

My understanding is that PSK is not inherently a QRP mode. I think the misconception arises from that fact that some barefoot stations will use the audio gain on the soundcard to achieve higher power output levels then they can reasonably expect from their rigs. That will certainly cause distortion and splatter.

However, I have copied stations that running hundreds of watts that are putting out nice clean audio. No splattering. Strong, clean stations do cause the AGC to push down all the weaker stations on my FT-100d because there is no way to turn the damn AGC off on that radio. That is hardly the fault of the transmitting station.

This is why I'm going to pop for a Elecraft K3 for this coming Field Day. I need some better filtering capabilities and an AGC that I can turn off.

But, when it comes to power, a db is a db and sometimes the power *is* what is required to make the contact. It is the distorted signal that causes the problems, not a strong, clean signal.

73 de Eric, KG6MZS
 
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