This year I participated in Field Day with the Hampden County Radio Association. Instead of dropping by a site and using their equipment, I decided to offer up my equipment for use as the “HF DIGITAL” station. Other than a couple of software issues, the Digital station was a success with over 170 contacts.
After getting Ham Radio Deluxe, DM780 and the Pain in my back side logbook to play nice with each other and myself. I’ve been doing some digital. I got some new places I’ve never talked to and had a blast.
New places I got to talk to were
MJ0SIT – Steve – Jersey (No, not New Jersey!)
I actually had to google Jersey for its info
EW6FW – Sergej – Belarus
According to PSK Reporter, My signal got around as well
I’ve also notice a hetrodyne that gets louder as I go up in frequency. I hope to see if it still exists when I bring the setup to Field Day
You can see sort of what I am talking about in the screen shot above.
I will be participating in Field Day this year with the folks from the Hampden County Radio Assocation ( HCRA ). I’m excited because I will be using my FT-950 as the site’s HF Digital station (Mostly PSK, RTTY). So if you live or will be in the Western Mass area on the 25th and 26th of June and want to see Field Day up close, we’re going to be at Dufresne Recreation Area in Granby, Massachusetts. All are welcomed, licensed or not. Please visit the Field Day page on HCRA’s website. Also check out pictures and data from prior years
For those who don’t know about Field Day, It’s basically an event that takes place on the 4th weekend of June to test emergency communications and it’s deployment. Over 30,000 operators across US try to communicate with as many other field day operators as possible. Points are awarded to operators and/or clubs that make contacts and perform other tasks that would allow for more points ( For example: media coverage, getting Non Hams on the air [GOTA], Copying/fowarding messages). Some Hams treat this as contest even though the ARRL considers it an exercise. Whatever the case may be, it’s really fun and it can get you out of the house.
I’ve participated in Field Day multiple times at multiple hosts over the years. I’ve had a Digital setup back in 2004 and had a blast. I recall being very busy using digital back then, I hope that it’s even more popular this year compared to 2004 and hope to be more busy making contacts all over HF.
What: ARRL Field Day Hosted By the Hampden County Radios Association
When: Saturday, June 25th, at 14:00 (2pm), untill Sunday, June 26th
Where: Dufresne Recreation Area, Granby MA, 01033
Why: Because it’s fun, social and you get to operate all different type of equipment.
Since I have a radio capable of transmitting Digitally using the Project 25 protocol. I wanted to test it out. The only issue is that there are no P25 ham radio repeaters in receiving distance from my house and I do not have another P25 radio to communicate with. After searching around Google, I found some websites discussing software that will decode the digital signal and convert it to analog over your computer’s sound card.
Hardware Needed: Scanner – I guess it can be any kind as long as you can get at the discriminator output. I used a Radio Shack PRO-97. Audio Patch cable – From the discriminator output to the computer Computer – Not sure what the minimum requirements are. I used a 1.5Ghz single core AMD (Circa 2003) and a motherboard with a built-in sound card. Sound Card (If you computer doesn’t have Sound Card) – I don’t think there is a need to go out and spend hundreds on a card that your going to use for this purpose. The money spent on a expensive card could have been spent on a scanner that can decode APCO25. I’ve found that a sound card using the AC97 Codec works the best.
Software Needed: Linux OS Or Windows – That’s right L-I-N-U-X!! DSD Will NOT run on ANY KIND OF WINDOWS OS. Let me type that again. DSD DOES NOT RUN ON WINDOWS!!! Sorry but I had to do that. I’ve used UBUNTU Ver 10.04 . At the time of writing this, the current version of Ubuntu is 11.04 . For some reason DSD DOES NOT WORK WITH UBUNTU VERSION 11.04 . The reason I choose Ubuntu is that it’s downloadable, free and has a Graphic user Interface. Since I never Ran Linux before, I felt a little more at home with Ubuntu. You can run a Dual Boot system so that when you start the computer, you can have a choice of which Operating system to boot into. With Ubuntu you can also run Ubuntu off the CD instead of installing the OS on the computer. Please note that there is a lot of reading in installing Ubuntu which I will not cover on this website. Google questions you have and I’m sure there is an answer out there
DSD (Digital Signal Decoder) – This is the software that actually takes the digital signal and decodes it.
