Posts Tagged ‘fldigi’

The Day The Computer Died

I have been using small footprint computers in ham shack for a while. It started with the Dell Zino. Always a bit under powered, but enough to get the hamming done. The latest computer driving everything was one of those barebones models that was the size of a shoe box. The first sign of decline was when the fan kept getting louder and LOUDER. The the drive (500GBs of SATA) then decided to give up the ghost.

An immediate lesson learned… back up my log. I have been good at uploading my logs (almost daily, when on the air) to LOTW, QRZ.com, and eQSL. But I would only export that days contacts, consistently replacing the previous days exported log.

I choose not to abandon the small footprint computer and went back to the Shuttle. Newegg.org was my one stop shopping:

The case and motherboard: Shuttle XH81 Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium / Celeron 65W Intel H81 1 x HDMI Barebone system
– small form factor, fits neatly underneath monitor.
– 2x RS-232 connections on the back. Perfect for connecting to the Elecraft amp and tuner.
– Plenty of USB connections

Intel Core i7-4770S Haswell Quad-Core 3.1 GHz LGA 1150 65W BX80646I74770S Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics
– not the fastest, but fast enough.
– comes with a super quiet fan.

Transcend JetRam 8GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Laptop Memory Model JM1600KSH-8G
– I got two DIMMs to keep things moving… 16GBs = snappy!

SAMSUNG 850 EVO 2.5″ 250GB SATA III 3-D Vertical Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-75E250B/AM
– Good bye disk, hello solid state. Faster. Silent.

The actual build was plug and play. The Shuttle line has come a long way since my last experience with their product. I think these specific computers are designed to operate older types of technology (hint…. 2x RS-232 connections?) which works great with most amateur radio needs.

The next step was loading the OS. LiLi USB Creator is my go to solution for installing linux when I don’t have an optical drive (which is more often the case). This allows you to load the OS through booting directly from the USB stick.

The linux flavor of the day: Mint with the MATE edition. I was an Ubuntu man until Unity. Then made the jump to Mint. The OS loaded without issue and I was off and running.

Amazingly enough, I was able to install TQSL-2.2. In the past, I have been able to install TQSL from the Software Manager. But this has been an older version of TQSL. The newer versions ALWAYS gave my problems with dependency issues during attempted installs. I stayed with it this time and finally got it working. Phew!

The install of fldigi went smoothe, but configuring it to work with my Elecraft K3 was giving me fits. In my past setup, I’ve always used hamlib for rig control and the trick was just finding which USB number was being used for my USB Microham III. But this time, the USB Microham III was identified by name as a choice. Great! But it didn’t initialize. I tried USB0 (…. nothing), combed over the results of lsusb…. not… working. After some intense Googling, I ran across a command I had never seen before:

sudo adduser [username] dialout

Dialout!? Who knew? But that did the trick.

Now, here is something funny. We all have our junk boxes. As hams, we are pack rats. We hang on to stuff that has no current use, but may someday. I had a box RS-232 cables. When Fall Cleaning swept through the ham shack, I looked at the RS-232 cables. I am really going to need 15 RS-232 cables ranging in length between two and 15 feet? The box headed to the dump.

Now, with my growing K-Line, I can use Elecraft software (linux versions available) to monitor data from the amp and tuner. But the connections are serial. SERIAL. I turned the ham shack upside down and not an RS-232 cable to be found. I really don’t want to have to actually go out and BUY a serial cable.

What to do during a contest

With the exception of the UKAC events, weekends are the only time I get on the radio really. I occasionally sneak on during the week but it generally attracts a groan from ‘er indoors. This weekends CQWPX contest is a great opportunity to chase a bit of DX. I got my first and so far only VK contacts from home with my homebrew loft mounted Cobwebb during a contest so I can’t complain.

But what else is there. Well apart from the CW portions of the bands there are other things to do on the air. One of them is something I’ve never even looked at before Wefax.

Normally my weather information comes from t’internet nowadays and maybe this kind of thing is a bit legacy and perhaps not long for the airwaves but I’m sure it serves a purpose for shipping and perhaps far off places.

So how do you ‘do’ Wefax? In my case I tuned to 8,039.100 USB (Have a look here for a good primer and the frequencies and schedules are here) with the trusty Angelia SDR and coaxed the audio in fldigi with a less than ideal set of patch leads and a rather noisy Soundblaster USB souncard. The Angelia is a great receiver so it gave the best chance for this compromised solution. Fldigi will decde Wefax for you so its just a case of selecting the Wefax mode and aligning the signal on the waterfall, nothing to it.

