New Technology for 2020 ~ The Hermes Lite 2.0 SDR Transceiver
The Hermes Lite 2.0 SDR Transceiver.
November 7th, 2020 ~ It's Settled!
It is done! The stain of the Trump era is soon to be removed! Thanks to all who voted. The Voice of the People has been heard.
Congratulations to President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris.
November 3rd, 2020 -- IT WAS THE MOUSE
We all know this is Dump Trump Day. Go out and vote!
It was the mouse! Back in 1999 I stupidly was one of the very first to purchase a Ten Tec Pegasus. Never buy the first batch of a new model.
Touted as the world's first computer controlled radio, actually I think the Kachina 505 was really the first. But the Pegasus was fraught with problems including a trip back to the Smokey Mountains. I was using an older Windows 95 machine to control the Pegasus and that may be a co-conspirator.
Well after many calls to TT -- finally someone who has some smarts told me: Fix your station ground, Make all leads short and Buy stock in a ferrite bead company. I did all that yet, every so often things would lock up then a reboot and the same crap all over again. What was bad about the Pegasus was I was fearful the Windows 95 machine was so old that I wouldn't let it run all of the time. So just to check the band often needed a 3 to 4 minute boot up. That was inconvenient!
So the ground issue fixed (that was really a good fix) and ferrite beads all over the place --it still locked up. The one place that was naked of any beads -- the Mouse. Beads on the Mouse --problem solved. The culprit was the MOUSE!
So fast forward to yesterday when I had two computers work the HL2. Since I had a 2nd setup and it was on the corner of the desk, I moved the Logitech combo wireless mouse and keyboard over to the Atomic Pi and for the Mint machine I dug in the bin and found an old USB mouse and a very oversize PS2 keyboard. (I needed this keyboard for the PS2 connection that will be used with the CW sender I am going to rebuild.)
Big discovery -- since first using QUISK I have always used a keypad built into the keyboard much like the Logitech which I have. I found that using the USB Mouse scroll button with QUISK automatically tunes the radio in 50 Hz increments.
Four plus years with QUISK and I never knew that. Wow that sure makes things nice. In fact if you are say on an odd frequency like 7 202 163 -- scroll the mouse wheel and it jumps to 7 202 200 and thence on up/down in 50 Hz increments. I have often said it would be nice to have a tuning knob with QUISK -- well it has one -- I just didn't know it. So lucky me.
Then I tried hitting the SPOT button and with the HL2 naked (no amp) it works FB. Put the amp in line and it locks up. This didn't happen before with the Logitech. Shades of the Pegasus!
I have gone back to the Logitech wireless and you hit SPOT and no lock up. Now the USB mouse might work --I just need to install some ferrite cores on the mouse cable and see if that fixes the problem. Well I did find some cores and that did not resolve the problem with the USB Mouse
Another piece of evidence -- the mouse will not turn off the SPOT when it is locked up. Turn off the amp and the USB mouse works again. We have the Means, the Motive, the Opportunity and the all important evidence!
But indeed past experience is helpful in fingering a problem. The Mouse strikes again!
LATE News! Found a Microsoft mouse with the built in ferrite core --works perfecto mundo. IT WAS INDEED THE MOUSE!
But I really like tuning the 50 Hz steps -- so I need to find a wireless keyboard AND combo scroll mouse wheel. I think Amazon is my friend!
The HL2 Continues to exceed my expectations and it is so feature rich. That said I am developing a list of future added features I would like to see.
A new modem chip that would work to 120 MHz which means 6 meters would be on the included capabilities list. I have never worked on 6 meters despite having been issued both a Novice and Technician class license simultaneously. I had a back up plan in 1959 in the event I didn't move to the General, I would have a permanent call sign and could work 6 Meters on phone. I got the General being a Novice only two months and 6 Meters disappeared from the radar. Maybe the time for a revisit.
Long ago there was the Novice, Technician, Conditional, Advanced and Extra class licenses. I have held all of those licenses less the Conditional! In those days it took more than sending in a box top to get an Extra!
