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New skill requirements

When you get into the digital modes on Amateur Radio bands, you have a need to learn a new skill. There is help. One of these is the fldigi page on identifying Modes – Sight & Sounds. Two tools are provided for 14 types of signals with a link to a description of all PSK modes.

What the signal sounds like is the first clue. CW is rather easy to identify. Voice modes create a choice when some folks run a sideband opposite that of the band norms or use AM or FM. With only a few options, making sense of something you know to be a voice transmission isn’t that difficult.

With digital modes, though, there are a whole lot of options and many of those options have flavors. It’s worse than learning CW as there are more different things with less distinction between them to learn.

Programs like fldigi (see W1HKJ software page) make it rather easy to listen to and experiment with a lot of digital modes. They may also provide signal analysis tools to help your ear. The waterfall display shows signal intensity versus frequency on a time axis. The signal intensity is indicated by color and the time axis scrolls such that the current time is at the top of the display. The frequency distribution can be used to help discriminate between different digital modes.

New skills to learn!

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