Wednesday, May 15, 2019

SDR ~ The Wave of the Future

Where can I get a Cheap SDR RADIG?

5/21/2019 ~ Some home movies...


5/20/19 ~ A really good question.

Check the comments section where I was asked about a configuration of hardware that would get you up and running?

I think once you try SDR you will move over to the "dark side". In fact I often hear nets on 40M where the stations use the free webSDR receivers located in Utah or the several in California and then transmit using their non-SDR transmitters in their station transceivers. That would be a good place to start --have both your station receiver on and the webSDR and listen. That would be a really cheap way of evaluating whether you want to spend anything more than just some time.

Assuming that moves you, here is a starting list.


  • The Raspberry Pi3B is a great processor for $35 and you will need a 5 volt, 4amp Walwart (about $10) to run that jewel
  • You will need an SD Card --get a minimum of 16GB and I just bought one for $10.
  • You will need an external sound card such as the StarTech 7.1 to process the I & Q signals. About $35.
  • To provide an audio output and microphone input get a Sabrent plug in USB sound dongle --about $8.
  • HDMI Monitor. I discovered recently that an old LED TV set we replaced with a larger unit has an HDMI port. So scrounge for one of those
  • Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse  about $20.
  • The SoftRock Ensemble (from Five Dash) was still available as of this morning  as a kit for $90.
You are right at about $200 and add some $$$ for cables and wiring. Of course you will need a computer to flash the SD card with NOOBS 3.0 but that should not be an obstacle.

The Ensemble is built in ranges so it is not a 5 Band rig -- probably a good choice would be the 40-30-20 Meter Model. At times built units of the Ensemble are offered for sale and this adds almost $50 to the mix.

Since I have all of these pieces I hope to set up this exact configuration and make a video of it running. 

NOW --ways to save some $$$$$. The RPi2 can run NOOBS 3.0 and maybe a friend has moved up to an RPI3B+ -- offer him or her $5 and you are in the running -- it might even have an SD card in it.

A Good Question.

73's
Pete N6QW


5/20/2019 Win 10 Still Problematic!!!

I spent several hours yesterday and am sad to report no working Windows 10 with quisk. When you go into the config panel several of the entries cause that error message and you must start over. You go to the Jetson file [ .JSON file] (how appropriately named ) and remove it and then you can once again start over. There are some other cute files names like "curses" -- that one in the past, must have been a problem too

The one action that is most critical is the selection of which rig for USB (Peaberry, Softrock, Ensemble). There just doesn't seem to be the flexibility to "fix" things as you do with the Linux operated rigs. I will keep working at it but soon I will just swear off Windows 10. I am beginning to understand the comment by many hams who have migrated to Linux for many of their computer applications.

Another note --Python 2.7 will cease to be supported in about 7 months -- N2ADR is working on a Python3.0 version so it is time to burn a couple of extra python 2.7 SD cards to have for future SDR projects.

BTW last night using the Linux version I worked the east coast (Boston) on 40M using the SB200. The station picked me up out of the large group calling him because as he said --your signal stood tall amongst the many calling! He had an Apache Anon and Big Amp. His final comment --you really sounded good! There you go. 

I also find that there is a discernable difference in the sound quality coming from an SDR RADIG versus an old school filter rig. Must be the audio bandwidth. The record feature on the Quisk lets you replay what you hear … thus you can really make comparisons. All that with free software and about $250 in hardware. My filter rigs must feel neglected.

73's
Pete, N6QW




5/19/2019 ~Windows 10 now Working!

See the comments --Nigel, that did the trick. It now displays and I will pursue doing the rest of the set up!

But why????

73's
Pete N6QW

5/18/2019 ~ Not Good Success with Windows 10.

Based on the success I had with the RPi3, I decided to test drive a small form factor Windows 10 Computer that is only slightly bigger than the RPi3. But faster and more compute power.

