Thames ARG Datamodes talk

On Friday the 14th of December 2012, local amateur radio operators gathered on Canvey Island to talk about the various ham radio data modes.

The evening was laid on by the Thames Amateur Radio Group at their Jubilee Hall venue. The evening started at around 8pm with an interactive presentation by Pete M0PSX and Tom 2E0TNC, pictured here:

Pete M0PSX and Tom 2E0TNC
Pete M0PSX and Tom 2E0TNC, explaining data audio levels

The presentation outlines the advantages of the various data modes, and explained in basic terms how to go about getting the equipment you need, how to connect the radio, computer and TNC (the controller) together. Pete then outlined the weak data modes WSPR and JT65, before Tom progressed on to RTTY and PSK31. Pete then continued with a look at SSTV, before moving on to packet and APRS.

SSTV data mode screenshot
Example of SSTV in action, one of the modes demonstrated at TARG

The talk was a mix of on-screen presentation, show-and-tell, questions-and-answers, and live data from various propagation websites, APRS tracking sites and ISS tracking and reporting sites.

The websites demonstrated a real-time APRS location update, and also showed that Pete M0PSX had been able to bounce a greetings message to the members of the Thames ARG via the International Space Station’s onboard packet data station. Pete also demonstrated that hours before the presentation started, he’d been able to get weak data signals to Canada, the US and Australia. These signals were sent from a basic long wire antenna at a power of just 10 watts, to prove to the assembled M6s that a Foundation licence holder can get around the world using data, when a voice signal might not be able to get through.

Thames ARG - December 2012 audience
Thames Amateur Radio Group – December 2012 audience

The assembled audience raised several questions on the various data modes, and there was some lively discussion on the subject of RTTY, and the various teletype printers that have been in use over the years. A show-of-hands indicated that a good percentage of the audience have had some basic experience of using at least one data mode, with PSK31 being one of the more popular.

There’s a summary of the material covered, and links to the various websites and software packages mentioned, here: Getting started with data modes

The evening wrapped up with a raffle, teas and coffees, and some festive food.

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