Quick Guide to Opera
TABLE Of CONTENTS
Updated January 17 2012
I Do With Opera?
How to get and install it
Setting it up
The Sked/Chat Features (coming soon)
VOACAP and Propagation Predictions (coming soon)
I am no expert on this mode but here is my quick guide. It is
intended to serve as a temporary help file until the software
developers add their own. Please note that as the software is
developed, some of the screenshots in this guide may appear
different than the ones on your computer screen. Version 1.1.2 contains some significant
changes to the modes you can use. Opera 1 has been added
. This is all part of experiments to find the best use for
Opera. I will update the screenshots as I get
You should first be aware that this is NOT a QSO mode.
You transmit and others report reception of your signal via the
Internet link within the software, or via PSK Reporter.
The software is intended to be an application supporting weak signal
experiments. When using , please avoid QRM to other weak
signal modes. There are reports that a "QSO" version of OPERA is
planned in the future. The software is created by Jose EA5HVK and
What Can I Do With Opera?
Several things. It is mostly something that will
tell you what your radio is likely to receive and in what areas of
the world you are likely to be heard. For example: You
get home from work and wonder "how are the bands tonight ? You fire
up Opera , leave it running a few minutes while fixing a drink
then look at your screen. Example:
23:19 10135 KX1H Op2 -7 dB 910 km @ 223
23:18 10135 K1CF Op2 -23 dB 644 km @ 080
23:13 10135 F1ABL Op2 -17 dB 6515 km @ 057
This tells me that at the time I am composing this section of the
guide, my antenna is picking up moderate signals (-17 dB) from F1ABL
in France, a strong signal from KX1H, and a fair signal from
K1CF. So, my antenna is hearing eastern USA and Northern
Europe. the band is open.
Maybe those three stations have super antennas and I am lucky
to hear them. Opera has a built in feature where it
uses Internet reporting of your signal . The reports of
stations hearing you signal will provide you with assistance
for any DXing, or rag chews you may wish to carry
out. It is a great way to test new antennas, compared between
antennas, and compared signal reports as you vary transmitted power.
transmit a few watts in to your antenna and two minutes later you
get signal reports displayed in the software. While typing
this paragraph, I did just that. I transmitted 5 watts into an
Inverted V on 30M and the software reported the following.
23:22 10135 K3UK de KA1GMN Op8 1884 km -19 dB in 10W Euless TX U
23:2210135 K3UK de KX1H Op2 910 km -19 dB in lebanon tn
23:22 10135 K3UK de W6SZ Op2 3429 km -23 dB in Alta Loma CA US
23:22 10135 K3UK de N7VVX Op2 2686 km -25 dB in Centerville, UT
23:22 10135 K3UK de WD4KPD Op2 796 km +2 dB in Washington, NC.
23:2210135 K3UK de KT4KB Op2 1009 km -4 dB in Cordova SC USA
It tells me that my puny five watts was heard quite strongly in
North and South Carolina, I had a "fair" signal in to
Tennessee and Texas, and a weak signal in to California and
Utah. Since I was only using 5 watts, it tells me that I
could easily work most of the USA with a few extra watts. Of
course, the usefulness of the software depends on the existence of
other stations running the software and automatically reporting what
they heard. It is similar to the "reverse beacon" feature at
the JT65-HF web site or CW
reports at the Reverse
Beacon Network. For this feature to be utilized you need
an internet connection.
How to get and install
1. Download latest version of the software from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/O_P_E_R_A_/links
. This is an application under early development,
updates can be frequent. You will need to join the Yahoo group to
get the links for current releases.
2. Unpack the downloaded file and place it in a folder.
Remember the folder so you know where to find it in the
future. The install package does not appear to have any
3. Find the folder you placed it in and boot the install file.
4. After install, find the "OPERA BEARING" exe (or
"application" file) and boot it. This is a file that has
a thumbnail icon of an American personality, Groucho Marks.
Some hams may be familiar with him. I think a picture of Pavarotti
might have been better :>)
5. If everything installed OK, you will see the software
Note the CONFIGURE option highlighted in red in the upper left
had corner. Click on this and begin set-up by choosing
"OPERATOR" . Enter in your callsign and location..
