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Monday, May 23, 2011

SCS: New Pactor 4 Modem

SCS has posted a new modem for Pactor 4.  The P4dragon DR-7800 is the latest and in the line of pactor modems. This one the say has been redesigned with a fast quad-core DSP allowing high data rates. I am still a fan of software based digital modes like Winmore. It is nice to see advances in communications. Check it out and let me know what you think.

English translation:

http://tinyurl.com/Pactor4SCS

For those that speak German:

http://www.pactor4.com/SCS_DRAGON_DE/Home.html


 

47 comments:

  1. It looks nice and I dare say it works well, but ought we to be using closed, proprietary systems in ham radio?

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  2. Thanks for the comment. I could not agree more with you. I am glad to see new things for Ham radio, but I would like to see more open development like Winmore and such. I put Pactor and D-Star in the same group, and I am not a fan of them.

    73

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  3. At least with D-Star you can decode a callsign and figure out who is transmitting without anything proprietary.

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  4. How would you do that without buying the proprietary AMBE chip?

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  5. care to share more Anonymous?

    any mode or system that requires a person to purchase an item that is controlled by only 1 person or group is proprietary, and should be banned from amateur radio. I can roll any radio I want, but I'll be damned if I will play on a system that makes a person rich because I have to buy their crap!

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  6. proprietary ??? i'm shure 99.99 % of the HAMs
    dont understand the Firmware codes !!!!
    also noch the proprietary from Kenwod- Icom- und Yaesu's TRX ...

    But I'm shure that is one of the BEST Modem
    of all HAM-Radio dealers !!

    73 Alf
    .-.-. ..

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  7. Hello all,

    I can't understand why we shouldn't be able to use a proprietary PACTOR modem from SCS but we are allowed to use radios from YAESU, ICOM, KENWOOD, ELECRAFT etc. with proprietary firmware for their CPU, or the AMBE chip in DSTAR Radios, or even worse, proprietary operating systems such as WINDOWS, MAC O/S, proprietary programs such as WINMOR, Ham Radio Deluxe, should I continue?

    Although I am a fanatic user of LINUX (open O/S), I still use Windows as well and, I would love to see one guy that uses only LINUX for his computer needs, a homemade computer, a homemade radio, a homemade modem, a homemade aerial, a homemade mobile phone for his communications needs.

    Today this is impossible unless one wants to operate CW only.

    One thing is for sure though. The new Pactor 4 modem beats them all. 10500 bps on HF and the ability to lower it's transfer speed automagically and hold the link until -18dB SNR? Well this is something I would like to see guys! And I thought Pactor 3 was impressive at 5,200 bps.

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  8. Hi again,

    Here is http://www.pactor4.com/en/PACTOR-4.html the latest Pactor 4 information WEB PAGE in English and it says that Pactor 4 can still decode a PACTOR signal as low as -20dB @ 4 khz albeit at a slow speed but it never loses the link. I guess that if one uses a 2.4 KHZ XTAL/Mechanical filter (normal in an amateur HF trasceiver) this -20dB becomes even lower, maybe -21 or -22dB? So -20dB is a conservative estimate.

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  9. Hi Alf and all,

    Please join us on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pactor_packet/join

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  10. I know most hams do not build their own equipment but Many of us like to build and experiment. I was always taught by my Elmers that ham radio was an open source hobby. As long as the FCC has no problems with whatever mode is not open and free then it can legally be used in this country. I myself think everything in this hobby should be open source. This would help promote the future of what ham radio is.
    73
    Jim KC4BQK

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  11. May I remind you that WINMOR is not OPEN SOURCE either. If all we used was OPEN SOURCE PROTOCOLS then we would still be in the dark ages I'm afraid.
    It would be great if PACTOR 2 or 3 and now 4 (BTW Pactor 4 goes up to 10500 bps on HF), DSTAR and WINMOR were OPEN SOURCE as well as many Radio Amateur Programs, and Operating Systems like Windows, MAC O/S etc, but unfortunatelly they are not.
    What do we do in this case? Stop using them and stay in the dark ages? I personally would not like that at all.

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  12. Quote from Winlink "The protocol (not the software) is fully documented and is without restrictions or license issues which might prevent anyone from implementing the protocol in other software. The WINMOR TNC software is also fully documented as an API for developers. The software TNC can freely distributed when paired with a developer's own host application software."

    See it here: http://www.winlink.org/WINMOR

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  13. Hi Jim,

    Another quote from the Winlink site in the same page says "The WINMOR TNC software license is provided in the help files of the downloaded program, and is not in the public domain."

