A new version of VarAC (v7) just dropped with Auto-QSY, 4X faster ping, rapid profile switching, one-button mute all sounds, and several other tweaks and turns that continue the rapid evolution of this Swiss Army Knife for HF digital work. That seems a proper analogy given that it does a lot of things like keyboard chatting, message broadcasting, file exchange, and even some email like function among other things.
+ See the official VarAC V7 announcement
The broadcast function permits a URL to be sent via the radio that, when clicked in the user interface, opens the address in a Web browser. That feature alone makes it incredibly useful for “getting the word out” about anything ham radio related.
But as much as I enjoy VarAC I don’t use it nearly enough.
It feels like a platform intended to be used exclusively. Full-time HF digital operators surely rejoice at such excellent software and I imagine them opening it on Monday morning and not closing it for weeks at a time. The ideal deployment would of course include an HF transceiver and antenna dedicated to its sole usage. I tend to fire it up for an hour or so and then close it down to do other things with my station.
Another problem (opportunity?) for me is that I’m not as good as I once thought I was at making chit-chat via the keyboard.
My own thoughts on this are that it stems from a larger problem, some form of an attention deficit disorder. I become bored quickly with radio conversations be they via Morse, SSB, or digital modes. Once a contact is made and the pertinent QSO details are exchanged, I’m ready to move on to the next one.
Almost all facets of amateur radio reinforce that behavior be it contesting, chasing DX, QSO parties, Field Day exchanges, FT modes, etc. I belong to a handful of specialty clubs like SKCC where exchanging member numbers is the goal and primary reason for every contact as well as incentive for more of the same.
Trouble focusing on a single task is not just a problem for radio amateurs and it’s not just the result of a warped desire for endless contacts. It’s life in this century, the 30 second news cycle and social media. This problem isn’t mine (or yours) alone, it’s endemic among everyone with an internet connection…