How many of you chasers have digital VOICE capability? Especially those of you who live around the Pennines (I’m thinking of trying this on Shining Tor next year when the weather warms up)?
I’ve included a poll just to satisfy my own curiosity:-
- I have DSTAR capability on VHF/UHF.
- I have DSTAR capability on HF.
- I have C4FM capability on VHF/UHF.
- I have C4FM capability on HF.
- I have DMR capability on UHF.
- I have FreeDV capability on HF.
- I cannot run any digital voice modes.
I know that plenty of people have activated summits using digital modes. There’s plenty of videos on YouTube of people using PSK-31 & FT8 on summits & I know Tom M1EYP has done numerous FT8 activations, but has anyone tried an activation using only DIGITAL VOICE modes?
I’ve thought about giving it a go just for fun (as it’s a little different from the norm) but I’m left wondering how many chasers actually have digital voice capability, and whether it would be possible to drum up enough contacts to qualify a summit?
It also begs the question of what mode to use?
Yaesu C4FM:- I’m sure I’ve read other posts where this has been mentioned, so presumably a couple of people have that capability? Unfortunately I don’t currently have a radio capable of C4FM, but putting it out there as a hypothetical (I am considering upgrading/updating my handhelds, so I can’t completely rule out this mode).
DSTAR:- This never really took off in the UK. It had a brief burst of popularity when it first came out, then died a thousand deaths! I suspect that some people may still have some old Icom DSTAR kit laying around.
I have a Icom IC-E92D handheld which I still use in FM mode for SOTA activations on account of the fact that it’s waterproof and reasonably rugged. I also have a 2820 mobile radio in the cupboard, though I’m probably in the minority.
Obviously from my perspective this would be my preferred mode as I already have a DSTAR radio which I have with me on activations anyway, so I wouldn’t need any extra equipment.
- DMR:- I suspect that this is the most likely to succeed as DMR has been very popular in the UK over the last couple of years, although the DMR repeaters do suddenly seem to have gone very quiet. I don’t know how many people actually use this mode (or have their radios programmed) for simplex contacts though.
C4FM:- Some of the newer rigs (Yaesu FT-991) have C4FM built in for both HF & VHF/UHF, though I don’t know how many chasers have these rigs?
DSTAR:- Some of the newer rigs now have DSTAR capability of HF (Icom IC-7100 & IC-9100). Again, I don’t know how many chasers actually have these rigs?
On a side note, Icom are soon to release the IC-705 which has DSTAR on all bands. It’s a 10 watt radio which appears to be a replacement for the old IC-703. Looks like a good radio for SOTA?
FreeDV:- Again, not sure how many people have this mode (although anybody running FT8 or PSK should be able to run the FreeDV software on their computer). There are a few regular nets & the RSGB do the weekly new broadcast in this mode, so presumably some people are running it.
Unfortunately it would require a computer to be carried to the summit, and would involve an added level of complexity (& chances for failure) which obviously isn’t great.
I’m swaying towards suggesting that DMR on UHF is probably the best option, closely followed by Fusion on VHF.
HF wise, I’m just not convinced that the equipment is out there (as they haven’t been on the market that long). Given another year or two as people upgrade their equipment, either DSTAR or C4FM may become more prevalent on HF. As things currently stand, I’m not sure.