Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A New Transceiver at N6QW ~ Part II

 Back to the Nu-Rig

6/08/2016 ~ An Alternate LO/BFO/Display Systems for the Nu-Rig

While there has been a lot of interest and actual implementation in the 128X128 Color TFT worldwide, there are still those hams who want to use a simple 16x2 Backlit LCD for this project. So we did just that and see the photos below. I should confess once again of simply robbing the Let's Build Something original prototype of the parts and so the actual build time was pretty minimal. The Arduino is the Pro-Mini and the board is the Si5351. Not as fancy as the TFT but still serviceable. If any one would like the sketch contact me at n6qwham@gmail.com

73's
Pete N6QW






6/04/2016 ~ Revisiting the ZIA 20 Meter SSB Transceiver.

In mid-2015 I built the ZIA transceiver which featured Termination Insensitive Amplifiers developed by Wes Hayward and Bob Kopski. Unsatisfied with simply dubbing it the TIA, I decided to call it the ZIA where Z is Impedance thus Impedance Insensitive Amplifiers. The build was successful and embodied the NOKIA black and white display. This was a huge mistake as the display was flaky and very hard to read.
 
I made an error when I built the Nu-Rig as I made the panel cutout too large for the 128X128 TFT but this was quickly remedied as I had a 160X128 TFT which fit the hole perfectly. This left me with a spare 128X128 TFT. Consistent with my caregiver duties I have very few large blocks of time to build things. At best I can find 15 or 20 minutes so a retrofit of the ZIA had to be done in short blocks of time.
 
The retrofit involved removing the Nokia, adapting some code I had and rewiring a couple of the Arduino pins. I also had to make an adapter plate as the 128X128 TFT is physically smaller than the Nokia. So over a period of a couple of days I was able to get that done. During the course of "noodling" over the project I decided to continue with the blue theme --so about 20 minutes to paint the front and side panels. The last photo shows the ZIA before the paint job. I like the blue front panel versus the black panel.
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 

 

 

 

 

6/03/2016 ~ Some Updated Photos of the Nu-Rig.


The following photos display the latest configuration of the rig plus some close-ups of the individual circuit boards. Again this is not a BITX so the circuits will not look the same as the classic design from Farhan.

The 1st photo shows the connections at the back panel including the ferrite beads on the entry DC power and the speaker jack.



Next is a close up of the 2N3904/2N3906 Bilateral amplifiers an original design from Plessey and found in EMRFD. I have created a SMD template for the amps and simply have the CNC Mill do all of the hard work. I am matching from 50 Ohms to 500 Ohms the impedance of the Yaseu XF-32A filter. Using a toroid type (FT-37-43 core) I used a single winding that gives the 10:1 match. A 19 turn winding using #26 wire tapped at 6 turns provides the match (19^2 = 361 and 6^2 = 36 361/36 = 10). Either side of course are the SBL-1's DBM's.


Moving on we next have a bidirectional amp that is an original design from N6QW (me). This stage features two single 2N3904 amplifiers that are gain adjustable. On the Rx side this provides the receiver RF amplifier and on Tx the other half provides the transmit pre-driver. The design is such that the amplifiers feed a 50 Ohm load comprised of a 100 Ohm fixed resistor in parallel with a 100 Ohm trimpot. The center wiper sample the output so that the level to the next stage is adjusted without destroying the 50 Ohm constant load. The signal relays provide the signal path switching.



Following the bi-directional stage is the driver and final stage. The driver is from EMRFD and uses the standard 2N3904 driving a 2N3866. the Final is an IRF510. The IRF510 is a pretty common circuit however I did add a 220 UFD bypass cap at the junction of the RF choke and the matching transformer connected to the Drain lead. This is in addition to a standard 100 NF. I found this cap enables bypassing at all frequencies and has cured some instability problems with the IRF510 I first discovered in the miniature version of the LBS project. Now it is a standard inclusion. Its presence is pretty obvious in the shot below. Note also the homebrew "bigger" heat sink on the IRF510. It is two heat sink that have been doubled up. "Mo betta!"
 
 
No homebrew rig would not be complete without a showing of the Arduino and the Si5351 and we have that next. This board sits right behind the front panel. Sitting right behind this assembly is the SMD microphone amp (upper left) and next to it is the audio amp stage (2N3904/LM386).
 