Remember go out and VOTE and Dump Trump!
November 2, 2020 ~ New Stuff!
Normally I would have the HL2 connected to a router for several reasons. The first is probably the need for a fast connection to control the HL2. Typically 1 gigabit is the desired connect speed. Unknowingly I bought a 1 gigabit network switch and was told that you really needed a router. Unknowing as I am, my gut asked why?
Because of comments made about the need for a router I bought one that was advertised as 1 gigabit -- indeed it is but that I found out later that was for the connection to the Internet. Whereas a unit to unit connection such as you would have with a computer to the HL2 --it s only 100 MB. So my 1/3 the cost network switch is in line working well and I am sitting here saying I should listen to my gut.
Yesterday I ran a test and see the why of having a network switch or a router. Computer #1 was connected to the switch with about 5 feet of CAT6 cable as was the HL2 -- so actually the two units are 10 feet away, from each other. I shut down QUISK on the 1st computer (but left the computer on) and fired up a second computer and connected that to the network switch. Boom unit #2 was connected to the HL2. Those cable lengths could easily be 50 to 100 feet. So in winter or summer time a computer connected with a network cable to the network switch could literally work any band any mode from my office.
Thus in a nice temperature controlled environment I am working 20 Meter DX. You have go to love this technology.
Stay tuned for more exciting adventures!
Vote tomorrow and if you haven't voted as yet -- this is your last chance to "Dump Trump".
October 31st, 2020 ~ Reflectors Uggh!!!
My enthusiasm over getting WSJTX to finally work after five days of fiddling was significantly dampened by a comment left on the reflector by evidently one of the HL2 Illuminati. I posted on the Hermes-Lite Google Group that I finally got the Hamlib to work with the HL2. In my mind since this was a first time for me to use this software that is what I thought I experienced.
This illuminati was taking me to the woodshed because as he put it -- Hamlib does not work with the rig --it works with the QUISK software to control the rig. Maybe he had a bad day!
Perhaps I am a bit sensitive here; but the comment felt like the professor chewing out the student. Of course he was from Europe and maybe that is the way they do business.
Regrettably I was not born knowing the details of Hamlib from a very young age and it wasn't until this morning that it actually worked for me. So I do stand corrected! My approach would have been to say --Hey Pete just so you know the communication is between two software programs where one of the programs controls the hardware.
I have much more to share on planned additions/changes for the HL2; but I will not post anything further on that reflector. The next posting on my website will be to dust off an article I co-wrote on sending CW with a keyboard.
Many hams are really crappy in their CW sending skills and a keyboard will make CW sound like real CW. The article featured a special key where punch the key and it sends the CQ invitation. The code can be modified so that you punch another one and it sends the signal report and particulars --you know all signal reports are 589. Another key says the 73's and thank you for the QSO. It does not read CW; but there you are on your own.
October 30, 2020 ~ WSJTX Working!
By some strange alignment of the Gods we now have it working. I simply cannot tell you what made it work. I didn't change anything -- it just now works. Hamlib NET is pretty cool as the rig changes frequency when you click on a band or switch from FT-8 to WSPR. I guess that is how it is supposed to work. The WSJTX was with the Linux Mint 64 Bit Machine and the 5 Port Ethernet Switch.
1st contact was with a W7 and the 2nd with a JE7. I was running about 30 watts to my 40M Delta Loop. Pretty Cool Beans!
October 28, 2020 ~ HL2 on 5 Computers!
The latest is the Atomic Pi --a $40 bargain!
WSJTX Partially Working ~ ##@@????
Windows 10 was a bust not only on upgrading the Windows 7 Machine but Installing QUISK on a 2nd Windows 10 Machine! For those who know: Stick with the Linux Platforms!!!!! Forget that Windows 10 BS!
Exciting news the HL2 is now working on the more powerful (64 Bit) Mint Machine and the two ASUS Tinker Board! OK here is the story on how that happened. By DS Luck I got it to work on the 1st Mint machine (32 Bit) and that was pure luck.