Wefax

After some awful screeching and scrawing that reminded me of when fax machines were in offices and hey presto images started coming through. Adjusting the slant and horizontal alignment is easy with fldigi and as you can see the raw images are pretty good.

fldigi

And here is the output. I’m guessing its going to rain!

wefax_20150329_115140_14070000_ok

 

So if you’re thinking that SSB contesting isn’t for you and you’re at a loss as to what you might want to do with your expensive rig, then have a scout about the bands outside of the usual ham bands. You never know what you might find.

Uploading ADIF logs from fldigi to LOTW

I’ve been attempting to get my arms around my various logs from different callsigns. Previously I have had mixed luck with LOTW. Then I pretty much abandoned it. This time I read and re-read the instructions. Today I got my TQ6 file and was off an running.

I exported my current log from fldigi as an ADIF file and then used the TQSL application to upload it. Error, error, error. What was this? I hit Google and started researching:

ARRL’s tqsl messes with fldigi saved QSO_OFF time
I learned more than I wanted to know this morning about what the ARRL¹s tqsl application for LoTW does when it signs your saved fldigi newlog.adif file. It does more than just applying your digital signature. I had a busted QSO with Jeff, N8NOE, on LoTW and spent some time trying to understand what happened. The problem was with the time of the QSO. Both of us log the time at the the end of the QSO; however for there was a disconnect because my QSO time at LoTW showed up as Time ON, rather than Time OFF. Fldigi logs both TIME_ON and TIME_OFF; however, when you ask the ARRL tqsl application to apply your digital signature, it ignores the fldigi saved Time_OFF and converts the TIME_ON to a nonstandard ADIF format called QSO_Time. If you want your fldigi logs uploaded to LoTW to reflect QSO OFF time, you have two options. You can manually edit your On and Off times in Logbook-newlog.adif panel read the same. Another workaround is to use the fldigi File/Export ADIF with the option for Time ON unchecked. Then use a text editor to search and replace TIME_OFF with TIME_ON. This will fool the ARRL tqsl application to log the correct correct QSO time. Another option for someone to think about could be a new macro command that would reset the QSO times (ON and OFF) to be the same when you click on log. If you don¹t believe tqsl changes your fldigi logged QSO TIME_OFF, open one of your last .tq8 files with text editor (I use BBEdit) and scroll down and you will note the nonstandard QSO_TIME time that matches your your ADIF TIME_ON rather than TIME_OFF. 73 Dick AA5VU

… and that is what I did. And it worked! Although the issue Dick describes and the issue I was having were different, the solution still worked.

Now I am trying to add the logs for both my YI9MI and HL9MI operations. We will see how that goes.

KH6 – Hawaii Bound

My current assignment at Fort Leavenworth has me traveling quite a bit. My intent has been to bring a rig with me and have some casual QSOs while on the road. My success has been mixed. I would mostly attribute this to either a lack of planning on my part or being in a stuck in a hotel room with zero antenna opportunities.

One of the most inspiring ham radio blogs I ever ran across was the 100 Pound Dxpedition. I enjoyed how Scott, NE1RD, covered his adventures of conducting portable operations… documenting what worked and what did not. His last post on that paticular blog was back in 2007, but I still use the site as a reference. Scott’s praise for the Buddipole led me in using the Buddipole during my recent tour in Korea. Another tip from Scott I am going to try out is using a hardside golf bag case to transport my Buddipole to Hawaii.

Now for a rig… I think the Elecraft KX3 would be ideal for a Hawaii trip. With 10 watts output and an internal battery, I can’t think of better rig to take to the beach. But the wait time for the KX3 is still quite a while. I have both an Elecraft KX1 and a Yaesu FT-817ND. The KX1 would be great due to its small size and ease of use. But it is limited to only CW and I would like to do some PSK in addition to CW.

I pulled out my FT-817 and conducted an inventory:

    – West Mountain Radio RIGblaster Plug n Play connects directly to the DIN socket on the back of the rig.
    – CAT cable that connects from the RIGblaster to the rig’s ACC socket which enables rig control.
    – PowerPole 12v adapter.
    Palm Paddle.
    Elecraft T1 Auto-tuner.
    – Nifty manual for the FT-817.