 
Finally we have the front panel where I made a switch of main tuning knobs. The original was a weighted Aluminum knob which was putting a lot of mechanical stress on the mechanical encoder. A different knob looks a bit more fitting and has reduced the mechanical stress problem.


I continue to be amazed at the performance. As a final note the base plate is a piece of copper PC Board and all of the boards are elevated using aluminum pillars --so we have a really great common ground.

Thanks for riding along!

73's
Pete N6QW

 

 

 

6/2/2016 ~ More Refinements.

I continue to marvel at how well this rig is working. To that end I have looked at adding some things that I only consider doing when I want to keep a rig (like the KWM-4). I now have added some ferrite filters on the power input and replaced the 5 foot of  power cord hardwired into the radio with a real panel mounted power connector. I also added a speaker jack on the back panel and this line also had a ferrite bead installed to prevent any RF feedback since the speaker jack is in close proximity to the BNC RF connector. These are not so much as to cure any short coming but more of good design practice.
 
To date I have had over 100 QSO's with the radio -- with about 1/2 of those running only 10 watts. It is a shame others don't take up the iron and roll their own. Even though it has digital generation of the LO and BFO as well as a color display --it is all homebrew including the case! There have been some comments that since it does not have an LC VFO or VXO it is not true homebrew or that there is no real satisfaction in writing lines of code. Well I can only say -- I get no negative comments from the 40M Spectral Purity Police about not being on frequency or having a drift to my signal!
 
73's
Pete N6QW

5/31/2016 ~ Some Refinements and Performance Observations.

I have been continuously making improvements and refinements to the Nu-Rig and thought I would share those.
 
The original version used a surplus crystal filter from an early Yaesu FT-101 designated the model XF-30A with a center frequency of 3.180 KHz. I had a later filter from the FT-101 series called the XF-32A. The pin outs, impedance and pin spacing are identical but the XF-32A is a slightly larger case. I believe the XF-32A to be a better filter and perhaps an 8 pole whereas I suspect that the XF-30A to be a six pole. The received signals appear to have less spill over with the latter unit. That is now installed in the rig.
 
I am seeing a significant power output with the IRF510 like about 10 watts (at 7 MHz) and decided that the heatsink originally used was on the marginal side. Read: when you touched it --you got a finger burn. With a larger sink now installed --it is hot but not to the point of burning ones finger. So that was a good move.
 
It was noted that there was a bit of intermittent operation of the microphone amp as evidenced by moving the vertical board (which was soldered to the main board) a bit and no output. Well a bit of head scratching (noodling) and removal of the board revealed a cold solder joint on one of the very small resistors. It was really hard to find. After fixing that cold joint and reinstalling the board --all is well.
 
I am able to hear DX from afar like ZS6 (South Africa) using only my marginal droopy dipole. The rig is capable of surprising sensitivity and now I should follow my own advice and work a bit more on the antenna. It follows that the antenna is now the weak link in the chain. I should note that running only 10 watts I have worked Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and of course lots of California stations. At ten watts, QSO's with stations out to 600 mile range are typically what can be expected.  Using my SB-200 I get about 180 Watts which has netted me coast to coast contacts.
 
The rig employs the Si5351 for the main frequency generation and the BFO signals. I have received two comments from stations in the Midwest, after revealing that it was a homebrew transceiver "Gee you are right on frequency and your signal doesn't drift as you might expect from a homebrew rig". Well folks it may be homebrew but it does have some very modern technology. The two must be part of the Spectral Purity Police which lurk on 40 Meters. Were I using an LC VFO then I suspect they would have been all over me about drifting 30 hertz.
 
The Nu-Rig has many standard building blocks that I have used in many of my projects --they work so why not? Again this is not a BITX in the classical sense; but does use bilateral and bi-directional circuitry some of which has been lifted from EMRFD and some is my own design. The point I am making is that it is not a complex design and should be easily replicated.
 
There is a caution -- it is a single conversion design and with the Yaesu filter at 3.180 MHz I would be loath to shift to other bands above 40 Meters. That said using other filter frequencies such as a 9.0 MHz filter then that concern would disappear. Now in a design such as my KWM-4 which is dual conversion, the Yaesu filter with the Si5351 would really shine. The FT-101 after all was multiple conversion transceiver. The point I am making is that care and forethought must be employed when developing the transceiver architecture and the choice of IF.
 