Next click CONFIGURE and this time choose RIG
You will note that you have several options to select the type of
rig . I have a Kenwood. Opera has a very useful feature
that automatically detects your comm ports if you choose the CAT
option. Go ahead an try this.
If you want to use a simple PTT circuit rather than CAT, select a
comm port that your PC and radio normally use for digital
operations. What you are selecting is a port that will
activate a PTT line . If you use the COM method you will
not get frequency read-out, but that is OK.
Uncheck the box that says " lock on start up" if
you what to avoid locking your VFOs. Also place a check or
"tick" in the CW Keyer box . This will allow the rig to
switch back and forth between transmit and receive during a sending
sequence. The alternative is the rig being in continuous
transmit state during the lengthy transmissions that some Opera
modes make. You can select DTR , RTS, or both depending
on what your rig requires. If in doubt, try all three .
Next, configure the Alerts that the software provides. Click
on Configure and select ALARMS/SOUNDS. Here is what I chose.
Now pick the language you want to use.
Note the flag for "English" is a British flag rather than an English
flag. So if you speak Manx, Scots Gaelic, or Cornish
variants, you will not get your language by clicking on the Union
Jack. I assume the Union Jack is there because us North Americans
might not recognize the flag of St George.
You now need to click CONFIGURE and select SOUNDCARD. If you
have only one sound card in your computer, it should be the only
illustrated when you click on the drop-down arrows for DEVICE IN and
and DEVICE OUT. If you have more than one sound device
connected to you computer, select the one you normally use for
digital mode operations. If your rig is ON, you should now see
a waterfall with some signs of signals or white noise in it.
If you do not see anything, make sure the switch for the waterfall
is in the ON position
That is pretty much it for set-up. The rest can be left alone.
Now to use the software. Study the information in this picture
below, I added several things for illustration
I hope it is pretty self explanatory. Received signals arrive
in your left-hand window, announcements of QRV status
are in the two channels above. Internet reception reports
arrive on the right. Any reception reports of your signal will
appear in red on the right.
OK, now the only tricky part. I do not have any real
knowledge of what is supposed to happen... but here is what I have
guessed so far. The software is mainly used in Europe and used
on Long Wave or Medium Wave at very low power. That explains
why two announcement channels in the software are labeled 500
and 136. 500 and 136 Khz. . Anyone operating a beacon on
those bands automatically triggers the software to send an
announcement to anyone else using the software, in real time, via
the Internet. A very useful feature. Saves using DX
Clusters or Sked Pages. . For more on Long Wave DXing, see http://www.lwca.org/ .
It seems that on HF the most used frequency at the moment is
between 10135.0 and 10135.2 in the 30 Meter band.
Check the reflectors for announcements of other bands as people
begin to use it. 1836 on
160M is also used, 28075 has been used the past few days and
3575 .. All in USB. For the latest agreed upon
frequencies, click on FREQUENCIES on the upper left part
of your screen . Quicker Opera variants are now being used on 17M and
above. Park on a frequency and you will eventually
hear a CW-like signal , almost like someone briefly tuning up and
re-tuning up. Place the RX switch that is just under MODE and above
the waterfall, to the RX 2-8 position if on HF. . Opera 2
transmits for 2 minutes and appears to "beep" every 1 second
or so. Opera 4 appears to have roughly 4 second bursts. To be
more precise the symbol rates are
Opera 1: 0.256 s
Opera 2: 0.512 s
Opera 4: 1.024 s
Opera 8: 2.048 s
Opera 15: 4.096 s
Opera 31: 8.192 s
Opera 8 and Opera 32 appear if you select 136 Khz as the operating
frequency. Opera 4 and Opera 16 appear as transmit options if
you select 500 Khz. Opera 2 and Opera 4 appear as transmit options
if you select 1836 , 3575 , or 10135. . Opera 1or Opera
2 is available if you choose any mode band above 20M. .
If you want to try these on other frequencies, you will have to
"fool" the software by selecting them , then move you software
settings out of CAT control and just choose COM or VOX options in
the set-up area. That way, the software thinks you are on 136, 500,
1837, or 10135, but the rig is where you tell to be .
