Programing the NUE-PSK Digital Modem

Just wanted to jot a quick note about how easy the NUE-PSK Digital Modem is to program – once I read the directions!

Mine has been back for each update and has the USB add-on with the RTCC (Real Time Clock Chip) feature.

It has been upgraded to Version 5, which added a morse key jack and full CW features.

Experimenting with Winston K9CFVR (we can drop the /AG as he is now listed in the FCC database) we hand typed everything. Did it the hard way and really didn’t get around to consulting the manual until after we were done.

It is a tribute to the ease of the NUE-PSK Modem that we were able to run PSK-31 at all given our caviler attitude to reading the directions.

I now have the NUE-PSK loaded up with a Config.txt file that has all my macros in it – paralleling what I usually program into MixW or fldigi when operating.

Technique was a quick couple steps:

  1. Download the Default Config.txt file from either the NUE-PSK itself, or from the website.
  2. Edit the file with a plain text editor.
  3. Put it back on the USB Thumb Drive.
  4. Use the NUE-PSK’s Load Config feature to Upload the edited Config.txt file into the Modem.
  5. Let the Modem reboot & test.

Took all of a few moments to do and the machine is ready to go.

Here are my macros as currently implemented:

MACROS FOR PSK AND RTTY:

Macro F1:  CALL CQ : CQ CQ CQ de <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL> pse k

Macro F2: ANSWER ANOTHER’S CQ CALL: <THEIRCALL> <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> <MYCALL> pse kn

Macro F3: ANSWER WITH REPORT: <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> UR 599 599 into EN64dc EN64dc Manitowoc, Wisconsin – Name is Steve Steve HOW COPY? <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> kn

Macro F4: ANSWER WITH OPERATING CONDITIONS: <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> Full Print – I am operating a NUE-PSK Digital Modem (no computer) with a SGC-2020 Transceiver at 8 watts with a portable antenna. A very small portable setup from my “Go-Kit” that I am testing today.  BTU <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> kn

Macro F5: ANSWER WITH A BIT ABOUT ME: <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> Thank you for the information.  All copied.   I am good at QRZ.com and you can find more about me at http://k9zw.wordpress.com BTU <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> kn

Macro F6: REQUEST AN EMAIL CONFIRMATION: <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> Would you please email me a confirmation of our QSO.  I do eQSL and direct QSLs.  Sometimes LoTW when I feel brave!  My email is k9zw@mac.com  BTU <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> kn

Macro F7: SAY 73 AND SK: <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> Thank you for the QSO – Godspeed and 73 – Hope we do meet again!  <THEIRCALL> de <MYCALL> SK..Sk..so

MACROS FOR CW MODE:

CW Macro F1: CALL CQ: CQ CQ CQ DE <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL> K

CW Macro F2: ANSWER AND REPORT WITH INFO: <THEIRCALL> DE <MYCALL> TU FOR CALL UR RST 5NN 5NN QTH Manitowoc, WI, OP Steve HW CPY? <THEIRCALL> DE <MYCALL> kn

CW Macro F3: CONTEST QUICK TURN-AROUND:  TU QRZ? TEST DE <MYCALL> TEST K

CW Macro F4: SEND MY CALL SIGN: <MYCALL>

CW Macro F5: ANSWER ANOTHER CQ:  <THEIRCALL> <THEIRCALL> <THEIRCALL> DE <MYCALL> <MYCALL> <MYCALL> kn

CW Macro F6:  BASIC INFO: <THEIRCALL> DE <MYCALL> RIG HERE IS SGC-2020. USING A NUE PSK MODEM. HOW DOES IT SOUND? <THEIRCALL> DE <MYCALL> kn

CW Macro F7: TUNING AND TESTING: TESTING TESTING DE <MYCALL>

I’ve left out the transmit on/off and control characters on my cheat-sheet notes, but they are there in the Uploaded Config.txt file.

A little manual reading a pre-use programing sure makes the NUE-PSK Digital Modem one slick little device and a perfect companion to the SGC-2020 Transceiver!