73's
Pete N6QW

 

5/26/2016 ~ The Front Panel has been painted --Oasis Blue


In the third photo you can see where I pressed the RED Tune Button and the word TUNE appears on the screen. There is code in the Arduino sketch that generates a 988 Hz tone (Square Wave which is smoothed with an RC Filter) which is fed into the SBL-1 DBM. With that code a small relay on the Arduino board is engaged to trip the PTT. So now we have a tune capability to adjust tuners or linear amps.

The next step is to finalize the remainder of the case which will be painted flat black.

73's
Pete N6QW





 
Some of the final assembly photos are shown below and this completes most of the mechanical assembly. The front panel will be painted --I am thinking light blue. I have had it on the air in its current state and barefoot it works FB -- am having a feedback problem when I add the SB-200. So I will be busy chasing that down.

[5/25/2016 -- Found the source of the feedback problem --a loose coaxial connector going into the SWR bridge. It was intermittent -- on low power it was not so big of a problem. But that is one that can bite you. I will continue to monitor; but several subsequent on the air reports with the amp  said it was clean.]


 



 



 



 


 

 


Today we completed most of the mechanical work and the only item remaining is the RC Filter to turn the Square Waves generated in the Arduino Nano into Sine Waves for the tune signal. We have had it on the air in the current box and you always worry that even though it worked on the bench there is always a danger it won't work in the box.
 
This rig has a lot of soul as some of the boards were used in the 30M CW transceiver project which appeared in QRP Quarterly and then moved over to the LBS on the bread board (also in QRP Quarterly) and now this radio. The main tuning knob was purchased in St Louis some 20 years ago and now is now controlling the encoder.
 
Just in case you are wondering,  this is not a BITX design but does use bilateral amplifiers originally designed by Plessey. The driver stage is from EMRFD and the intermediate bi-directional amp is my own design as is the 40M Band Pass Filter and the microphone amp. The Low Pass Filter is from W3NQN.
 
 
Just in case you forgot --- this is how it started
 
 
 
Pete N6QW

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A New SSB Transceiver from N6QW -- Now Working!

5/23/2016 ~ Late in the Day Close to a Smoke Test

The rig sure cleaned up nice -- not too many jumbled wires!!
 
Pete N6QW
 
 

 

5/23/2016 ~ Progress on Cleaning up the Rat's Nest!!!

As I frequently only 15 or minutes at a time to work on project based on my other commitments, I did
manage to get some of the wiring "cleaned up" as you can see below. I use a standard --Yellow for Transmit wiring and Orange for Receive which helps quickly identify wiring to various stages. About two more days and we should be able to run a smoke test. The actual work is maybe only 1 to 2 hours -- but at 15 minutes at any one time stretches the overall schedule.
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 
 

 

5/22/2016 ~ Progress on the Box!

The size will be 8 inches wide by 10.5 inches deep and slightly less than 2 inches high. So ask why that size? The bottom plate is a piece of PC Board I had that was the 8X10.5 --so no cutting and as it turns out is just about the exact size needed-- The Radio Gods Have Spoken!
 
 
The front panel is very ergonomic in the placement of the controls. Starting at upper left is the Headphone jack and below that is the Microphone jack. Next to that is the volume control and the two switches include LSB/USB and the red Push Button places the radio into Tune, which also gets displayed on the front panel as TUNE during the timed tune period. I finally found a perfect application for the weighted main tuning knob and next to that is the main display. The back panel has the BNC antenna connector, an RCA Phone jack for linear amplifier switching and an entry port for the power cord.
 
This is the ugly stage where the boards are being fitted inside the homebrew case and there are wires every which way. I promise things will look neater!
 
[So OK I probably convinced you there was a lot of "noodling" regarding the box layout and how the front panel would look --actually NOT. I just sort of marked the panel with a bunch of pen marks and said "BASTA" and then cut the holes -- I got lucky this time.]
 
Pete N6QW
 
 
 
 

5/20/2016 ~ Lets get the Rig into a Box

I always do this part wrong -- I don't think inside the box! After carefully mapping out the radio topology usually my last thought is the enclosure and that usually brings on a lot of grief in the process. This rig will now be fitted into an enclosure that is 8 inches wide by 10.5 inches deep and 2 inches high. Essentially flatter and not so tall!
 