My FT-817 has quite a few of the optional bells and whistles from W4RT:

I also splurged on two recent upgrades:

    Peg Leg tilt stand – I think this will be helpful as one of my significant dislikes of the FT-817 is the small display which is hard to see.
    – Magnets for the Palm Paddle – this is critically important as the Palm Paddle by itself is not heavy enough. The magnets allow the Palm Paddles to firmly stick to the top of the FT-817.

For PSK, rig control, and logging I have my Dell Mini netbook. I had not used the netbook in a while, so I started it up to see how it was working. I initally purchased it back in 2009 baselined with Ubuntu and have kept Ubuntu installed on it since then. After booting it up. I updated the distribution to 10.04 LTS and installed fldigi. The RIGblaster easily interfaced with the netbook via a USB connection and the headphone/microphone jacks.

I configured fldigi to work with the RIGblaster to include rig control using Hamlib:

    – Audio: PortAudio using the netbook’s hardware soundcard for both Capture and Playback
    – Rig: Hamlib; Device /dev/ttyUSB0; Baud rate 38400; Stopbits 2; PTT via Hamlib command checked

… clicked on the Initialize button and I was good to go.

Setting up the macros on flidigi is pretty straightforward with the default macros only needing slight tweaking for my personal preferemces.

Once I fired everything up all I had to do was switch to 14.070 MHz, switch the mode to DIG, and drop the input level a bit. With the narrow yellow PSK streams cascading down the waterfall, I picked one that was calling CQ and answered. Transmit worked and my home antenna provided a nice low SWR, no need for the tuner. My macros worked and the QSO was concluded successfully. All with 5 watts.

I plugged in the Palm Paddle, switched to 7.115 MHz, listened and heard nothing, then used the paddles to send QRL? a few times. SWR still looked decent. After a few CQ calls, I got an answer followed by a short QSO. Great – both PSK and CW were working FB.

Now the question is: do I want to bring my small Tokyo Hy-Power HL-100B amplifier that will raise the output to 100 watts? If I bring the amp, I will have to bring a power supply and a different tuner. I am thinking I need to be able to use two different configurations:

    (A) Beach and Buddipole: using the barefoot FT-817, running everything on batteries.
    (B) Lanai Portable: used from the hotel room, with amp and assoicated power supply.

Now it is time to go through my Buddipole bags and figure out what I need to pack.

Looks like I will be there during the Hawaii QSO Party!

Show Notes #087

Introduction:

  • Promo: Ohio LinuxFest 2012 will be held September 28-30, 2012, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
  • LHS community sends their good wishes to the victims and their families in Aurora, CO.
  • Our hosts recommend Etherpad for collaborative document editing.

Announcements:

  • Ham Holiday Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 27-28, 2012, Biltmore Hotel.
  • Texas Linux Fest, San Antonio, Texas, August 3-4, 2012, Norris Conference Center.
  • Texoma Hamarama Ardmore, Oklahoma, October 26-27, 2012, Exit 33 – I-35: Ardmore Convention Center.
  • Watch the Events Schedule on the LHS website for more events!
  • Click the Amabassadors link on the website and volunteer to be an LHS Amabassador at a Linux or ham-related event.
  • 20th annual Gainesville Hamfest Gainesville, Texas, Saturday, August 25, 2012, Civic Center.
  • Joplin Hamfest, Joplin, Missouri, August 24-25, 2012, Holiday Inn Convention Center. Look for Russ and Cheryl!
  • Russ is anxiously waiting for delivery of two (okay, three) Raspberry Pi computers. Call the LHS voice line 909-547-7469, or send an email to [email protected], and tell Russ what to do with his Rasperry Pis. Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right, but you get the drift.

