In reply to G8XYJ:
Having tried PSK31 from a summit here are a few observations.
First, it was incredibly difficult to see the display on a sunny day. You effectively need a lightproof bag over your head and display to see anything. This was using a notebook (ASUS eeePC701). Secondly, it’s extra weight. In my case the netbook and cables needed added just over 1kg to my bag. If you are only walking a short distance then it’s not a major problem but for longer walks it’s less desirable. Thirdly, when using voice or Morse, you will normally work SOTA chasers who know not to waffle and delay you. But digimode operators may not fully comprehend just what it’s like to be sat 800m a mountain in Scotland, i.e. cold and wet! Finally, for me personally, using digimodes on SOTA is not very interesting. It boils down to hitting the macro send buttons and either logging using the software or writing the call in log.
Now you can resolve some of these issues/problems. The first can be solved by using the NUE-PSK unit. Its LCD is easily read in daylight. But it’s much more limited in what it can do compared to a computer based system. Mobile phone displays continue to improve in leaps and bounds. With the availability of phones like iPhone4, Galaxy S&SII, HTC Desire, you can have more than enough CPU power to run advanced signal processing software in a small package with a daylight readable display. These phone based solutions use the inbuilt speaker and microphone so you need to place them by the mic and radio speaker. You need to ensure that on a windy summit, or when it’s raining, the external noise doesn’t limit performance. If you are carrying such a phone anyway then that solves the weight issue. Resolving the issue of contacts with War and Peace ready to send when they hit F1 is hard. You can but hope you get SOTA chasers who know to be brief!
The final point is personal. I’ve had many a long ragchew using PSK31 or better still MFSK16. These have been most enjoyable. But with a lot of SOTA operations being akin to contest operation (quick exchange of report, locator and a word or 2 of pleasantry), digimode operation boils down to the most mundane. You call CQ, you click on a reply and then hit F1,F2,F3 to send your ACK of the caller followed by report, location and some personal info. QSOs become simply nothing more than click and hit the macro keys. With voice QSOs you may have to use a bit of skill to resolve a noisy or weak contact. Especially on a busy band like 40m. Likewise, using Morse requires the operator to actually have a little skill. It’s the fact that the only skill needed for using most digimodes is the ability to plug the gear together and to start the program.
I’ve tried digimodes from a summit, qualified it in fact. But having done it, it doesn’t appeal enough to me to try it again in a hurry. YMMV. If you do try it then I wish you much success.