Sometimes when we are busy multi-tasking we will make an error in calculations and that just makes things worse. But it can also make things better. I measured the standard 128X128 Color display and proceeded to mill out a hole in the front panel with those dimensions. It was a really nice "squared up" hole. Only the problem was that the dimensions that were used were the outside dimensions of the whole display enclosure and not just the screen. You can't un-mill a front panel. The I remembered I had a slightly larger display in the bin --a 128X160. Well dumb luck me --the hole size was perfect for the larger display. No problem --or so I thought!
 
Well the code for the 128X128 is not unlike the code needed for the 128x160 BUT not the same. So while I got the smaller display code to fill the larger screen -- there was a white band on the face of the screen. A little research revealed an almost entirely different instruction set -- so after a bit of fiddling I got the code to display full screen but then had to move the various elements to fit on the screen at the proper place and to fully take advantage of the larger display screen. Well after about three hours it all came together. So now we are ready to add other elements to the front panel.
 
 
As usual the front panel will be painted flat black. If readers would like to have the Arduino code for the 128X160 TFT display --send an email request to N6QW (n6qwham@gmail.com)

You always worry when you make a modification --will it still work. After making the install I heard W5IP in New Mexico and gave him a call running 8 watts -- he heard me at 5X7. "CD" was running a FT-9000 a legal limit amp and a three element 40M beam at 70 Feet. Needless to say he was really strong here at this QTH. This is now the 4th contact with the new rig. Yeah!!!!

 
 
73's
Pete N6QW

 

 5/19 ~ 3rd Contact with Stu, W7FE in Las Vegas

The contact was initially made at 8 Watts and then the band lengthened out and so I cranked on the "afterburner" and we spoke for about 15 minutes. Stu commented that the audio sounded good --not bad for a single 2N3904.

2nd Contact with K7KF, John in Utah

Running barefoot at 8 Watts had a nice exchange with John in Southern Utah. I would guess the path is in the 600 to 1000 mile range and my report was 5X5. My antenna is a droopy dipole. So contacts can and are made with this simple radio from N6QW!

5/18~First Contact with the New Rig

 
5/18/2016 ~ As many of you readers know the health situation of my XYL has severely limited my bench time. I am not grumbling; but merely know where I must spend the most time and that is not on ham radio! But what little time I do have available has now challenged me to not so much build a lot of new hardware but to look around the shack and see what is available. So it is with this new transceiver.
 
Today I looked lovingly at the LBS project co-authored with Ben KK6FUT, which was written up in QRP Quarterly in 2015 --and I said why not? The original LBS was on a board 2' x 2' and so a little hard to lug around. This morning I liberated the bi-lateral RF amp Transmit pre-driver board and the intermediate/final amp board (IRF510). I also took the LPF and TR relay. Five minutes of screwing the boards down to the bench top and hooking up a few wires and I was ready to put the rig on the air.
 
Boom --heard KK6ZUU, Steve, down in San Diego calling CQ and I returned his call running about 8 watts. And there we were -- in a serious QSO with the new radio -- he gave me a 5X9 and he was the same here. The distance between us is about 150 miles. Steve has a brand new ICOM 7300.
 
This is exciting --as it shows with just a few components what can be done. I will later publish the schematics of the additional boards but you can find them on my websites (n6qw.com and jessystems.com) under the LBS project (Let's Build Something).
 
Below is the driver stage ~ 2N3904 + 2N3866 (direct from EMRFD) and the IRF510 Final similar to what is used in the BITX transceivers.
 
 
 
 
 Next we have the bilateral stage using 2N3904 separate amps that are relay switched.
 
 
I am stoked and ready for more QSO's. I know it looks like crap; but works like hell!
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 
 
5/14/2016. First Tests of the Transmit Portion of this Project. I am very satisfied with the results and you can witness the same by viewing the video below. There is a really good reason why I like the architecture that I have developed for these simple rigs --few adjustments and that provides two benefits: 1) Easier to troubleshoot 2) Performance is well known, documented and understood.
 
So give it a try -- once you have the receiver built --just a few more parts and you have the transmitter.
 