Try as I might I could not make it work on the bigger 64 Bit machine nor the ASUS Tinker Board machines (where it did work previously) simply by pushing buttons. So then I thought -- let us get organized. I took photos of all of the network settings on the 32 Bit Machine and then replicated those on the 64 Bit machine and the two Tinker Boards. A restart of all the Computers and the HL2 and that single Run Light on the HL2 came on and sounds from the head set. I was there! One notable thing-- the IP address on all machines starts with a 10.XX.XX.XX
This day is starting off well -- now all we need is for the winds of power to shift in our government. Next week!
My next challenge is to get WSJTX to work on the Computers. This indeed is Exciting Times at Ridgemont High! Hey dude, Specoli Rules! I did get it to receive on WSJTX but not with the settings shown to me. It will not transmit on WSJTX! YET!
I plan on adding a series of webpages to a section of one of my websites so all HL2 information is in one place. Most likely it will be http:www.n6qw.com/HL2.html
October 27, 2020 ~ HL2 on Windows 10
I have used QUISK for over 4 years now but never on a Windows machine. One or two forays with Windows 10 left me feeling like I just had a root canal with out any anesthetic to dull the pain. It was not user friendly. Linux on the other hand seemed very straight forward. But my recent networking adventures have caused me to rethink using a Windows 10 machine.
I don't have a Windows 10 machine but I do have a recently built machine that I installed Windows 7 on because I had some software kicking around. Today I discovered you can still upgrade a Windows 7 machine to a Windows 10 machine. It has taken about two hours but it looks like it will work.
While waiting I ordered some vanilla butternut flavoring from the Baker's Kitchen in Ohio. Three small bottles cost me $23 and the lowest priced shipping cost me $20. If I had bought just one bottle the price of shipping would be three times the cost of the product. There is something wrong here -- it is just a four ounce bottle or a total of 12 ounces -- like shipping a can of Coke! See www.pastapete.com for info on the French waffles that use the flavoring.
The Radio Gods Hate Me -- after two+ hours with the download Windows flashes a screen that something went wrong and Windows 10 was NOT Loaded!
I will update the blog if I get the Quisk on Windows 10.
October 26, 2020 ~ HL2 On the Air!
I spent today doing two things, the first of which was to attempt to get WSJTX to launch. That did not prove fruitful! I did get it to receive some stations but transmit did not work. It will no longer even do that. Basically Hamlib is inoperative.
A ham friend sent me a whole series of WSJTX screen shots of do this, do that for the setup, which I followed and the same Hamlib IO error flag comes up. Now there are folks using WSJTX with HL2; but I simply do not know how they did it.
There is also another issue and that is of the six computers I have (several each RPi3's, several Tinker Boards and two Mint Machines) only the 32 Bit Mint Machine will currently work with the HL2.
Earlier I did have a RPi3 and a Tinker Board work but no longer. That is a mystery unless some hidden setting has been invoked that is causing that problem. I even used brand new SD Card with a fresh copy of both NOOBS and Raspian for the TB. Nothing! So it leaves you with why did it work before?
Likely my whole problem is that I am not computer network proficient. By not using a router for the interconnection that may be the root of all of my problems.
I have used and connected to WSJTX with most of homebrew and SDR transceivers -- the difference is that they were not on a network! So there is truth to my lack of in depth networking skills; but it is not clear to me what to do and right now the HL2 is unusable for me on WSJTX.
Frankly spending $300 on a high end router is not in the cards. I did find one on sale from ASUS for under $50 and that is headed this way. But frankly pinning the problem on a network router is like saying we are turning the corner on Covid19.
So the WSJTX connect and the picky only works with one computer remain as challenges and not readily apparent as to a solution for my setup.
But the good news is I made about a half dozen contacts today on 20 and 40 Meters using my new amp interface and the 100 watt CCI amp. BTW 17 and 15 Meters had DX activity, with more on 17M than 15M.
