What does it mean to send "Digital" when in a talk group?

I am listening to a talk group on my local repeater and they are sending “digital” sounds (tones). What does this mean?

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I want to clarify what you are monitoring. When you say talkgroup, I think you might mean net. The reason I say that is that in Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), talkgroups are like channels or conversations on a repeater and each repeater using DMR can carry two conversations, or talkgroups, at a time … because the channel is divided into two time slots.

However, what I think you might be hearing, @kc3tdx are perhaps Touch-Tones. Do they sound like tones like on a phone? They could be used for signaling purposes such as to access repeater features like links or a phone patch or the temperature at the repeater site. They also might be used to access EchoLink nodes on the repeater to allow the repeater to connect to other repeaters around the world. Lastly, perhaps the local group does paging on their repeater. This allows a number of features such as activation of ARES members who carry pagers on the repeater’s frequency. Old pagers are easy to reprogram and work well for this purpose. Lastly, perhaps you are hearing what sounds more like static … and that could be a dual-mode repeater where some conversations are in clear voice, and others sound like static … because those conversations are in a digital mode such as Fusion. Feel free to attach an audio file of the sounds you are hearing and we might be able to give you a better idea what you are hearing. 73

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You are correct of course, I should have said I was listening to a net. Local folks, from our club WACOM. The next time I hear them I will take a recording. The sounded like a mixture of beeps, tones and a good bit of static. They were taking turns (I checked in, but was merely listening trying to learn.) It sounded as if it were only for people with larger units and not mobile or handheld. Thanks for helping me understand.

I think I figured out what you are hearing! Based on your location and the repeater you might be listening to, I found this on the club’s website:

NBEMS Digital Training Net

Don’t mind all the mess in those URLs, but they still can be copied and pasted for more info.

What you are hearing is FLDIGI, which is a method some ARES groups are using to relay digital messages over analog repeaters. This can be set up pretty easily, from what I understand. There are a lot of videos on that one link above where you can learn all about it.

Quite a few ARES groups have moved to FLDIGI to send text messages over their analog repeaters in emergency conditions. I’m pretty sure this is what you are hearing, @kc3tdx! 73

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Thank you, I went to the monthly meeting of WACOM. Met some nice people, got a few business cards and a few even offered to help with learning. Found out there is a Hamfest coming up in Dayton Ohio that I would really like to go to.
Seems the only requirement for the ham radio meeting is gray hair :slight_smile:
I even came across a member that offered to help with my DMR.

The Dayton Hamvention is the largest amateur radio event of the year in the United States. Pre-pandemic, easily 20,000+ people attended the event in Xenia, Ohio, every year. Glad you made the connection with the local club and they were welcoming and helpful! DMR isn’t something for new hams to figure out. When you build a codeplug from scrap to program a DMR radio, everything has to align perfectly, or it won’t work. There are variables for every channel you set in the radio from the frequency to the time slot to the talkgroup and how each is enabled, etc. You’re fortunate someone is willing to offer you the help locally!