fldigi help (radio stuff so everybody can ignore this)

Saw your posting about PSK31 and stuff. I got fldigi installed on my macbook air and it’s up and running fine. Wanted to put it on my iMac too and thought the easiest thing to do was just copy the configuration files, but I can’t find them! Where in the world does fldigi keep the blasted thing?

Ah, you discovered that, have you? It’s OSXs fault. The program keeps all of the configuration files in a folder called .fldigi and that’s where the issue is. OSX apparently things that any folder that starts with a . is a system file and should be invisible. It’s there, you just can’t find the dopey thing. I ran into the same thing when I wanted to put it on my iMac and couldn’t find it.

You can make the invisible files visible. Go to this website:

http://www.mikesel.info/show-hidden-files-mac-os-x-10-7-lion/

He’s got instructions on how to do it.

Oh, and make sure you change things back to invisible again! You DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH INVISIBLE FILES under normal circumstances!

Yet another PSK31 setup

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I’m still experimenting with PSK and this is a quick snapshot of the setup I was playing with today. Again, cheap and quick and dirty, using stuff I already had in the house; my Macbook and the USB microphone adaptor plugged into the Kenwood.

This system works a lot better than the iPad version did for several reasons. First, the audio output quality of the laptop is better, allowing me to turn on the radio’s VOX system so it transmits automatically when I want to send something. Second, the Macbook is much, much more powerful, and the software’s level of sophistication reflects that.

Screen Shot 2013 03 30 at 10 15 56 PM

I’m running Fldigi on the Macbook and it works quite well indeed. All of the iPad apps I’ve seen are limited to working with a single type of digital communication; RTTY, PSK, CW, etc. Fldigi works with all of them. Plus it includes an enormous number of bells and whistles, like built in logging capabilities and, if you have the right interface, even control of the radio right from the program itself.

Unlike the iPad software I was running, Fldigi doesn’t just decode the selected stream in the waterfall, it decodes all of them, at the same time. In the screen image above, it’s simultaneously decoding four separate transmissions at the same time. 

The question, of course, is does it work? And the answer is yes, even with the cobbled together setup I’m using here. In the short time I was playing around with it, I made two contacts, one in Oregon, the other in California. And that was with my transmit power dialed down to 25 watts, and feeding my Comet vertical antenna, which some people claim is little more than an over priced dummy load.

(Interestingly, I’ve made far more contacts with PSK31 running my cobbled together equipment than I have on voice)

Once I get the actual interface between the computer and radio up and running, this could get real interesting.

Bare Bones PSK31 setup

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So I’m a grouchy farmer so why all this stuff about amateur radio? Because we still have snowbanks 4 feet high around here despite warming temperatures, so I mess with radio stuff.

I’ve been using an iPad app called PSKer which works far better than it has any right to. It ‘hears’ the PSK31 tones from the radio and decodes them, and when you type something in, it sends the PSK tones out the speaker. But background noise is an issue. I am now using Apple’s camera adaptor with the USB connector on it, with a USB microphone adaptor plugged into that. The output from the speaker on the radio goes into that, and bingo, a nice, clean display without any hash from background noise.

Unfortunately I still haven’t got things set up for transmit, hence the microphone aimed at the iPad’s speaker. It works. Sort of. But just having a truck roll by outside can cause havoc. I need to get the output from the adaptor into the microphone inputs on the radio, and hopefully figure out how to trigger the PTT circuits at the same time, or perhaps use the radio’s VOX capabilities to deal with triggering transmit.

This will give you an idea of what you can do with little or no money, though. Except for the Kenwood, everything else was stuff I had laying around the house already; iPad, camera adaptor, USB mic adaptor, etc. The only thing I actually had to buy was the PSKer software, and that was all of about $3.

Me and Furniture

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We’ve been doing upgrades to the house. Well, to be honest it seems that all we ever do is do upgrades to the house since we bought the place. It’s sort of a running joke between my wife and I. I wanted a new ranch house, all sleek and modern and brand new. She wanted a house with ‘character’. Well, she got her wish with this place. It’s got ‘character’ all right, as I remind her every opportunity I get when she complains about the uneven floors, out of plumb door frames, etc. Great fun!

We’ve decided that now that the dog is too old to climb up on chairs and shed all over them and rip fabrics with his toenails, and that the cats have turned out to be reasonably well behaved and aren’t going to shred our furniture, we need to get some new furniture. I hate to say it, but all of the commercial stuff we’ve looked at has been either way, way too expensive, or, frankly, crap.

So, what does this have to do with the two photos? Well, the table and the chair are mine. I made the table — must be 10, 11 years ago. It’s made from white ash harvested from trees that went down on my father-in-law’s farm decades ago and which were stored up in a shed until I got my hands on the stuff. Most of it went into a wardrobe I made for my wife’s sister and her husband as an anniversary present, and what I had left over went into this table. I liked the design, with the kind of quirky way the table top is cut out around the tops of the pyramid topped legs.

The Morris chair is made from white oak and is the most comfortable chair in the house. The extra-wide, flat arms were designed deliberately so people can set things on them when they’re sitting. They’re also made extra strong, thanks to the corbels that support the arms and the fact the bottom of the arms are mortised their entire length and fit into the top rail. I made them extra strong because I knew people would be tempted to perch on the chair arms.

Anyway, ‘she who must be obeyed’ has decided there is going to be no crap commercial furniture. It has been decided that I am going to make a mission style sofa to match the chair and table.

Well, we’ll see.

Still More Ham Stuff: PSK31

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I’m new to amateur radio. Just got my license in February when I passed my Tech and General tests. So a lot of this stuff is still new to me and I still find it a bit amazing, like this set-up. This is an ordinary iPad running a program called PSKer, available on the App Store. Using no additional hardware at all, just the iPad, with it’s internal microphone and speakers, it will decode and send text in PSK31. Now I’ve been working with computers, radios and electronics for ages, but sometimes modern technology still surprises me. I haven’t tried transmitting with it yet. That’s a bit awkward, but decoding works pretty well, although you do need a very clear signal with little or no interference, which is sometimes hard to do.

And look at that nifty waterfall display! Heck, it was worth the $3 just for that!