Loading the software was pretty easy once I decoded that you had to call up the Command Prompt after downloading Python 2.7.16

In order to enter data you had to enter ...
C:\python2.7\scripts\pip.exe install --upgrade pip

and so on

The final launch is C:\python27\scripts\quisk.exe

Now the 1st time through I got all to load OK and then when I entered the last command I got the quisk window. Wow I was excited. Then I named the RADIG and made the sound card changes and then did the Restart Quisk. Now the quisk screen never launches. There is a brief microsecond error message which I am never able to read. Something went wrong!

So then I uninstalled everything and I mean everything and reloaded all. Same problem: failure to launch and no quisk screen. I simply do not know what to do at this point.

If this was the LInux/RPi install then I would just burn a new SD card and problem solved. Something is corrupted.

Any suggestions. BTW kiddies I am using the RPI3 to update this blog --just like a regular computer.

Pete N6QW

5/17/2019 ~ Loaded another SD Card

Today I loaded another SD Card only this time it was a 32GB. The method to my madness was to follow the procedure I wrote up yesterday to "fit check" that it was good. It is GOOD! 

This streamlined install from N2ADR sure makes it a breeze to get up and running. There is much fun to be had on the bands as later in the evenings it seems like 60M and 20M are loaded with signals. 

I did get one ham who told me I sounded really good; but that my $250 SDR was nowhere near his FLEX6700 --hmmm must be a bit of envy here. Mine is not DDC and only has one receiver and only looks at 200 kHz of spectrum; but I am OK with that.

C'mon guys jump on the SDR wagon you won't regret it.

73's
Pete N6QW


5/16/2019 ~ You Ask and You Receive!


[ I just loaded Quisk 4.1.39 onto a formatted 16 GB SD Card fitted with NOOBS 3.0. The process specified by N2ADR is much easier than what I came up with when I wrote the document that is on my website. Here is a brief capsule of what to do. 

[There is an app called SD Formatter that I use to format SD cards. You cannot load any software on the SD Cards unless it is formatted. I mention this because I got a blistering email yesterday from someone I will call a pre-newbie telling me he can't load the software. I do not do this very often, but suggested he take up Golf]


  1. First load a minimum of 16GB SD card with NOOBS 3.0 (or the latest version available form the Raspberry Pi Foundation). Get that installed on your Pi3. If at the time of install you are hooked up and connected to a WiFi, then when you initially boot up you will automatically get all of the updates.
  2. Next go to the File Manger and right click on an open space and create a new folder call quisk and a new empty file called .quisk_conf.py (don't forget the dot in front the .quisk-conf.py). For now leave it blank but later you can add all kind of stuff to customize your set up. If you do not have this empty file (even though empty) quisk will not run! On boot up quisk looks for this file.
  3. Next go to https://pypi.org/project/quisk and download the latest version. This will end up in your "Download Folder" in the main Pi Directory. Once the download is done go to the folder and right click on the new download and select "extract to" and that selection is the quisk folder. Once it is extracted open it > select all of the files > copy those and then put them in the quisk folder. The quisk folder will now contain the source folder PLUS all of the files. Close that out.
  4. Open up the LX terminal and install all of the files shown in the Linux setup on the Quisk website. 

  • sudo apt-get install python-wxgtk3.0 
  • sudo apt-get install libfftW3-dev
  • sudo apt-get install libasound2-dev
  • sudo apt-get install portaudio19-dev
  • sudo apt-get install libpulse-dev
  • sudo apt-get install libpython2.7-dev
  • sudo apt-get install python-usb
  • sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
  • sudo apt-get install python-pip

PLUS one more sudo apt-get install pavucontrol. The libpulse-dev installs pulse audio but the pavucontrol gives you the control panel to make various audio adjustments.