    I know that WINMOR does not cost a lot but it is not OPEN SOURCE because it is not in the PUBLIC DOMAIN as per Winlink's quote above.

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  14. I contacted the US Distribtor for SCS and the sales guy says that P4 doesn't fit the technical specs for HF digital so it effectively bans its use (something about the symbol rate but I don't have the P4 specs). I am sure it can be used on VHF, but who will do that?

    Bottom line, it is retailing about $1850 and will get few sales outside professional/government users on the commercial bands (SailMail, Military, DHS etc). While the software/hardware might make it perform better on P2 and P3, are people going to pay the premium for a Pactor only modem? I doubt it.

    73 Jeremy N1ZZZ

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  15. I have designed the speedlevels 2-10 of Pactor 4, see www.ibega.de/proj.htm (available in german only). It took three years of full-time work to develop the algorithms with MATLAB, to build a PC-based demonstrator for on-air tests, and to implement the algorithms on a quad-core DSP with a lot of heavily-optimized hand-crafted assembler code. No single person and no community can do this for free. It requires leading-edge expertise in many fields. Similar developments in the defense industry (for example, MIL-188-110 or STANAG 4539) cost millions of dollars. The next generation (P5) will be even more complex.

    Eberhard Gamm
    eberhard.gamm@ieee.org

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  16. Hi Eberhard,

    First of all congratulations. It seems that SCS (including you) have done marvelous work in Pactor 4, as in all other implementations of Pactor 1/2/3 in the past.

    It would be nice though if you and SCS could make the new P4dragon support all the modes the older PTC-II series modems did. As it is P4dragon is not 100% useful to Radio Amateurs, but only to the die hard Pactorists like me.

    It would be great if you could also support PSK-31, RTTY, SSTV, WEFAX, NAVTEX, perhaps ALE 141 and perhaps other exotic soundcard modes (MFSK, Olivia etc.) as well as Pactor. Also a Pactor listen mode is imperative because as it is now we cannot have any Pactor QSOS with the P4dragon, and QSOS are the best part in Amateur Radio.

    It is a shame to tell you that I have read in the newsgroups that people are thinking of using MULTIPSK (a soundcard program) for calling CQ Pactor on 100 baud Pactor FEC and for decoding FEC Pactor CQ calls from others and then switching to their P4dragon for a Pactor 1/2/3 or 4 QSO. Instead P4dragon should have this ability of listening or transmitting FEC Pactor.

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  17. Eberhard

    I am glad you stopped by. I like what you are doing with Pactor, but it is getting away from "Ham" roots. There is a place for this technology so keep up the good work. I would like to see some more ham specific software and hardware developed. I would of course like to see open source.

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  18. @Anonymous:
    Designing an up-to-date mode like P4 pushes SCS to its limits. Development has startet in 2005 and the Dragon has entered the market in 2011. It is impossible to spend another 6 years to implement the other modes with an acceptable performance. The company would become insolvent and we would end up with nothing at all. You may choose to discuss this topic with SCS's CTO and product manager Hans-Peter Helfert. Please contact him via the SCS web page.

    @Jim:
    The development of P4 took about 20 man-years. You would like to see open source, but are you willing to work 20 years for free ? Besides, the credo of the open source community is as follows: do not complain, but implement !

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  19. I f you are working on commercial stuff make it proprietary and make money. I believe in open source for ham radio, and if I could do it I would. There are a lot of Hams out there that are developing open source software for ham radio. I know there are many in the ham community that have no problem with proprietary modes such as D-Star and Pactor modes, but I think this goes against the spirit of Ham radio. These modes are leagle here in the US, but I still like to see more open modes.
    73

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  20. HIRAM PERCY MAXIM, PATENT HOLDERJuly 25, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    Haha. Funny, reading all the naive comments from the poor and hating it crowd here about "proprietary" Pactor.

    Get real. Any of you clowns ever study history?

    Starting with Marconi radio has been "proprietary" and almost every component in every electronic device ever made was at one time patented. Many still are patented.

    If you can't afford SCS technology, man up and say so. Pretending you sit on some moral high horse about "open systems" (wtf????) is not only a lie, it's uninformed about reality.

    Piss off.

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  21. This has been a nice civil discussion up to this. I want to hear all sides, that is why I have this Blog, but why must you post like this? You could not even "man up" and give us your name and callsign. If you would like to continue to post here please don't do it like this.