73

Steve
K9ZW

For Want of Nail, Nothing Like an Upgrade to Peak Interest, and Playing with Go-Kit Gear

In the run up to Dayton my Shack Computer had been acting up. Latency Spikes and gremlins that were giving PowerSDR no end of grief. Thought a decent dual-core Dell, I was even considering replacing the machine.

Troubleshooting found only erratic symptoms. The underlying cause(s) just weren’t easily found.

On return from Dayton middle son Winston KC9FVR/AG asked if we could run up the station so he could try some PSK31, having been reading the Digital HF book bought at the ARRL booth. We couldn’t get things to run very smoothly and after a very rapid shutdown in response to a sudden lightening storm powerful enough to set fire to buildings only 10 blocks away, the system would no longer recognize the Flex-5000A hardware.

Utilities and Testing showed that the OEM Dell Firewire card gave up the ghost.

Quick research at the Flex-Radio Knowledge Center & Forum Archives identified the best cards for performance and roughly $25 later a card was on its way rushing from Amazon.

Took the downtime to do ALL updates – from BIOS to any driver/software/system update that could be done. Also left the machine running a very in-depth anti-virus scan which ran overnight (all clean enough to pass).

The new card was truly PnP (Plug-n-Play) and despite having a different chipset than advertised (putting it into an OK-class rather than preferred-class for PowerSDR use) the system quickly reinstalled the “Found New Hardware” of the Flex-5000A.

Operator error led me to fight with VAC (Virtual Audio Cables) and settings – trouble I could have avoided by a simple reboot.

Once running it was lickety-split to help Winston KC9FVR/AG put a handful of PSK31 QSOs under his belt.

The drive that comes from a fresh license upgrade and an experimenter’s mindset had Winston KC9FVR/AG quickly asking – can I run fldigi from my Linux Thinkpad using some of your other gear?

So to the garage to raid the go-kit stash.

Up went the 20m Hamstick Dipole on 12 feet of surplus cameo-poles and a trial of a Small Wonder Labs PSK-20 I had ended up with somewhere along the way.

We had little joy with this setup, and it is uncertain if the PSK-20 is needing repairs or if we were struggling with Linux sound issues.

So out came the SGC-2020 Transceiver and the NUE-PSK Modem. This combination hadn’t really been used. The NUE-PSK modem had come back a few weeks ago from a full update at Midnight Solutions bringing it up to Version 5 with all the add-on features, and the transceiver had been run but once.

Plugged in the SGC-2020 and cabled up the NUE-PSK and “PING” we were on the air just that quick.

Winston KC9FVR/AG complete a QSO and then declared the micro-keyboard “worse than texting” and dug out an old full sized IBM clicky-clicky keyboard which worked wonderful.

Of course we weren’t about to read the manuals any further than the absolute basics to get things running, so we were hand-typing everything. Macros are for sissies (or for those who read the manuals).

Winston KC9FVR/AG downloaded a PSK31 app for his Android Phone and it was neat to see it decode from the speaker’s sound output.

I ran a handful of QSOs (it is sure a lot easier to type “K9ZW” than what it took him to type “KC9FVR/AG”) before we put the station away (took ten minutes to pick up everything and store it again.)

My go-kit HF gear did digital just fine! Power needs are such that I think I could get more than 12-18 hours of full duty out of each of the gell-cells I have set aside from their storage charge levels, and days if they were topped off first.

Remember that “spark of interest” that comes with a fresh license upgrade? Well it was back down to the shack to run a couple 20m & 160m JT65 demo contacts before promising each other that we would run some Hellschreiber on the weekend.

A couple things learned – in terms of the station the dead firewire card really put the main station out of commission. “For want of a Nail” they say the battle was lost, and for want of a working firewire port the station was off the air. Critical Key Component Dependency is not unique to an SDR setup, as most stations lack backups for mission critical items. Almost nobody has a spare for each item in their station.

Then the joy of seeing an inquisitive mind wanting to explore amateur radio shouldn’t be missing from an operator’s life. It was wonderful to help Winston KC9FVR/AG explore digital-HF and heartwarming that he would only let this father retire for the evening by making a promise for “more radios, more!” on the weekend!