Now that these files are installed, the next steps get the Pi3 ready for Quisk



  1.  Now we have to set up the software so it can find the hardware. On the LX terminal type in the following sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/local rules This will bring up a new screen where you type exactly SUBSYTEM=="usb",ATTR{idVendor}=="16c0",ATTR{idProduct}==05dc",MODE="0666",GROUP="dialout" Next Click Control X, Shift Y and enter. reboot the Pi3. This lets the Quisk find the 570 frequency control on your RADIG
  2.  sudo -H pip install -upgrade quisk this installs quisk
  3. Next navigate to the quisk directory cd /home/pi/quisk
  4. When you are in the quisk directory type in make -j4 this is to match the hardware to the software. The -j4 is to designate you have a quad processor. You must have your sound cards and softrock or omnia connected and powered on at this time so all hardware is recognized.
  5. You should see a flurry of files and activity once done and in the quisk directory type in python setup.py build
  6. Again a flurry of activity and once done type in the following sudo python setup.py install
  7. Again a flurry of activity and no error messages. Again in the quisk directory (not the main home)  you now will type in the following for the launch python quisk.py

This will launch quisk but now you have to name your RADIG and set up the sound cards. These were taken with another RADIG and at the top you see Quisk 4.1.15 --it now shows Quisk 4.1.39 in a later photo in this series. This is a nice feature. Later on the command sudo -H pip install -upgrade quisk will install the latest quisk right over what you have already installed. This means you can always be up to date. I don't notice too many differences with 4.1.15 but I am sure they are all behind the scenes. One notable -- you can enter a frequency and the software will take you there. Formerly that number was kept there until changed -- now it is one and done and the block goes blank after the change is executed.















There is an anomaly with the Quisk setup and that is the default for the Tx level is 70%. A long time ago I was aghast that I was only getting 700 MW out of my SoftRock when it would easily do 1000 MW. Look at the slider below that shows 100% -- it will not stay at 100% so each time you boot up you need to move the slider to 100%. I wondered why my amp was only doing about 400 watts when it could do 500 watts. That 30% makes a big difference. Who runs these SDR rigs QRP????



This is what 200 kHz of spectrum looks like with Quisk 4.1.39






Firstly, thanks to the several hams who responded to my posting of 5/15 regarding other options for SDR RADIG's.

But hold on --we need to take a bit of a detour before sharing the additional information. In the old days there were many ways of generating SSB signals. One involved the use of filters such as LC Filters or Crystal Filters and the other broad category involved what is called the phasing technique. This phasing technique relied on complex mathematical functions to add and subtract signals thus producing upper and lower sideband signals. If you are bored and want to read up a bit on some of the old technology do an internet search on the fourth method for generating SSB from Messrs. Weaver and Brown. We need to thank them for their work many years ago.

Early SDR RADIG's used that phasing technique in the form of direct conversion receivers and the mathematical manipulations involved summing or subtracting components. A really good example is the work of Charlie ZL2CTM where you have two detectors (SBL-1's or ADE-1's) and the LO is fed to them out of phase --the two outputs of these DBM's are either In Phase (I channel) or Out of Phase known as Quadrature (Q Channel). The clever approach to the processing was the use of a stereo sound card to further process (mathematically manipulate) the two channels. Much credit goes to hams like Dan Tayloe and the Tayloe Detector and of course Gerald Youngblood the founder of Flex Radio.

Thus the Soft Rocks and the Omnia use this older sound card processing. But just as the mousetrap has always been the subject of redesign and the new approach to RADIG's is the DDC (Direct Digital Conversion) using fairly sophisticated Digital to Analog Convertors and computers with a bit more muscle. The current crop of FLEX Radios and the Apache ANON use the DDC. The advantages of DDC over the DCR approach is like driving a Maserati over a lawn mower powered Trike. Built in are capabilities like looking at MHz of Spectrum versus maybe 100 kHz and of course multiple receivers. I think some of the FLEX radios can look at up to essentially 8 independent receivers. Wow. The other factor (Big Time) is that you do not have to go nuts getting sound cards to work with your RADIG!

Thus we have the DCR (all of the stuff I have is this) and now the DDC. There are groups working on the DDC as something you can buy and build yourself.

