PSK31 operating is all about the macros. These are pre-canned sets of common information that you need to send on a per QSO basis, these obviously save you from typing a lot and they do get a lot of use! Macros are also helpful for non-English speaking amateurs, as they just need to setup the macros once and then most PSK31 operating situations are taken care of.
The digimode software you use will let you set these up and may even come with some pre-configured macros to get you started. PSK31 macros are often written in a dynamic way, so if your callsign changes, you only need to update this once and it will apply to all your macros that send your callsign (most of them then!). We’ll see more about this later.
The macros i’ve listed out below are what i have setup and use in fldigi for PSK31 and may not be exactly the same in other digimode software, either way they will give you a good idea of the common macros and their structure.
Common macros include:
- Calling CQ
- Answer a CQ call
- Start a QSO
- About Me/QTH
- Station details (brag)
- End the over (kn)
- End QSO (sk)
You can see how these relate to my macro buttons in fldigi:
Each of these macros are useful and really save you time, enabling you to only have to manually type messages that deviate away from a standard QSO. It’s even possible to have a QSO while talking with the XYL!
Although macros are amazingly useful they can take the human touch out of a QSO, especially a datamode QSO! I always try and inject something human into the QSO, specific to the station i’m calling otherwise it can feel a bit like two robots chatting to each other!
Let’s start with the most obvious macro first… calling CQ. You’ll use this a lot!
CQ CQ CQ de <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL>
CQ CQ CQ de <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL> CQ pse k
As you can see above there is a place holder for my callsign <MYCALL>, fldigi automatically sets this to the callsign you have added during setup.
Answer a CQ call
You’ll use this every time you want to reply to a station calling CQ.
<CALL> <CALL> <CALL> de <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL> kn
The <CALL> place holder is replaced by the callsign you have added to the Call textbox (tip: in fldigi this is done by double clicking a callsign you have received).
This macro will be used every time you start another transmission to the station you’re having the QSO with. I normally send this first, then the Me/QTH macro and then finish with the End the Over (kn) macro.
<CALL> <CALL> <CALL> de <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL>
This macro obviously isn’t much use by itself and should be considered the header of the message, i always add some content underneath, usually a signal report and the About Me/QTH macro.
This macro contains details about you and your location (QTH), these details are normally added to your digimode software settings during setup. This macro is inevitably sent near the start of a QSO and will give both station the vital details they need to know about one another.
Name: <MYNAME> <MYNAME>
QTH: <MYQTH> <MYQTH>
LOC: <MYLOC> <MYLOC>
QSL via Bureux or eQSL
This is where some stations get a bit keen and send all the details under the sun! I find it helpful to keep it down to the essentials, the other station will let you know if they’re interested in anything else.
Station details (brag)
This is one of my lesser used macros, i only tend to send the details of my station if the other station shows an interest or has sent me theirs. Otherwise i may just be sending this to a station that doesn’t really care too much about my equipment!
Rig: Flex-3000 SDR
Ant: Home made multiband dipole (40m/30m/20m/17m/15m)
Web: randomizethis.co.uk / qrz.com
I’ll “top and tail” this with the Start QSO and End the over (kn) macros.
End the over (kn)
After sending a message to a station, you want to make it clear that you’ve finished transmitting and they can proceed. This is what this macro is for.
btu <NAME> <CALL> de <MYCALL> kn
End QSO (sk)
This macro should be used at the end of a QSO when you have nothing left to say and would like to go silent key (sk). It’s customary to include thanks and 73’s to the other station.
tnx fer QSO <NAME>, 73s and hope to speak again soon
<CALL> de <MYCALL> sk
Note the sk at the end of the message, this tells the other station we’re going silent key and won’t be transmitting any more.
You may have noticed that Call CQ and Replying to a CQ Call are the only self contained macros. The other PSK31 macros need to be combined with one another in order to be useful and complete.
A common combination which i use to send my vital details, is as follows:
- Start QSO Macro
- Hand typed greeting & signal report
- Me/QTH Macro
- End the over (kn) Macro
This combination results in the following message:
YO4FKO YO4FKO YO4FKO de 2E0JCQ 2E0JCQ 2E0JCQ
GE OM Remo
RST is 499 499 here (near London)
Name: James James
QTH: Berkhamsted Berkhamsted
LOC: IO91wo IO91wo
QSL via Bureux or eQSL
btu Remo YO4FKO de 2E0JCQ k
You can easily see how a few macros make light work of the basic situations you will face during PSK31 operating. Macros are purely to make life a bit easier and save you from typing the same details over and over again, but at the end of the day you shouldn’t use them exclusively, the other station will appreciate a hand written message much more.