Not having much time for Ham Radio causes me to try and find quick little projects that are fun and easy to throw together.

Last week I had a day off from work. So after catching up on business paperwork and updating my Web sites I actually had a chance to do something “fun” and Ham Radio related for a few minutes.

Surfing around the Internet for Ham Radio stuff is not something I have time for so I turn to Google Alerts to get my hands on quick hobby news and other info.

For those who have never used it, the easiest way to explain it is to say Google Alerts sort of bring the Web sites (links) to your email inbox each day, week or whenever.  It is easy to create alerts on any subject matter and they are also just easy to remove.

Anyway,  I have always had a fascination for digital modes. Back in the day, I used to run an IP over AX25 node. Our club had access to a Ham Shack that was at the base of a 150’ tower. Back then I had direct traffic running through the node from places as far away as Virginia on occasion.

Recently, I received an alert about free software I am sure many of you have heard of before. I found it be one of the quick, fun projects I am taking about. After reading the first paragraph of the Web page, I had to try it out.

In its simplest form, the software allows eavesdropping on digital HF conversations. I wanted to see just how easy it was to set up and use.

So I downloaded and installed the software, with the Windows Wizard there to hold my hand and display the usual prompts, it took only a few seconds for the Wizard to wave his magic wand and present the icon to me.

I threw my radio on and tuned it to 14.070 and placed my $1.50 plastic mic next to the speaker on the radio.  Then I just sat back, waiting to  copy PSK31.

Hey, so far so good. Not too much time wasted and I was actually watching QSO’s from the US, Europe and South America in action. It turned out to be a really good mix of transmissions to watch considering I was only listening for about 30 minutes.

Of course Digipan is not just for receiving signals. With a sound card interface to your rig, you can get in on the action as well.

PSK31 In Action
Digipan Screen Shot

DigiPan1.0 forever changed how PSK31 tuning was done, from manually tuning the transceiver, to “point-and-click” mouse tuning, in which a signal on the waterfall is clicked with the mouse button to find out the station’s callsign and decide whether or not to contact that station…

If you have some time to burn and take an interest in HF digital communications you might want to check this software out.

Visit the Digipan Web site and download version 2.0.