Olivia — the Magic Mode

I have to give credit to Gary L. Robinson, WB8ROL, for the title of this post. I met him on the air tonight using Olivia 500/16, and pretty soon I was reading his article about this mode . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Olivia 500/16. Image obtained from http://www.oliviamode.com.

My introduction to Olivia took place yesterday afternoon at a meeting in a little coffee-shop in Marshall between the MN ARES® ASEC, Section 5 DEC, Lyon Co. EC, and myself (at which I accepted the position of Yellow Medicine Co. EC, but that’s another story). They explained that FLDIGI is the software they are training people on, that every Thursday evening at 8:00 P.M. there is a MN ARES® digital net on 80 meters, and that they are using Olivia 500/16 for this net.

Well, my power of recall being what it is, I’d forgotten all about it till I heard the clock chime 8:00 while I was doing the dishes (after dining on my wife’s fabulous slow-cooked chicken). “Honey,” I asked, “would you mind if I left the rest of the dishes to you? I’d like to go check out a net on the radio.” I sure am blessed with a sweet wife — she took over without batting an eye while I dashed downstairs and started hooking up my laptop to the interface while firing up FLDIGI.

Sure enough, there was the net. I “listened” (How do you say it? Read?) for nearly an hour, and finally checked in right as the net was closing.

Well, tonight before going to bed I decided to try it again. This time I went up to 20 meters where I had a nice ragchew with Gary, WB8ROL (my first “real” QSO). We hit it off right away — his career path took him from law enforcement to programming just like mine did, we both have bad backs, and we both like cats and penny-whistles — but what really got my attention was his website: www.oliviamode.com. This fellow is a veritable evangelist for this mode! If you haven’t read his QST article about Olivia, click here and enjoy “Ghost QSOs — Olivia Returns from the Noise.”

I can attest to what Gary writes about in that article. As the band began to fade, his signal dropped until I couldn’t hear it at all. All I could hear was static; I assumed I’d lost him. Not only couldn’t I hear him, I couldn’t see anything on the waterfall display. But incredibly, letter after letter appeared on the screen as Gary typed his last message!

Olivia really is “the Magic Mode!”


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Filed under ARES®, Digital Modes

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