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Novice question with Digital/Analog

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I am studying for my technician right now. I don’t have a radio yet and no radio experience outside of FRS. So forgive me if this is something that will reveal itself in the course of actually using amateur bands for the first time.

I don’t get how digital can share bands with analog without it creating a mess. If someone is using digital on a frequency, isn’t that going to sound like gobbly gook on an analog system listening to that frequency? Does this just sort itself out in practice and become a non-issue?
 

Kevin_NH

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Technically, both types ultimately are using a modulation (e.g. FM) to encode a signal within a carrier wave, the difference is digital signals have much higher information density, and so can use a narrower channel band than analog

TMK, digital rarely shares the same frequency (channel) with analog transmissions, for exactly the reason you cite, one exception being In-band on-channel (IBOC), where the narrower digital transmission takes over a sideband of the analog transmission:

Just as you don't hear analog audio that is in the sideband, you don't hear the digital data as interference.
 
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Brewer

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Correct -- digital transmissions received on analog mode will just sound unintelligible. More experienced hams have told me each has their own characteristic sound, so a pro who is scanning on analog and stumbles on a digital transmission often can recognize whether it's DMR, DStar, etc and then switch modes to properly demodulate.
 
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I think when I get a radio in my hands and actually start listening, it will become more clear. From reading and watching YouTube, it seams that a lot of ppl are doing digital on a hotspot just to talk recreationally on the internet. I have no idea how much traffic is digital compared to analog in any local sense doing simplex or on a repeater. I guess I am imagining a lot of digital activities in the various bands that render someone with an analog only radio unable to communicate much.
 

cjammer

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There is 'typically' folks to talk to on both digital and analog. The digital networks are sometimes busier because they tend to be linked to other repeaters and or "chat rooms" (the different digital formats have different terms like reflectors, etc). While I typically hang out on a local analog repeater, I do have native D-Star and DMR capabilities. I say native because one neat thing some hotpots can do is for example take your DStar radio and talk to a DMR person (or various combinations of modes). I typically use a DStar HT to use many different modes on my hotspot (which in the case is an OpenSpot 3).

Some people will talk down about digital modes. You can use digital modes without any internet what so ever. Some people don't like the sound of one digital mode vs another. To me, it's all ham radio. Different tools for different jobs. Much like firearms have many different calibers, and firearm form factors, ham radio has many different frequencies and modes to get the job done.
 
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I like the idea of have digital capabilities. I’m leaning toward DMR as that seems to be the one that has the most momentum at the moment. Looking at the Anytone 878 after I pass my Technician.

Browsing the band plans for the NE, it seems like in some bands they have simplex fm designated as well as digital. I don’t know enough right now to understand them completely. Is it verboten to run DMR, DStar or Fusion simplex on designated fm simplex frequency ranges? Say you have two digital radios and you just want to have them talk to each other on digital, what frequencies are you allowed? All fm simplex or only certain freq?
 

AHM

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This is sounding a whole lot like the Best Practice for selecting your first handgun,
where you go to a commercial range, and spend a morning renting a bunch of different models.

You need to get in the shack of someone into digital modes while they're
busy operating. (And of course you can even transmit with a licensed operator
at the station control point).

But I've got nobody to suggest...

(And you need someone comfortable with
a total stranger in their shack -
either someone who DGAF about coronavirus,
or you slather on a lot of hand sanitizer
and wear a mask the whole time).
 

ToddDubya

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I've only messed around with digital a little a few years ago, but I thought the software handled all of the details. I use a Mac, and the software I had was Windows only, so it was a bit of a mess to use and I got discouraged.
 

mcb

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Correct -- digital transmissions received on analog mode will just sound unintelligible. More experienced hams have told me each has their own characteristic sound, so a pro who is scanning on analog and stumbles on a digital transmission often can recognize whether it's DMR, DStar, etc and then switch modes to properly demodulate.

this is true ... VHF/UHF digital sounds like a robot vomiting and HF digital like FT8 sound like a group of aliens singing.
 

Brewer

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this is true ... VHF/UHF digital sounds like a robot vomiting and HF digital like FT8 sound like a group of aliens singing.

I just got my ticket a few months ago and have primarily tinkered with a pair of 878s. Interstate move and a new baby have pushed it aside. Looking forward to learning those nuances.
 

n1oty

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I have played with all major forms of digital voice except for D-Star. My primary digital voice mode is NXDN for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, it is the predominant digital voice mode in my area. Second, NXDN radios are the easiest to program. I use DMR and P25 much less frequently. On the voice quality scale I like P25 the best, followed by NXDN, then DMR.

Any of the digital modes work well with a hotspot. I currently run one hotspot in my house on DMR and one on NXDN.

I suggest you first check your own area to determine what repeater types are available in your area. Analog repeaters are everywhere, but not digital repeaters. A good place to start is here:

nerepeaters.com

You can search by state, county, city or mode. Pay attention to the modes that are prevalent in your area. It will give you the repeaters that you are likely to use. More importantly, it means there will be others in that area that have experience in that mode and can mentor you.
 

Bladerunner

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There is a digital repeater near me, there are only a couple people that use it. I personally don't think the audio sounds that great. Certainly not enough to justify the cost and the fact that its a fringe area with ham radio that few utilize.
 
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