When I first got into Digital Modes I was a RTTY fanatic and if you asked me about PSK I would have told you it was cheating, heck you didn’t even need to turn the dial, just point and click then push a few macros and you are done.
Well I still like RTTY for contesting but I have to say the idea of clicking on an area of the waterfall and starting a QSO has grown on me and PSK31 is now my most common digital mode. After years of swearing it off I got into PSK after finally erecting an HF antenna at my house. If you have viewed my Shack Page you will know I do not have the most optimal HF antenna, actually by the book I did everything wrong but it works. This meant I needed to find a mode that allowed weak signal work but was in popular use and PSK31 fit the bill nicely.
I went with the free Fldigi software package, it has a Windows, Mac, and Linux version so I can use it on other machines and laptops. Unlike many other ham radio software this software is currently being worked on and updates come out regularly, and it is open source so it will never be lost due to a silent key.
I am also a fan of the RSQ reporting method for digital communications, it makes giving and receiving signal reports in a simple and precise method that anyone from new to old can understand.
RSQ Reporting Table
|Copied from www.rsq-info.net|
|Practically no difficulty, occasional missed characters|
|Considerable difficulty, many missed characters|
|Occasional words distinguishable|
|S9||Very Strong trace|
|S1||Barely perceptible trace|
|Q9||Clean signal – no visible unwanted sidebar pairs|
|Q7||One barely visible pair|
|Q5||One easily visible pair|
|Q3||Multiple visible pairs|
|Q1||Splatter over much of the spectrum|
RSQ Readability: The new descriptive table has a corresponding range of percent readable text. This is consistent with the common practice of providing a percentage figure during a QSO or when responding to the inevitable “HW CPY?” at the end of an over. Currently, a percent readable text figure is often provided to the other station to clarify its readability after the traditional RST report has been sent.
RSQ Strength: Most HF digital mode programs provide a broad band waterfall or spectrum receive display. As a result, it is common practice for operators to monitor and even decode multiple signals when working a narrow band digital station. Under these conditions, a visible measure of signal trace relative to noise is more meaningful than an S meter reading that averages the strength of all signals in the pass band.
RSQ Quality: The presence of additional unwanted trace modulation observed on the waterfall or spectrum indicates possible spurious emissions and provides a basis for assessing the quality of digital mode signals. The traditional RST Tone report being designed to evaluate CW signals for the presence of audible hum, key clicks, chirping etc is simply not relevant to digital modes.