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Author Topic: Need advice about setting up a digital station  (Read 1135 times)
W4DWS
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Posts: 4




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« on: February 27, 2008, 05:05:32 PM »

I am now ready after 17 years of ssb and cw to try the different digital modes.  What equipment, software, and etc. do I need to purchase?  I really want to try the PSK 31 mode and try out cw digitally also.  I will be using this equipment on my back up rig, ol reliable IC-735 (if that matters?).   I also have an IC-820H which is an vhf/uhf satellite base rig and could use that one also. Please no flaming responses.  Thanks for your help and advice.

73,

Dennis, w4dws
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KG6AF
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2008, 06:02:39 PM »

While it's old and lacks some of the refinement of newer rigs, I find that my IC-735 makes a great PSK31 rig.  The thing that particularly impresses me is the stability; while I'm sure that it must drift some, I can't detect *any* drift when I turn it on from a cold start.  So if your IC-735 is in decent shape, no worries there.

Here's what else you'll need:

 - A computer.  It need not be a super-fast machine, by any means.  I use an old machine with a 1 GHz Pentium III processor, far slower than just about anything you'd buy today, and it works just fine.  I'm using Windows (2000, in my case), which allows me to choose among a fairly vast array of software, but you can find Linux programs, too, if you prefer to run some form of Linux O/S.

 - Software.  The good news is, there's lots of high-quality software for PSK31.  Two of my favorites are:
      Digipan, an older program that is no longer under development, but which is very easy to use and does a great job.  You can find it at http://www.digipan.net/

      DM780, which is part of the Ham Radio Deluxe suite.  This is a highly-polished program that supports lots of digital modes, and while it's somewhat harder to learn than Digipan, it's worth the extra time spent.  You can find it at http://www.ham-radio-deluxe.com/

These are by no means the only choices; there are *lots* of programs out there.

- An interface between your computer and your IC-735.  You need something that will route (a) rx audio from the receiver to the computer, (b) tx audio from the computer to the transmitter, and (c) something to enable transmit mode.  Some people go with extremely simple interfaces, like a couple of audio cables and a way of keying the transmitter off the serial port.  I'd recommend using an interface that provides DC isolation between the computer and your IC-735.  I use a Donner Digital interface that plugs into one of the IC-735 accessory connectors.  It's cheap and works well, and you can find it at http://home.att.net/~n8st/DDI-index.html

If you're looking for something a more sophisticated, you might try one of the SignaLink devices, available from Tigertronics, at http://www.tigertronics.com/

You can also roll your own interface, if you want, with not much more than a couple of audio transformers and an optoisolator.  For an example, go to http://www.geocities.com/n2uhc/interface.html

Hope you have fun on PSK31!
 
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2008, 10:03:59 PM »

Everything in the previous post is right on.  Additional notes:

My preference for PSK31 software is still Digipan -- it decodes the whole band at once, highlighting "CQ" and uses of your own call.

Check into the BuxComm Rascal interface as well as the Donner.

You'll find that PSK31 is about as good (or better) than CW on weak signals.

Have fun -- it's a neat new world, not hard to get into.

       Charles
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N8UZE
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2008, 08:04:35 AM »

RE: Need advice about setting up a digital station  
VA7CPC on February 27, 2008  
Everything in the previous post is right on. Additional notes:

My preference for PSK31 software is still Digipan -- it decodes the whole band at once, highlighting "CQ" and uses of your own call.

Check into the BuxComm Rascal interface as well as the Donner.

You'll find that PSK31 is about as good (or better) than CW on weak signals.

Have fun -- it's a neat new world, not hard to get into.

Charles
 
------------------------------------------------------

Yes PSK31 is great for weak signal work EXCEPT when the solar flares upset the ionsophere inducing phase shifts into the PKS signal.  Phase shifts added to Phase Shift Keying make the PSK31 signal unusable.
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N5YPJ
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2008, 04:45:00 AM »

Personal favorite - is a signalink USB interface it's darned well worth the extra bucks and MultiPSK it's got all modes as far as I can tell & it's free.

Hope to see you on the waterfall.

Richard
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W4DWS
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2008, 05:55:00 AM »

Thanks a million for your advice and insight.  It really helped me out....
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WQ3T
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Posts: 209




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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2008, 12:41:36 PM »

I second the Signalink USB. If you're into CW, think about the Winkeyer USB. Add rig control CAT cable, and you've got the equivalent of a rigblaster pro. Definitely go with the USB stuff all the way.
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