Learn a little more...
Well we have some more information for you to take your knowledge of PSK31 up a notch or two. Please look at the following sections, some are for reference and others are for some advice.
Know the frequencies
A major majority of PSK31 traffic is centered around certain frequencies on the bands which makes it nice to find a signal for a QSO or for someone to answer your CQ. The following are those frequencies that are suggested to use:
- 160 meters – 1.838.150 MHz
- 80 meters – 3.580.150 MHz
- 40 meters – 7.040.150 MHz
- 30 meters – 10.142.150 MHz
- 20 meters – 14.070.150 MHz
- 17 meters – 18.100.150 MHz
- 15 meters – 21.070.150 MHz
- 12 meters – 24.920.150 MHz
- 10 meters – 28.120.150 MHz
Looking for the signal
You may experience an issue when you are trying to determine what digital modes are running on the waterfall. Over time, this will become second nature, almost like having the ability to decipher the matrix or something; however, until that time comes, we found a cool web site that will show you a visual representation on the different digital formats on the waterfall.
Above is an example of how PSK31 should look on your radio. If you have your software set to decode the protocol, you should be able to move the cursor right over top of the bar in the waterfall and see the information being decoded on the screen.
If you want to see more examples, or other digital modes, click on the link below to connect to that web page.
For more information...
Although PSK31 was designed for keyboard to keyboard communication at 50 words per minute, there is a lot of repetitive communications going back and forth. With using the computer and software in order to make these QSOs, a lot of people will setup and use Macros that are within the software.
We are trying not write these pages towards specific hardware or software, but we do hightly recommend that when you are picking out software to use, make sure there are macros available.
A lot of times, we will add additional text within the macros to help keep the QSO more personal and not sounding like a robot, but for kids, it is better for them to get used to using the equipment, making a contact, and then going back to learn how to do it manually. It may even be a fun activity for your group to have a contest and see who can make the contacts without using macros, once they have some experience with PSK31.
Making sure you are being heard
Another very interesting component to PSK31 (and other digital modes) are what is called reverse beacon networks.
One of these is called PSKReporter.info. This reverse beacon network website shows you who has heard you on the bands. A number of hams have their PSK31 software setup to automatically report the call signs they have decoded or indeed had a QSO with. This information is then sent to the website and you can visually see who has heard your and where they are from out there in the world.
This is really useful if you just setup your rig, or you are testing out a new antenna or something new. This way, you know for sure if everything is working alright.
From an educational point of view, this is an awesome tool to help teach propagation and how that works with world wide communications. It will visually show what is going on based on the propagation predictions and if your kids are visual learners (which most are), it will just click with them.
Read the first page of the website for directions on how to use it.
Automating the Process
Nothing is better than having a computer work for you like they were intended to do in the first place. Well, like we said before, we are not going to mention certain brands of rigs or software; however, we just want to let you know what exactly is possible with your setup of PSK31.
From our research on the topic, we of course had to setup a rig, make several QSOs, and document the entire process as we went along. How could we put these pages together without doing exactly that. Well, once we were finished, this is the setup we currently have.
- Our digital software can control our radio, changing frequencies, and adjusting the volume and power.
- We have a QRZ subscription, so when we right click on the other operator's call sign, it automatically looks up there information and places it in a queue to be logged.
- Our digital software is connected to our log book, so when we make a contact, it is automatically logged with our closing "73" macro.
- Once a new entry is placed in our log book, a record is automatically sent out to eQSL.cc, QRZ.com, and LOTw. No uploading of logs needs to be done, it is done automatically.
- When the contact is confirmed via these services, we receive an e-mail message.
- We have another service that will send out a Tweet with a link to a QSL card when we make a contact, as of right now, we have to upload the log to that service.
- We can remotely control the computer connected to the radio. From any other computer that is connected via the Internet, we can remote into the computer that is connected to our radio and make a QSO if we want too.
If experienced HAMS read this, they may say, so what, no big deal... well, we learned all of this from scratch through research and some major assistance from our Elmers. Our goal is to pass this along to others so that they know what is possible to be done. If you want to know the exact radio, hardware, and software we are using for all of this, please use our contact us page, and we will be glad to e-mail you the details.
Get out there on the Air waves
You now have plenty on information for you and your kids to get out there on the airwaves and make some digital contacts. We hope that these pages have been helpful for you, we had some challenges getting started ourselves, but once we did we were glad to go down that path. 73 and good luck on Digital Mode PSK31.
Do you have questions or more information to share?