Activating with digital voice modes?

I am waiting for that day. My understanding is that there are several current digital modes, each with their commercial backing by different manufacturers, each with their adherents, with none of them sufficiently superior to the others to become the standard. Furthermore none of them seem to have a clear superiority to legacy modes. Frankly, to me this looks more like chaos than progress and I am staying with legacy modes until the situation stabilises. A great time to be an experimenter, perhaps, but not an attractive situation for a user.

Yep, long live the spark gap!!

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Well even SSB is ~90 years old now! (Actually the patent goes back to 1915!)

The problem with digital voice modes when at the point the error correction fails is that we humans cannot understand the partially decoded audio. Whereas with SSB/AM/FM etc. the years and years of speech recognition learned by our brains helps us fill in the bits of audio we missed.

There’s lots of reasons for using digital voice comms but weak signal dx isn’t one of them unless you are able to get the two stations into a mode where they repeat and retry and slow the data rate down till the data is decoded. Then it’s not real time.

Or you can be very lucky and get a diamond.

My son Liam records his weekly local FM radio show using an ancient PC mic we found at the bottom of a junk box - and it sounds really good, almost as though he’s in the broadcast studios - as opposed to the PC under the stairs in our front hall!

I can’t imagine there’s any kind of science to this - just luck. This is a really scruffy obsolete looking thing. We’ve bought much more up-to-date and nicer looking PC mics but they don’t come near to the one he uses.

Listen for yourself from around 2215 UTC tonight on 102.8MHz FM in East Cheshire, or online via

Or if you can’t wait that long, his past shows are available “On Demand” from his website -

I don’t really think about advantages and disadvantages of DV for activating. i just think of it as another mode to play with to add some interest.

Completely agree.

That was my thinking when starting this post.

It’s not about which mode is better or worse. I simply wanted to see which mode most people had (in other words, what was most likely to succeed).

Based on the survey, I think that’s going to be C4FM.

I am a little surprised how many people have DSTAR though. I thought that DSTAR was as dead as a Dodo in the UK! I don’t know how many of those people that voted are from outside the UK though. I believe that DSTAR has a bit more of a following in the USA.

The overriding point was that we see plenty of FM, SSB & CW activations. I wanted to do something a little different just to “spice things up a little”.

James, I’m not suggesting you post another poll here but after your DV capability survey, it would be interesting to know people’s usage of the DV mode(s) they have.

Something like … “Do you QSO by {DV mode} about once a day , once a week ., once a month , once a year , every blue moon , …”

Not really much point because that will all change in the first week of March anyway.

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What happens in the first week of March? What am I missing here?

Tom, I doubt if it will change much in the long term (sorry for being an Old Sceptic).

You’re talking about a special event where people (myself included) will come out of the woodwork because they know it’s an occasion where their favourite lesser-used mode will get used a lot.

Maybe participating in such an event will encourage some people to use those modes more often at other (common or garden, non-event) times. But it’s not going to make much difference spread across an association or region.

So back to DV: if DV has few advantages over AV then fewer activators will stick with DV for very long simply out of interest. What’s more, if alerting and spotting DV raises few or no chasers over a number of activations that’s a further disincentive to persist with DV when FM gets you the contacts. Don’t like to negative but I can’t see an obvious solution.

You’re not looking at the correct advantages DV systems have.

Hint: it’s nothing to do with amateur radio.

The level of use of 12m for activating after the 12m Challenge is significantly higher than before the 12m Challenge. Nothing like as high as actually during the Challenge obviously, but it’s had a quantifiable significant positive impact.

Anyway, even if the boost in activity is just for those Challenge flavour weeks, that in itself is worthwhile is it not?

I recognise the advantage to some parties of promoting new modes, new features and new models. Andy, you and I already discussed this principle w.r.t. Yaesu’s replacement models for my FT-1D.

Having worked for commercial electronics companies most of my life, I understand why manufacturers do this and need to do it. But for this reflector and this topic I’m looking only from an end-user’s point of view.

Oh definitely Tom, hence the reference to my participation.

AFAIC the only advantages that DV could have lies in what it can do for me that earlier modes can not do. It appears that these advantages are minor or illusory. At present. I am no Luddite, when that changes so will I.

Will be activating on 2m C4FM in ten minutes…

Commercial land mobile radio Andy. It’s all to do with offering better services for commercial users, group calling, 1 to many, selective calling, trunking etc. along with encryption and much better frequency use. DMR gets 2 voice channels and data backchannel in the same bandwidth as a normal FM voice channel. It’s the commercial world where all this is important.

Amateurs get DV systems built out of the building blocks used in commercial divisions of the companies… For amateurs the benefits are less obvious. There’s the theoretical advantage that a DV signal with enough error correction will have a better audio performance than FM at the same signal level. Of course the real world is often very different. On top of that unless you are into linked repeaters the advantage of DV rapidly dwindle to nothing too obvious for amateurs. Especially as none of the systems allow you to use the set as a mobile 9k6/4k8 modem. That would have been cool to be able to send data from your phone (a spot message say) via Bluetooth to your Yaesucomwood handy which squirted it into the repeater network where it could be routed on and out to the internet somewhere. Likewise low res browsing etc. back to the phone. So many opportunities missed by the makers who have built a number of walled gardens as they see trunked voice as the be all.

Still if my handy broke tomorrow, I’d buy an FT70 at once. It’s proven to be well built and viable for SOTA work on 2m FM and you get 70cms and Yaesu’s C4FM system for free. And if I had one I’d have a call on C4FM every time I was out SOTAing.

I had a DSTAR handy but only sold it as it had very poor RF performance on 2m compared to other 2m radios FM or DSTAR. It was basically just a dead weight to be carried if there was a sniff of commercial gear near by. And it was an Icom handy so it had 200million zillion functions and an arcane menu system that meant you need Encyclopedia Icomia with you to use it :frowning:

I worked for Motorola for 26 years (albeit on semiconductor products) and I was very aware of other Motorola divisions’ major role in developing LMR. You can’t blame companies for wanting to spread all those R&D costs across new markets.

I do on most activation but, to be cynical [it comes easy to me], it rarely gets me a callsign that didn’t already work me on FM.

And here goes for my second DV activation of the evening - QRV in ten minutes.