Digital mode operation has really come into its own this solar minimum. As with any mode, there are some best practices to learn and follow when operating. While digital modes are fairly straightforward when you are operating with your own station interfaced to your own local PC, it is not so easy when you are operating through a remote HF station. There are plenty of compromises that you have to make – workarounds to deal with audio in and out of your PC, how to manage switching between transmit and receive, and with modes like FT-8, the critical nature of timing.
About all I can suggest is that you do your homework:
- Check YouTube for how-to tutorials on each new mode you want to try.
- Make a checklist because there are lots of steps to have to go through in setting up software and hardware.
- Once you are ready, always check the rig’s mode of operation (often it should be set to USB) and transmit power output (usually MUCH less than the full power the rig is able to produce.)
- Read the support forums at Remotehams.com for further setup and operating advice.
What to avoid:
- Do NOT operate the radio at 100% transmit power when using digital modes! Not only is this a bad practice that clutters the band, but it REALLY STRESSES the rig’s final amplifier. Failing to lower the power level can get you banned from TX on HF remotes.
- Please don’t leave the radio in some oddball configuration that will confuse the next user. If you lower the power level, return it to 100% when you are finished. If you activate the SPLIT function, turn it off before you leave. If you set the RF GAIN down, return it to 100% when you are done.
- Out of band usage: Please use the radio for ham band operation. It is intended for ham radio use. Of course the transmitter only activates in the USA ham bands (with some restrictions, mainly because of antenna limitations, depending on the remote station’s configuration), but the receiver can tune a much wider range. We have had some issues with users who leave the receiver outside the ham bands and regularly tying it up by using it for SWLing when licensed users would like to use it in the ham bands.
- Hogging the radio: Please disconnect when you are finished. Share with others who want to use the radio. Pass the mic if more than one user connected.