Hermes-Lite

Out of the box -- Quisk will work with this DDC RADIG. This is a kit offering at this point not by a commercial company but a group. So a group of firm orders is aggregated (like maybe 100) and then the order is released to a manufacturer who runs the boards. So in Italian we have a word which translated means "Patience and don't get your underwear in a knot". It may take a while to get one -- but if I thought my DCR RADIG was cool --this is like 10X better/

See:

http://www.heremeslite.com/

https://groups.io/g/RadioStuff/messages

https://groups.google.com/forum/#forum/heremes-lite

https://github.com/softerhardware/Hermes-Lite2/wiki/Hermes-Lite-2.0-Getting-Started

(The last link is very useful.)

I understand the Heremes-Lite (This almost sounds like a special Micro Brew from Portland Oregon)   is open source so you can take the available info and have your own boards made in China if you don't want to wait.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Radioberry



This is a DDC but takes a bit more to get working as it is more of here is the info and you are on your own from there. I may be mis-stating this but I think that is the deal



See 



http://www.pa3gsb.com/



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------



Hobby PCB ~ RS-HIFQ



This I think is more of the DCR approach and you  will need a sound card



https://www.hobbypcb.com/rs-hifq

https://groups/nutnet/messages/240

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thus fellow RADIG followers we have many more assets available to us and I suspect there will be more to come. That also suggests perhaps less cost as more product hits the market, a greater vertical integration of those little chips into unitized assembles. 

You will not be able to tell what is inside the box; but like the LaPlace transforms of old -- the black box is doing all of the work. Personally I only care what comes out of the box and as long as I have a transform road map --that is all I need for me to understand how it works.

I personally am intrigued by the DDC BUT and a Big BUT, I need to get smarter on this approach and hope to share some of the things I will learn on this blog.

Thanks again to the several hams who contacted me with this additional information and as the Star Wars guys would say may the SDR be with you.

73's
Pete N6QW



************************************************
5/15/2019

I was asked that question yesterday and you know that is a really good question. As John Linford pointed out in his RSGB 2017 Presentation, I am an early adopter and thus have some gear in the bins that was acquired inexpensively. Today may present some obstacles to repeating my earlier good fortune.

Soft Rock Transceivers.

Tony Parks KB9IYG started this movement and his current company Five Dash Sells the Ensemble Kits (unassembled) for about $90. The earlier V6.3 had plug in coil sets so you could work all of the ham bands. The Ensemble are sold by range segment like 80/40 etc. and do not have plug in coils. The Ensemble can also be purchased as an assembled kit for more $$$. You best check with them on future availability. You will need an external sound card (s) to make this play such as the StarTech 7.1. I have both the V6.3ng (a surface mount clone of the V6.3 made in Canada) and the Ensemble.

Omnia SDR Transceivers

AE9RB took the SoftRock architecture and added an on board CODEC so no external sound card was needed. He called his creation the Peaberry and two models emerged the V1 and the V2. Like the Ensemble it was sold in band ranges. Later the Peaberry was acquired by another group and called the Omnia. Like the Ensemble it is sold in band ranges. Mine is a four bander 60-40-30-20 Meters. I paid around $170 for the kit as I got some options.

The Omnia design has now been altered to cover all ham bands and boasts a 5 watt output. Its new name is the Multus SDR. Its price is around $250 for the bare bones kit. You best contact Multus SDR LLC for more details as I have scant knowledge about their current product.


The SDR software of choice for the Omnia is the HDSDR which I frankly did not like. Ever the fool, I migrated my Omnia to the Quisk and boom it works and I am a happy camper.

Other Choices ...

Moving up the price spectrum we have many self contained SDR transceivers such as the mcHF from the UK  and a host of boxes from China. You have now moved beyond $300 and some are in the 10 to 15 watt power output range.

There is also some offerings from Australia like the Genesis that use an external computer. I have heard some really good things about the KIWI SDR but believe it is a receiver only.

The unveiling at Dayton of new gear, soon to happen, will undoubtedly add to this list. 

