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Author Topic: Old Dog Looking to Learn Some New Tricks  (Read 2951 times)
N4AOF
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Posts: 24




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« on: January 10, 2017, 11:10:52 PM »

Long time ham just now getting started in HF.  I'm thinking that some of the digital modes might be interesting.  I'm looking at the idea of something like the RigBlaster Advantage or Pro to avoid fighting with the sound card configuration in my computer that won't be dedicated to the job.  The radio is a Yaesu FT-840, which I know isn't ideal for HF digital modes, but it is what it is.

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K8AEC
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 12:10:43 AM »

I use this for my sound card:

https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-External-Adapter-Windows-AU-MMSA/dp/B00IRVQ0F8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484122025&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+audio+dongle

I then use two standard audio cables, one to the headphone or rear speaker jack, the other to the mic.  

Works like a charm.   Just remember to keep your (PC) speaker volume as low as possible (1-5 on slider) or your signal will be wide and splatter all over the place.

I've been using this setup for over 5 years.   PSK-31, RTTY, JT65A, etc.   You'll love it !!!
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2806




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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 10:22:01 AM »

That soundcard, and some cables, is a "least-cost solution".  I suggest putting ferrites on the cables, to avoid "RF-in-the-shack" problems.   And yes, be _very_ careful to not over-drive the FT-840.

For considerably more money, the Tigertronics "SignaLink USB" has a soundcard, and some surrounding circuitry including VOX and level controls. 

.            Charles 
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K8AEC
Member

Posts: 67




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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2017, 09:11:43 PM »

I'm a poor ham, so I have to go cheap.

1) two audio cables (receive = headphone/rear speaker jack @ radio to mic @ dongle, transmit = speaker out @ dongle to mic @ radio)
2) mic adapter to plug in the cable
3) $7 audio dongle from amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-External-Adapter-Windows-AU-MMSA/dp/B00IRVQ0F8/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484543254&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=usbaudio+dongle

I keep the audio out (transmit) at the PC set to 1 or 2 to avoid a wide signal and splatter.

Have worked the world on PSK31, JT65A and RTTY.

All for about $20.
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K8AEC
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2017, 09:53:19 PM »

disregard....didn't realize I answered the same post twice.....lol
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VK3ZT
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2017, 10:49:29 PM »

I am also looking to get a start into digital.  Our household is completely Apple and has been for the last 11 years or so whilst the children went through school and uni.

If I were to purchase a PC laptop.  Could I please be guided in what minimum specifications I would require for digital and general HAM duties?  Updating firmware, writing to memories.  I really have no idea.  The adult children all have the latest and greatest Macbook Pros.  The family iMac is over 11 years old.  The first of the INTEL machines.  I am truly ouy of date when it come to the world of PC.

I suppose logging software and rig control.  As I said, I have no idea.

My current HF rig is an Orion II and looking forward to purchasing an Eagle or equivalent for mobile and portable use when they become available.  I am ever an optimist.  An Argonaut is not out of the question if they become available too.  The new HF 10 watt radio from Commradio also looks inviting.

Warm regards,

Mitch.
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W4KYR
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Posts: 1614




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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2017, 05:22:40 AM »

I am also looking to get a start into digital.  Our household is completely Apple and has been for the last 11 years or so whilst the children went through school and uni.

If I were to purchase a PC laptop.  Could I please be guided in what minimum specifications I would require for digital and general HAM duties?  Updating firmware, writing to memories.  I really have no idea.  The adult children all have the latest and greatest Macbook Pros.  The family iMac is over 11 years old.  The first of the INTEL machines.  I am truly ouy of date when it come to the world of PC.

I suppose logging software and rig control.  As I said, I have no idea.

My current HF rig is an Orion II and looking forward to purchasing an Eagle or equivalent for mobile and portable use when they become available.  I am ever an optimist.  An Argonaut is not out of the question if they become available too.  The new HF 10 watt radio from Commradio also looks inviting.

Warm regards,

Mitch.

Others might disagree, but you can use older computers like XP and Win 98 for general ham radio uses if the only thing you'll use it for ham radio. The advantage is that they are dirt cheap (or even free). I had no problem running packet and other programs using 512 MB and 1.2 gig. Even a Win 98 is perfect for older programs that were never produced for XP and above. All of the Win 98 and a good portion of older XP computers come with a serial port. Most of the older basic ham radio programs don't require much hard drive space.

Otherwise just follow the advice of others and get a modern laptop with Windows 7 or above. If you plan to run the paid version of Ham Radio Deluxe, you'll need a laptop that requires higher specs. HRD suggests running 8 GB ram for optimum performance.  The only thing is you might not be able to run older ham radio programs on newer computers and newer computers don't come with a serial port, but that may not be important to you.  

http://tickets.hrdsoftwarellc.com/kb/faq.php?id=54

"NOTE: Although HRD may run on systems with less than recommended requirements, we can not guarantee optimum performance. DM780 uses more resources when decoding many signals simultaneously. Windows Vista 32-bit - Min Installed Ram 4 GB.............

Windows 7/8 64 bit - Min Installed Ram 6 GB
Although the minimum requirements for a 64-bit operating system is 6 GB of installed ram, we recommend, for maximum performance when using the digital modes, 8 GB should be installed."