    73

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  22. @Jim:
    Pactor IV is designed for email-over-HF and has to provide maximum throughput in order to use the frequency resources efficiently. There has been a revolution in the wireless industry starting with the invention of turbo algorithms (turbo coding, turbo equalization, ...) that has raised the complexity of layer 1 & 2 algorithms by orders of magnitude. You can not design an up-to-date mode for free. You will need a team of highly-skilled experts, that has to work full-time for years. Therefore, Winlink's WINMOR will never provide the throughput of Pactor IV.

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  23. Eberhard,

    I wonder if the WINMOR guys will ever manage to beat the now ancient Pactor 2 in performance and Pactor 3 for speed, never mind Pactor 4!

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  24. Times change and so does Ham Radio. These arguments over what Ham Radio was built upon will never end. Witness the never ending debate on the propriety of non-code General and Extra licenses. If we are going to make claims on what Ham radio was based on then I would prefer to accept the idea that progress and improvement in communication is the core of our hobby. There will always be a segment of the Ham Radio community that will never accept things like echolink, IRLP,non code licenses and apparently now, Pactor. They are fully entitled to their opinions. Many however, disagree and they are likewise entitled to their opinions.
    Pactor 4 is a significant technological breakthrough for the Amateur Radio world and it seems odd to call for a ban just because the device can't be built by regular hams or because it's proprietary. The number of hams that could build their own anything is so small that it shouldn't matter. If the objection is that it is proprietary, then a great deal of the Ham Radio gear we use would be gone.

    I can't wait for the Pactor 4 modem to be made available to the Amateur community.

    Dave
    K6DTK

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  25. Dave

    You have missed the point. I never said it needs to be banned. I only said that it does not go with my open source view of ham radio. Yes pactor is great for communications, but Pactor4 is not legal in the US except for MARS. Also the cost is a factor for most hams.
    73
    Jim
    KC4BQK

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  26. Jim

    I neither missed your point nor ignored it. In fact I went to great pains to address your "open source" argument, which of course is just your opinion. I respect that, but do not agree and thankfully neither does the FCC, (witness the legality of the current crop of P2 and P3 controllers from SCS.)

    I can only wonder what the comment about "cost" has to do with the issue. I hope that you are not suggesting that only Ham equipment that "most Hams" can afford, should be allowed. I understand that many Hams may not be able to afford the cost of SCS equipment, but I was not aware that this fact has or should have anything to do with what we are allowed to use. The solution is simple - if you can't afford it, don't buy it!

    On the legality issue, I understand that many have opined that it is not legal in the US (for Amateur use) but I have not seen anything from the FCC confirming that.

    Dave
    K6DTK

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  27. Cost is not a factor in what should or should not be, but haw many of these would actually be available in an emergency? There is a need for open source for Ham radio and I will carry the flag. Check this out: http://pactor.com/

    73
    Jim
    KC4BQK

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  28. Jim:

    Thank you for the link. I had previously seen the "Pactor News" website, but Phil, N8PS, merely suggests that the legality of the new modem has been brought into question. It would be helpful if we had some further insight into what the FCC intends to do.

    I think that perhaps I could have been more careful in the way I phrased my previous comments. I too, feel that there is a need for open source in Ham Radio and I applaud your efforts to "carry the flag". Where I have parted company with some of my fellow Hams, is when there are calls to ban equipment for amateur use merely because of the proprietary nature of the equipment. I see no reason to deny, ban or unnecessarily restrict my access to equipment where there is no open source. That, of course, is my opinion.

    I certainly can't give you any reliable numbers on how many Pactor units would be available in an emergency, but I can tell you that mine would be and many of the emergency preparedness groups, such as SATERN, would be as well. If it offers an ability to help in an emergency, it would be sufficient if there was only one.

    Dave
    K6DTK

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  29. We all have our own thoughts about things and we may never agree. The theme of my blog is to promote the future of Ham radio. I believe "The Future is Digital Communications" and I will bring all forms to the blog. I do lean towards the open source side and though I will not promote "banning" anything that is legal for ham use.

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  30. An earlier post said the cost of pactor is a factor for most hams, but I'd like to point out that some antenna arrays, PAs, and rigs are more expencive than a Pactor modem (including pactor IV). I don't hear those cost arguments being applied to the expencive ham hardware so, logically, it doesn't apply here with a pactor modem. I also don't see source code for the firmware in radios being offered up freely but I do see the warnings against reverse engineering the firmware from the manufacturers. I really fail to see the validity of some arguments being presented here against pactor modems given the tolerance shown for Yaesu, Icom, and other equipment manufacturers.