An Opera 2 signal will look like this
In between the two vertical red lines in the waterfall is an Opera 2
signal being received. Newer versions now show three red vertical
lines over a 600 Hz wide area. Nothing shows up in your
reception area until the entire 2 minutes sequence has been
received. If you hear/see a signal that sounds like Opera but
it is outside the vertical red lines, you can tune it in by
adjusting your radio dial up or down. Please note that the
waterfall is not immediately responsive, if you adjust your dial a
few Hz, it takes a second or two for your waterfall to show the
shifted signal. At least this is what happens on my slow
Opera 8 appears a little different in the
waterfall. The length of the digital signal is longer and you
will see the longer signal in the waterfall
The software is capable of receiving multiple stations at the
same time, here is an example of opera 2 :
11:49 10135 K3UK de OZ1PMX Op2 6194 km -18 dB in Thorsager
11:49 10135 K3UK de KJ4ERJ Op2 1611 km +13 dB in EL97qx
The reports below show K3UK being received in the USA and
Denmark at same time. Obviously reception reports of -18
dB and +13 dB show a big difference in the signal
received at the two locations.
To transmit all you need to do is switch to the desired mode, most
seem to pick Opera 2. See the picture below for illustration
on how to do this .
To transmit, press the big TX Button. If you need to stop your
transmission before the usual length of the transmission cycle,
press the ESC key and pick yes when given an option. If you
plan on using the beacon feature, please be aware of the rules
in your country about beacons that are unattended. I beacon
only when I am in my shack. If you transmit manually (by
clicking on the TX button) it may be better to start the
transmission on the top of the minute. When someone receives
your signal it is reported on the right-hand side of your
screen. The authors are aware of occasional glitches in the
Internet reporting of signal reports. Sometimes you will
receive a signal correctly but notice that it does not always get
reported via Internet. This seems more of an issue if you are using
a frequency different than the four standard frequencies. If
you need to STOP the transmit at anytime , press the ESCAPE KEY
. If you do not have a working Mouse, the F12 function key
will toggle PTT.
There is a beacon feature within this software that is very
useful. To set the beacon you need to turn the beacon
on, look just above the waterfall to the right. To adjust the
beacon , simply slider the slider. Please note that this
software does not have a required time for you to begin the transmit
period. Other Modes like WSPR, JT65A, and FSK441 require you
to start transmitting exactly at the top of the minute. With
Opera I have tried to start my beacons at the top of the minute but
others do not. The software seems to decode regardless of
beacon start times. Like popular modes such as JT65A, you might want
to vary where you set you transmitter. Some of us early Opera
users thought it might be possible to start your transmission
on exactly the same frequency as someone else, at exactly the same
time. So we made adjustments, for example, instead of
10135.00, we tried 10135.2 However, there have been
suggestions that the software automatically adjusts the transmission
place in the waterfall ,randomly. More testing to be done
before confirming this. You want to make sure your signal will
appear within the red lines of the other stations you hope to have
copy you. So, don't get too far out of the desired frequency
range. For HF and medium wave Opera, the overall bandwidth
that the software will decode is 1300 to 1900 Hz in the
waterfall. For long wave Opera on 136 Khz, the decode range is
1300 to 1600 Hz in the waterfall.
That is all I have figured out at the moment. Please email me
via firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot any stupid stuff.
If you want to "chat" live with knowledgeable Opera operators, you
can use the Chat feature within the software by clicking on SKED .
A Few Frequently Asked Questions.
> - Why are there multiple user profiles, and how does one switch
Example ... you have a contest or field day station and change
or you have one setting for your home qth and another one for the
qth ... or ....
To change? Just click on user profile 2 and to the same settings as
done in user profile 1 (profile1 is the default)
(answer via Siegfried Jackstien)
> I left my system up and running all night, and saw a spot in
the RH window
> this morning in RED by K1CY, though it showed me on 500khz when
I was on
> 1837 khz. I suspect that's just a defauly of the posting
your software was set to 500kc so you were spotted to be on 500kc
rf qrg are not implemented yet .. work-around is to set the rf qrg
qth text like "Bremen 10.136" or similar
you are still spotted on 500kc but others see your real qrg in the
(answer via Siegfried Jackstien)