And lastly that it is great fun to pull out the go-kit gear and give it a whirl. Couldn’t think of a finer father-son activity to put one’s work day aside.

73

Steve
K9ZW

K9ZW Portable Kit In the Making

K9ZW Portable Kit In the Making

I’ve been assembling the parts for a field kit to do Digital HF and today I laid them out to take first measurements as I refine my design & layout.

The NUE-PSK Modem does several Digital Modes and will do CW. Kit includes a Keyboard, Thumb Drive for Logging, Cable to the SGC 2020 TX, and various Battery Packs.

An SCG 2020 Transceiver does duty. Heavy Mil-Spec type of radio transceiver.

TGE built voltage regulator handles the power control tasks.

Another SGC product, the 237 Antenna Tuner and SmartLock remote handle some of the tuning tasks.

A Communications Speaker and a SWR Meter from the spares box will fill in those roles.

Gamma Power Supply is very small and light, using Super-Capacitors as the technology.

End Fed 10/20/40m Antenna is one of four set aside for this project.

There are other antennas (thank you Paul AE5JU!!) and an optional ThinkPad to include in the design.

Presently I am thinking of modules, with the #1 having the core & deployable on its own, and #2 & #3 respectively adding capabilities and options.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Thinking Mobile, on a Simple Basis

Just back from my first trip of 2011, with at least six more trips planned or in the final planning, and about six more expected beyond the initial count. Most will be like this one, mainly work with a bit of personal time tagged on to the trip.

This last trip didn’t lend itself to traveling with radios, especially as I would have little opportunity to set-up and work a station, and that we traveled as a group of seven with events scheduled throughout.

Several of the next trips will be easier to travel with radios, and should have some “solo down time” where I could operate.

Thinking of traveling with two separate set-ups besides a full portable HF SSB/Digital setup for long stationary vacation time:

  1. The Satellite Set-Up where I will be in any one place for less than two days and/or will have at most limited operating time. In addition to the laptop I typically already have to take traveling for work, the gear would easily fit into a briefcase, would take less than 15 minutes to set up, and could be a real challenge with rewards for any QSOs I could score.
  2. And second a PSK-31/Digital Set-Up for trips where I’ll be somewhere more than an overnight or two, will have a likely spot to put up a basic antenna, and operate for at least a few couple-hour sessions. Figure that I can fit everything into half a suitcase and under 25 pounds with some care. NUE-PSK Modem, a small 20 watt or less transceiver & matching power supply, and an ultralight antenna should do the trick.

For drive-to trips it might be just as easy to take my portable HF station, rather than fuss with a small station.

Very undecided about whether to take any gear out of country – whether it is going to be worth the effort given the nature of those trips. Maybe next set of overseas trips will have a better Amateur Radio profile.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Thoughts on Amateur Radio Travel in a TSA Controlled World

Over the next six months I’ll have several opportunities to travel via airlines.

A few of the places work and recreation will take me to are beyond my personal “Drive if it is less than a 16 hours drive”  guideline.

For several years I have generally driven if a destination could be made in 16 hours behind the wheel or less, simply to be able to have my own schedule, being able to have my own airline-unfriendly test gear with me, and avoid the delays/hassles of airline travel.

In practice I would bend this rule to basically drive whenever I could, even if it would be a somewhat longer drive.

I should explain that my construction profession usually requires showing up at the client’s facility in full PPE (Hardhat, Safety Boots, Safety Glasses, Hearing Protection, possibly Hi-Viz outer wear and fall-protection harness/gear in some cases), with roof access gear (ladders) on occasion, and usually sampling (roof test cut & patching) & testing gear.  So I am usually traveling heavy.

Also the idea, at my height, of putting up with much time with knees crushed into the back of the next row of airline seats seems enough justification alone to drive rather than fly.

For a few years I flew my own personal airplane for some of the longer trips, though the economics didn’t work out and I found the love of flying I had for hours piloting disappeared when I “Had” to fly to make a trip.  What was fun on a Saturday morning as a getaway from work had become part of work, and hence much less fun.

Internationally one is usually stuck flying, though I have made several inter-country sea trips, either personally on commercial cruises or for professional travel on ferries or working boats.