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  31. You are correct about "some" costing more, but that does not keep a ham from using a mode at a low or moderate cost. I do not quite understand your comment about firmware? That is not a mode used on the air, also you can use a radio without that firmware.
    73

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  32. I'll cite moonbounce as a mode that would take more than 2000 dollars of equipment in the shack and on the tower (including the tower) to acheive.

    Regarding firmware, it is the software that runs internally on modern radios. A few hams try to hack the firmware to add features that normally would not be permitted in their operating region. And they do so despite the warnings from the radio manufacturer. Features would include, among others, extending transmit frequencies outside of the Ham bands, enabling mode operations outside accepted norm of the regional band plans, etc. (the latter not necessarily being illegal in terms of operation, but you wouldn't want to broadcast that fact that you hacked the manufacturers firmwae to the manufacturer due to the justified legal reprisals. )

    Perhaps the reason hams don't complain about proprietary software controlling the internals of their rigs is that sooner or later they will be able to download a hack in firmware or perform a manual hardware hack when the information is discovered and shared.

    Bringing us back to pactor modes 2-4... If some hams don't have the ethical fortitude to resist modifying their equipment by altering priprietary firmware or making other hardware changes that allows their equipment to operate outside legal and/or suggested guidelines, then it seems hypocritical that same category of hams, and the category of hams who would benefit, would argue against a mode for only the reason that they can't hack and implement their own versions, not because the firmware controlling the mode is proprietary, but because the few hams trying to figure it out are unable to do so.

    Pactor 1 worked very well from modem to modem, however when other less expencive implementations of Pactor 1 came on the scene, quality and reliability went down to tubes harming the reputation of the mode and the reputation of the original equipment manufacturer. When pactor modems are being used as a lifeline for folks out at sea, I can fully understand why a corporation would want to prevent a communication mode they have developed from being hacked and modified in the original hardware, or implemented on inferior hardware.

    Make it a great day.

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  33. Moonbounce can be done very easily with JT65, so you do not need thousands of dollars to begin. The firmware you talk about is not a mode sent over the air. If it is commercial, it is not ham, so strike that. What I believe has nothing to do with not being able to hack it but in the spirit of what I believe ham radio to be. You and I have two different views.
    73

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  34. I think I will chime in here.

    Personally I think it is great what SCS has done. I like inovation. I do not like patents and closed source though. SCS cannot be blamed for wanting to make money and if, as a ham, you wish to use this proprietary mode then by all means! please do.

    However, (there always is eh? :P) I do fully agree with the argument that a firmware of a radio is only used to control that rig. I can still communicate over the air with it with units that are 100% homebuild if need be. D-star as a protocol is just great, it misses a few things, but I aplaud it. I do NOT aplaude the AMBE vocoder though since that is not something that I can recreate, if need be. The moment I can lay my hands on a kit and work in another codec I am going to have some fun on the current D-star repeaters since there is nothing that can prevent that :)

    But I digress. Winlink and such uses pactor. Winlink is used by ARES and what not and I think that anything that is used in emergencies needs to be open source for the plain and simple reason that anyone needs to be able to understand and modify that which he or she uses.

    Sur 99% of the ham use windows and what not but that is besides the point. Vendor lockin is bad in voluntary areas. And I am not even mentioning HAM spirit here but I could rant on about that ;)

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  35. Blah blah blah...

    Please tell me, what else, apart from Pactor-3 can do 5200 bps on HF, or which other mode apart from Pactor-4 can do 10500 bps on HF?

    If you want a speedy and robust protocol, then PACTOR is the way to go! Even the NATO military protocols are far more inferior on HF, unless you use 400 watts and at least a 3 ELEMENT YAGI on HF. I cannot afford a LINEAR AMPLIFIER and I cannot install a 3 ELEMENT YAGI! So if I want a speedy HF protocol Pactor 2,3 or 4 is the only way to go, especially when one is operating a low end Ham Radio Station and he/she needs the speed on HF.

    If you do not need the speed then WINMOR is OK, but WINMOR cannot even compete Pactor 2 and it needs a decent laptop and a decent soundcard (which means extra money), whereus Pactor 2,3,4 can operate even with a Windows 98 laptop or a dead cheap netbook.

    You might save some money with WINMOR or other soundcard modes, but I am not sure the save is worth mentioning, unless if you are only interested in PSK31 or RTTY and chewing the rag to death, in which case an ancient windows 98 capable laptop with it's internal soundcard is more than enough!

