Why isn't there a dedicated RTTY mode?

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I am having a hard time understanding why SmartSDR, or PowerSDR for that matter, doesn't have a dedicated RTTY mode. I don't think this is too much to ask for since just about every traditional radio on the market today has a dedicated RTTY mode available. As I understand it, the design goals for SmartSDR was to simplify the process of setting up and operating an software defined radio. I'm just not seeing that with the current version of SmartSDR and RTTY.  

Here are the things I think this mode should do.

1 - Auto offset the display frequency of the slice on the 2125 Mark tone. As an added bonus, it would be nice to be able to adjust the mark tone for those operators who like a lower tone.

2 - When clicking on the center of a RTTY signal, the slice should jump there centered in the filter bandwidth and not on the zero beat frequency. 

3 - FSK should also be an option. However, this is something that could wait if needed since AFSK can be used until FSK is implemented. 

I realize that this is something that has been discussed in the past, but I feel that many are looking for new and exotic options. I'm talking about just the basics like every other rig on the market today has. Then, once we have the basics, we can look at long term enhancements to digital modes. I personally feel that this would make the 6000 series much more appealing to many more RTTY enthuseists and ultimately grow sales. 

I would be very interested in hearing what others think about this and how important this feature set would be to you. 

Keith...
N9TX
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N9TX

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Posted 4 years ago

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I am having a hard time understanding why you would need a dedicated RTTY mode. I assume that you run RTTY using one of the Many excellent RTTY computer programs that include such useful features such as logging, spots and macros? I have used RTTY on legacy radios and frankly I can't imagine why I would want to give up all those useful features just to have a dedicated RTTY mode.
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Duane, AC5AA

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I think what he is asking for, and I have some of the same requests, is that the radio have a mode for RTTY that automatically runs LSB mode for FSK (or a dedicated RTTY-driven mode), shapes the filtering, and indicates Mark/Space frequencies to make tuning easy.  None of those individually is a deal breaker, but putting it all together makes it a lot easier to use for serious RTTY ops.  As it is now, it's set up for general digital use, which, normally, is not similar to RTTY.  I'm still getting used to my 6500 and haven't spent much effort on setting up RTTY yet, but I tend to agree with Keith's points.
(Edited)
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N9TX

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Thanks Duane. That is exactly what I was trying to get across. For the casual user, It doesn't make a whole lot of difference. But for someone like me who would prefer to operate RTTY over any other mode, It make an enormous difference. I won't say you can't run a RTTY contest with the current configuration, but any serious contender would snicker at the limited capabilities of SmartSDR as it stands now. Again, I am not asking for exotic features. I am just asking for the basic feature set found on a traditional radio. I would be interested in what KY6LA's background is with running RTTY. Sometimes, it is one of those things you can't see until you really use it. I think RTTY is one of them. 
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Dave - WB5NHL

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Maybe the reason there for not having dedicated RTTY modes is because there isn't really standard. I don't use DIGL but rather DIGU most times.  Carrier shifts can range from 160 to 850 Hz with equally widely varying baud rates. Good terminal programs like fldigi provide all these into account.
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N9TX

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Actually there are standards for RTTY. Going all the way back to when I was running real green key Teletype machines connected to my Heathkit SB-101 via a home made Hal ST-5 TU. The thing that I think confuses most people is that they start with PSK and assume that every digital mode is supposed to run on USB. That is just not the case for RTTY. 

Yes there are a lot of good digital programs out there that will run RTTY. However, not all of them follow the standard such as HRD's DM780. I have talked with the programer about this, and he agrees that it is not correct and plans on fixing it soon. 

Dave, tell us a little more about your RTTY usage and experience. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I have been running digital modes since 1958 starting with mechanical 20A home brew Current loop RTTY machines.   I have worked a lot of RTTY contests manually as well as with MixW, MTTY  Fldigi and even DM780 to name a few.

I have owned all sorts of legacy radios with built in RTTY modes.   Frankly these were pathetic compared to computer based RTTY which make life so much easier in contests.

While I have never won a RTTY Contest (I have come first in a few SSB ones)... I frankly really do not understand the alleged benefits of a dedicated RTTY mode or why you would need one when the computer based RTTY programs already do so much more?

