Olivia Digital Mode Information Page by Gary L. Robinson WB8ROL Olivia ... the Magical Mode

03/02/14                                                       Including Contestia with some magic of it's own ...

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Welcome to the WB8ROL Olivia Digital Mode Information Page!

This site's goal is to present information to help digital amateur radio operators better understand and be able to more efficiently use the different Olivia digital mode configurations.  We also hope to dispel any myth and/or misinformation that has been disseminated about this fantastic mode and to promote it's use.  This Olivia information page is NOW also including information for the Contestia digital mode which is derived from Olivia and has some advantages and disadvantages of it's own.

What is Olivia?

Where can I find a computer program for it?

Olivia is a ham radio digital mode designed to work in difficult (low s/n ratios plus multipath propagation) conditions on HF bands (though it also works as well on VHF/UHF). The signal can be decoded even when it is 10-14 db below the noise floor (i.e. when the amplitude of the noise is slightly over 3 times that of the signal). It can also decode well under other noise, QSB, QRM, flutter (polar path) and auroral conditions. Currently the only other digital modes that match or exceed Olivia in sensitivity are some of the WSJT program modes that include JT65A which are certainly limited in usage and definitely NOT ragchew capable.

It was developed at the end of 2003 by Pawel Jalocha. The first on-the-air tests were performed by two radio amateurs, Fred OH/DK4ZC and Les VK2DSG on the Europe-Australia path in the 20-meter amateur band. The tests proved that the protocol works well and can allow regular intercontinental radio contacts at very low power levels. It therefore lends itself to be an excellent QRP and ragchew mode.

Olivia has many formats some of which are considered standard and they all have different characteristics. The formats vary in bandwidth (125,250,500,1000, and 2000hz) and number of tones used (2,4,8,16,32,64,128, or 256). This makes it possible to have 40 different Olivia formats which have different characteristics, speeds, and capabilities. Luckily only a relatively few are commonly used.

The standard Olivia formats (bandwidth/tones) are 125/4, 250/8, 500/16, 1000/32, and 2000/64. However the most commonly used formats in order of use are 500/8, 500/16, 250/8, 1000/32, and 1000/16. This can cause some confusion and problems with so many formats and so many other digital modes. After getting used to the sound and look of Olivia in the waterfall, though, it becomes easier to identify the format when you encounter it. About 98% of all current Olivia HF activity is one of the 7 following configurations : 1000/32, 1000/16, 500/16, 500/8, 250/8, 250/4, and 125/4.

Olivia is only available in a handful of programs at this time.

Ham Radio Deluxe - DM780 : The Ham Radio Deluxe suite consists of Ham Radio Deluxe which is a general rig control program that can be used by itself OR in conjunction with DM780. DM780 is a digital mode soundcard program that has quite a few modes and can be used by itself and/or with the Ham Radio Deluxe program. It is available ONLY on the Windows operating system and was originally designed for Windows XP. Some people have ran it on earlier versions of Windows and Vista. It has continued to be updated and now runs on the latest versions of Windows. HRD used to be a freeware program with donation support. It is now a Commercial software program and is fee based. The software can be purchased at :  http://hrdsoftwarellc.com/

FLDigi: The FLDigi program is available for the Linux, Windows (XP, Vista), and Macintosh operating systems and is FREE and open source.  It also has multiple modes and built-in rig control capability.  A deceptively simple and elegant user interface and works well with most any modern Linux distribution, Windows XP or Vista, or Macintosh OSX.  It is available at : http://www.w1hkj.com/Fldigi.html

MultiPSK : The MultiPSK program is also FREE except for a few "Professional modes" included in it and is available only for Windows. It has a huge number of digital modes in it - some of which are ONLY currently available in this program. It works well with many older and newer computers and is worth having on the computer of any digital operator. The only caveat is that the user interface looks tremendously messy and daunting. It can discourage a user at first glance and looks very difficult but it's basic operation is fairly simple after you get used to the awful looking user interface. Olivia is in at least versions 4.23  and later. The program can be downloaded at :  http://f6cte.free.fr/index_anglais.htm

MixW : The MixW program is NOT FREE and costs $50 to register online.  It can be downloaded and used for 15 days before it must be registered.  It is available only on Windows computers and has a large number of digital modes and a DLL support file that can be downloaded to allow it to work with the Olivia mode.  It can be found at : http://mixw.net/

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This site was last updated 03/02/14