If any of the few readers of this blog have other suggested units please email me at n6qwham@gmail.com and I will update the blog.

73's
Pete N6QW

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Miracle of Software Defined Radios... Yes a Mircale

I can tell you are not convinced...

5/14/2019 ~ New Found Capabilities.

Having spent a large part of my ham experience with self constructed rigs (now RADIG) often these were simple no frill radios and this worked FB for me. Plenty of contacts and of course the thrill of articulating "the rig on this end is homebrew". But they were just that, no frills; but good sounding.

Now with my new RADIG --wow lots of frills for about the cost of one of my older bare bones crystal filter rigs. Today I was listening to a 'big time 40M DXer" who must have some pretty elaborate antennas and some expensive hardware. This chap was simultaneously working VK's and ZS's (for those newly minted extra class licensees --that is Australia and South Africa). Then I listened closely to his signal -- I actually think he had RF in his audio. To assure myself that it was not my RADIG I tuned to other stations of the same signal strength and they were crisp and clear. So it was something on his signal and not my RADIG.

If you look in the photo below, right below the vertical line and in the row of buttons  on the first line are a couple of buttons I have never used before. 

Depressing one of the buttons lets you record the signal being heard and the 2nd button lets you play back the recording. Wow, I know those of you with some of the commercial rigs have (had) this capability and in  many cases this has been around for a very long time. But this is a first for me. But wait -- if you are in the playback mode -- and press the PTT -- the recording is automatically transmitted over the air. Now that is a first for me. Yes some of you have had this for a very long time.

But now this opens up the possibilities when some one is having a problem to assist them by letting them hear their transmitted signal. Think also --free software and a $150 RADIG, and a $35 computer.

I can just tell by listening to this big time ham he would discount the recording by saying "there is nothing wrong with my signal". But there was! 

Now I have the capability to record on the air signals and play them back. Oh another feature you can hear what is being transmitted from the recording --this is useful so you know when there is evidence of a particular event. You got to love this technology. 

This has been a bonus find with today's button pushing. Guess it is time I read the Quisk manual.

73's
Pete




5/12/2019 ~ New Hardware.

Today (in between cooking my XYL a Special Mom's Day feast) I added a 7 inch HDMI to my Omnia/RPi3. Stunning is a good word and second word is small -- really small. The third word is RADIG (A Radio Rig).







So Get Cracking and dig out that old RPi2 -- it will work with Quisk. 

73's
Pete N6QW
***************************************************
I need only look at the paltry amount of viewers of this blog to see that my SDR adventures are discordant with many who formerly looked at my ramblings. Guess what --I don't care and I will continue to discuss my SDR efforts.

There is a great suspicion that the lack of enthusiasm for taking on self-constructed SDR rigs (in defference to those who do not think it is true homebrew because you can't touch or feel every component) is based more on a lack of a willingness to go beyond a certain comfort zone. Or perhaps it is a life peppered with "I can't do that". Well you can.

Jokingly someone suggested I try for the Guinness Book of World Records given the number of homebrew traditional sideband transceivers I have built. You can read several notable ham publications to see published articles on these projects. So it is with an experience base in the analog world I challenged myself to move to what one friend calls "the dark side". It is only a dark side because some have not opened the door. In a few days Xenia will happen and a host of new SDR radios will be unveiled. True a FTdx -101D can be had for about $4K but you can build a self-constructed SDR for about $250. I have done it!

What has made it possible to move to SDR without having a PhD in Electronics is the ready availability of hardware like the Raspberry Pi3 for about $35. Add a 64 GB SD card and you have a computer that 10 years ago cost over a thousand -- I know because at one time I had a computer business. Incidentally I have taken the latest free operating system NOOBS 3.0 and loaded it on a PI2 built 5 years ago. The RPi is good enough that you can even watch Netflix on the little device. Yes I can do that on my smartphone but it sure didn't cost $35.

In one of those notable publications I produced several articles on SDR radios you can self construct and I think essentially the same outcome: glazed look and the feeling I can't do that. Well you can. Just get off the couch and get smart about SDR.

