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Author Topic: fldigi, OS X, & FT-817  (Read 9853 times)
AF6WI
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« on: March 09, 2011, 10:04:55 AM »

I'm using fldigi for OS X on my MacBook Air, connected to my 817 (without rig control software, for what that's worth). I've just started digital, so I'm having problems.

I receive fine. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have loop under my eaves that works find with my TS-480 on SSB. I can receive PSK31 on the 817 like crazy - much more signals than on the 480 with SSB. All over the continental US and out to Hawaii. However, I'm not sending. When I click on the transmit button in fldigi, the SignaLink USB goes into transmit mode, the radio's light goes from green to red, it's in transmit mode, and the stuff I've typed into the buffer gets repeated into the other buffer that says the program thinks it's sending. However, I get no responses. (Even from a guy who was CQ'ing from a town about 15 minutes north of here.)

I have a variety of known unknowns that I'd like to address before I get into the unknown unknowns. First, I'd like to make sure I have my software correctly configured.

Is anyone else using fldigi on a Mac with a SignaLink USB connector? I'd like to know what your fldigi settings are. And should I assume they're the same on Windows with 817? If the radio is being put into transmit mode, may I assume that my software and hardware are correctly configured and that the problem is elsewhere?

What is your ALC setting on the FT-817, and how did you determine what setting to use?

What settings are you using for your TX, RX, & delay knobs on the SLUSB?

I have a SGC237 tuner at the loop, fed back into the shack, and it may be that I'm not successfully tuning. Any suggestions on how to determine that? The tuner is up under the eaves, so I get not feedback on tuning at the shack. How can I tune the remote autotuner when using fldigi?

Many thanks for your patience and kind assistance.
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AB2RC
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2011, 05:06:15 AM »

I'm using fldigi for OS X on my MacBook Air, connected to my 817 (without rig control software, for what that's worth). I've just started digital, so I'm having problems.

I receive fine. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have loop under my eaves that works find with my TS-480 on SSB. I can receive PSK31 on the 817 like crazy - much more signals than on the 480 with SSB. All over the continental US and out to Hawaii. However, I'm not sending. When I click on the transmit button in fldigi, the SignaLink USB goes into transmit mode, the radio's light goes from green to red, it's in transmit mode, and the stuff I've typed into the buffer gets repeated into the other buffer that says the program thinks it's sending. However, I get no responses. (Even from a guy who was CQ'ing from a town about 15 minutes north of here.)

I have a variety of known unknowns that I'd like to address before I get into the unknown unknowns. First, I'd like to make sure I have my software correctly configured.

Is anyone else using fldigi on a Mac with a SignaLink USB connector? I'd like to know what your fldigi settings are. And should I assume they're the same on Windows with 817? If the radio is being put into transmit mode, may I assume that my software and hardware are correctly configured and that the problem is elsewhere?

What is your ALC setting on the FT-817, and how did you determine what setting to use?

What settings are you using for your TX, RX, & delay knobs on the SLUSB?

I have a SGC237 tuner at the loop, fed back into the shack, and it may be that I'm not successfully tuning. Any suggestions on how to determine that? The tuner is up under the eaves, so I get not feedback on tuning at the shack. How can I tune the remote autotuner when using fldigi?

Many thanks for your patience and kind assistance.


I see you are posting similar questions under 2 topics, both are answered here...

I am using a MacBook & MacLoggerDX, with a FT-100, using a FT-817 will be more or less the same (just some different names & items on the menu - the 817 is sensibly arranged, my FT-100 not so much).

For xmitting, you probably are not getting enough signal to the dataport.
Looking at the FT-817 manual you need to set menu #26 to PSK31-U.
Set the xmit level on the SignalLink USB about 1/2 way.
Now comes the fun part...
xmit a tune signal from fldigi, and the AFSK input level (the 817 calls it DIG MIC, menu #25) to a point where you get ZERO bars showing on the ALC meter, then adjust the xmit level on the SignalLink so you are putting out a comfortable power level -- about 1/2 of your transmitters maximum - that would be 2.5 Watts for the FT-100.

Now you can play PSK31 -- enjoy.