Mbelib – This software actually takes the decoded information and synthesizes it so you can hear the decoded audio.
DSD and mbelib can be downloaded from here (See note at the end of this writeup)
After modifying your scanner and getting Linux to run, download Mbelib and DSD in Linux and remember where they are located. In terminal CD (Navigate) to the directory where both Mbelib and DSD are located, Unpack both Mbelib and DSD and then install Mbelib first then DSD. If your very new to Linux and have some computer skills, this thread helped me out.
After installing everything, in Terminal type “dsd” (without quotes) and If all goes well. The last line should be “Audio In/Out Device: dev/audio”
Errors that I got at this point mostly have to do with sound. Either your sound card is being used by another application (even the sound control panel) or DSD is not calling up the correct sound card. DSD is defaulted to use sound card device 0 (zero). So if your sound card device is in a different spot then you need to tell DSD the location for the sound card. You can check where your soundcard is (if it’s installed) by typing “aplay -l ” into terminal. If it’s device 2 for example then you type in terminal “dsd -i /dev/audio2 -0 /dev/audio2”
I’ve uploaded a video showing up how DSD works with APCO 25 (P25, Project 25). It also works on other digital modes but I have not yet tried.
I am loving this software. It’s not the easiest software to install or use but if your into scanning and just even wondered about Linux. This is the perfect project to get your feet wet in Linux.
Please note that I am not an expert on the DSD software or Linux. Most likely I will NOT be able to help you if you’re experiencing problems. The install went so great for me and worked so well that I wanted to install it on another computer. After installing it on another computer, I had nothing but trouble. The good that came out of having a hard installation is that I learned a bit about DSD and Linux.
Thanks for reading
I haven’t been using DSD much as I’ve been out of touch with APCO but I was informed by a user on Youtube that There is a verison that runs in windows.
Basically what the Author did was compile all the stuff from the linux version of DSD into a windows .exe file. If you just want to listen to P25, Download the version in the 3rd post of the thread. All you have to do is un-zip everything into a folder and run dsd.exe
I’ve tested it against my XTS3000 (P25) and everything looks and ran great. I think the Audio was a little better sounding on my Linux box but the audio is still legible and I’m glad to now have it on a windows box. Maybe I’ll listen to it more often.
Make sure to plug into the discriminator tap and put the other side into the LINE-IN (Blue). Before loading DSD make sure that the LINE-IN is your DEFAULT recording device and you should be all set. If you try to do this while the DSD is running you can run into issues just like when it was in Linux.
Thanks to the RR crew because it makes scanning more fun and less expensive.
Since my recent purchase I’ve been back into digital. In the past couple of say 20M in the afternoon has been really good to me
I made contact with the following
RK9AN – Anvar -Asiatic Russia
RN3AJK – Artem – Euro Russia
DK9WB – Jakob – Germany
CT2FPY – Leonel – Portugal
M0NPQ – Nerijus – England
DL5MGH – Armin – Germany
IW3SGT – Alessandro – Italy
IZ3LEF – Emiliano – Italy
IW6NBX – Antonio – Italy
SP5GRU – Wlodek – Poland
EA3BJW – Joan – Spain
US5CCO – Vlad – Ukraine
UA3ON – Antoly – Euro Russia
RD3WW – Vladimir – Euro Russia
IN3NHZ – Roberto – Italy
KE5AQD – Roger – USA
W3CRR – Craig – USA
9A4A – Zlatko – Croatia
I have been noticing lately that after sending CQ and acknowledging someone that people are still trying to contact me. I like pileups for me but it’s hard in the digital world. It gets annoying because I’m unable to make out the first half of the conversation because of QRM. I figured like on SSB, once someone acknowledges someone else that everyone else on the frequency remains QRT until the exchange ends??? – END RANT
I also got work K2TPZ on CW. I still have trouble receiving so I cheated and used the computer to receive his CW and used the touch pad to send. I hope by engaging in CW more and more that the dits and dahs will automatically turn into letters and words
Recently I purchased a SignaLink USB from HRO in NH to replace my Rigblaster Nomic. The Reason for doing so is that the SignaLink has a built in sound card. That means only one connection to the computer is required. It also Isolates the soundcard so I do not have to adjust my computers sound card every time I want to use digital.
