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Victor
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Victor

Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
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PostSubject: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeThu Nov 12, 2020 11:00 pm

Hi All,

Well, I've been a Ham for a little over a month now so still finding my feet. Also trying to find out what I enjoy, what is a bit 'meh' for me but also trying things out as I go along.

I'd heard the downplays for digital modes, from the complete rejection of such things to the "OMG it's so complicated" phrasings...

Ignoring it all, I dug through my cables until I came across a phono to 3.5mm stereo cable. Scrabbled around the floor with my crippled leg to plug the damn thing into the tiny little 'mic' connector on the back of my PC! Then moved my radio closer to the PC as the lead was, perhaps not unsurprisingly, too short to reach.

My radio, (Yaesu FT757GX), has limited CAT capabilities but I can always manually tune it to the digital mode frequencies rather than the PC controlling it. It was suggested that I use 600 ohm 1:1 audio isolation transformers....didn't have any so plugged it all straight in....seems to work.

I download the software required for free! Link here if you want it :-

WSJT-X Software

Then played around..... and this is what I got :-


Uh oh....FT8 Ft8_sc10


It flipping works! Smile

If you take a look at those callsigns coming through that was the UK, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Italy, all in one 15 second burst! Unbelievable, especially on my wires in the loft antenna and the plethora of Christmas lights popping up in the village (in flipping November!), causing me much QRM.

There have been some issues though...

I couldn't transmit at first as I only have one lead, so I've ordered more leads.
I temporarily made up a lead to transmit, hooked to the FSK connection on my old radio and as I didn't have CAT PTT, (push to talk), control I stuck the radio on VOX. That way any audio out would pop the radio into transmit. The data stream doesn't work very well if it's interrupted by 'sound notifications' though and I get a heck of a lot of emails which seem to pop up everytime I transmitted.....Grrrr! Another sound card needed perhaps?


So as well as some audio leads, I've also ordered a secondary USB soundcard, (less than £4 including postage - brilliant!), which should get around the latter problems.


Top of the range computer required? - No.

This is running on a resurrected AMD64 PC of some 10+ years vintage. Only 3GB RAM and hence why I'm running Linux, (specifically Ubuntu 20.04), as WIndows 10 would probably fall flat on it's face. No fancy video card required, (It has an old Nvidia 4GB card that at least lets me run dual displays in HD), no fancy anything really. By all accounts a dinosaur of a PC. Still works! Wink


So you could dig out that old laptop or PC to give it a go...the WSJT-X software comes in Linux, Windoze and Mac flavourings.

Top of the range radio? - No.
My Yaesu FT757GX is a great HF set and also an old girl at 40 years old.

Full CAT interfacing required? - No.
My Yaesu has a massive 8 frequency memory! Can you imagine?! 8 memories! Very Happy
Still more than enough to program the standard digital mode frequencies for all the HF bands though.

PTT control? - Yes...and No.
As I mentioned I used the VOX setting to get around that but if I do go the whole hog of hooking up a CAT control I can used a spare DTR/CTS pin to my Yaesu PTT input.

Not once did I have to chew through my microphone connector with my false teeth to hook up wires via the MIC or PHONE inputs Wink
(Got suggested that little 'tip' more than once!)


So that's about it so far. (More to come...I'm sure)


Why digital? 

Everyone knows that 10W Morse will give you the world. A famous 'digital' mode at that. Frequented by those that refuse to code slower, hate your terrible code, (we all have to learn at sometime), and use inexplicable shorthand. Yeah, it has it's 'elitists' the same as any other mode!
(Heard an 80m moan today how the RSGB was handing out licences to CBers....really!)

10W, (remember this is the Foundation licence limit), will give you the world without learning Morse or dealing with the hassle.

Limited antenna options? Limited power outputs? Buried in RFI QRM? Don't fancy breaking the Credit Card on even more gear?

Then it's probably worth a go isn't it? Wink


I'm bound to post up more as I explore this new option available to me, relish in the contacts around the world, generally be happy and do expect the postings to be as long as this one....I do like a good waffle Wink


Have you tried digital? Are you a digital mode master? Perhaps you hate it and can't wait to tell us all how much you hate it?

Then post it on up!


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 12:12 am

Will be keeping an eye on how you get on as in my mind I've always been conflicted with digital modes etc as half my mind always thinks "You're halfway there with the computer may aswell just send a email or somthing" and the other half thinks "That's hell of a lot easier than trying to learn Morse so can't be all bad" so maybe swayed and will keep a eye!

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Sydthecat
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Call Sign : 2E0VRX
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QTH or Location : Yorkshire dales
Equipment Used : Yaesu FTdx 3000, MD200 mic ,Vortex 4 ele Yagi
Age : 55

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 1:20 am

Nice one Victor and it's certainly a challenge setting everything up , I tried it last year and had it running for a few weeks , unfortunately it wasn't for me so removed the software and haven't felt the urge to try again lol 


I certainly enjoyed setting up and felt great satisfaction when I finally got it working 


As always a great read 

Craig

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Victor
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Join date : 2019-11-10
QTH or Location : Bedford
Equipment Used : Various

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 5:07 am

Hi Tim,

I had the same conflicts with digital modes myself, but then slowly things dawned on me. The comparison with Morse as an operating mode, QRP, no language barrier, it's coming from my radio and antenna setup, dependant on propogation conditions, etc. So you never know who you'll contact, if they respond to your call, if you respond to them and having that input/luck, (for me anyway), takes it into 'operation' realms. It's still dependant on your skill set at setting up a station and using it to the best of your abilities.

