Should you consider a digital radio?

From the mid-1930’s until World War II, amateur radio’s #1 mode of voice operation was AM. 

After the war, single-side band voice mode became popular for a number of reasons including 3 kc of bandwidth versus 6 kc of bandwidth in an AM signal and, because of the narrower bandwidth, more power could be “concentrated” on the narrower SSB conversation meaning a longer range to the signal. 

It’s apparent that the same thing that happened to AM radios is happening now to not only SSB, but also VHF & UHF analog FM radios.  Digital modes are quickly taking over from the analog SSB & FM modes.

SSB is in competition with numerous digital modes on the 160M to 10M HF + VHF, UHF and more bands.   Fortunately, we have devices like the Tigertronics SignaLink™ USB Digital Communications Interface that will help us use digital modes on HF and, to a certain extent, VHF & UHF.  The SignaLink™ will give your radios these modes:

  • RTTY
  • SSTV
  • CW
  • PSK31
  • WSPR
  • WINMOR
  • Winlink
  • FLDIGI
  • MT-63
  • AMTOR
    and more.

The SignaLink™ as yet will not give your fairly-soon-to-be-antique analog FM radio access to proprietary digital modes such as C4FM (Yaesu only), D-Star (Icom, Kenwood and FlexRadio Systems only), DMR (available from several vendors), etc.

Digital modes are coming on quickly so don’t forget about a digitally enabled radio when you make your next radio purchase.

When choosing a new radio, please remember that DSTAR is mode of choice in Burke County and all of the rest of Georgia.

Your analog radios will continue to work as we move into 2020, but analog radios are not able to communicate with digital radios.  BARC plans to move more and more toward digital modes.

BARC has four (4) Yaesu C4FM/analog repeaters, but when our 444.1 and our 145.23 receive a D-STAR signal, they automatically switch to D-STAR.  D-STAR is the king of digital modes in Georgia, especially Georgia ARES®, which is why two of our four repeaters are D-STAR capable.

from John MacDonald, K4BR