I would love to hear about the benefits over computer based modes?
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N9TX

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I'm sorry if you took my comments as argumentative. They were not intended to be that way. My goal is to put out a suggestion of something that would benefit me and I believe will benefit most users by allowing easy setup and use of the RTTY mode. It was never intended to be a religious war of apposing ideas. I am just looking for other SSDR users who think this is a good thing and hopefully get it added to the feature roadmap as soon as possible. 

I have one way of doing RTTY contesting, and it sounds like you have another. I prefer to use MMTTY, 2Tone, and N1MM. Myself, and I am sure others, would be interested in hearing details on you you do it. Maybe it would give us some ideas how to best work around some of the feature shortcomings in the current version of SSDR.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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BTW,.,,,, I do agree that a couple of peaking filters might be beneficial for RTTY.

Personally I have been using MIXW for RTTY contesting for years now... Probably not the best program anymore, but I have lots of experience using it... I also use Writelog for RTTY and SSB Contesting.  

I find that DAX, SmartCAT and DDUTIL  has greatly simplified the setup for RTTY. 

Frankly I think SSDR could use integrated spots like NAP3 which would really speed up contesting workflows  
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km9r.mike

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This !!!!  I think an option like this would be a semi game changer. I am not well versed in software engineering, but in my simple mind ( if we are talking the same thing ) if the software says a specific cw or rtty signal needs to be displayed at this position on the panadapter then I would think the left and right arrows on the keyboard could be utilized to jump up or down the band to the next adjacent signal instead of manually tuning to that signal. I have yet to hook up my flex control. I prefer using my mouse, however, if I could use keyboard arrows to immediately jump to zero beat of an adjacent signal now that would be special.
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np2g

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Purists will take issue. And Fsk. Is their perfect. Rtty.
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N9TX

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I would like to see FSK implemented. However, it is not as big an issue to me as it is to some. I am happy to use AFSK as I have for the past year with my 5000a. Prior to that I used a Microham USB III Interface that provided FSK to my Icom ProIII, and it worked VERY well. It would be nice to have that option with the Flex 6000 series too. Again, I think more serious RTTY operators would be interested in Flex hardware if they could configure their existing applications to work like they do on a traditional radio. 
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N7AIG

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Seems to me that some form of "macro" facility is needed, whereby groups of settings can be arranged for whatever mode, RTTY included. This would collect the equivalent of a series of CAT commands that could be invoked at the press of a button or a menu selection. Certainly easy enough to do with outboard software. I have all kinds of special setups that I'll use for monitoring the ionosphere on WWV, or for FMT work, or for digital modes, etc. No one special mode will hit all uses, but a macro facility would enable anyone to set things up as needed.

73 de Dave, N7AIG

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Such a Macro Facility already exists in DDUTIL
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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I can say first hand that the RTTY decode ability of the integrated RTTY mode in the Kenwood TS-990 is superior to any software program I've used on any radio. I was able to copy the real weak RTTY stations.

The issue is as others have pointed out, getting the decoded data out of the radio to the logging program easily and also being able to use custom macros on TX make the software programs easier to use.

Now if we could have the dedicated filtering in the radio and still use the third party programs we'd have a home run. A simple twin peak filter would definitely help!

Dave, wo2x

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N9TX

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Let me see if I can put this in a little different perspective. Try thinking of RTTY as being just like CW but you don't have to copy in your head. When you set your radio to operate CW, it does a few things. First it adjusts your display frequency down 600Hz assuming lower side band. It adjusts your filter selection and centers them on the 600Hz offset frequency. It disconnects any audio coming from microphones. These are all the basic things we take for granted on just about any radio - traditional or software defined. 

Let's look at some of the reasons why we purchased a software defined radio to run CW. I just tuned in the W1AW/4 station on 40m who is running split. I know that because I can see all the stations responding to his CQ from 1 to 3kHz up on my display. This is an amazing feature that I dearly love. Now I set my XIT to +1500 to put me in the middle of the pack and turn it on. I now see a narrow red vertical bar showing me exactly where I will be transmitting. With this feature, I can also move my transmit signal using my FlexControl to match the frequency of the station that was just worked. In addition, I can also click on a spot from my DX Cluster application, and my radio is tuned to the transmitting stations frequency. I think everyone who runs any CW at all will agree that this is an amazing set of features for running CW. 

