Hellschreiber FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions on
Hellschreiber and IZ8BLY's program
1999 IZ8BLY Nino Porcino and ZL1BPU Murray Greenman

Last update: 31 Aug 99


Questions covered:


Q: Where can I learn all about Hellschreiber?
A: Hellschreiber and other "Fuzzy" modes are well explained in the Murray ZL1BPU's &quotFuzzy Modes" web site, at http://www.qsl.net/zl1bpu. It has all the necessary hints and information, as well links to other pages and printed documentation (books, magazines).

Q: How can I get started on Hellschreiber quickly (without reading all the boring documentation)?
A: Go to http://www.qsl.net/zl1bpu and click on "Getting started". All you need is there.

Q: Where can I get the latest version of IZ8BLY's program?
A: From author's official web site at: http://ninopo.freeweb.org. If you have problems in downloading it, try one of the other mirrors, such as the "Fuzzy Modes" web site.

Q: How can I find out about Hellschreiber events, activities and news?
A: If you have access to the internet, join the Hellschreiber mailing list (reflector) at http://www.onelist.com/subscribe.cgi/Hellschreiber. It is open to all users (both Hams and SWLs), and is a good place to ask for help or arrange skeds. New releases of IZ8BLY software are also announced there.

Q: What are the Amateur Hellschreiber operating frequencies?
A: Currently most Hell activity is on 20m, around 14063.5 KHz. Other bands are still fairly unpopulated, try: 3580, 7037, 10137, 14063.5, 21063, 28120. There are some nets but they are not very constant.

Q: Why I do receive each line of text twice on the screen?
A: Hellschreiber is a synchronous mode, but the transmitting phase is unknown at the receiver, and varies anyway, because of the propagation time. Text is printed twice to negate the effects of phase and small timing errors, thus avoiding the need for synchronism. Note that while the text is printed twice, it is not transmitted twice.

Q: Why I do receive sloping or inclined text?
A: This depends on the accuracy of the sound card timing reference. Some sound cards are accurate, and some are not. Sound cards are intended for music and sound effects where even a 1% error is acceptable. For Hellschreiber even 0.1% error is noticeable. Anyway, because the text is printed twice, it will always be readable, even with excessive slope.

You can fix your soundcard inaccuracy by entering a corrective factor in the field "Slant correction" of the Preferences window dialog. The manual shows how to align the soundcard clock with a standard time and frequency station like WWV.

Q: What I should write in the field "Mode" in a Hell QSL-card?
A: Hell is a CW mode, on-off keyed like Morse. I would write "FH", or if you insist on ITU nomenclature, write "J2C" or "350HJ2C". For PSK-Hell put "FH", or if you insist "P1C" or "200HJ2C".

Q: What I can do to decrease the snapshot file size? What file format is appropriate? .JPG .GIF or .BMP?
A: The program creates uncompressed bitmap files at maximum resolution. You can use software like
PaintShop Pro to clip just the wanted area of the file, and reduce the number of colors to 16. GIF file format is to be preferred as it is lossless (accurately stores the picture as received) and is very compact with grey-scale images. JPG loses some information during compression, but can be useful to obtain a smaller file size.

Q: How do I use the .FIR filter that comes with the program?
A: You don't need to use them in normal cases. The appropriate filter is loaded when you choose a bandwidth with the slider control.

Q: How can I make the Waterfall display darker?
A: First, make sure you are not feeding a low volume level to the program via the Line-in or Mic plug. If volume is O.K. go to the Preferences window (CTRL+P) and move the slider "Waterfall Darkness" toward "Dark". You can also smooth out the waterfall display if you wish, by adjusting the "Sharpness" slider, or have it display white on black by checking the "Negative" box.

Q: I can't see buttons/icons on the program toolbar, what I have to do?
A: You need to update your COMCTRL.DLL by installing a "patch" furnished by the Microsoft itself at the address:
http://www.microsoft.com/msdownload/ieplatform/ie/comctrl.asp

Q: To see all buttons, I have to resize the window to maximum - is this right?
A: This is perfectly normal. If you want to see all buttons use 800x600 or better screen resolution. If you have lower resolution you will not be able to use all the buttons, but everything else will work normally.