Pete N6QW
 

 
A New Display ~ Postage Stamp Size (5/11/16)
 


video
 
 
 
 
 
One day of progress: Band Pass Filter, Mic Amp and Audio Amp Installed:
 

 
 
 
5/8/2016 There is added info about using J310's in lieu of the BF991 for the Rx Tx Amplifier stage. The video shows a small 10K pot with the top end to + 8 VDC and the bottom to ground with the wiper connected to a 22 Ohm resistor and on the other end to Gate #2.

5/9/2016 Replaced the 12.096 MHz Filter with a Yaesu Filter from an early FT-101. The Cf is 3.180 MHz. probably OK for a single conversion on 40 Meters. Better suited to dual conversion on the higher frequency bands. The LO is above the incoming so it is a down mix to 7 MHz. The Z in/out of the Yaesu Filter is 500 Ohms. The match to 50 Ohms is a 10 to 1. This can be done with a 19 turn auto transformer tapped at 6 turns on a FT-37-43 core. It is turns ratio squared. If you can't figure that out then you shouldn't be homebrewing radios!!!!



 
After a couple of days of testing, it became apparent that the former 30M CW transceiver board worked OK as a receiver section, but I was having significant problems with adding the balanced modulator along with the NE602 Product Detector. No matter what I "noodled", it would be a complex switching arrangement --read problematic.
 
So it was time to simplify and that is when I decided to use the Plessey  bidirectional amp circuits along with SBL-1's, one on the front end serving as both the transmit and receive mixer and one on the back end serving as the product detector on receive and the balanced modulator on transmit. The LO and BFO would remain connected to these devices at all times. Simpler is better!
 
In my bin of boards and partially completed projects, I had such a board. But this board had different IF filters and having had such good luck with the 12.096 MHz filter in the Simpleceiver project I built another filter for that frequency. Boom --a couple hours of work and there I was listening to signals on 40 Meters. The audio amp is a small board containing a 2N3904 driving an LM386. The microphone amp will be a single 2N3904. The Si5351 will now supply both the LO and BFO signals. Again the 128x128 TFT will provide the frequency display and other pertinent data. This rig while similar to the LBS-II has a mix of through hole and surface mount components. The differences include the choice of IF frequency and the signal chain beyond the main board.

I also found in the bin a surplus Yaesu 3.180 MHz Crystal Filter from an early FT-101, which may be tested in this radio as well. That said don't rush out and buy a filter. Keep in mind filtering in the Band Pass Filter as the 2nd harmonic of the BFO (2 X 3.180) is awful close to 7.0 MHz. But with the Si5351 a couple of lines of code changes and the Yaesu 3.180 MHz Filter is operational --ahhh the power of software. Think what you would have to do if the rig was all hardware based?
 
Rounding out things will be the use of a bidirectional amp consisting of a single BF991 Dual Gate MOSFET that is the receiver RF amp on receive and in the transmit mode will provide the 1st transmit amplifier stage following the SBL-1 transmit mixer. This circuit was developed by Ron Taylor in SPRAT 128 (GQRP Club). I have used this stage in several transceivers. This was an easy choice as it was one of the boards in the bin so easy to get working with the new transceiver. Recycling fits perfect with my limited time schedule.
 
Here is the heart of the new radio. Ahead and following this circuit block is the SBL-1's. This circuit uses voltage application to switch the direction of the signal path. The 2N3904/2N3906 combo used in this board are surface mount as is the other components and are known as the Plessey circuit which was found in EMRFD. The arrows show the direction of how the signal passes based on how the circuits are biased. There is no signal switching as such --it is purely voltage switching. This schematic shows the use of a single DPDT relay -- not two relays. The Z in/out of the filter is close to 200 Ohms so using a 4:1 step transformer is a close match. For those purists who will do the very rigorous calculations and conclude it is more like 170 Ohms, then a 13 turn winding tapped at 7 turns will get you there. Or as in this case alternatively you could use a 12 turn winding tapped at 6 Turns.

[ So OK 50 Ohms to 170 Ohms = 170/50 = 3.4. If you had a primary winding of 7 turns and square that you get 49 --if you multiply that by 3.4 you get 166.6. The closest square is 13^2 = 169, So 169/49 = 3.45 which is close enough for government work. Or you could be just lazy and make it 4:1.] 
 

