I have witnessed a curious behavior and have had other users in QSOs report similar experience. It goes like this. I call CQ, I get a reasonably strong response which I can see on my SDR panadapter, but no connect. I have also been on the other side. I respond to a CQ and no connect. Anybody else see this?
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we will need more information to understand what you are experiancing.
basically, if you hear a CQ/Beacon/Connectin attempts, then the VARA modem should be able to decode it. take a picture of your waterfall and share. maybe it will shed more light on this.
If the signal strength on the CQ call is weaker than -15, you may not be able to connect. Don't forget about QSB too. Watch the signal strength reports as you are in QSO, and you'll also see some pretty amazingly rapid changes in signal levels.
There could also be QRM at the "other end" of the QSO that you can't hear.
Personally, I've found that if the station I'm calling is -15 or STRONGER (-12, -10, etc) and if I answer within a minute or so, then I'm able to make contact.