Price (@ HRO): $99
Platfrom Installed on: Windows 7
Radio Used On: Yaesu FT-950
Software Used With: Ham Radio Deluxe, WSJT
When purchasing the SignaLink you can either get one to adapt to your microphone jack or your data jack (If you have one). Since the FT-950 has a RTTY/PKT port on the rear of the rig, I purchased the SL-USB–6PM. The 6PM stands for “6 PIN MINI” which is what the RTTY/PKT Port uses (Similar to a Mouse/Keyboard cable).
The box comes with everything you need to get going. Included in the box was the SignaLink USB unit,6ft USB-A to USB-B cable (Similar to current USB Printer cable), 2Ft of Rj45 to 6 pin Mini din cable (From the Unit to the radio), 1ft Male to Male audio (stereo) patch cable, Jumper wires, Allen wrench, Software CD (Contains Jumper Diagrams and Various ham radio software) and Manuals.
The initial setup is very easy with the kit I purchased. Just plug the USB cable into SingaLink then into the computer, then plug the Data cable into the SignaLink’s RJ45 jack and plug the 6pin Mini Din into the rear (RTTY/PKT, DATA) Port of your radio. Depending on your Operating system. The system will automatically recognize the SignaLink and install the default drivers for the sound card that is in the SignaLink.
The software and radio setup could be a little confusing to some people. But it’s similar to any other interface that is out in the market. The only thing is is really different is that you will now have TWO sound cards showing up on your computer (Your computers and the SignaLink). You will have to do some on software adjustments for the SignaLink sound card (Labeled “USB Audio Codec” or “USB Audio Device”) and you will have to modify your settings for each software that you use for communications. Tigertronics website provides a great amount of information on how to setup your SignaLink USB to your computer and will provide technical assistance over the phone\e-mail.
On the radio side with the FT-950 I went to menu # 51 (Data Out Lvl) and # 53 (Data V Gain) and changed the value to 90 to max out the levels. If I need to changed the RX and TX levels of the data port I can do so on the fly with the knobs on the SignaLink. I also changed FT-950 to display the ALC meter.
Now it’s time to pick a frequency and start doing some “Digital” Communications. I picked my favorite 14.070mhz. At this point I am adjusting the RX knob on the SignaLink to make sure I am not overdriving the DM-780 software. I keep my level around 40%. If you have the RX knob maxed out (turned fully clockwise) and you are getting less than 10% of audio then check the software settings on the “USB Audio Device” and the settings on your communications software (For example DM-780 has Attenuation level. That box should be turned off or at zero). If it’s still low then check your rigs Data Settings and max out the RX and TX gain
Once the RX is set, it’s time to start transmitting. Soon as you start transmitting adjust the TX knob so you see nothing on your ALC meter but the power is still at the level you set it at. The picture above shows that I set the power to 20 watts. in the PSK field you really do not need much power. I see a lot of people running high wattage which just makes it hard for others to communicate as they are causing QRM to stations near.
So far I am loving the SignaLink USB. My sound card is now free so that I can listen to music again. Windows OS sounds will no longer be transmitted (DING!), I no longer have to readjust my soundcard for digital. I can also use my microphone jack for it’s intended purpose; for plugging a microphone into. I can switch from digital to SSB in seconds! I wish I purchased one of these with the radio.
* – I am not tech support for the SignaLink, I just want to show how I went about putting it together. If you have issues please go to http://www.tigertronics.com
While crusing around the 40M band I heard a digital signal on 7.071Mhz. The signal didn’t sound familar to me so I had to flip through a bunch of modes to find that I stumbled upon a Feld Hell Net. I decided to monitor and after 10 min or so I tossed my call into the mix. The NCS (Net Control Station) was Lou (W8LEW) from MI That acknowledged me.
I posted a screen shot below
As you can see in the Waterfall I confused it for a PSK Signal. But when I put the headphones on I knew it wasn’t. You can also see a snippit of the convo I had with W8LEW. The white part is me and the gray part is W8LEW. There were a couple of other people in the net and overall I had a great time. Props to the people at the FELD HELL CLUB. I suggest if your into Digital modes that you should try this if you haven’t