GUEST POST – Paul AE5JU’s Radio Adventures – Part 2 PSK31

Here is my good friend Paul Coats follow up article – Paul AE5JU’s Radio Adventures – Part 2 PSK31




A week or so back I spent a few hours with Larry W5LJL, a fellow club member. He has a Kenwood TS-140 and an Icom IC-718. Larry had downloaded Ham Radio Deluxe / Digital Master 780. He also has an interface from Donner’s Digital Interfaces for the Kenwood.

Larry could not get HRD to connect to the Kenwood and asked for help, which is why I went over. Trying all ports shown, and even plugging in an RS-232 to USB adapter, which created another COM port, and plugging into that, we were still unable to get HRD to connect to the Kenwood TS-140.

We did get HRD to connect to the Icom 718 using a simple interface cable I had obtained from XGGCOMMS in the UK. (Icom page, for the IC-718, the Cable-8)

I had used this same cable with my 718 and laptop successfully for the previous two weeks. Larry’s computer is a few years old, a Dell with XP operating system.

After getting Ham Radio Deluxe to connect with the Icom 718 we still could not get DM780 to operate PTT via HRD. We got a message that TCP/IP was not started in HRD, but try as we may, could not figure it out. We finally got it on the air for PSK31 by not using HRD at all, starting only DM780, and configuring the DM780 PTT tab to use COM2 and RTS. Success with the Icom 718, at least with DM780, so Larry can do PSK31 (or many of the other digital modes) with that radio!

Next, back to the Kenwood. Like the Icom 718, by not using HRD at all, but using DM780 only, we were able to use the Donner interface. It took a few minutes to get the various audio settings correct. The rx audio going into the sound card of the computer was overloading the input. Larry’s sound card had only a Mic In, so the mic gain in Windows had to be turned almost all the way down, just barely cracked open, and then the Rx Audio slider in DM780’s Soundcard Pane was turned about halfway. That gave a good waterfall and signals were seen.

Before transmitting I set up some macros for Larry, showed him how to make his own, and how to use them. Macros set up were a 3×3 CQ with Larry’s call, a response to another’s CQ, a generic response, a “name, rst, qth” macro, station, locator, and a 73 sk signoff.

Going back the other way, Larry clicked on his CQ macro button, loading the CQ message into the TX pane. I had him click Send and raised the TX slider (audio drive) while I watched the power meter on the TX-140. He ended up with the slider set at about 40%, which on the radio’s power meter indicated it was about 20 watts out. However, a problem was that when the radio’s meter switch was switched from Power to ALC the meter pegged. That was confusing, as with my meager experience, that should only happen if the radio was overdriven with the audio from the computer.

He had no sooner sent his CQ than a response came right back from a ham in Minnesota! He reported an RST of 599, and said that unlike a lot of other signals he had seen today, Larry’s was a very nice, clean signal. Well, we won’t worry about the ALC. Louisiana to Minnesota on just 20 watts… cool!

So in the end we got both radios running with PSK31 using only DM780. From reading through various forums this is apparently a common problem with Ham Radio Deluxe. I like Digital Master 780, and after having tried Digipan, MixW and a few others I think I will stick with it.

Now here’s a good question… why do I need a “control program” (HRD) if the radio is right in front of me? I can turn knobs and push buttons directly on the radio. I do like having the frequency on the digital program’s waterfall, and that is the only thing I gain from having HRD up and running. I can see HRD’s usefullness in situations where the computer cannot be set directly beside the transceiver like I can with a laptop and my meager station.

So, Larry’s up and running now, too.

The next day I picked up a few parts at radio shack, a 100k audio taper (that’s important) stereo pot, two 1/8″ stereo jacks, a small project box, a card of knobs, and a cable 6′ long with 1/8″ stereo plugs on each end.

I mounted the 100k pot on the top of the box and the two 1/8″ jacks on one side of the box. I cut the 6′ long cable right in the middle and have those coming out two holes on the side of the project box opposite the jacks.

One cable is wired to one jack straight through. This jack has a green dot beside it, and the plug end of the cable is color coded with a piece of green heat shrink tubing. This will plug into the (color coded green) speaker jack on the back of Larry’s computer.

Attenuator Illustration

Attenuator Illustration

Attenuator 2 Illustration

Attenuator 2 Illustration

The other cable is wired to the wipers (middle terminals) of the 100k stereo pot. The hot side of the pot is wired to the remaining jack on the side of the box. Since Larry’s computer’s sound card has no line in, only the Microphone In (color coded pink) jack. I had no pink heat shrink tubing, I used red. Larry will have to pretend it is very hot pink. So the cable coming from the 100k pot plugs into the computer’s pink Mic input. And the audio output lead of the interfaces will plug into the remaining jack on the side of the box. I have those leads color coded with red heat shrink tubing, and a red dot on the box beside that jack.

So now Larry can turn the Windows Soundcard controls back up, and the slider in DM780’s soundcard pane back up, and adjust the input signal with the attenuator on this little box. Also, the box can be positioned where convenient for Larry to plug into and adjust, no longer having to turn the tower around.

Paul – AE5JU

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2 thoughts on “GUEST POST – Paul AE5JU’s Radio Adventures – Part 2 PSK31

  1. Why do you need the control program? You don’t really – unless the radio is mounted away from the PC somewhere. It does offer some convenience factors, but that’s just how I run – 780 to my ic706mkiig. I do use HRD Logbook, which is very nice.

    I think there’s some way to use HRD over the Internet for remote radio control – put your radio out in the country house where you have the antenna farm, and then operate it from your city apartment where you have to live during the week.

    It’s an amazingly powerful program and far more than I need. But it works and does what’s needed.

  2. Paul AE5JU says:

    As in Part 1, the Donner Digital Interface link is not working.

    Try this one instead, which does work:

    Paul – AE5JU

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