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Author Topic: Digital modes in order of popularity?  (Read 33553 times)
G7MRV
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« on: September 18, 2013, 01:46:17 AM »

I am considering setting up to operate one or more digital HF modes, for the purposes of demonstration. I am very new to amateur digi modes (I have used commercial RTTY/FAX, and played with WSPR a little) but have just under a whole year to learn.

The demonstrations are to introduce amateur radio to the deaf community, this will be done at our annual special event station held on the premises of the Doncaster Deaf Trust college. Hence the need to use and show modes that do not require hearing to use.

Please, before im inundated with the usual 'CW' crowd - we are already planning that!  Wink We will also have a dedicated WSPR station running.

I would like to select a mode that as well as being read visually, will be interesting to watch on the waterfall (to maintain interest from visitors) but also has a very wide following globally, to ensure we make a suitable number of contacts. I think we are probably looking at some form of FSK mode. My interest has been piqued by Olivia, which to me looks very similar to the old British Piccolo system I experienced many years ago.

So, please, In order of most popular, what modes should I consider?
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N6SBN
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2013, 02:19:50 AM »

 PSK31 frequencies are very busy.  You can enjoy a qso on this mode.      The next busiest mode is JT65.   JT65 is great for DX, but the messages are very restricted.
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KC8Y
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2013, 05:29:26 AM »

I like Olivia mode (slow, great for weak signals & seems to be good for ragchewing-just my opinion), BUT occasionally used other digital forms.  PSK is kinda busy at times.

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KG4RUL
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2013, 06:05:56 AM »

Occasionally I like to go to Hell.  Hellschreiber mode that is.
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N9AOP
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2013, 09:23:34 PM »

If you are looking for lots of activity, then  PSK is the one.  During a RTTY contest you would swear that the whole world is there.  Olivia and MT63 are in heavy use on the MARS services but not so much on the amateur end.  Back in the day there were only a few digital modes and they were all used but now there are so many it sort of dilutes their use.
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G7MRV
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 03:00:25 AM »

So, going by replies here, and experience monitoring, PSK31 comes out top, followed by RATT (good old fashioned 45bd RTTY).

I was interested in the MFSK types as I think these are more visually interesting on a waterfall, but so far, despite various attempts, i'm yet to decode one! There seem so many varients that its hard to decide which is the correct mode to be in.

Trying PSK31, i'm managing good decodes of what I can find on various bands (sat on 30m at moment), and have become reasonably familiar with the basic controls of FLDIGI. Watching the waterfalls shows its not too bad visually, it should at least hold a persons attention long enough to see the QSO, which is what we need.

I had a look at Hellschreiber as well, as an old WEFAX user this appeals to me! I might have to have a play with that as well, but PSK31 looks to be the way to go

Next step then is to get fully familiar with the software, system set-up and operating procedure, adn try it live on air!

Im also hoping it will appeal to my eldest son (9) to get his foundation license and run the digi station for me at the show next year!

Can anyone recommend a good (pref online) guide to setting up FLDIGI for PSK31 operation, and how to operate on air with it? Ive seen the horror stories, and would like to start as clean as possible!
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N4UM
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 06:19:36 AM »

I'd recommend Olivia as opposed to psk31 and RTTY.  Olivia is slower but far more "robust" than either RTTY or PSK31 and can provide much better copy than either under adverse conditions.  MFSK is also a very robust mode but is a bit harder to tune in accurately.  "Conversations" on psk31 and RTTY often tend to be fairly shallow "hello-goodbye" types of contacts often consisting of the exchange of canned "macros."   This characteristic is not inherent to the modes themselves but just seem to be what large numbers of RTTY and psk31 operators prefer.  Contacts on Olivia and MFSK tend to be more of the "ragchewing" type.  Again, this is not an inherent characteristic of the modes themselves but a characteristic of the operators that gravitate towards them.  Admittedly, there seem to be far more stations on psk31 and RTTY than on all the other digital modes combined.