Here is the Microphone Amplifier as laid out using Surface Mount. BTW this circuit was also used as a part of an audio pre-amp circuit and you will see the note 3. For the microphone application you will use the 200 NF connected to the SBL-1 through the audio low pass filter. This connection is in parallel with audio input to the audio amplifier. The 200NF is part of an isolation network.

 
 
 
5/28/2016. Earlier I mentioned the use of the single BF991 that is diode steered to be the Receiver RF amplifier on receive and the transmit pre-driver stage on transmit. This is show below. Two J310's could be used as a substitute for the BF991 as was done in the Simpleceiver project. The schematic below shows the J310's and for the BF991 it is a direct substitute. W7ZOI on his website, which I think may now be removed, did an investigation of the BF998 DGM as an amplifier and in the Source circuit had a 30 Ohm resistor -- this will really make the DGM run hot but works quite well. I am now back to the two LED's as AGC or ALC voltage could be applied to Gate 2 and you can visually watch the stage gain change based on the brighter/dimmer LED illumination. Color is good! Right now the voltage is fixed based on the 10K pot setting. Keep in mind the pot could be used as a manual RF gain Control on Receive. But unless you uncouple that pot on transmit via a small relay and the substitution of a fixed voltage, the Power Output would depend on your Receiver setting. In 2009 I used the approach where on Rx the gain was adjusted with a front panel pot but on Tx a fixed voltage was applied to set the stage gain on transmit.

 



Here is the audio amplifier schematic. Note the similarity to the microphone amplifier stage as mentioned earlier. We just borrowed what we made for the Simpleceiver project.



So now with just these few simple circuits we are getting close to having the new 40 Meter SSB transceiver be operational..

Now to the Si5351 ad the 128X128 TFT. This circuit has been used in several radio projects and to my surprise the code for the combo has been showing up in projects across the world. I have also received inquiries regarding the code. I strongly suggest that users learn about the Arduino in this application and resist plugging and playing the code only to end up by sending me an email saying your code doesn't work. It works for my use and if are doing something different then you will need to modify the code accordingly. I will gladly assist you but I do not do custom code development.

For a Band Pass Filter, I am using one that I designed in LT Spice for use on the Simpleceiver. I also included a plot of the simulation so that you can see the performance curve. This filter is now installed on the mainboard.



 
Here are some additional photos of the boards.
 


 
Listen to the new radio --hot off the press!
 
 
 
 Stay tuned for more exciting news.
 
73's
Pete N6QW


Thursday, May 5, 2016

A New SSB Transceiver from N6QW

A New SSB Transceiver from N6QW

 
Several years ago I prepared and published an article on a 30M CW transceiver. I designed the radio (it even had RIT) , built and tested the radio, wrote the article and quickly placed it the storage locker. I am not a CW fan even though I did take and pass the real Extra exam when you had to copy 20 WPM. I much prefer SSB and so this project is the best of many worlds.
 
Parts of the 30M CW transceiver have found their way into the ZIA, 20M SSB transceiver and now the mainboard has been reworked to emerge as a 40M SSB transceiver. Some of that effort was to build and install a 6 pole, 5 MHz Crystal Filter and to build an external BFO which will be used to feed the NE602 Product Detector on receive and an SBL-1 Balanced Modulator on transmit.
 
The original 30M CW transceiver had a varactor tuned VFO but the new rig has the Si5351 that will supply only the LO signal. The display of course is the 128X128 Color TFT. I am amazed at how many 128x128 TFT's displays are showing up world wide using code that was developed by me for the Belthorn III; but also is used in the LBS II. This will make the 3rd application. Similar code was used on the ZIA but that has the Nokia with a black and white display.
 
The goal is to have it operate only on 40M LSB and  have a power output of 5 watts. Below is a sneak peek at the new rig al fresco on the work bench. I still need to add the transmit chain and power amp plus the microphone amp which will be SMD. A couple of more days should do it.
 
This is the first major soldering project in the last 5 months.

 

 
 I will update this post as I add more hardware and get the transmit chain working. For info on the original 30M CW transceiver project refer to the 2103 article that appeared in QRP Quarterly.

