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
  • Winlink
  • MT-63
    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

Amateur Radio Is More Relevant Today

International Amateur Radio Union President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, says Amateur Radio is “probably more relevant today than it was 25 years ago.”

“We’re so dependent now on all kinds of systems of communications — everyone has a cell phone, everyone is used to using the Internet — but they’re not used to what happens when those systems go down,” Ellam said. “Amateur Radio is there” and “there are also advancements in technology that we rely on.”

Ellam pointed out that hams can use computer-based digital techniques to pass message traffic at very low power levels and under poor propagation conditions.  “Amateur Radio has kept pace by developing new ways to communicate,” he said.

“Amateur operators are on the ground. If they’re not close to the site of a disaster, they might even be in it.  They’re there.  They’re ready to go.  For the first 24 to 48 hours you have people on the ground, ready to assist.  They own their own equipment.  They don’t rely on commercial networks.  If cellular service goes down, we can assist by using HF, VHF or UHF communications on a peer-to-peer basis.”

“Don’t forget the Amateur Radio services.  They’re a great asset to [a community, state or nation] in times of crisis.”

Posted on Categories News

Mid-2019 Goals and Recommendations!

Recommendation # 1 – ARES Basic Skills Test

Everyone in Burke County ARES® should have taken the  Gwinnette ARES Basic Skills Test by now – and most of you have: Thanks! – but just in case, here is the web site for this free service.
You will learn a LOT when you complete your test:

Register with my name (John MacDonald), callsign (K4BR), and email address ().

Recommendation # 2 –

It is now time for all ARES® members to register with

Amateur radio ops and all other personnel who are not members of ARES® or who are inactive members should not register for GHA911 until they join ARES®.

If you have not already registered, please register today while it’s on your mind.​

Here is the main benefit of registering for GHA911:
You’ll automatically be registered in the ​Everbridge Mass Notification ​System. Everbridge ​will keep you informed before, during and after all events whether emergency or non-emergency by way of email, text messages and/or a phone call.​ No more “phone trees”!​
To be an active member of ARES®, we have to be able to notify you when things happen. Therefore, anyone who fails to register for GHA911 may be assigned to inactive status in ARES®.

Recommendation #3: Join Burke Medical Center Amateur Radio Team

We are now looking for members to join Burke Medical Center’s amateur radio operations team. If you would like to be included in this group, please send your name to Vince Vassello, KB8TEP, who is taking the lead for coordinating this group:

Recommendation #4:  Upgrade your license class

MAKE NO MISTAKE: We are very glad to have Technician Class amateur radio operators in our ARES® group and we look forward to their participation with us during “incidents” that occur in Burke County. Technicians are certainly valuable members of our ARES team by handling very important local communications on 2 meters and 70 cm (440) + long haul traffic via DSTAR. 2m and 70cm will be important ways that we stay in communications with other agencies in- and outside of Burke County.

General and Amateur Extra class ops have much needed privileges on two very important ARES bands: 75 meters and 40 meters. 

Therefore, we encourage all Technician class operators to begin working, if you’re not already, on getting at least your general class license. Thank you so much in advance! If you need any help, please let me know.

Recommendation #5: Upgrade your VHF/UHF transceiver (if you haven’t already done so):

(1) By far, our #1 recommended 2 m and 70 cm transceiver is the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe.  Please note:  The Icom ID-5100A Deluxe is the only ID-5100 model available.
Recently re-priced at less than $400, this transceiver is no longer a high-priced radio. Click here for the latest price from Gigaparts.  Gigaparts (866-535-4442) does not charge tax or shipping. Free channel programming for BARC and ARES® members.  Call me (John, K4BR) for info – 706-466-5646.

(2) If you cannot afford the Icom ID-5100A Deluxe transceiver above, the minimum recommended radio would be an analog 50W mobile radio capable of accessing both the 2 meter and 70 cm bands such as the IC-2730A, currently $259.95 delivered to you (click here), or the Yaesu FTM-7250DR, currently 209.95 delivered to you (click here).

— See
The new Yaesu FTM-7250DR is a compact and ruggedly built C4FM/FM 144/430MHz Dual Band 50W Transceiver and offers the latest advanced features from Yaesu for their System Fusion II platform

Questions? Please call me at 706-466-5646.
John MacDonald, K4BR
EC Burke County/DEC East Central Georgia