From the mid-1930’s until World War II, amateur radio’s #1 mode of voice operation was AM, a.k.a. double-side band with a carrier. 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. Amateur/ham AM radio prevailed for about 20 years, but technological advances caused it fade out in favor of SSB.
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 RTTY, SSTV, CW, PSK31, WSPR, WINMOR, Winlink 2000, FLDIGI, MT-63, AMTOR, PACTOR, G-TOR 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 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. Please remember that only the C4FM form of digital modes from Yaesu is what would be compatible with our club’s four repeaters.
Your analog radios will continue to work as we move into 2017, 2018 . . . but, for the most part analog radios are not able to communicate with digital radios. BARC, like everyone else, plans to move toward digital modes including possibly C4FM, which includes Yaesu’s Wires-X high performance digital and analog Internet linking technology, D-Star, DMR and/or ???.
The above Yaesu-produced video is about K4BR’s newest radio, the Yaesu FTM-100DR
BARC has four (4) Yaesu C4FM repeaters that are currently operating in analog mode, but in no way are we ruling out other digital modes in the future. The biggest problem in selecting a digital mode is that each of these digital modes has pluses and minuses. So, which way do we go when we make the big push to “go digital”? Answer that question correctly and you’ll be a millionaire . . . Because Yaesu sold DR-1X digital repeaters to us (BARC) and thousands of other clubs and repeater owners for only $500 shipped, Yaesu’s C4FM repeaters are by far the predominant repeater in nearly every part of the world. My newest dual band mobile is the Yaesu FTM-100DR that is featured in the YouTube video immediately above.
de John MacDonald, K4BR