Time will tell and so far I've only scratched the surface. I am however looking forward to operating with it, maybe exploring WSPR, (weak signal propogation reporting), amongst other things. I'd like to get it better setup on my old radio so that if conditions pop up I can quickly QSY, pick up that mic and give a shout out on SSB as well Smile

Thanks for your response Tim, much appreciated.


All the best,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 5:32 am

Hi Craig,

I agree completely that it won't be for everyone but love that as an Amateur Radio operator we do get to try these things out. I've probably explored more options in the few weeks I've been a Ham than decades of CB operation and was initially overwhelmed with it all. Kid in a sweet shop type of thing and now I'm trying them all to see which ones I like the taste of! Smile

At least you tried out the option, had fun with the technical aspects and enjoyed the satisfaction of the experience. I think that's part of what drives us, that exploration.

Much appreciated Craig.


All the best,
Victor
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43CT016
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Call Sign : 43-CT-016
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Equipment Used : iCom IC-7610/IC-9700

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 6:24 am

Yeah, at times, if it weren't for ft8, I wouldn't hear much at all, such is the QRM at home.

It always makes me chuckle when those of "CW vintage" say ft8 isn't real radio....apparently, a beep from a manual key is, but lots of beeps from a soundcard, isn't.  Very Happy

Anyway, I'm lucky, I have USB straight out of the radio for CAT and sound, but will soon be going the USB sound card route with the portable setup, which should prove interesting.

20m ft8 is humming at present...

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 7:00 am

Hi Jeff,

I agree completely mate. At the moment the local Xmas lights are adding an extra S4 or so of noise to me and will only get worse as more lights go up and start staying on during the day too. I won't get any relief until the new year now but at least my radio activity doesn't have to completely die during it. My initial tests yesterday were during 'light up' of the LED RFI emitters and coincided with my neighbours solar panels transmitting to the cosmos too.....yet I still received some good contacts just on 80m. Happy days! Smile

How the 'beeps' go out is of no concern to me either Wink


I can partly blame this on you Jeff! (I mean that in the nicest way.) You made mention to me of ft8/WSPR and it re-poked the old noggin enough for me to begin experimenting. So glad I did and really looking forward to more. Thank you.

I'd be interested in how your mobile digital operations go. You'll have to keep us abreast.

All the best,
Victor
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Alan Pilot
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Equipment Used : Yaesu FT-991A.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 7:50 am

Victor
You are going to fast for me to keep up lol.
Think i can just plug a usb in my radio when the time comes ???.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 9:04 am

Hi Alan,

Yeah, a decent USB cable plugged into your Yaesu FT991a radio, change some settings and off you go!
Far easier with the new rigs but you'll still have to setup the software etc.

If it helps any at all Alan there's a video on YouTube here :-

FT991a to WSJT-X software

Looks like you've got some menu scrolling to do on your radio but I bet you've already been playing with that Wink


Nice to be going fast at something Alan mate, old cripples we are! Very Happy Very Happy

All the best,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 9:42 am

Victor wrote:

I can partly blame this on you Jeff! (I mean that in the nicest way.) You made mention to me of ft8/WSPR and it re-poked the old noggin enough for me to begin experimenting. So glad I did and really looking forward to more. Thank you.

I'd be interested in how your mobile digital operations go. You'll have to keep us abreast.

Don’t worry.....I’m married, so I’m used to everything being my fault. Very Happy

I spent literally 20mins on 20m ft8 this afternoon when I saw your post and wanted to check something in WSJTX.  Next minute, a VK5, 3 and 2 in the log.  That’s 2000-3000km contacts from VK6, with 20w on a Hustler 6BTV.  That’s why I like ft8.

I’ve got a USB soundcard on order for the FT-891 so once that turns up, I’ll have a play.

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Alan Pilot
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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeFri Nov 13, 2020 9:45 am

Very true Victor.
Fast is not a word i use often these days normally it's "hang on a minute"...
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing

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Alan Pilot
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Call Sign : 163-CT-220...MW7TTA
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Equipment Used : Yaesu FT-991A.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeSat Nov 14, 2020 7:55 am

Victor
Watched that video you linked.
The 991a is all setup the software is installed just need to find a usb cable but i know i have one or three about in the boxes that i tidied away in here lol.
Should have it sorted in a week or so lol.

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PostSubject: Re: Uh oh....FT8   Uh oh....FT8 Icon_minitimeSat Nov 14, 2020 8:36 am

Hi Alan,

Good to hear mate, really glad someone's gaining something from my waffles Wink

Always worth trying out new things and see how they work out for you. 
For me it's the compromised station working that's the thrill. I abandoned a magnetic loop antenna project a while back but looking forward to trying it out for digi-modes and see how it fares. Maybe of help to those that can't put up a traditional antenna.

Busy here too mate, building a new shelf for the radio on the desk so it reaches the PC more easily. Hooking up a USB box to make things easier to connect, (damn my crippled ass!), constructing my own CAT cable, (those little CP2102 USB - Serial modules are a god send and cheap as well...chips!), and eagerly awaiting my USB soundcard. It's all go, go, go! Smile


Keep us updated of your progress mate, always thrilled to hear about someone else's radio adventures.
Getting setup and receiving those signals will give you a buzz for sure and it won't be long before you have that 'ticket' to start your transmissions too! 

All the best,
Victor
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