This beautiful picture all falls apart when I try to do the same types of things while running RTTY. I set my Flex to DIGIL since lower sideband is the standard for transmitting RTTY. I click on a spot in my DX cluster which tunes the radio to the station I want to talk to - well, sort of. By default, all the filters for DIGIL or DIGIU are centered on 1500Hz. This is fine if you are running PSK or packet, but I use MMTTY and prefer to use the standard high tones. OK, I can reset the passband to fit the high tones. Now I select a narrow filter from the filter list. Hmm, It just moved my center frequency back to 1500Hz. Not nice. Now I realize that not only are my filters centered on 1500Hz, I also realize that it tuned the receiver to the zero beat frequency and not even on the 1500Hz filter center.

We finally tuned the RTTY signal to the right place and got the filters adjusted. Now I have to set up the XIT to run split. That seems straight forward. I type in my offset and click the button to turn it on. Up pops my red bar showing me where I will be transmitting except it is 3kHz wide. Instead of showing me the width of my RTTY signal on transmit, it is showing me the full size of the transmitter bandwidth. That is not very useful when trying to place your transmit signal in just the right place so that rare DX station will hear you. 

I realize that there are a couple of different schools of thought on running RTTY. One would be the traditional method running programs such as MMTTY and 2Tone. The other would be applications like Fldigi and DM780 that are originally designed around operating PSK and other not RTTY digital modes. I happen to prefer the traditional method as do most serious RTTY contesters. Implementing a dedicated mode for RTTY that makes RTTY work the same way as CW will benefit both camps of RTTY operators. 

As a fairly new user of SmartSDR, I am hoping that I missed something here and the readers who know the software better than me will be able to show me how to run RTTY like I run CW. If not, I hope enough people who love their Flex radios will post comments of support the addition of these basic features in the near future. Remember, I am just asking for the basics here. The built in decoder and other bells and whistles can wait for later. 

Keith...
N9TX
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Jeff Gray

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Powersdr does have dedicated rtty. You will need to goto settings. Click on transmit, click on more profiles, add dig1500 and dig2210. DigU is 1500 and DigL is 2210. In settings these frequencies can be changed to suit. DIGU/L are for digital modes. It sets levels and turns off compression and such so it doesnt trip alc and clip signal. I run Flex 1500 PSDR 2.7.2

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Jeff Gray

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Powersdr does have dedicated rtty. You will need to goto settings. Click on transmit, click on more profiles, add dig1500 and dig2210. DigU is 1500 and DigL is 2210. In settings these frequencies can be changed to suit. DIGU/L are for digital modes. It sets levels and turns off compression and such so it doesnt trip alc and clip signal. I run Flex 1500 PSDR 2.7.2

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N9TX

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Hi Jeff. I agree it is much easier to run RTTY with PowerSDR than SmartSDR, but I would not consider it a dedicated mode with the feature set described above. I successfully ran RTTY on my 5000A for over a year. I would like to see the experience even better for Flex users.
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N9TX

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It occurred to me that there is one other area that the current Digital/RTTY implementation is lacking. This has happened to me a couple of times over the past few months. I'm trying to work a RTTY station listening up (split) on 30m. They are running near the top end of the band and I realize that SmartSDR will not let me transmit because my center frequency is out of band even though my actual transmitted RTTY signal is well within the legal band limits. If we had a dedicated RTTY mode that adjusted for the RTTY offset, this would be a non-issue.
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Jeff Gray

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If the center frequency Is out of band then you cannot legally transmit. The center freq. is your actual freq. It has a carrier on it albeit suppressed along with the side band your not using. I used to do that years ago. 
  I had finished a QSO. I moved down a few Kc and called CQ. An operator called me and told me as a courtesy that I was out of band. When I inquired further, he informed me that he was an OO. (Official Observer) He said he normally sends the pink notice of violation. It is a note saying your messing up or their is something wrong with your rig and to remedy the situation. Since I was still on air, he explained what an OO is and what they do and gave ma a verbal notice.
  The accepted unwritten rule of do not transmit within 3 Kc  of the band edge will keep you in safe ground. There is a reference mark for the center frequency. Make sure it is in the band and you will be fine. 
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Mark - NU6X

