Mobile PSK31 station

I’ve resurected my FT-817 since it hasn’t seen the light of day much since I stopped walking up summits a couple of years ago. It’s now being pressed in to service as a portable PSK31 transceiver alongside my new Acer Aspire One netbook.

I was a bit sceptical as to whether the small netbook, with its whimpy Intel Atom processor, would be up to the task of running PSK through its own soundcard. As a result I had intended to purchase a Tigertronics Signalink since it has a built-in sound and this would take away some of the processing from the underpowered notebook.

However, having chatted with Chris at Martin Lynch and Sons he told me he used his Asus netbook without any problems using the CG Antenna SB-2000 USB radio interface they sell.

I was further sceptical that Ham Radio Deluxe might swamp the netbook’s little processor, but Chris assured me it would be fine and that the interface is called the ‘SB’ 2000 because the interface was designed specifically to work with Simon Brown’s Ham Radio Deluxe.

So, I went ahead and purchased the SB-2000 interface.

Upon unpacking it I was a little disappointed to see that there was no mention of setting the interface up to work with Ham Radio Deluxe, especially given the ‘SB’ in the interface’s model name. However, I needn’t have bothered. Everything was hooked up, the SB-2000 was successfully powered by the netbook and Ham Radio Deluxe loaded fine and allowed me to control the FT-817 from the netbook without problem.

The digital modes software, DM780, also loaded and successfully received a PSK31 signal straight away. However, I couldn’t get the SB-2000 to kick the FT-817 into transmit mode to be able to send transmit PSK31 signals. I tried using the pseudo serial port that the SB-2000 driver creates but couldn’t because HRD was using it to control the radio. Switching DM780 to trigger the radio’s transmit mode via the soundcard similarly failed spectacularly. Then I remembered that you can run an IP server in HRD that enables other software to access the functions of the radio via HRD. DM780, despite being part of Ham Radio Deluxe is such a seperate program and, having found the help article on Simon’s web site and following it I was up and running, transmitting in no time at all.

So far, impressions are good, though the proof of the pudding will be when we start operating at the weekend.

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