Q: Is Hellschreiber legally permitted on Ham bands (in the U.S.A.)?
A: Recently a question has been raised about the legality of Hell transmissions in the USA. Hell, PSK-31, RTTY, Amtor, Pactor, Packet, etc., are legal because the protocols for their transmission is in the public domain, and therefore anyone who wishes to monitor these transmissions may do so, even the FCC. The ARRL have recently specifically asked for and received rulings from the FCC that PSK-31, Feld-Hell "and related modes" are legal for use by US amateurs, and are considered by the FCC to be digital modes. 

Q: How do I tune a Feld Hell signal with the waterfall display?
A: Waterfall tuning ensures that the signal is perfectly centered when in contact with someone else using IZ8BLY's program. (This may not be true of other software). Correct tuning centres the received signal in the DSP filter window, and ensures that you transmit exactly on the same frequency. Move the zoom control to the center position, and move the receiver VFO until the Feld-Hell signal trace is on the red line. If necessary, zoom to a higher position and make small adjustments with the VFO so the signal is exactly on the red line.

In FSK and Duplo mode there are two red lines - adjust the signal with the VFO so the two signal traces are on the red lines.

Q: How can I start typing my reply while the other operator is still transmitting?
A: Type an asterisk character (*), and then start typing your reply. The PTT or VOX will not be triggered or the text sent until you complete the line with the "Enter" key.

Q: Must I include only confirmed QSOs in the DX-CC Hellschreiber Top List?
A: You may include all logged Feld-Hell QSOs, not just those confirmed by QSL cards. If you want to keep a proof of contact for your own benefit, save a copy of a snapshot file.

Q: How can I send special graphics characters like the ones that IZ8BLY sends sometimes (spaghetti, wine, and so on)?
A: First load one of the fonts FeldNarr, FeldLow or FeldModern. Then right click with the mouse on the TX buffer for a pop-up menu of all the characters, and select the one you want. If you want to include them on buttons or in files, learn their ASCII codes and use the metacommand $C (e.g. $C23).

Q: Is there something special I can do so the program will work with a slow computer?
A: Choose "486" in the Speed tab of preferences window. Disable the waterfall display. Choose to load only the "Feld" wavetable at startup. If the software still hangs or responds too slowly, keep the filter turned off.

Q: The program could not find the help file! What is wrong?
A: This may happen if you have installed Netscape instead of Explorer as internet browser. In any case, run Netscape or Explorer and manually browse for the Help.htm file in the "Help" folder.

Q: Can I mirror IZ8BLY's program on my webpage / BBS ?
A: Yes, you can do that, although it is preferable that you simply provide a link to the official web page, because new versions are released frequently, and your mirrored copy may quickly become out of date!

Q: I tried to update my score on the DX-CC toplist page but it does not update! (I tried to sign my name on the Hellschreiber Callbook but it does not update!)
A: The update isn't immediate as I have to manually make the changes and upload the new file to the internet with an FTP program. This usually happens every day or two, so please be patient!

Q: What can I do to help promote Hellschreiber activity?
A: There are many ways to help:

Q: Can I arrange the program so it uses standard RTTY tone frequencies instead of the 980 Hz tone?
A: No. This is not possible because the 980 Hz frequency was chosen to match the Feld-Hell sending speed, (8 cycles per pixel) with zero crossing at each end of each pixel (to minimize bandwidth). In addition, Feld-Hell, like Morse, has only one tone anyway. The 980 Hz tone is ideally suited to use with a narrow CW filter.

Q: Does IZ8BLY Hellschreiber run with Windows NT or Win 3.x?
A: It runs with Windows NT but will not on Win 3.x.

Q: I am confused by all those fonts. Which is the best?
A: It depends on what you make of them. You should use only fonts of the "Feld" family, but which you chose depends on your own taste and on how quickly you can type. If you are a slow typist, use a wider font. When in doubt use the standard "Feld Hell" font.


The Hellschreiber FAQ
1999 IZ8BLY Nino Porcino and ZL1BPU Murray Greenman
If you have good questions or answers to be added here,
email Nino at
ninopo@tin.it