For cat control I use one of these between my MacBook & FT-100, the 817/857/897 also use the same cable

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-USB-CAT-cable-Yaesu-FT-857-FT-817-CT-62-FT-897-/160363235946?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item255664ca6a

You will need the Prolific PL-2303 usb/serial driver from here http://www.prolific.com.tw/eng/downloads.asp?id=31

You did not mention which model air you have, if you have one of the older ones with a single usb port, you will need to get a powered usb hub and connect everything thru that. Personally, I run just about every USB device thru a powered hub and have no problems. I use a powered hub to avoid additional drain on the port, this is probably more important on the MB Air than a regular MacBook, or a desktop.

73 de AB2RC - will look for you on the air


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AF6WI
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2011, 10:33:52 PM »

> xmit a tune signal from fldigi, and the AFSK input level (the 817
> calls it DIG MIC, menu #25) to a point where you get ZERO bars
> showing on the ALC meter, then adjust the xmit level on the
> SignalLink so you are putting out a comfortable power level --
> about 1/2 of your transmitters maximum - that would be 2.5
> Watts for the FT-100.

I'm assuming the word "set" was dropped - "and set the AFSK input level"? And 2.5W for the FT-817.

I followed your excellent directions, and have the radio receiving very well; I haven't been able to contact anyone (neither calling CQ nor in response to a CQ), but I'm working on that. At 2.5W, I'm not expecting miracles.

Again, many thanks.
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2011, 06:39:24 AM »

If the SignaLink is showing its red (XMIT) light, the computer is feeding it PSK31.

Somebody recently posted a similar question on another list I read.  Everyone suggested everything, nothing worked:

. . . The problem was a flakey RJ-45 connection between the "rig cable" and the SignaLink USB!

Take the min-DIN connector out of the FT-817, connect headphones to the DATA IN and GND pins, and see if you can hear PSK31 audio coming from the SignaLink USB.

If you can, the problem is somewhere in the FT-817.  As previous post said, you need to be in DATA mode.  Check _all_ the FT-817 menu items that relate to "packet" and "rtty" operation, just in case you're set up for RTTY/FSK, instead of packet (equivalent to RTTY/AFSK).

If you can't hear PSK31 audio,  the problem is in the SignaLink or the cable.

            Charles

PS and remember -- the first digital-mode QSO is the hardest one you'll ever make! <g>
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AF6WI
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2011, 01:47:51 PM »

> the first digital-mode QSO is the hardest one you'll ever make!

It is, so far! Thanks for the encouragement. :->

I've set the FT-817 for DIG, and I'm struggling with the ALC (I think). I have the dig mic (Menu 25) set at 75, which gives me a small ALC bar when I click tune in fldigi. Then I've turned down the TX dial on SLUSB so that no bars show. I hear fine, but no one hears me.

The SignaLink goes red, the 817 goes red, and I can hear something on my other radio tuned to that frequency, so I guess I'll try to set that radio up to receive PSK31 and see what it hears.

> Check _all_ the FT-817 menu items that relate to "packet" and
> "rtty" operation, just in case you're set up for RTTY/FSK, instead
> of packet (equivalent to RTTY/AFSK).

I'll also go through and see what the settings are in the other menus. You're saying I should be set up for packet in all of them?
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2011, 04:03:44 PM »

a)  You're setting the ALC correctly, according to most people.  The FT-817 _will_ be OK with one or two "bars" of ALC showing, and I think you'll need that to get 2.5 watts output.  That's what the manual recommends.

Set the FT-817 meter to read "Power".  Then, put fldigi into "Tune" mode.  That should put the FT-817 into "TX" mode.

If the power meter moves,  you _are_ transmitting. 

Monitoring with another radio is always a good idea.  In my experience, the only "antenna" that receiver needs is a 2" length of wire, stuck into the center pin of it's "Antenna" jack.

b)  I've forgotten what's in the FT-817 menus, and I'm not at home.  There are about 70 items, I think, and probably 15 are relevant to digital-mode operation.  You'll find them.

What antenna are you using?  If it's a Hamstick, we can discuss antenna efficiency and QRP operating.   Even with PSK31, 2.5 watts with an inefficient antenna is a poor way to make contacts.