If you turn on RxID (a small button in the upper right corner of Fldigi) you will activate a Reed Solomon identification detector.  If the station you're trying to decode has elected to turn on his TxID (as many operators do when using modes other than RTTY or psk31) Fldigi will automatically switch to the mode the other station is using and begin to decode the other station's transmissions.  These Reed Solomon codes are typically only sent at the beginning of a transmission so you will have to catch them when the other station first begins to transmit.  You can set a parameter in Fldigi that will determine how far from your present frequency the automatic detection will take place.  Reed Solomon codes are not typically used on RTTY and psk31.

Hearing can be a help on the digital modes but is not really necessary.  Experienced digital operators can make some pretty good guesses about the mode another station is using based on it's appearance on the waterfall and it's sound. 
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KC8Y
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2013, 05:48:05 AM »

I fully agree to N4UM view of digital modes.  i like Olivia, also; because of its signal detection, slowness & more into ragchewing-myself.  Going to try using MFSK, next.
PSK & RTTY seem to be "...hello-goodbye..." stuff.
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N9CZA
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2013, 08:46:39 AM »

Another possibility for the demo might be Slow Scan TV.
There are some free programs out there to
decode the pictures, seems like this could
work ok for a deaf person and would give something
besides text to demonstrate. Often people who
are not deaf begin an SSTV QSO by speaking with the other
person and then mix in some pictures, but it's
possible for the entire QSO to be done just with
video, by sending frames of text as a picture.

73 de jeff n9cza
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G7MRV
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2013, 12:24:53 PM »

OK, lots of good ideas,

BUT - All missing the point!

What I want to know, is as the title says, a list of modes In ORDER OF POPULARITY

Everyone has an opinion on which is best, but it all has to come down to which are the most popular on the bands, in other words, which mode(s) will provide an almost guarenteed, ready supply of QSOs, at any time day or night?

From observing waterfalls, it seems to be PSK31
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N4UM
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2013, 05:25:30 PM »

No question about it, you'll find more signals on PSK31 than any other digital mode. 
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KB2HSH
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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2013, 06:02:47 AM »

Occasionally I like to go to Hell.  Hellschreiber mode that is.

Yeah...I have to agree there!  Last night, after a little 10m DX to the Caribbean (not too exotic) and a couple of PSK31 QSOs on 20, I QSYed to 14.072 and called CQ with Feld Hell.  (Perfect mode for an OLD Kenwood TS-120 that is a little drifty)  Had a nice QSO with a station in GA.  After the QSO ended, a station from Europe (either a G or OK) started working the station I signed with.

-PSK31 for reasons of simplicity is probably #1
-RTTY is easily #2.  Great contest mode (my favorite)
-JT65 for its DX capability

But there's so many digital modes...each op has his or her own favorite.  
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W8EIR
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2013, 09:05:38 AM »

The two weak signal modes JT9 and JT65 are my favorites and what I primarily use..  PSK31/63 are OK, as some have mentioned great for QSO's. 
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Dave W8EIR
K1OC
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 04:33:53 AM »


Order of Popularity and Suitability for Demo Purposes:

- PSK31
- RTTY
- PSK63

SSTV is not a bad idea, either.

JT65, while popular and technically interesting to hams, is too slow to use for demonstration purposes. Each QSO takes 5 or 6 minutes.

Good luck!

73 de Tony K1OC
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K5TED
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« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2013, 06:36:23 PM »

more hams should try Throb and Thor.

Contestia had a hold there for a while, but Olivia is still probably the second most used digi mode.

RTTY is not "digi" in my world, because it is mostly a bunch of abbreviations, although there is a small amount of ragchewing with proper English there at times. It's RTTY. What can I say..

PSK31 is the King at this point. Somewhat robust, faster than most typists, and easy to use.

I still prefer a fast Thor or Throb or even MFSK.


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