73's
Pete N6QW
 
 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Omnia SDR and WSPR-2

More Omnia SDR and WSPR-2

 

31 Flavors of WSPR

 
Having been successful at implementing the  plain old vanilla WSPR on the Omnia SDR, I thought I would investigate using what is called WSPR-2. Backing up, K1JT (Dr. Joe Taylor) has released a package of software programs that are bundled under one download and simply menu selected. This package is called WSJT-X and the version I used was 1.16 XX
 
What distinguishes this package is that there are what I call both active and passive programs contained therein. By my definition WSPR is passive -- turn it on and it listens for a set period of time and then can transmit for another period of time. Basically you can turn on WSPR, go to work and when you come home at night you can see who your WSPR rig spotted and who heard your WSPR signal. You just get to look at the reports but the computer had all of the fun. I would call that pretty passive.
 
The other modes in the package are like WSPR in that they can listen and record various stations BUT are different in that you can actually call CQ and contact other stations. Built in functionality includes canned scripts such as Name, QTH, Power Level and Antenna. Simply push one of the message buttons and in perfect CW, the information is spit out to the other station. I think it may be even possible to do the manual override where you can use the keyboard to type small messages. Pretty cool. These modes go by names like JT-9 and JT-65.
 
My main focus was the WSPR-2 and my desire to have that work. Thus I did not do the JT-9 or JT-765. However, I did put the software in that mode and it was copying stations using JT-9/JT-65 as I could see the information displayed on the GUI window.I guess I could have sent out a message to the message board asking how to setup WSPR-2--but I usually find the responses are not always correct and you waste a lot of time. Thus I thought if I can figure it out then I will truly know how and if I do a good job of documentation you will too.
 
The set up effort needed for the original WSPR which was described in an earlier blog post is almost identical --so that was a tremendous help to me. The VAC is used again as is the Com0Com. The HDSDR sound card set up is exactly the same as is the CAT to HDSDR. (Read the earlier post and I won't repeat everything here.) So that part is easy. The main set up changes occur in the WSPR-2 setup. Once again we call the Omnia SDR a Kenwood TS2000. Also remember that specific frequencies are used and the  Omnia SDR must be in USB
 
Once set up the normal operating screen for WSPR-2 looks like below. WSPR-2 has some additional really nice features over the original WSPR GUI and chief among these is that it tells you the distance to the station being heard. This info was not available on the version 1 WSPR and to find the real distance you had to go to the main data base. The reason I highlight this is that frequently you will be spotted by someone with an exotic call and your mind immediately jumps to the idea "you were heard by DX". Just last week I had that experience with WSPR and later found out he was about 56 miles away. Another nice feature is that there is a slider bar right on the WSPR-2 GUI that lets you adjust the power output of the Omnia SDR. It is located along the lower right hand edge of the screen marked Pwr.
 


 
Here is a shot of the screen when you use JT-9/JT-65. It is the display right below the WSPR format and transitioning to these menus is a simple click on the upper task bar menu for "MODE".
 
 
When you see a green highlight it means that station is calling "CQ". I find that when you change bands on the WSPR-2 screen -- the Omnia follows right along. So there is some real goodness here.
 
So now lets look ate the screen requiring input on WSPR-2. On the upper task bar is the File Tab. Click on that and you get a drop down menu with one entry which is entitled "Settings". Click on that setting and another menu pops up that has multiple tab selections. The 1st is marked General where I entered my call sign and grid square. There are some other selection which I mostly ignored. The 2nd Tab is marked Radio. Here is where you enter the Kenwood TS200 , the serial port pair, Com 4 (the HDSDR selection on CAT to HDSDR is Com 5), the baud selection which also matches the HDSDR choice, Data Bits are 8 and Stop Bits are 2. (This was the same on the WSPR 1 setup). PTT method is CAT (like in CAT to HDSDR). The 3rd tab is Audio and like in WSPR-1 we used VAC 1 and VAC 2. The final photo show the Radio Tab and the Soundcard Tab on HDSDR.
 
There is a caution here about power output -- I can get better than 2 watts out of my Omnia --that is not a good idea because of spurious emissions. The Omnia SDR  Spurs meet the FCC spec for a Pout of 1 watt. A word to the wise -- while the BS170's undoubtedly will provide greater than 2 watts without a self -destruction it is not wise to be spewing out spurs and distortion. Keep your signal clean!
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 


 
 Have fun -- the software and the radios themselves are simply amazing.
 
73's
Pete, N6QW