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I have been active on RTTY since the 70s, developing ham software on the Commodore 64. I was sadden  that SmartSDR is lacking in the area of RTTY. I had numerous conversations with Flex during the early days of PowerSDR and we all  finally got the tools needed. SmartSDR was a big step backwards in this area. There appears to be a mindset at Flex to roll RTTY into the digital modes at the sacrifice of RTTY. With the use of RIT/XIT and manually changing the filters I get most of what I need but it is not simple. Maybe " Profiles" will help.   At the bare minimum we need click tuning to the Mark/Space freq, proper RTTY Freq display, proper RX and TX filter display, and proper Contest Program/DX cluster freq. reporting..  With the panadapter and click tuning, operating RTTY is fantastic on Flex radios. It sure would be nice to see the suggestions by N9TX implemented. 
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Dean St. Hill

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Having just joined the community and doing my research I wish to agree with N9TX. Any serious rtty contester will confirm the critical need for a dedicated mode. With FSK, you are literally keying, switching on and off a circuit as opposed to feeding audio by whatever means into a rig.

One of the key differences between FSK and afsk is when running and a good rtty contester can run so2r running more than 100 qso's per hour with the really outstanding ones approaching 150+. When running in afsk it is very easy to have the auto-frequency-control on and then your tx is literally moving around (as seen by the other rtty decoders) as the tones are adjusted within the 3khz tx passband to appear as though you're moving. This is terrible when running. With FSK this is one less thing to worry about as it does not matter where your AFC is - it simply has no effect.

RTTY is easily the most widely used digital mode. It is used in contesting and growing rapidly as well as most major operations often have rtty as the only digital mode. And then there is dxcc.

Anyway I was quite surprised that there is no FSK keying. Frankly I think that is in fact a deal-breaker for the serious rtty ops.

I have only been operating rtty for about 10 years and can only claim a couple first place world titles in BARTG events and held NA records SOAB low power in CQ WPX. I dont operate any other digital modes unless i come across a new DXCC on say PSK. That has probably only happened once.

Bottom line if more mainstream rtty contesters are going to adopt Flex transceivers, their engineering people will need to better understand how the top contesters function.

Thats my 2 cents. Flame-proof jacket donned.

Dean 8P6SH/8P2K in contests
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Having a couple rtty plaques on the wall I totally and fully agree from my fellow contester from 8P. action on this front could get folks from using the 6000 black boxes instead of the other black boxes most contester default to now because they have these bases covered.

 De N6WM

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Ernest - W4EG

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Why just limiting SmartSDR to RTTY?

Been there since the early 60's with RTTY; why not demand that JT65/9 be included in the software?

Give me the option of what I want on my radio and not something several user of RTTY are asking.  

Flex please, stay on the roadmap and  in the future let those that want different software add on for their radio pay for it. 
 
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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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True FSK keying would be a good thing.
I don't know why Ernest is getting upset. The RTTY mode has been on the feature request list for a while.

Maybe a good feature for 2.x roadmap?

Dave
wo2x
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Chris DL5NAM

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But we get as next FM - what every HF operator or/and contester really need. It's so important to work FM on 29 MHz Relais. Sorry cant understand that.
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Burt Fisher

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You need to tell my why anything to do with contesting is somehow important as in, "really need." In FM a REAL conversation takes place, in contesting nothing of value is exchanged, they even lie about a signal report. When you devalue one aspect of ham radio, you provoke a response.
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Duane, AC5AA

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Oh, please, let's not have mode wars.  Both FM and RTTY are routinely available modes on all current radios that compete with the Flex-6000 line, so, by that measure, both should be included.  If you were to measure activity on both modes for some period of time, I think you'd find that RTTY has significantly more usage, and a larger user base overall.  DXing and Contesting are just as legitimate a use as casual conversations.  And I'm not even mentioning the day to day casual RTTY mode conversations . . .oops, I did.
(Edited)
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DrTeeth

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It does seem strange that with an SDR one has to use other programs to use certain other modes, even major ones like RTTY. In the future I would like to see digital modes integrated into SSDR, but only if they provide a better workflow or better performance.

