A Directed Messaging System for FSQ
Sending text using FSQ is generally very reliable, certainly more so than other digital modes that use no error correction. It is also very ‘slick’ (quick to tune, fast typing, and with no delays between overs). In other words an ideal mode for more advanced applications. Therefore, with just a little checking for errors, it has been possible to devise a very simple system (simple to use, that is), which can provide clutter-free communication (station selective squelch), and can also perform various message-related and station-related tasks.While not attempting to be a full Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) system, FSQCall performs similar functions (plus more) to allow stations to establish links and pass simple messages manually. The focus is on sending simple one-sentence messages or commands in a manner suited to the FSQ protocol. There is a handful of simple and easy to learn commands used by FSQCall. ALL of these are manually typed, while the receiver end is largely automated.
These simple commands allow you to:
- Find a station’s location and status.
- Read a station’s pre-defined message.
- ‘Poll’ a station to check how reception is.
- Send a sentence to all stations within range.
- Send a sentence to just one specific station.
- Send a sentence to be stored in a specific file.
- Change the transmitting speed at another station.
- Determine which program version a station is running.
- Call CQ (prints at all stations in range where CQ is enabled).
- Determine which other stations have been active, and when.
- Have a station relay your sentence to another station or stations.
- Raise an Alert at a station, with automatic response once acknowledged.
- Send a periodic ‘sounding’ message to let other stations know you are active.
This sounds like a tall order, but cunning design has allowed all this to be achieved with just eight easily remembered commands and a few others you won’t need much. The program itself lists the operating rules and syntax for you, so you can’t go wrong. The FSQCall message structure is simply an extension of FSQ. Every sentence starts automatically with your_call:<crc>. The crc (Cyclic Redundancy Check) is used to ensure that the source callsign is received correctly, since it’s often used in automatic replies.You simply type a destination callsign or direction (or maybe more than one), a one-letter command for each callsign (called atrigger), and a message, if needed. Then you just press ENTER, as in normal FSQ.
Here are some examples. The text shown bold is added automatically, outgoing text is in red, while replies (both automated and manual) are shown in blue. In the first exchange, ZL1BPU asks for ZL2ABC’s location, which is an automatic response:
zl1bpu:b6zl2abc@If in range, ZL2ABC will automatically reply:
zl2abc:2ezl1bpu Lower Hutt
Why is the callsign ‘zl1bpu’ repeated in the reply? So the receiving station FSQCALL selcall opens to allow the message to simply print:
As another example, ZL1BPU and ZL2ABC have established contact and are chatting, still with FSQCALL on:
zl1bpu:b6zl2abc Have you seen Jim ZL3JIM lately?
(ZL2ABC sees only Have you seen Jim ZL3JIM lately?)and ZL2ABC replies:
zl2abc:2ezl1bpu Yes, he was at the club meeting on Wednesday.
(ZL1BPU sees only Yes, he was at the club meeting on Wednesday.)
As you will by now have gathered, if your callsign isn’t in an incoming message, nothing will print. This keeps unwanted garble and stuff from other stations, not directed to you, off the screen. In the same way, unless you preface each transmission in FSQCALL mode with a callsign or allcall (a generalized callsign for all stations), nobody will see what you’ve sent.FSQCall acts like a smart squelch. It opens the receiver for printing (and other actions) when your callsign is received, and closes again when the actual receiver squelch closes (when the other station stops transmitting).
The Squelch is also ‘fade-proof’, using a smart delay squelch design to ride through fades that might otherwise close the Selcall.
Because the squelch also locks-out transmission, just as in FSQ, stations generally do not transmit over other stations, or reply until the other station has finished transmitting. Various delays are also added before automatic replies, in order to manage the priority of messages. Manually typed messages have the highest priority, automatic responses have medium priority, and sounding messages the lowest.
Up-to-date detailed descriptions of the FSQCall Syntax, suggested calling frequencies and Operating Rules are listed on the program Options Pane Syntax and Rules tabs.
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