Easiest and cheapest way to get on digital modes

Discussion in 'On-Air Operations - Q&A' started by K0HIO, Sep 3, 2019.

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  1. K0HIO

    K0HIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello, I am a new ham and I am wanting to branch out into digital modes. I am not really interested in FT8/FT4 as much as I am RTTY and PSK31. I have made several hundred voice contacts with my current setup. I have an FT757GX1, manual tuner, and G5RV in the air. What would be the cheapest and easiest way to get into these modes? Would love to try CW as well but do not want to invest 100 or more for a key. Call me cheap if you want but I have mouths to feed still lol.
  2. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Download the WSJT-X suite of programs for a lot of digital. I used MMTTY for RTTY. Do a Google search for other freeware programs for PSK-31 / 65.

    Most of these type of programs are free and require only some cabling to interface to your computer.
  3. K0HIO

    K0HIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have those downloaded to my laptop and are ready to go. My question is more in regard of the cables and interface as well as how to attach them. I know about the signalink but it is more than I really want to pay for this. Is that the only way to go or are there cheaper alternatives?
  4. ND6M

    ND6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    Buy a kit for a RASCAL. They use cables that will just plug into your (old) 757.

    There is one on QTH now for $50...Listing #1454882 -


    you will have to buy/build the proper cable for the 757
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  5. K0HIO

    K0HIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank You ND6M, I will check it out.
  6. VK3YE

    VK3YE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can't get cheaper than this

    A quick and dirty computer - transceiver interface cable

    VE3CGA and K0HIO like this.
  7. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    back a couple of decades, I was able to decode sstv, rtty, psk and cw with my TS520 by taking the headphone audio and injecting it directly into the soundcard input jack. had the audio turned way down on the radio and carefully adjusted the input level on the soundcard until I found a good level for decoding. worked very well and also could transmit sstv by putting the desk mic close to the soundblaster speakers, transmit control was manual - hit the transmit button then press send on mmsstv.

    I built an interface box with transmit relay and audio transformer coupling and used that on my FT757 and IC751A.

    There are plenty of interface schematics online and very cheap and easy to build.
  8. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Step back from the void. A good key that will last you a life time and you can pass down to your grand kids will cost considerably less than $100.


    Clean it up, wire it, and tap away. Morse Code apps for your phone can be found for free and online resources like lcwo.net and youtube are free as well.

  9. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    As noted above ^^^ by KM4DYX, a J-37 or J-38 would be a great key. I have an old J-38 that my dad used, and it runs well.

    Google SKCC (Straight Key Century Club) for information and hang-out frequencies for mechanically-generated (straight key, bug, cootie) code. SKCC is a friendly and they welcome new folks.
  10. W5LZ

    W5LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm assuming that by 'digital' you mean like SSTV, PSK-31, etc. If so, then the simplest/easiest method is to use a computer to form the signal and feed it to/back-to the transmitter and receiver as appropriate. If you are posting and reading here, I have to assume you have a computer already. So it amounts to finding programming to do that 'converting' to audio to feed to/from the transceiver. All kinds of programs dealing with that, pick the one best suited to you. In almost all cases some kind of device is needed to facilitate the transfer between computer and radio. Those devices generally protect the comp and radio from each other, right voltages, isolation etc. You can build one or buy it, doesn't matter as long as it works, right (within reason)? If it doesn't 'work right', someone will tell you! :)

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