I hope to start a series that will take you through the detail of how to self construct your very own SDR "radig"  (that is a combo of the words radio and rig).



Start first by acquiring a Raspberry Pi3 and a minimum of 16 GB SD card. Get a 5 Volt 4 amp supply to mate with the RPi and you will also need a heat sink for the RPi. I had bought a plastic case for the RPi and after a couple of hours of digital operation on WSPR a small red thermometer showed up on my screen. Never saw that before --so I added a small fan on the case top and now all is "cool". I use a wireless keyboard/mouse (Logitech) as that takes up only one USB port and you will need a HDMI capable monitor. I got a Sceptre 16 inch for $60. This will get you started.



For software you will want NOOB3 and later you will need Quisk 4.1.15 and WSJTX 2.0. I have the quisk on my website and believe it or not --once you get the RPi3 working you can down load it from my website to your Pi. Today I hope to add the permanent version of WSJTX 2.0.1 so you can download that also. The WSJTX can self install right on your Pi from the download directory. 

So if you are not into SDR --stop reading the blog!

I can only say that it has been such an eye opening experience to literally have daily QSO's with Japan and be able to filter out the crud and crap so often present on a simple rig lacking digital signal processing. I have my screen set up to see about 100 kHz of spectrum -- it is easy for me to see whether the band is truly dead or chock full of signals. All this with a $35 computer.

73's
Pete N6QW

Thursday, May 2, 2019

SDR and why you should make the move to the new technology

SDR and the Promise of the Future is here!

5/8/2019 ~ Update on my SDR Stations

I now have two separate stations up and running and there is cause to share this with the blog readers.

  •  The first is my Omnia SDR which covers four bands (60, 40, 30 and 20 Meters). This is running on an RPi3 (NOOBS 3.0)  and Quisk. The secondary sound card is built into the Logitech H390 Headset Microphone. I have this mating with two amps so can I deliver 600 watts on 40 and 20 Meters. The rig gets excellent audio reports and I even managed to snag a 60 Meter contact running 60 watts.
  • The second station uses the RPi2 (NOOBS 3.0) and for the heavy IQ stuff this is done with a StarTech 7.1 sound card and the audio out / mic in is done with a small dongle type sound card ($7). The Transceiver is the Softrock V6.3 and I have plug in coils to cover 80,60,40,20,17 and 15 Meters. This rig can also be mated with my SB200.
So for the reasons mentioned by John Linford in the RSGB presentation, this is falls right in line with the paradigm of minimum in hardware and maximum in software. I get excellent audio reports (the energy is within the spectrum and it is not yellowy). It also can be tuned precisely on frequency. Variable bandwidth tuning is superb and there is no problem with working the digital modes directly without any adapters.

So excuse my enthusiasm but I am actually busy making contacts and exploring the new features and functionality of my two rigs. SDR is the new wave.

73's
Pete N6QW

5/6/2019 ~ FT8 & WSPR Update.
Yesterday  I loaded up a 32GB SD card and setup the RPi3 to operate with the Omnia SDR. I also downloaded the WSJTX software. Boom as of yesterday there is a new version for Linux and it does not expire in June. Thought the few readers of this blog might like to see some screen shots of the setup as used on the RPi3 and the Omnia. All this with a $35 computer and $14 SD Card.











5/5/2019 ~ More exciting SDR experiences.


[Our hobby is just that and each of us chooses how to interact with the hobby and with others who share our slice of the pie. Some like to push the envelope on the newest and latest technologies like putting a ham satellite into space while others are using nothing but homebrew rigs only on CW. In between we have many roads and many adventures. All of us do have one common goal ~~~ enjoyment. We are co-equal in our pursuits and no one can claim (or should claim) his is the only way to go. 

I am immersing myself in SDR as I see it as a challenge and a learning experience. Throughout my 66+ years doing this (including early experiments with a CK722 transistor in 1953/54) I have seen many changes in the hobby and our rigs. But today the new technology showing up at the market place is astounding. A $35 computer --hard to believe that it is so cheap and can do so much. 

