This article describes the Buckeye Net set of macros for use when passing digital traffic with the fldigi and flmsg programs. All Buckeye Net operators should have these macros installed in their fldigi program and should know how they are used.
The first step is to acquire the Buckeye Net macros. They can be found here. The macros can be saved on your computer by right-clicking on the page in your browser and selecting ‘Save as …’. Make sure you remove any .txt in the file name your browser may have added. The file name must end in .mdf to work with fldigi. Move the file to the fldigi/macros directory. This directory is located at “C:\Documents and Settings\fldigi.files\macros” on a Windows system, at “~/.fldigi/macros” on a Linux system, and at “/Users/User_Login_Name/.fldigi/macros” on a Mac. You can then use the fldigi File > Macros > Open … menu selection to load in the macro file. This will load the Buckeye Net macros into the first set of macro buttons. As an alternative, you can use a text editor to copy and paste these macros into another macro file to add them to an existing set of macro buttons. The instructions for doing this are in the fldigi manual.
The macros take up all four available rows of macro buttons. If you are only seeing two rows, select the View > View/Hide 48 macros menu item. This should show all four rows.
Passing digital traffic on the Buckeye Net is done on side frequencies, that is, on frequencies other than the net frequency and on a frequency where digital modes are allowed. The procedure for passing digital traffic is the same as with voice or CW traffic. The NCS will name the receiving station followed by the sending station then name the frequency and mode to pass the traffic on. Both stations will then change frequency and prepare to pass traffic.
The receiving station will locate the proper frequency and make sure they are ready to receive traffic. The sending station will locate the proper frequency and make sure they are ready to send. The sending station will wait for the receiving station to transmit first. Both stations should make sure that the other station’s callsign is entered in the ‘Call’ field in the log area of the fldigi screen.
The receiving station, after making sure they are ready to receive will announce their presence on the frequency and their readiness to receive by sending the ‘READY >|’ macro. This is the first transmission made on the frequency. The sending station, after receiving the ready message, will proceed to send their traffic and wait for the receiver’s response.
The receiving station, if all traffic was received without error, will send the ‘RX OK >|’ macro, informing the sender that all traffic was received OK. If the traffic was not received error-free, the receiving station will request that the sender re-send their traffic by using the ‘RESEND >|’ macro. The sending station will re-send their traffic and wait for the receiving station’s response. If the traffic is received without error, the receiver will send the ‘RX OK >|’ macro to acknowledge receipt of the traffic. If the traffic was received with errors, the receiving station again requests a re-send and the sending station re-sends their traffic. If this third attempt fails to produce error-free reception, the receiving station sends the ‘ERR-BTN >|’ macro. No more attempts to send the traffic will be made without further instructions from the NCS.
Both stations will wait on the frequency for approximately 30 seconds in case another station was sent to the frequency for one of the stations. If, after waiting, no other station is heard, both stations return to the net frequency and announce their return, receiving station first. If any problems were encountered, the receiving station informs the NCS on their return.
A station sent to a side frequency to pass traffic after another station finishes will change to the designated frequency and mode, type the desired receiver’s callsign in the fldigi “Call” field, and make sure they can copy their desired station’s signals. When the receiving station finishes sending, the new sender announces their presence using the ‘TFC >>’ and ‘TFC ||’ sequence of macros.
The sending station sends the ‘TFC >>’ macro and immediately types in the number of messages they have to send in the fldigi blue transmit window after the word “have “. Send the ‘TFC ||’ macro to end the sequence immediately after entering the number of messages.
Having received the sending station’s announcement, the receiving station enters the sending station’s callsign in the fldigi “Call” field. When ready to receive, the receiving station sends the ‘READY >|’ macro and transmissions continue as outlined above.
These macros should be enough to handle most traffic passing situations. Should stations need to converse directly, the ‘TX/RX’, ‘TX >>’, and ‘RX ||’ macros are provided. The ‘TX/RX’ macro toggles transmit and receive modes. If you are in receive mode, selecting the ‘TX/RX’ macro puts you in transmit mode. If you are in transmit mode, selecting the ‘TX/RX’ macro puts you in receive mode. The ‘TX >>’ macro forces you into transmit mode. The ‘RX ||’ macro forces you into receive mode.
The ‘WX’, ‘TEST >|’, and ‘ID >|’ macros are convenience macros. They will probably not be needed in most traffic passing situations. The ‘WX’ macro gets a weather report from the default weather station. This weather report is for local information and is not sent over the air. The ‘TEST >|’ macro sends a short test message. The ‘ID >|’ macro sends the station’s ID, if needed.
These macros are provided to aid in the efficient passing of digital traffic and are integral to the Buckeye Net’s traffic handling procedures. With practice, the use of these macros greatly improves the efficiency of digital traffic handling.