               Charles
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AF6WI
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2011, 05:32:43 PM »

> What antenna are you using?

An antenna-mounted (I'm in a condo) 20M double bazooka from RadioWavz. (And, yes, I'm on 14.070.15 :->)
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 12:15:02 AM »

How much metal is there around the antenna?  When you say "antenna-mounted", what do you mean?

A double-bazooka "in the clear" should work fine.  the more metal around it, the worse it will work.  [Since I have an attic-mounted dipole, I'm a victim of that problem.]

               Charles
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AF6WI
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 01:16:02 PM »

I'm sorry -- I meant attic-mounted. And there's metal in the attic, but there's nothing to be done about that other than keep the antenna as far away as possible. My MFJ antenna analyzer says SWR is 1.4 throughout the 20M band.

I also have a U/VHF vertical in the attic, and it works reasonably well. I also had a G5RV in there for awhile which also worked, although it tripped my bathroom ground fault detector every time I transmtted. :->
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2011, 09:26:57 PM »

The problem may be that you're using an inefficient antenna.

If you can move your setup to a local park:

. . . Build a 20m dipole out of 20-gauge wire;

. . . Hang it between two trees;

. . . See if people can hear you better.

I've had good luck with an FT-817 and a vertical dipole, taped to a 31' windsock pole. 

Putting antennas under the eaves is often OK, _if_ the eaves have plastic rain gutters and vents.   With metal raingutters, you'll lost much of your signal to resistive heating of the raingutters.

I use 100 watts with my attic dipole.  With 5 watts, I'd make far fewer QSO's.

                 Charles
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AF6WI
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2011, 12:38:23 PM »

> I use 100 watts with my attic dipole.  With 5 watts, I'd
> make far fewer QSO's.

Yeah, I may switch to my TS-480 at a hundred watts.

Many thanks for your helpful suggestions.
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KB9TMP
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2011, 05:00:44 PM »

According to KA7OEI on his webpage at http://www.ka7oei.com/ft817_quirks.html He says this:
Quote
Don't use the "PSK-U" or "PSK-L" mode for digital modes. For some reason, there is a slight frequency shift (10 Hz) between receive and transmit when those modes are selected for the "DIG" mode. Use USER-L or USER-U instead.  This frequency shift is (ironically) important on a mode like PSK31.  For modes like SSTV and RTTY, 10 Hz is unimportant, but to avoid possible confusion, ALWAYS use the USER-U mode.  Why?  Aside from not having the 10 Hz shift problem, digital modes are generally used on upper sideband on all bands these days - particularly when audio-sourced modulation schemes (such as a sound card) are used.  Using upper sideband also allow the actual carrier frequency to be determined easily simply by adding the dial frequency to the audio modulation frequency.

You might want to go double check your settings for the "DIG" mode and make sure you don't have it set to PSK instead of USER. Just to make sure.
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AF6WI
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2011, 06:49:28 PM »

> You might want to go double check your settings for the "DIG"
> mode and make sure you don't have it set to PSK instead of
> USER. Just to make sure.

Ooh. I _do_ have it set to PSK-whatever. Thanks for that tip. I'll stop by his site and read more.
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AL7MM
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2011, 11:16:56 AM »

Something else I like to do when I'm adjusting the ALC is to use my SWR/watt meter to make sure that the rig is putting out power.  The 817 can be tricky when adjusting the ALC (mic gain) settings, particularly on battery.

73,
Mike, KL7MJ
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NA7U
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2011, 05:29:32 PM »

> I use 100 watts with my attic dipole.  With 5 watts, I'd
> make far fewer QSO's.

Yeah, I may switch to my TS-480 at a hundred watts.

Many thanks for your helpful suggestions.

Bad idea to try putting out 100W on PSK with a 100W transmitter. Your signal will be non-linear and splatter all over the waterfall. Keep it under 50W. I use 20W and work a lot of DX out 5000-6000 Km.

Also, you mentioned that your antenna tunes about 1.4:1 SWR across the entire 20M band? That sounds like you're experiencing loss in the feedline due to some mismatch. In any case it's a sign of a low-Q system. 
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