Feedback:

  • Bruce, VE2GZI, writes to express his appreciation for the episode about GNU-Radio (Episode 84). It inspired him to try getting it to work under Linux Mint 11, but it’s been a struggle, and he asks for help. Russ managed to compile it on Linux Mint Debian Edition. Jlindsay in the chat room said he ignored the build script, and just did a cmake and make. Also make sure you have the proper version of portaudio installed. Bruce also tells us he’s waiting for his Hong Kong Dongle. ’nuff said.
  • Scott, N9LJX, says he’s always had trouble with rig control, via Hamlib, and his FT-900, and wonders if that’s been improved. He’s happy to hear that yfktest works with Winkey USB. Russ looked at the Hamlib website about Yaesu radios, and saw the status listed as “.1 untested”, which indicates poor, if any, support for that radio. Richard suggests avoiding the USB or USB-to-serial adapter. Instead, buy an inexpensive serial port card for the computer and connect the radio to a real serial port.
  • Someone in the chat room asked about a good personal cloud storage solution. Russ likes ownCloud. and has described it in episode 9 of his QSK Netcast.
  • Jeremy, KB7QOA, sends a long email thanking us for the show, discussing his gradual move toward Linux, and wonders if he could have a version of the podcast without the music. Well, Jeremy, if you’re willing to subscribe to the show, you’ll soon have the option of a music-free feed.
  • Grant, AA9LC, has embarked on a project to establish a Linux computer in his hamshack. He met Russ at the recent Dayton Hamvention, and has been trying to boot the LHS disc he received there, but it wants a username and password. He’s also tried Linux Mint 11 and is “mostly impressed.” As the disc contains nothing more than Linux Mint Debian Edition, Russ suggests the username may be one of “root”, “mint”, or “linuxmint”, and no password. However, it should boot directly into a “live” mode desktop without ever asking for a username or password. If that doesn’t help, Grant, let us know and provide a few more details about when you’re asked for the username and password. Russ and Richard also provide some hints about managing sound card audio.
  • Look for Russ on Episode 124 of the Mintcast.

Contact Info:

Music:

LHS Episode #087: King Jeremy the Wicked

Hello, listeners! Welcome to the 87th installment of Linux in the Ham Shack. The past couple of episodes have been full of interviews, logic, and information. In short, we’ve totally jumped off our normal bandwagon. In order to fix that, we’ve put together an episode that contains a lot of banter, insight, musing, laughing, music and good times. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find information on Linux, Open Source software, ham radio logging applications, answers to listener feedback, compile instructions for source builds and mention of a secret recording where Russ takes over another podcast and rules the world. Make sure to listen from beginning to end. You’re not going to want to miss a single second.

73 de The LHS Guys

Show Notes #083

Introduction:

  • Back from Dayton and ready to go.

Topics:

  • Dayton Hamvention 2012
    • LHS had the same booth as last year at North Hall #131. Estimated attendance was 25,000 individuals. Russ recounts the experience. Thanks to Matt, KC8BEW, who stopped by and helped out at the booth. The LowSWR podcasters stopped by, too.
  • FCC Dismisses Texas Ham’s Fourth Petition, Calls it “Repetitive”
    • Our hosts discuss.
  • Contest logging for Linux.
    • Several people at Hamvention asked about contest logging software for Linux, but Russ was at a loss for a recommendation. Upon his return, he discovered…
    • SO2SDR Contest Logging Software
    • Stefano, IZ3NVR/KD2BGM was trying to get so2sdr to work under Linux Mint and while it would compile, it did not run, so Russ set about trying to get it going.
    • It’s not packaged for Debian or Fedora, so it must be built from source, available at the link above.
    • The program is written in Qt, so it can be run on devices which support that environment, including Linux and Windows. Of course, Qt must be installed in order to compile so2sdr.
    • Russ also had to install the following packages on his Linux Mint machine: portaudio19-dev (NOT libportaudio-dev; apparently, libportaudio-dev is too old), fftw3 and fftw3-dev
    • The compilation procedure consists of:
                    qmake
                    make
                    sudo make install
    • so2sdr compiled and ran fine. It did complain that it wanted a parallel port for switching between radios, but you can ignore that if you don’t need to do that.
    • Russ gives an overview of the features and capabilities.
    • There are a few drawbacks:
      • An apparent lack of SSB support? It seems to be CW-only.
      • Frequency input checking is broken.
      • Keystrokes are not intuitive, but are well-documented.
    • However, the built-in help file is quite useful.

Feedback:

  • E-mail from Larry, KG4Q, extolling fldigi and JT65-HF. He wishes there was a version of JT65-HF for Linux. Well, Larry, there is! You can download the source here. Also, WSJT does JT65, too.
  • Chris, K4FH, caught up with Russ at Hamvention and talked about his Linux in the Ham Shack presentation. He managed to put together a fine bunch of slides completely without our help. Sorry, Chris!

Contact Info:

Music:


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