Chat on the Air with LinPsk

The original international electronic hobbyist community is ham radio. Here are the basics of the chat room without the room.

Make sure that the net option is selected in the Tx Freq window, which is the default. This option causes the transmit frequency to be identical to the receive frequency.

You can enter text into the TX window while listening. The prescribe buffer spans up to 1,000 characters. This text is transmitted as soon as you push TX. While the text is being transmitted you can add more text. You can use copy and paste for adding text. When all is transmitted, switch back to RX.

Further Steps

After following or even doing a few QSOs, you should notice that most of the text you type is the same. So instead of typing callsigns and other things over and over again, you can use macros, which are intended to make repeating text as easy as possible. The macro functionality is explained by answering a CQ call as an example.

Answering a call usually follows a few standard steps. Switch to TX, send the remote callsign twice, then “de”, then your callsign three times, then “pse k” and then switch to RX. You can implement all of these steps in a macro. To create a new macro, open Add Macro in the Settings menu. The first thing to enter is the name of the new macro. This name serves as a label for the button that appears in the lower right-hand black box.

We use QSOStart as the macro name and mark the letter Q with a preceeding &, which enables us to execute this macro by pressing Ctrl-Q. Of course, one is able to execute this macro by clicking its button as well. The complete macro definition is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Available keywords for macros include your callsign, the other station's callsign and the time.

In the lower-left side of the window, you can see a list of available keywords. Double-clicking a keyword copies it from the keyword box into the macro definition.

Using the @TX@ and @RX@ keywords allows you to switch between different modes. The @CALLSIGN@ keyword references the callsign entered in the General Settings menu. @THEIRCALL@ and @THEIRNAME@ reference the callsign and name field in the QSOData window. You can fill in these fields by entering the corresponding values directly or by copying and pasting them from the RX window. If one of the referenced fields is empty, an empty string is printed when using the macro.

Even inserting the contents of a complete file into a macro is possible. To do so, one has only to enter the name of file in the user's home directory quoted by @, or click the @Replace by filename@ keyword and replace the text. No replacement of keywords takes place inside the files. I used such a text file for the description of my station and to introduce myself. Because I can use different files, I am able to send this description in different languages. The other keywords do exactly what their names suggest.

You can implement the macros depending on your own needs. The number of macros possible is limited only by memory and storage. If the macros are set up properly, one can handle complete QSOs with only a few mouse clicks.

Final tip: you should always save settings if you are interested in keeping your macros.

Additional Features

Some settings are available to tailor LinPsk to your personal needs. On the Font Settings submenu, for example, you can select the font and its size. In the colour submenu, you can choose the colour used to display text in the RX window. Then, when using many RX windows you can distinguish among them by colour. The colour of the text is calculated automatically, but you might prefer some other colours. Displaying the text is done in the same colour used to paint the center frequencies in the spectrum display.

The colours settings menu sets the colour only for the current active RX window. By saving the settings, all colour settings are saved and used again on restart. If you open more RX windows than there are colours set, the additional colours again are chosen by calculation.

If you want to save the text of a QSO, simply click Record qso. Clicking the Record button again stops the recording. You activate this feature for each RX window individually.

The main data of a QSO can be saved to a file. The data is written as plain ASCII text in adif format. The default name of this file is QSOData.adif and can be reset in the General Settings menu. If no file by this name exists in the home directory, the file is created. Each record is appended to the end of this file.