    It all depends on what you want to achieve in amateur radio comms.

    73 de SV1UY

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  36. I think there is a big difference between a transceiver that can be used for multiple modes of operation that may cost more then the P4 Dragon and a single mode modem; it's easy to justify the expense of the transceiver to a spouse that may not be a ham, but much harder to so for a focused product. I'm sure this is one reason why a lot of hams are going to sound card based modes like Winmor instead of buying the P4 Dragon; I know I can't justify spending at least double what I payed for my HF tranceiver (an FT-817) to buy it.

    To the gentleman that was talking about how the proprietary AMBE chip limits what can be done with D-Star; hogwash: I can use a schematic I found on the Internet along with the source code for the microcontroller and make a fully functional D-Star transceiver with 4 or 5 integrated circuits, a few discreet components and an LED display. Even without the AMBE chip, I can build a D-Star repeater using nothing more than an old Motorola R-100 repeater, a PC and an open source software controller program, and I can do it on either Windows or Linux.

    Matthew Pitts
    N8OHU

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  37. Hi,

    Of course it is up to each individual to decide how to spend their hard earned cash! And each one has different priorities.
    This does not mean that P4dragon is an expensive modem, because for what it offers it isn't! And it cannot be compared with DSTAR, since it is a different beast altogether!
    It would be great if it only costed 500 EUROS or so but you can't expect 6 man years of developing to go unpaid!
    It is silly that many companies in USA are still trying to make money by selling us modems from the 1980s era! At least the SCS guys try to improve their Pactor every 5 years or so. They started with Pactor 1 way back and now we have Pactor 4!

    They have already started developing Pactor 5.

    They never sit still like PACCOMM, KANTRONICS, MFJ and other companies that sell DIGITAL MODE CONTROLLERS! They do not try to sell 1980s stuff to us!

    To me this is a good thing, otherwise we might as well stick to RTTY because it is cheap or free! This is not bad if one is happy to stick to RTTY of course, but it is not progress.

    It all depends what you want to do with the hobby!

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  38. Pactor I was reverse engineered, while SCS was not happy, it already had 2 and 3 in pocket then, and 4 on the way. Something doesn't need to be reverse enginnered; a new codex can be made for just as good. But who would put the money and time into that? $ 1580 is a bargain. If someone offered me that amount to develop a comparable 10kb reliable soundcard mode, I'd turn it down, it would cost me considerably more.
    I've over 60 years of ham radio under my belt, much of that in data modes, very early into computers long before internet was even in diapers, built a warehouse full of roll my own electronics, learned machine code, C, C+, C++ and compiles. If anything bothers me, it is that technology and progress doesn't move fast enough! Modern hams are great appliance operators. Buy a radio, a TNC, get some interface cables, plug it in, get it on the air and call themself a ham? Passing a ham exam used to be tough; passing a commercial exam, even tougher, an FAA tech exam, downright painful. We EARNED it.
    Tom

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    Replies
    1. No pactor1 wasn't reverse engineered. As with Amtor, RTTY, and BPSK, Pactor1 was originally produced as either freeware or opensource, as basically something better than the aging Amtor, RTTY, and BPSK systems that all had various defects in certain propagation conditions (each one had its own unique downfall). Pactor 1 was (like all these other modes) made for free, and was designed to superscede these less efficient modes.

      In fact MultiPSK which is perfectly legal software, is based on this Pactor1. If pactor1 got into the public domain only through reverse engineering, then since reverse engineering is illegal, the fruits of that reverse engineering are also illegal (It would be a literally be a crime to use MultiPSK and any other non-SCS software that used Pactor1 without SCS's conscent). Therefore since it IS legal to use MultiPSK, that is PROOF that Pactor1 was NOT brought into the public domain through reverse engineering.

      Delete
  39. You should realize that all SCS needs to be put out of business is for a group of dedicated hams (with maybe some of them having degrees in electrical engineering, computer science, physics, math, etc) to be willing to put in a few years of work for free all for the benefit of the ham radio community, to invent a new mode with the similar performance as Pactor 2,3, or now 4. The guys at SCS used Matlab to design the protocol? I hear that's expensive software, but if a group of dedicated hams got together and pooled their resources, they could get enough money for at least one copy of Matlab for their group, to help them design this new mode.

    I mean really if you want to have a "free Pactor 4" or something, just gather up a group of such dedicated hams, and make it yourself.