To me, that is a big advantage of SDR especially as many of the additional programs one has for certain modes have not seen any development in years - and they still have the cheek to ask for a £50 (not $) registration fee.
(Edited)
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Dean St. Hill

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Sometimes in order to make a better, more sophisticated, higher technology, more functional, sexy wheel - that makes us all go - "wow!!!" - it just needs to be round.

Dean - 8P6SH / 8P2K
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Ernest - W4EG

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WO2X - Dave,

That is exactly what I say.
I am not upset.  What I did not like, was the request made about one mode in this case RTTY to be a priority; because the knob radio already have it.

Finally, if I understand v2 updates and enhancements  will be a pay version. Then and only then you can start to ask or demand for your particular software request. Again, if I'm  correct ... it will be put for a vote to see  how much of a demand there is.  

Flex stick to the roadmap since the majority of us approved the way you are heading.
(Edited)
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k0eoo

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SSDR needs a RTTY mode like PSDR has so you can click on a spot and have SSDR take care of setting up the offsets and filter BW.  I'm OK with using MMTTY or FlDigi as the digital mode handler...  I again tried to setup the offsets and filter BW on my 6500 to work K1N on RTTY but having to do that with two slices was a bust....

So, Flex-Team, PLEASE add a RTTY mode soon!  And as always, thank you for all you do....

Dennis, k0eoo
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Keith Regli (K7KAR)

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Perhaps all we really need is a "user defined mode" where we can specify the offset to the center of the filter (much like CW sidetone).  I think everything else kind of falls into place after that.


Keith K7KAR

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Chris DL5NAM

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Keith, it's a good idea.
But only after we have all this basic modes that EVERY radio has. Also the real cheap radios have. And if these basic Modes are include then SSDR will be for me the version 1.0. Still we have Beta version 0.1.38 ;-)
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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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With the addition of the Wave Form API which will be released sometime after 1.4 (1.5?), the open architecture will allow for Flex Radio Systems AND 3rd party developers to more easily develop and insert almost any mode into the 6000 family including FSK.  I think what you are hoping for will become available in the not too distant future.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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You know, I think this is really an interesting problem.

I came to ham radio later in life than most folks.  I've only been doing this for about 7 years.  So, when I started, digital modes had already been well established and I've always seen RTTY as "just another digital mode, like PSK-31, MFSK, or whatever."

So, whenever I worked RTTY, I would do so with a really wide set of tx and rx filters (like 5K wide each), and select where on my waterfall to work via my digimode program.  I would click on an RTTY signal, and my digimode program would center the AFSK frequency on it... when I spotted somebody, it would spot the center of the frequency.

I never even KNEW there was any other way.  It took me a long time to realize (a) different people work digital modes in very different ways, and (2) RTTY is special in a historical context.

So, there seems to be a bit of a split between the people who think "RTTY is just another digital mode, handle whatever you need done in the digi-mode program" and those who think "RTTY is unique, and we should be able to use an older-style "standard" RTTY program and have special support for an RTTY mode in the radio.

It quite literally took me years to understand this argument. And there's obviously no absolutely "right" or "wrong."

But it seems pretty clear to me that if a group of ops want to operate a certain way, expect to operate that way because that's the way that's supported by "standard" or "traditional" mode-specific programs that they know and love, and other radios indeed operate that way... then I can't see any way that SSDR can avoid eventually supporting this way of operating.

It won't be an style of operating I use, but I see how it could be really important to some folks.

Peter
K1PGV
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Keith Regli (K7KAR)

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Hey Peter,

I remember you from hanging out on Kathy Nearing's deck 20 years ago.  Don't think we talked about radio then.

I'm just figuring out how to use the 6500 I got in December, but I've been doing RTTY for about 50 years.  I think there are only a couple of things needed to make a real RTTY mode in SSDR, then there are some "nice to haves" and finally some things that people may want, but I think would be a mistake to add to SSDR.

The ability to click on a trace in the waterfall and have the intended signal centered in the appropriate filter is probably the main issue.  This also applies to logging programs which use band maps and/or packet spots to tell the radio the frequency of a desired signal.  Right now if you use DIGL which has a default filter center of 1500 hz and set your decoding program (usually something like 2-Tone) for Mark=1425 and Space=1585, the filter setup is easy, but you're off by 1500 hz.  For contesting and DXing this can be a big pain.  This is less critical for casual operating which should be more like other digital modes.

