Monday, 27 June 2011

PSK operating guide needed!

The last month I have been following the digimode world, mainly the PSK modes. It looks like there are no good  guidelines for fluent  operating in challenging conditions. Or do you know about a good operating guideline? Please tell me, so I can share it with my fellow radio amateurs.
Waterfall without water.
The most problematic are the pileups: an interesting station appears on the waterfall and people bomb the frequency, making QSOs difficult or impossible. This is an old story also with RTTY, and of course with whatever modes. However, the problem on the "PSK bands" is especially urgent because of the rising popularity of PSK31: there are many new hams without experience in good general operating practices.

In CW and SSB a good operator can distinguish calls from the beep zoo. In digimodes the interpretation of the sounds is done by the computer, which makes the situation extra difficult: the QRM tolerance is very limited. In CW operation there is a common practice, when the frequency is getting warm: the pileup master starts telling "UP"...all CW operators don't understand this English word (sigh), but anyway, it's quite a good practice: people are calling the target station above the stations frequency, and the pileup operator picks the signals from the spectrum...this is a fair deal also for QRP operators: they get a real chance.

What to do on the PSK bands? When I want to work an interesting station, which are in a QSO (or trying to find one, in the hopeless zoo) I often try to call him a little bit besides his frecuency. Only very seldom the operator at the other end gets my idea! Why? Isn't this a good practice: find the nearest free frequency for putting a call? The QSO then could continue on that new frequency...why not? Isn't it quite convenient to pick traces in the waterfall display, especially with a comfortable mouse?

Another thing: PSK stations who know they are pileup targets, could select the calling frequency at the higher end of the band and say "UP1" to others...this is a common practice with RTTY.

Ideas, suggestions?


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  2. There is a way to cope with pileups also on one frequency, but it depends on people listening, keeping their horses: when calling, send your id twice and listen: if there are no trace on the waterfall, send the id again twice, and listen, and so forth. If you see others calling as well, just wait patiently for your turn: if you qrm him, you ruin delay the thing for both of you! And remember the ham spirit.