Sure I can't see every component on the board. Nor could I homebrew a Raspberry Pi; but for me personally I do not need to do that. What I want to see is how it makes me enjoy my approach to the hobby. The RPi has exceeded my expectations and my foray into SDR is enabling me to fully enjoy its capabilities. I respect that others have different views and that it is why this is such a diverse hobby with something for everyone.. Pete N6QW}

Sometimes you just get lucky. Early this morning (before 0 Dark 30) -- I went to the shack and finally figured out how to make FT-8 work with the Omnia SDR. The magic decode is to use the rig listing for the AE9RB Peaberry  V2. Then to use DGTU key, set up for VOX (turn on the VOX button), Mute the receiver and then use CAT control on the USB port. For the radio in/out use the Peaberry selection. Bottom line made my 1st FT8 contact (more than QRP) and was slightly underwhelmed. It was the technical challenge to make it work and not so much the actual FT8 contact was the real buzz.

Just finished a run on WSPR and at two watts was spotted mostly in the US.




I was able to download the FT8 from the Princeton (K1JT) site but there is a note that this version for Linux will die on June 7, 2019. After down load to the RPi I was able to install it right from the download directory. 

I also worked Japan JA2QXY on SSB. Hawk (JA2QXY) is near Nagoya and running a 5 element homebrew beam and 1KW homebrew amp --his rig was a TS870 to drive the amp. Needless to say he was pounding into the left coast.

The operating position looks a little bare with just the Raspberry Pi, the small Omnia SDR and the keyboard/mouse and the monitor. I am using a Logitech H390 USB headset which actually has a built in sound card so just plug in the headset to the Raspberry Pi and you have a separate sound card for the audio out and mic input.

I have real respect for the $35 RPi computer --it is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

73's
Pete N6QW


5/4/2019
How to key an External Amp with the Omnia.

The Omnia SDR has an Opto-Isolator on board which cannot directly key an external amplifier. This is left up to the user. So I designed an interface to tap into that opto-isolator. Heck who in their right mind would run the Omnia QRP???? 

BTW you can adapt this circuit to make it a universal keying circuit by including a 4N35 opto-isolator and a simple PTT for the input would make this useable to turn on directly an SB200! It is powered from a 12 VDC source. The Reed Relay was selected because it is fast acting and draws low current.






Sure is nice to have some tribal knowledge!

[BTW you can get a built Soft Rock Ensemble (40,30,20M) for about $125 from Five Dash. You would also need a StarTech 7.1 sound card about $35 and a Raspberry Pi3 about $35 and of course a monitor (HDMI) and a keyboard mouse combo. So with a bit of scrounging around $250 would get you on the air with a software defined radio having all of the wonderful filtering, accurate and stable frequency control, waterfall display and many other refinements like AGC and a 200 Hz CW filter. SDR for the masses -- Linford's prediction is a reality.]

73's
Pete N6QW

5/3/2019 ~ Huge Progress Today.


Today I bit the bullet and loaded a new 32GB SD card with NOOBS 3.0 and using my process on the www.n6qw.com website easily installed Quisk 4.1.15. I am not sure how to use the latest Quisk -- as there is some arcane thing that has to be done that I have never seen before. If you want a Zip file of the old Quisk drop me an email to my QRZ address.

Boom now FT8 can be decoded as well as WSPR. So Far receive only as I can't quite get the right parameters to make it transmit. That hamlib stuff is real CRAP!!!!!! [Confusion Reins And Problematic]

So if any one is using a RPI and knows what setting to use please share.

So OK my strong suit is hardware (or so I tell myself) but I can see the need for an "API" so that the frequency changing can be done with an encoder. I do know that in NOOBS 3.0 there are links to tie in an Arduino Uno. So I can see the Arduino doing the tuning maybe communicating over the I2C or SPI links and the frequency is changed using a big old FAT KNOB! So OK you out there whose strong suit is software --tell me how to do it.

