Warbler PSK-31 Transceiver
Here is an exciting example of "new technology" in action. The Warbler operates on the new PSK31 digital mode in the 80 meter band. The Warbler was designed by Dave Benson K1SWL of Small Wonder Labs, who also designs PSK digital transceivers for other bands.
The New Jersey QRP Club originally produced the Warbler kits, however they are now available direct from Small Wonder Labs. In case you are wondering, the kit's name is derived from the two-tone sound that PSK signals make when listening to them on the air.
The Warbler is a board kit, as no case is provided with the transceiver. The photograph above shows what the kit looks like after construction. The completed rig puts out about 4 watts of power.
The circuit is actually pretty simple and uses low cost colorburst crystals to generate and receive PSK31 signals on 3580 kHz. There are no panel controls on the transceiver as all tuning and operation is performed by the computer. The Warbler interfaces to the computer sound card with two audio cables and there is one standard 9 pin cable to connect to the computer serial port.
Your computer will need to run one of several software programs to decode/encode the PSK transmissions. Digipan software, used by many operators, is available for free download from the Internet and makes getting operational on the PSK mode very easy. Digipan has a waterfall spectrum screen and you simply click the mouse on the signal that you want to receive and the text is printed out in another window.
PSK31 is very QRP friendly as the software is amazingly powerful in decoding weak signals that are just barely visible in the waterfall display. Most PSK operators are running low power and a few watts on 80 meters will go a long way. My first PSK contact was with KD7S in California, who was running a Warbler.
Eighty meters is an excellent band for local or regional PSK nets. The Four State QRP Group, based in the middle of the USA, conducts a very successful QRP PSK roundtable chat (the Wednesday Warble) every Wednesday evening. Check-in's from anywhere are invited.
Updated November 27, 2003