ROS OPERA digital radio data mode was launched at the beginning of the year (2012). Using single frequency on/off keying it is about as basic as a Digi Mode can get. Resembling Morse Code which was designed for manual de coding, OPERA is designed for computer de coding. It was particularly developed and is suited for LF propagation and communication using slow data rates. Initially it is a Beacon mode sending Call Sign only. The Data is sent at different speeds giving rise to Op2 Op8 etc, these are not different modes, Op2 sends in 2 minute time frame Op8 takes 8 minutes.
There is data repetition on TX and FEC in the decoding I believe, which enables performance well down into the noise level.
I tried it on the first day and had good results, I have held fire on commenting mainly due to the Soap Opera which followed the release of ROS from the same software author. Could this have had an influence on the choice of name for the new mode.
OPERA has not been immune to the same sort of problems and criticisms. One source of dismay for some is the amount of web connection that installs with the software. Well learn to live with it, the facilities it provides are useful and suited to the mode which is from EA5HVK, Jose Alberto Nieto Ros so what did you expect.
If you don’t like being connected to the web facilities, turn off your modem and you will never be bothered by spammers, or rude people on forums either. However you will be left a bit in the dark.
Processor and memory use is high. Even to the extent that AVG warns of excessive memory use by Firefox when running OPERA. In my world the best software is elegant and puts the least load on the system. Does this simple mode really need more processor power than running 3 simultaneous versions of SpectrumLab. When writing software I always remember Neville G4CPY and his standard line “WHAT your program resides in more than 1K of memory, your code is not very efficient”. He was always right too.
Another problem is frequency choice and clarity of operation. OPERA does not want to be among the CW stations, well only if you want bile from them. Some operators need to be told where to set the dial too which has caused problems.
My main improvement would be related this, already many users including me have moved today to Dial 503kHz on 600m to avoid the CW region. If only the drop down frequency box said Dial XXXHz Transmit XXXHz to XXXHz instead of leaving operators to do the complex maths of Dial = mean(frTX High,frTX Low)- 1500Hz, surely we don’t expect operators to know what they are doing, or to be able to count.
It would be very good to have at least the parameters of the TX data released once all is settled (there have been several changes since release) so that a simple computer-less beacon can be programmed like we do with WSPR. Many Hams are avidly against secret coding.
EDIT :- Next day our wish has come true, apparently the new version will output the TX Code.
However frustration, the download link doesn’t work, maybe more mods in the pipeline.
Finally how can we be sure that this single keyed carrier (yet agile) frequency is not spread spectrum and furthermore what ever is the bandwidth of this new mode :DD
In this capture of a couple of nights ago on 500kHz my stations received on a very poor antenna are shown on the left other reports via the web are on the right.
Note:- 1) I don’t use the Waterfall on my XP SP3 machine to save processor load as I run SpectrumLab to my LF Grabber.