I have yet to really get a grip on the datamodes side of amateur radio. Most of my attempts at PSK and RTTY have been mini disasters and apart from that I cannot type fast enough. I set up macros and then cannot remember which function key to press, so when I have made a contact I usually fail to get a reply out before the other station has QSYed. So it comes as no surprise I have never given much thought to portable datamodes.
It would be easy to see how I could try as I own a small netbook, a Yaesu FT-817 and the cables needed to do any number of datamodes. If I was all that enamored with that side of the hobby I would probably have tried it by now, but it has never been a high priority for me. The only issue I can see is operating in the open seeing the screen is a bit of an issue. I know this from trying to read emails while out on hills because there was no mobile broadband coverage in the places I was staying.
Last night when we met up with Mads LA1TPA and his friends my wife Helen was fascinated by the NUE-PSK Digital Modem that Halvard LA1DNA was using to do PSK from the summits. The NUE-PSK digital modem could easily be used in the shack but is perfect for field portable operations. According to the website; The NUE-PSK is a small 7" x 4" x 1" standalone, battery-operated digital modem using a graphic display for transmit and receive text data, as well as for showing band spectrum and tuning. Just plug in a standard PS2 keyboard and connect to an SSB-capable transceiver like the FT-817 or the PSK-xx transceivers from Small Wonder Labs, and you'll have an effective digital mode station that goes absolutely anywhere.
It seems to me that teaming the NUE-PSK up with the similarly sized PSK-20, 30 or 40 from Small Wonder Labs would be an excellent idea and make for a neat and very compact portable station, ideal for SOTA and other portable operations.
Up until recently the way Helen and I operated on our SOTA adventures was that I did HF SSB and Helen GW7AAU did VHF FM, but since Caroline 2W0YLO and Adam 2W0DPI got licenced there is room for a change of plan. From time to time we have had to share bands or even contacts but Helen has been itching to branch out and do something different. For a while now she has suggested she could learn morse code and operate CW leaving SSB for me and VHF for the youngsters. Seeing the NUE-PSK got it in to her head that she could do datamodes if she had one, I am quite happy with that, however what I am not sure she understands is that the datamodem comes as a kit.
Oh well that is her Christmas presents sorted out; One NUE-PSK kit, One Small Wonder Labs PSK-30, a soldering iron and some solder, that should make a change from the bath salts and perfume!