This latest adventure has revolutionized the hobby for me. Get on board --soon all commercial rigs will be SDR

73's
Pete N6QW





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I have been "dabbling" with SDR rigs (yes I call them rigs because I built them) for almost 9 years now and it is only now that I am fully appreciating their awesome capabilities.

A friend in the UK put me on to a you tube presentation at the 2017 RSGB Convention by John Linford, G3WGV. This is a must see video.

Essentially John, makes a comparison with the two competing technologies that of the HDR (hardware defined radio) and the SDR (software defined radio). 



John presented  many factors for comparison including cost, capabilities and of course the all important user interface. He also states (from a 2017 vantage point) that in 2 to 5 years virtually all commercial ham radios will be SDR. Just look at the ICOM 7300, its current popularity and price point (soon to likely see about $1000). In about three weeks we will have the Dayton Hamvention (Xenia just doesn't flow like Dayton) and it will be interesting to see the hardware. I think the new FT-101 will be there as well as perhaps some new upstarts, especially from China. The one and only time I went to Dayton (over 10 years ago) I stopped by a booth manned by two guys with a laptop --the company name was FLEX radio and today that company is a leader in DDC SDR radios. 

My Omnia SDR with the RPi2 and the Motorola Lapdock is in the $250 range. Certainly not a 7300 but then again only 25% of the price. My main bands of interest are 40 and 20 Meters so I am good to go. With my Softrock V6.3 I can do 80-15 Meters. Here are some screen shots of my Quisk Display. Not bad for a free software download. I mentioned the empty block --look for 7.155 and then you will see it went to 7.155 000







The dye in the wool HDR guys complain about no "knobs" (C'mon guys this is a radio related website). But G3WGC shared his totally homebrew rig with an amazing front panel with just the right amount of knobs. Upon looking behind the panel is a small form factor SBC (Single Board Computer) running Windows 10 that handles the API (Applications Programming Interface). With his homebrew API he can iterate the SDR software so that he has a main tuning knob, volume control and a few other "knob" functions.

I need to learn how to do the API as I suffer from a Terrible Malady called FFS (Fat Finger Syndrome) and somehow I always overshoot the mouse and have trouble pointing and clicking on the PTT button.

Jim Ahlstrom N2ADR, had written an amazing SDR program called Quisk and that is what I am using on the RPi2. Each day I learn something new about the program. For instance just yesterday I was wandering over the GUI interface and spotted a blank looking area. I found that if you type a frequency in there and press enter on the keyboard -- Boom you are on that frequency. My Omnia SDR board covers four bands 60, 40, 30 and 20 Meters. It will even jump bands based just on the frequency being typed in the space. I don't know if the current uBitx with the JackAl display can do that -- but that sure is nice to have on my Omnia SDR.

The Omnia was a later offering from a small group who took on the work of AE9RB who was selling the Peaberry V2. The Omnia was originally intended to work with HDSDR software which I never liked and that is why it has been in the bin for a couple of years. Since I have migrated the Omnia SDR (Peaberry V2) to Quisk a whole new world has opened up for me.

I had an amazing QSO last evening with my Omnia talking to N5SDO, Dave in NM on 40 Meters. He and I often talk on 40M. Dave last night was using a FLEX 5000 running Power SDR (developed as an open source by FLEX) and then announces --time to identify --suddenly appearing in my waterfall display was N5SDO. Now I thought that was really cool. A gadget --yes but shows the power of the Computer and SDR

For some unknown reason the RPi does not like to load WSJTX 2.0 as there is one or two files it cannot find on the download and subsequently aborts. If I can fix that then the Omnia SDR has possibilities for FT8.

The Future Indeed is Here!

73's
Pete N6QW

SDR ~ The Wave of the Future

Where can I get a Cheap SDR RADIG? 5/21/2019 ~ Some home movies... 5/20/19 ~ A really good question. Check the comments secti...