For modern laptops stay away from those laptops with only a 32 GB hard drive. Get something at least 1 TB if you plan to use the laptop for other uses. If you don't plan to run modern programs, you can get by with a much smaller hard drive.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 05:25:58 AM by W4KYR » Logged

The internet and cellphone networks are great until they go down, what then? Find out here. 
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,111948.0.html

Using Windows 98 For Packet...
N0IU
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Posts: 2005


WWW

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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2017, 05:27:39 AM »

EDIT: Doubled with W4KYR

Mitch, unless you are going to get an SDR transceiver like a Flex or ANAN, just about any laptop your bank account will allow will work. There is nothing particularly special about most amateur radio applications that require something more robust than an off-the-shelf computer has to offer. As with any computer, you can't go wrong by adding memory. As far as speed, get the fastest you can afford but there is no need to go overboard on this. About the only limiting factor on a laptop might be the number of USB ports but this is easily solved by adding a USB hub.

Good luck!

« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 05:29:52 AM by N0IU » Logged
W8JX
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Posts: 12095




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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2017, 06:05:09 AM »

Others might disagree, but you can use older computers like XP and Win 98 for general ham radio uses if the only thing you'll use it for ham radio. The advantage is that they are dirt cheap (or even free). I had no problem running packet and other programs using 512 MB and 1.2 gig. Even a Win 98 is perfect for older programs that were never produced for XP and above. All of the Win 98 and a good portion of older XP computers come with a serial port. Most of the older basic ham radio programs don't require much hard drive space.

Not very smart at all. The hardware it uses is very old and older ones do not even support SATA drives which has long replaced ATA which means you have to us old slow hardware prone to fail too.  You can get a new entry level laptop for 300 or so that has many times the power, HD space and RAM of a old PC that belongs in junk pile. If you are going to take time to set up a PC for ham radio you want to start with new hardware so it is good for many years and that supports modern RAM for easy and cheap upgrades not old hardware on last legs. Some seem to think HD's last for ever but it is one of the weakest links in a old laptop and when it fails (and it will one day) you have a door stop. If you are comfortable tearing down a old laptop and replace parts in it and install a new hard drive then there is some merit to using one but if you cannot you are just buying someone else's junk and setting yourself up for failure and data loss.
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--------------------------------------
Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
VK3ZT
Member

Posts: 6




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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2017, 09:44:16 PM »

Thank you to those who replied.  The link to HRD requirements was very helpful.  I may be aiming too high.  Though after looking at HRD requirements and applying filters on this website.  I have ended with this as a possible selection.

http://www.harveynorman.com.au/hp-spectre-13-v004tu-13-laptop-ash-copper.html

Warm regards,

Mitch.
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KC3NG
Member

Posts: 111




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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2017, 06:50:21 AM »

For a laptop get a Lenovo thinkpad if you have the kind of funds that you are talking about.
Renee KC3NG
« Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 07:07:50 AM by KC3NG » Logged
W1VT
Member

Posts: 2530




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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2017, 06:57:58 AM »

It may help to do a search to see if the computer you are considering as any known issues.

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php?topic=94943.0
For instance, the experts seem to agree that the Lenovo T420's built in soundcard is useless for ham radio--they all can't get it to work and have to use an external option.

Zack W1VT
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VK3ZT
Member

Posts: 6




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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2017, 10:18:45 AM »

Thank you to those who replied.  The link to HRD requirements was very helpful.  I may be aiming too high.  Though after looking at HRD requirements and applying filters on this website.  I have ended with this as a possible selection.

http://www.harveynorman.com.au/hp-spectre-13-v004tu-13-laptop-ash-copper.html

Warm regards,

Mitch.

I have been informed by a friend that the hp I am looking at is over kill and I should keep clear of Windows 10.  He stated that I should be looking for a system that uses Windows 8.1.  With that being my selection criteria and that two of the below laptops can be configured to 8 Gig of RAM as was mentioned in a previous post on eHam.  Though I do not know about the speed of the processors.

At the moment I am still waiting to hear from my scanner friend's reply as to these three short listed refurbished models and also from the store that is selling them.  This shop is local to me and I do like to support local businesses with a shop front.

http://bitronics.com.au/shop/refurbished-laptops/asus-intel-i5-5200-laptop/

http://bitronics.com.au/shop/refurbished-laptops/asus-intel-i5-4210-laptop-blue/

or

http://bitronics.com.au/shop/laptops-2/hp-g2-250-intel-i3-laptop/

Could eHam members please post their thoughts on these three laptops?

Warm regards,

Mitch.
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KC3NG
Member

Posts: 111




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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2017, 10:40:57 AM »

If desired you get a new laptop and put 8.1 on it, You do have to insure that there are 8.1 drivers for any extraneous hardware on the CPU unless the com is done via COM ports and then there's nothing to worry about,,,,

Renee KC3NG
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AC7CW
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Posts: 1014




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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2017, 03:10:17 PM »

I have about $200 invested in my laptop: Lenovo T430, Core i5, 64bit 8GB Ram, Win7 Pro. Works fine for literally everything I do but I have not put the soundcard to the test for much of anything. I love these Lenovos, huge bargains, have three of them and a docking station, all purchased used from ebay. Can dedicate different machines for different purposes, swap them into the dock in seconds and have them connected to the external keyboard, monitor, mouse, etc...
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Novice 1958, 20WPM Extra now... (and get off my lawn)
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