Category Archives: FT8

REPOST: Background FT8 Remote via SmartLink and SmartSDR for Windows (June 6th, 2019)

REPOST of a June 6th 2019 Post. EDITS in BOLD with Brackets []

Background FT8 Remote via SmartLink and SmartSDR for Windows

If you spend long hours desk-bound like I do, your thoughts may also wander to the question “Could I make some QSOs during work? [EDIT With the immense amount of screen time working (we’re considered an essential business at work) while in isolation making any QSO is a treat.]

Back in SmartSDR v1 days I started with a Raspberry Pi VPN using a Maestro during lunch hours. Those phone (SSB) QSOs were pretty few.  Fist I had limited time and then if staff knew I was in the building they had things to bring to my attention, which is hard to manage when you are also in QSO!

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Preparing an FT8 Linux Laptop from a Chromebook

UPDATE – “It’s Alive! It talks!”  Using some hints from I got the audio working.  I’m also editing in a few hints.  See the Sat Oct 19,2019 1:04 pm post for the step-by-step.  Basically seemed to be a driver issue with this particular Chromebook model.   


The Audio Fix

[Edited 08FEB2020]


CAUTION [SEE ABOVE – Resolved with some research and work!] – I’m struggling to get the Audio I/O working.  Some users are reporting that the Dell 3120 (Candy) Chromebook running GalliumOS ends up with the audio inoperative, and few say they have it working.  I’ve undone the whole process and repeated with the same problem.  Might be better to pick a different Chromebook in the end.  More to follow!  [Edited 08FEB2020]


With some help from Vic KC9NWB I’ve mostly prepared a very inexpensive laptop to run WSJT-X with my soon to be built Midnight Design Solutions Phaser FT8 transceiver Kit.

I started with a Dell 3120 Chromebook which was a scratch-n-dent sale item at Amazon’s Woot.  With the larger memory Amazon usually gets $100 plus tax for one of these, but catching it on a short Woot offer saved about $30 in my case.  So with taxing delivered I’ve added $71 to my FT8 Phaser project for a dedicated computer.  At the time of my writing Amazon does have some on offer (again S&D/renewed) for the $75 range.

Rugged Chromebook

I followed the conversion to Linux Joshua Woehlke wrote up at

Some notes: Backup the firmware to a separate flashdrive, and do make a set of backup media to restore ChromeOS just in case you have to revert to solve problems like I did. is also another good reference. You can make a new ChromeOS restoration media drive through the chrome browser app plug-in as well.  But having the right stuff handy is helpful and saves time if you do have to go back.  [Edited 08FEB2020]

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Building a Portable FT-8 Vertical Antenna

Taking much inspiration from recent posts on the US Islands reflector and his previous articles I’m endovoring to emulate John KL7JR’s efforts to use Wilson FTG-2 CB antenna tuned to useful ham band frequencies.


FTG-2 with the 20m whip

A quick ordering spree at Amazon and a dash to the local Ace Hardware got things going.

What I bought were:

From Amazon:

From the Hardware Store:

  • A 10×32 knurled cap screw to replace the set screw in the FGT-2 antenna ($0.55 plus tax)
  • Several lengths (nominal 72 inch long) 12-gauge “ceiling tile” wire, the galvanized wire used by suspended ceiling installers to hang ceiling grids ($0.99 each plus tax)

For testing I used my SARK-110 analyzer and I used a common fence-pliers to cut & form the wire.

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Even in FT8 some station can overdrive and ruin your band reception

Not that one sees this that often, but it is possible to have another station’s poor signal basically wipe out your FT8 operations.

In this case someone was over-driving to the point their signal splattered wiping everyone else:


When another station is splattering FT8 transmissions

Typically in FT8 this resolves itself when after a bit they give up, as their signal usually can’t be decoded well without some attenuation and gyration.  So they move along.

It is not unreasonable for FT8 operators to run some power.  FT8 is a weak-signal mode, not a QRP mode.

But if they don’t have their station configured correctly the added power can lead to a mess.

(Notice in the picture that the overpowering signal was only the “even” transmissions as the “odd” ones remained regular looking signals.)




An Excellent FT8 Guide by ZL2IFB

Gary Hinson G4IFB/ZL2IFB runs a pretty awesome website and has done an excellent job of producing an FT8 Guide available as a PDF.

I’m partway through rereading his guide and would recommend it to both new FT8 users and the experienced operator.

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Transmitting on Property with a CrankIR

Put my CrankIR together as I wanted to replace some worn out clamps and play with my new Sark-110 analyzer. Also wanted to update the Flex-6300 spare radio.

See the top of the antenna?

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