It would be nice to have a RTTY filter that was about 350 hz wide with a notch in the center (kind of a comb filter).  With the modern decoders I'm not sure that's too important anymore.

Some folks might like a RTTY decoder and maybe message buffers (ala CWX), but I think that would be a mistake.  FRS only has so many programming resources and there are others out there working on logging and decoding programs (N1MM, Writelog, MIXW tied to 2-Tone and MMTTY).

On transmit, it's pretty easy and reliable to setup AFSK through DAX, but historically, FSK has been a little more reliable and could avoid the offset problem.  Until I got the 6500 I've always used FSK, but using the DAX interface has made me feel very confident with the AFSK model.  For practical purposes FSK and AFSK produce the same results in a well designed radio.

Historically, the tone frequency for mark was 2125 hz because an 88mh torroid and a .068uf capacitor made a nice filter.  We've moved on from that, so holding to the old standard frequecies is pretty much irrelevant.  Today, shift is mostly 170 hz, but could be different.  Again, that should be controlled in the decoder and just allow filters to be wider or narrower.

I'm rambling, but maybe it will help non-RTTY people understand the desire for a RTTY mode.  Personally, I really like the 6500 and don't see it as a big problem.

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David Decoons wo2x, Elmer

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I agree with what you are saying and here's a few suggestions on what I would like to see.

A dual peak filter for RTTY, similar to how the Kenwood TS-990 does it. The 990 internal decoder is one of the best RTTY decoders I've used, especially when engaging the peak filter.

True FSK keying would be a good thing to ensure best IMD. If the AFSK levels are not set correctly along the digital audio chain, it can impact the TX IMD. FSK would eliminate the possibility of a tx level issue.

User configurable mode specific filters. Similar to what we had with PowerSDR. The ability to create custom rx filters that are a single mouse click away.

Dave, wo2x


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Mike

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Dedicated or not, SSDR cannot be set up to operate RTTY correctly. On my low end radio, an FT-857D, the frequency display can be offset to display the RTTY Mark frequency. This is the generally recognized way an RTTY frequency is displayed on most radios, spotting nets etc. SSDR, however, displays the carrier frequency. Unlike SSB, the carrier frequency does not have any relation to the actual transmitted frequencies anywhere except in my radio. Why is this a problem? Suppose I work a station on 3599 kHz. SSDR sends to my logging program 3600.585 kHz (assuming the standard  SSDR 1500 Hz digital filter offset). I just logged an RTTY QSO out of band! I didn't make it out of band -- just logged it that way. If I spot the QSO, it spots it out of band which, in the heat of the contest, may send other stations out of band. I hope the contest sponsors for the CQ WW WPX RTTY don't check for out of band operation. A few of my QSOs were logged that way. --Mike, WV2ZOW
(Edited)
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Chris Tate - N6WM, Elmer

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Yes Mike...  This is definitely a hot button item I think probably needs high level flex attention.  I have been struggling with this as well..

Flex radio team please provide a solution as this should be core functionality.  Remoting wont be any fun if we are always off qrg ;-)

~Chris, N6WM
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Chris DL5NAM

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Hello FRS can you hear us ?!
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DrTeeth

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Chris, this feature has been requested for a long time. It's always 'under consideration'.
(Edited)
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Chris DL5NAM

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Guy, i know it very well. That`s why i asking again. :-)
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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If it is "under consideration", then we have heard you.
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DrTeeth

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It makes me wonder why Digital Audio Mode was considered for inclusion in SSDR before a dedicated RTTY mode with the release of the waveform API. Not seen a single request for the former, but I really wanted it anyway ;-).

I'm just asking out of curiosity and not to be difficult, honest :-).
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Digital AUdio mode gives us MANY additional digital modes in addition to RTTY.  all at the same time, just by using the Digi program suite of your choice.

BTW.  I have made a post with my RTTY work-around on the other "Native RTTY" thread here:
https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/rtty-native-mode

Perhaps it will help others set up a work-around until such time as Native RTTY is implemented by FRS or a third party using the Waveform API.
Ken - NM9P