Over the years while flying commercially I have had undue attention on numerous occasions.  I’ve managed over the years to be interviewed by New Scotland Yard’s airport team, spend a few hours in special examination by the friendly (not) folk in Canada, have TSA agents insist on detaining me while they scanned their own class ring claiming my gear had hidden metal in it, be counseled by Her Majesty’s finest that I needed to pay a huge fee & have my passport taken away to transfer visas (didn’t do it, and it has continued to work just fine every trip, though I expect the moan each time), and dozens of other hassles by officialdom domestically & internationally.

What would set them off?  Anything from paying cash for an international ticket (don’t do it – I was naive and I had a funeral to make), traveling with stuff that twigs their systems – firearms, masses of computer disks back in the day, traveling with no luggage (wonderful Transport Canada was crabby about that), traveling with tools (Transport Canada again wigged out, as the common tools to nurse back  car left in Canada set them off – I should have bought the spares & tools once I arrived I guess), asking the wrong questions (NEVER ask the TSA folk were you selected for further screening by “profile or count” – whether you matched some sort of risk profile or simply were the x-number person through – as they go nuts when you ask about their procedures), … and crime of crimes, traveling with radio gear.

Internationally I had SWL and Amateur gear “earn” me extra scrutiny in & out of the UK, Spain, Canada, Mexico and a couple of the Islands.

Domestically I’ve earned an extra “looking over” or had hand luggage checked because of radio gear perhaps a half-dozen times.

I should clarify that my Military days included extensive security training, perhaps leaving me a bit more attune to when I have attracted extra security attention.  Perhaps some of the ramp-up security responses – simple things like two supervisors coming over with the questions starting might escape some travelers, though of course the “invite to the windowless hell of an interview room” would register with everyone!

So how to travel with the radio gear I would like to have AND not become a TSA training exercise in route?  With the TSA currently prone to illegal warrantless searches – their claim that you agree to be their victim by having bought a ticket is dubious at best, and as far I can tell I buy a ticket from the Airline, not the government…- why attract attention?

Working plan is to repurpose a spare Pelican case, outfit it with one of my back-up radio kits (transceiver, power supply, antenna, cables & accessories) and ship it ahead by UPS or FedEX.

With airlines charging for an extra bag, this looks to be cheaper and gets my gear out of the way when playing the TSA game.

As long at the kit is insured, and I have a ready way to ship back, this should work.

So the current debate is whether to up-scale the kit to include push-up masts and a “dream list” or keep it at a more Zen-like minimum kit?

Should I keep it a portable transceiver (say a SGC-2020 or an IC-7000 size class) or scale up and send a TenTec Jupiter or perhaps an IC-745 class rig?

My thoughts are the small-scale.  Target of under 50 lbs of kit and less than $1000 in insured value.

Tentative list is:

  • SCG-2020 Transceiver
  • SCG 237 Antenna Coupler (though they seem to weigh more than it should).
  • Gamma Power Supply
  • End-Fed Antenna lik the LnP offerings
  • Cables, connectors & Coax
  • Grounding wire with clamp/stake termination
  • Welz SWR/Power Meter
  • Rigrunner Power connector box, with spare fuses
  • NUE-PSK Diginal Modem & USB keyboard with interface cables

Should be able to put together the kit mostly from gear in my spares, and meet the weight & value maximum targets.

Have a few weeks to test the set-up and set-up the case.  Would like to do a hand-cut foam insert to best protect the gear in the case.

More to follow….

73

Steve
K9ZW

SDR Technology in a Box – no, really a Cube – the SDR-Cube

Coming soon …

SDR Cube

A Portable Software Defined Radio Utilizing An Embedded DSP Engine for Quadrature Sampling Transceivers
by George Heron, N2APB and Juha Niinikoski, OH2NLT

SDR-Cube Prototype with Cover Off

SDR-Cube Prototype with Cover Off

The SDR-Cube is a companion project to the NUE-PSK Modem I’ve reviewed before.

Website where details are slowly being added is at:

http://sdr-cube.com/

73

Steve
K9ZW