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This is from Ian VA3QT
High Speed (HF)
VARA will function at 500, 2300 and 2750 speeds.  The Americans are restricted to 500 for some bands and perhaps even licience classes.  FCC Part 97 rules.  Everyone else in the world has no limitation.  2300 is the 'normal' speed.  2750 is not available on all radios but is compatible with some military radios. 

High Speed (V/UHF)
The difference is the audio keying.  With AFSCkeying (Mic or ACC connectors) VARA is restricted to the bottom half of the available channels.  With FSK keying all channels are available.  The difference is in the bandwidth, AFSK goes through a filtering process that results in a narrow bandwidth to achieve a more 'natural' quality to a voice transmission.  FSK bypasses this process, giving you direct access to the discriminator and the full 3k bandwidth.  That is why it is best to connect through the mini-DIN-6 dataport if available.  AFSK and FSK are fed to two different pins AND, with one exception it's been an industry standard pinout for something like two decades.  The exception is the Yaesu FT-991(A).  For some reason they choose to use the FSK pin for RTTY.  Go figure.  There will be rig menu settings for selecting the dataport pin you want to use.

>300 baud symbol rate.
Americans love their laws, and one of them is a Part 97 regulation limiting US hams to 300 baud.  Fine in the olden days of RTTY, etc. but it excludes many of the modern waveforms.  With VARA Jose modified a former military spread spectrum, frequency hopping technique to squeeze 16 VARA channels into the available 100 to 2900 Hz bandwidth.  Each of those channels is less than 300 baud  thereby respecting the US regs.  The magic is how two or more channels are combined to obtain the higher rates of speen.  There's more to it, recommend that you research the VARA website for the details.
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> rigs
There are a few rigs that will run both CAT and audio over the USB cable to the radio.  By far the most sensible approach but make sure you have a properly shielded cable.  The first one I used with a DRA-30 was susceptible to RFI.  I found an old IBM cable in my junk box and that cured the problem.  I added a pair of ferrite beads for good measure. I know the IC-7200, 7300, FT-991A have internal sound cards (except the FT-991A won't due VARA FM high speed.  Getting ready for the old folks home, I bought a Flex 6600 radio to operate remotely.  Well, it turned out to be unusable for Winlink due to latency issues.  The last I've read is that they at least partially fixed the problem; it will work with other rigs (little or no latency) but not with another 6 thousand series Flex (still can't handle the 2x latency issue).  It's going to take more than a little convincing before I'll change my mind about the IC-7300, especially for RMS HF gateway operations.  It's got too many features that seem purpose designed to support Winlink ops.

Hope this helps, Ian VA3QT
The list below includes HF rigs that come with USB audio and CAT interfaces out-of-the-box.

This can be super-useful for those looking for simplified digital station or better cable management


K3S no longer manufactured since Jan/2020, USD2200-3200 used depending on extras at eHam classifieds (suggested by W1JV)

K4 to be shipped by Sep/2020, USD4000-4700 depending on extras (suggested by W1JV)


FLEX-6400M, USD 3000










TS-590S, TS-590SG




FT-991, FT-991A

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