Making your first PSK Contact
Sorry I’ve been so long in finishing up this initial series of posts on using the Icom M710 for Digital Mode contacts. I’ve been busy on the boat doing nothing but relaxin’.
Let’s get do a quick recap:
- You have your Icom M710 Control cable made and wired it up
- You have configured Ham Radio Integrator and are able to control the Icom M710
- You are using Ham Radio Deluxe’s Digital Master 780 to control the Icom M710 through HRI and are able to see and decode PSK transmissions
All caught up, everything working? Great so what do you do now?
Let’s stay in that SuperBrowser window in DM780. This is the view I have been using to look for people calling CQ. Calling CQ is just HAMspeak for saying “hey I’m here, talk to me”. Usually on 14.070 MHz you will find lots of people already making contacts, at least that’s what I’ve seen for the past couple of months. Watch the streams in the waterfall, look for ones where you only see something like this:
CQ CQ DE XE2/W7PEA/MM XE2/W7PEA/MM CQ CQ DE XE2/W7PEA/MM XE2/W7PEA/MM pse K
That’s what it looks like when I call CQ. I might send a longer CQ if the band isn’t very busy and I’m hoping someone will find me. The “XE2/” is a prefix to indicate I am in Mexico and the “/MM” is to indicate I am Maritime Mobile. Most everyone else will not have these prefixes and suffixes, they will just have their callsigns. But that in general that is what you will see. The PSE K part means “please reply” and the K signals the end of the transmission. They are now waiting for YOU to reply to them!
Quick courtesy on Answering CQs
If you see something like CQ DX or CQDX or CQ CQ HI ID or something else between the CQ and the DE this means the person is looking for a specific kind of contact. In the case of CQ DX they are looking to contact stations outside there IARU region. You will also frequently see two letter state abbreviations. These are people trying to finish off their “Worked All States” award. Unless you know you’re one of those things they want, out of courtesy I’d not make a contact with those stations. Seems like the right thing to do anyway.
When you find a stream where you see someone calling CQ and it is a good clear signal, DM780 will automatically identify the callsign. You will see a callsign label on the left side of the text stream. To start with, use one of these transmissions they will probably be easier to work.
Click on the red line (just a single left click). This sets the radio to the proper offset. The waterfall is like a crowded room and you need to talk to the person you want to reach, not just talk into the room. Simply this allows you to transmit the same place they are listening. I’m not going to explain that anymore than, but that is roughly what it is going on (not really).
When you do that you will notice that the text the other station has sent is also now showing up in the Received window. Click in the Transmit Window, and then click the REPLY button and select “Him de Me” (or use the CTRL-4 keyboard shortcut). This Macro fills in his Callsign as DM780 decoded it and your Callsign as you entered it in the application settings. Click AUTO (or hit F2) and you now transmit (TX).
At this point we have to hope the other person can hear you, if you see them still calling CQ, you should still keep answering a few times. Propogation is not always 100% reliable and they may not see your reply initially. If you see them changing fromcalling CQ to QRZ QRZ QRX <TheirCall> it means they see someone calling them, but can’t make out the signal. In this case send the “Him de Me” two times in a row so they have a better chance of making out who you are.
But let’s assume they can hear you loud and clear and they answer you back. Usually they will say something like:
<YourCall> de <TheirCall> Name here is Bob BOB. QTH Is Somewhere, ST Somewhere, ST. How copy? BTU <YourCall> de <TheirCall>
The first part and last part just acknowledge they are talking to you. If they got your callsign wrong, correct them. They then are giving you information you would need to put in your log book to verify a contact. I’ll ignore that part for now and cover that stuff in a future post. Suffice it say they may just want to exchange contact information though and not be looking to have a long chat. That’s ok. You can control this a bit by your reply. The macros in DM780 make a lot of this easy for quick exchanges, but let’s do this manually for now till you read up on Macros. Your answer should like this:
<TheirCall> de <YourCall> Hi Bob, name here is Patrick Patrick. and you are my first every PSK contact. I’m new to this, so bare with me as exchange contact information. QTH is Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico How copy? BTU <TheirCall> de <YourCall>
So now you’re talking… you each take turns. You can type in your entire reply and then hit AUTO or you can put in a few words and hit Send (F1). I’m not the best typist so I tend to pre-type more than others probably do. If you use SEND then you also need to manually end your transmissions by clicking STOP (F4). If you use AUTO then when the application runs out of text it will stop automatically.
You two will chat and he’ll probably ask for things like your locator square and how t QSL. If you don’t know, don’t worry, just say so. As a minimum, you should write down on paper:
- The date in UTC
- The time in UTC
- FREQ: (14.070 or 20M is fine)
- MODE: PSK
- Their Callsign
- Their Name
- Their QTH
- Their locator
Later you can use that in your logging program and or to QSL with them. I would just tell them that you’re getting all that setup still, but you will formally QSL later.
You’ve been talking (probably no more than a couple of minutes) and the other person will probably wrap it up and thank you for the contact and say 73s… You should then thank them and wish them well. and end with
<TheirCall> de <YourCall>
You’re done! You just made your first contact on 20M in PSK mode!