In my latest foray into the world of HAM radio, I’ve decided to try out the numerous digital modes. I’ve been having no luck when it comes to talking to people on the radio for several reasons, and so I thought I should try doing something else. The real hang ups with voice communications, such as upper side band, is that as a technician license, I can only talk on the 10 meter band. Due to solar conditions at present, the 10 meter band is really bad for distant transmission, and all the general and expert license holders have ditched it for 17, 20, and other meter bands.

As I am still learning, it is my understanding that you can use digital with much less output power and get much better results, so I’m hoping to leverage that for my setup, since I don’t have an amplifier or fancy antenna setup. It seams that with minimal antenna and 5 watts, people are able to transmit digital signals around the world. I’d like to join that club.

So, I bought a SignaLink USB device.

And a little bit of “assembly” was required, namely setting the jumper wires inside, or, like myself, installing the jumper board that they also sell:

Once I hooked it up to my old TS-820S radio, and to my desktop computer, it didn’t take long to start “listening” to the radio with WSJT-X, a radio program that runs on Linux. I still don’t know what I’m doing, and at this point I’m just listening, so in the first few minutes I had, I didn’t get anything useful from it, but I did at least get the waterfall of heard sound. I’m really looking forward to playing with this some more.

A lot of folks from a radio telegram group I’m on are very helpful in many ways as I walk through the HAM radio journey. However, it was a bit odd to me, they all seemed to think that digital modes with an analog old school radio like this will not be a good idea, even though online many people are doing it all the time. So, that is a bit confusing. I’m just trying to make use of the equipment I have, rather than buy a new $1200 radio for my side hobby. While ultimately they are probably right, I hope I can at least make it work decent enough to entertain myself in my free time. 😀

Linux – keep it simple.

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