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 FT8 - Part Deux

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Victor
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Victor

Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
Posts : 1193
Times Thanked : 73
Join date : 2019-11-10
QTH or Location : Bedford
Equipment Used : Various

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PostSubject: FT8 - Part Deux   FT8 - Part Deux Icon_minitimeSat Nov 28, 2020 9:51 pm

Hi again,

A little while ago I became interested in digital modes available to Radio Amateurs. I made a posting of my initial adventures back here if anyone's interested :-

Uh oh.....FT8

So that was reception sorted but I needed to sort out transmission........easier said than done(!)

As per usual there is always the obstacle of finding the time, proper time, time where you can actually think about what you're doing, without interruptions. Yeah, that precious time!! Wink

Found the time, forged ahead, built a lead for transmit......didn't work???

Scoured the internet, loads of [ahem] 'advice'.
(I'm now sure 99.99% of advice given on the internet although well intended is 'horse manure' for phrase of a better word!)

One of the 'better' suggestions was to buy a newer radio as well as a commercial digital interface.....Ha! Very Happy

Some of the other suggestions follow with the outcome of them...


"You need a USB/Serial interface to connect to the radio."

So I built a USB to RS232 interface, with opto-coupler switching to kick my old Yaesu into transmit via the PTT control on the rear. Much faffing with USB and setting the WSJT-X software to enable transmit.
Aha! With a click of the mouse I can make my old radio transmit.....but no digital modes transmitting?!?!??


"You need to have CAT control of the radio."

OK, let's see on that one, hmmm....my FT757gx had the very first type of CAT system. I can tell the radio what to do, (to a point - pretty much just which frequency to go to), but can't read anything back from it as it was never designed to do that. Despite building another USB lead, checking and rechecking the connections, software settings, etc. it refused to work!!

However, when I ran an old style serial 'Terminal' program and sent character strings to the radio as per the service manual the radio magically jumped to the frequency I programmed in! Success! Smile Well actually, no Sad

It seems that although I was able to do this, none of the software writers of multiple versions of rig control CAT software systems were able or bothered to. Not for my 'vintage' rig anyway....
Not being a software writer myself, I gave that path up as a lost cause.


Precious time.....


"Your audio drivers must be wrong."

Yep, that's Windoze mentality if ever I heard it, surprised no-one told me to 'turn it on and off again'. But I'm running a Linux system so in reality I shouldn't have these sort of problems. (Part of the reason I left Windows behind a long time ago!) Made a plea for Linux help and OMG got blasted with ALSA, PulseAudio and all sorts of 'technical' help....none of which worked.


"You need a 'proper' audio interface."

After hearing some arguments about common ground looping and utilising archaic 600 ohm 1:1 isolation transformers, (which we left behind with landline telephones some 40+ years ago!), I ordered some and built a new audio interface.....Nope! Still didn't work!  Mad

Just as well I've already lost most of my hair really.... Razz


OK, we've already lost precious time. Same as you lot reading this really eh? Wink
Let's go back to basics.

Radio receives signals and software is able to decode digital signals - Check.
Radio goes into transmit when software tells it to - Check.
Radio sends signals from software whilst transmitting - Hmmm, nope!
Fire up the old Lowe HF225 SW receiver as a monitoring station, signal received and erm, no audio?

Plug in headphones to USB soundcard and fire up the WSJT-X software again - AAARRGGHH! Blasted with digital screams through the headphones straight into my skull!!

Audio works then Wink Very Happy

Why is no audio getting to the radio?
Check of the audio lead with a multimeter, (should've done that in the first place!). Right audio to Right audio, Left to Left, Ground to Ground - Check. Let's see, Right to Ground - no, Left to Ground.....Oh Bugger.

Seems my ageing eyesight and bear paw hands meant that the smallest strand of wire only visible with a magnifier is shorting the audio to ground. What a dumbfu......you get my drift.

As my radio input is a mono input the left and right connect together and as one side is grounded it also grounded the other. That'd be the reason for no audio then.

Problem fixed I plugged everything back together and......still didn't work. But I did receive a distorted audio signal on the Lowe. Unwired the archaic transformer interface - better audio but my TX seemed to flutter. A quick monitor of the USB TX interface showed that it didn't like being near RF so I simply unplugged it and switched the Yaesu to VOX mode.


TAH-DAH!!! Smile Smile Smile

FT8 howling 'music' heard on the Lowe monitoring receiver. Success!
Now lets unplug all this cr*p, take off the dummy load and reconnect the antenna.

All works, at long flipping last. Funnily enough none of the 'information' garnered or 'advice' given was of any help whatsoever.

Always worth checking the simple things first, but we always dig holes along the more complicated path.


The results?
Well, as this posting has already got quite long, I'd better leave that for another time.


All the best,
Victor
(Effin' son of a b')
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Alan Pilot
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Alan Pilot

Call Sign : 163-CT-220...MW7TTA
Posts : 467
Times Thanked : 15
Join date : 2019-11-19
QTH or Location : Holyhead
Equipment Used : Yaesu FT-991A.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - Part Deux   FT8 - Part Deux Icon_minitimeSun Nov 29, 2020 8:45 am

Not a lot i can say but well done Victor.
You have more patience than i ever had plus the know how in the first place.
I still haven't got the hang of my radio yet lol.
Will have to read the book but did enough reading last month to last me for now.
The touch screen is handy but i will learn how to program the memories one day but just for now i punch them in with my finger lol.
I don't really know what my radio can doo but in the new year the book will be out.

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43CT016
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43CT016

Call Sign : 43-CT-016
Posts : 122
Times Thanked : 7
Join date : 2019-11-17
QTH or Location : Perth
Equipment Used : iCom IC-7610/IC-9700

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - Part Deux   FT8 - Part Deux Icon_minitimeSun Nov 29, 2020 9:13 am

Oh yes, hours of fun troubleshooting.  My particular favourite is when a Windows update decides it knows better than me how I want my sound cards setup, and WSJT-X is suddenly silent until I remember to check sound is going in and out as it should.

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Victor
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Victor

Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
Posts : 1193
Times Thanked : 73
Join date : 2019-11-10
QTH or Location : Bedford
Equipment Used : Various

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - Part Deux   FT8 - Part Deux Icon_minitimeSun Nov 29, 2020 9:45 am

Hi Alan,

Patience? Did lose it once or twice! Very Happy
Got there in the end though mate. Should be much easier with your fancy rig. Wink
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Victor
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Victor

Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
Posts : 1193
Times Thanked : 73
Join date : 2019-11-10
QTH or Location : Bedford
Equipment Used : Various

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - Part Deux   FT8 - Part Deux Icon_minitimeSun Nov 29, 2020 9:53 am

Hi Jeff,

"Hours of Fun for Everyone!" or something like that on the old toy adverts. Grown up toys are just as 'fun' Wink
They don't teach any of this nonsense on the Radio Amateur exams do they? Always learning.

So glad I don't have Windoze though!

Can't thank you enough for the nudge/reminder though Jeff, It's been infuriating but the results really speak for themselves, (which I'll post up fairly soon). Looking forward to experimenting further with it all especially after your mention of mobile digital operations. Currently reading up on all things 'Raspberry Pi'!!
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