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  40. The legality issue is about bandwidth. The maximum allowed bandwidth for SSB operation in the HF bands is 3khz. To transmit at 10000 bits per second as Pactor4 can do you will need at least 10khz bandwidth (with each bit being covered by 1 complete cycle of the carrier wave) in SSB mode (would be 20khz in AM mode). 10khz is WELL ABOVE the max allowed in in the HF bands with a ham license. It's PERFECTLY LEGAL to use though in VHF and UHF and higher bands.

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    Replies
    1. A Pactor IV signal fits neatly in 2.4KHZ SSB Maximum data rate is possible with a +16 signal. The issue, I believe, is the number of symbols per second allowed.

      Delete
  41. Totally incorrect about the bandwidth OM Anonymous (April 22, 2012 3:14 PM).

    Pactor 4 needs only 2.4 KHZ of bandwidth. This is as much as an HF SSB voice transmission needs.
    I know this very well because I own a P4dragon and use it everyday on 20m. The reason is that Pactor 4 works very near the Shannon limit, no other protocol can do this in such a narrow HF voice channel.

    For VHF/UHF we have other faster protocols such as D-Star, which can do 128 kbps and hopefully after this autumn we will have the new Universal Digital Radios UDR56k-4 that will be able to do 56kbps for $395.

    For HF though there is nothing better than Pactor 4 for Radio Hams using their normal HF Radios at normal 2,4 KHZ voice bandwidth. Remember that Pactor 4 can do 10,5 kpbs with compression.

    73 de Demetre SV1UY

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  42. **YAWN**
    pactor II, III, and IV are designed to work well in good and adverse conditions. It is designed to be a maritime communication lifeline, but can also serve land-based hams equally well. No other mode can deliver the robust speed of pactor III and IV. While the means to generate pactor II, III, and IV signals may be proprietary, it is certainly not the same as encrypting the signal to prevent a third party from decrypting a message. If you want to play pactor II, III, and IV, buy a modem. If you want to play ham and roll your own protocol, buy yourself a $100,000 spectrum analyzer, some programable DSPs and controllers and get to work.

    I detect a lot of sour grapes from sound-card mode operators. I do think some sound card modes could be designed to operate fast and robust, but I also beleive that it would require high quality audio hardware costing in excess of 150.00 rather than a $3.00 audio chip on a 10 year old PC motherboard or a $6.00 used sound card.

    The matter is simple, for hams that have reliable high-speed digital communication (even in poor conditions) as a priority, Pactor IV is the way to go. For hams that that have cost as a priority, sound cards are the way to go.

    The reality check rule applies here: Inexpensive, Fast, Works well under poor conditions... Pick 2

    One thing almost seems sure though, in a S.H.T.F. crisis with no power for more than a week, it will likely be only the dudes with the money for wind and solar on the air, and I bet that 95% of the data volume being passed will be pactor II, III, and IV.

    BTW, Demetre's got it right, pactor IV only needs 2.4KHz... It's the symbol-rate that keeps it off the Ham bands here in the USA.

    As for me, I'll keep my Bible, my guns and my pactor. Long Live Texas!

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  43. Quick update:

    The ARRL submitted a proposed rule change to the FCC which would allow for an increased symbol rate, thereby making use of the Pactor4 modem legal in the US. The comment period just passed (12/23/13) and the response from the public made this petition one of the most active on the FCC's website.

    The comments were largely in favor of the rule change and a decision should be coming down soon. I think I'll place my order for a P4.

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  44. Tell me again why it is I need Pactor 4 (or 3 or 2)? I forget. Certainly it isn't to get my 30 pieces of email a day. And I'm pretty sure that if I want to send/receive large files I'm goint to use the fiberoptic internet connection. God bless these folks who went to so much trouble and expense to advance the art of high speed communication and they deserve to make a fine return on their investment, but honestly, what they have to offer does not appeal to me and I don't know one other ham who has any practical use for the gear - other than perhaps to have the ability to say 'Gee whiz, look at me!' and that does not seem like a very healthy thing. Yeah, it woud be great if there were a free way to use the mode 'just because' but I'm Ok with not using it.

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  45. Two things here:
    1) the spirit of HAM radio includes having the knowledge to build your own from components. Sure we use iCOM (and I have a couple), but it's also important to be able to build and setup antennas, tuners and amplifiers. Otherwise we're just another consumer of electronic toys--albeit licensed consumers.
    2) one of the most valuable aspects of HAM radio is being able to communicate where no WIFI or fiberoptic lines exist. For example 500 miles offshore.

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