The stunning side of these contacts when all I said was that I am testing out a new SDR rig was -- was a response from the other end "It sounds like a high end FLEX radio". Another comment from another QSO was the audio had "real presence".
Today by the way was the very first time I used VOX exclusively for all of the contacts. (A first for me.) The noise cancelling microphone in the headset sure works nice! BTW I did hear a bit of sound in the headphones when I was transmitting and I did not have the FDX (Full Duplex) invoked. The headset mic cord is quite long so I added ferrite core transformers to each end -- JIC.
I am really impressed by how well the HL2 receives and transmits. I did not see any evidence of overloading of the front end during the contest weekend. The transmitted signal has gotten all good comments. But the difficulty with networking and the inability to make WSJTX play with my HL2 is a concern.
Stay tuned as I attempt to muddle through this process. I am learning things and that is good; but it is apparent the HL2 was developed by some highly skilled and competent engineers with extensive computer networking experience/skills. Not all of us are at that level and so we must plod along until finally some combination of mistakes all align into a solution.
October 25, 2020 ~ HL2 Rules!
Exciting times! I actually used the HL2 for the CQ WW contest yesterday and just this morning worked a Russian station on 40 Meters running one hundred watts.
I am learning a few tricks to get the 32 Bit Linux Mint machine to work with the HL2. For some unknown reason the Rpi3 and the ASUS TB no longer want to connect. But if I follow the following process the Mint machine will work -- every time.
- First turn on the computer and leave the HL2 OFF.
- Once the computer is on go to the Network tab and click on Wired Connection #1 and you get a brief message flash on the screen that it is connected
- Then turn on the HL2 -- you will see the 4 LED's flash and contort and finally the "RUN" LED is on and you have the Spectrum display and you hear sound in the cans.
- Yesterday I noted that 15 Meters was chock full of stations and many were DX. Have the Sun Spots Returned?
- There was significant and LOUD activity on 17 Meters. I need to get out the other tuner so I can tune my 40M Delta Loop to work 17M. Nice
- Interesting note about Packed and Loud Signals on 40 and 20M -- no front end overload and the LNA RF control lets you adjust accordingly. QUISK is really excellent. The default position of the LNA is about mid-scale and I usually don't even touch it.
- I even heard a few contester's on 75M. But I like those few to Biden Supporter's wearing mask's and rubber gloves showing up at Trump Super Spreader packed Rally where no one is wearing PPE. Like Oil and Water.
- The front panel dashboard let's you see the power output and the SWR. I connected the HL2 to a dummy load and ran through the bands. The nominal output is rated at or near 5 Watts. That figure is rather accurate with the only band where I didn't get 5 OR more watts was 40M and there it was 4.9 watts. So I didn't have to rewind the Balun and evidently that is cured on Build #9
But I have been unsuccessful in connecting with WSJTX. I always hated HamLIB and I guess it is getting even. I know that WSJTX works with the Mint machines because I have used it with my homebrew SDR transceivers. There is a menu selection in WSJTX where you can pick your rig from the menu.
With my homebrew stuff (non-SDR) I pick the NONE rig and use RTS with my external adapter --Boom no problems. With the RADG I pick the SOFTROCK AVR 570 and pick CAT Boom it works. But there is no selection for Hermes Lite so you have to go to HamLib Rig Ctrl. There are settings to be made in QUISK and settings to be made in the WSJTX.
One ham sent me screen shots with a step by step procedure telling me what order when to reboot and it was arcane. Like the selection (Remote Tab) you make in QUISK is the IP 4532 for HamLib and then in WSJTX you enter localhost:4532. For the audio tab you select the QUISK Monitor Input and Output --sort of cross connected like you do in Power SDR with the Russian VAC stuff.
Well Friends --several hours of that proved doing the same thing over and over again does not result in a changed output. So for now no FT-8. One suggestion from a ham was that I buy a super fast Windows machine. I have never been successful in getting QUISK to work on a Windows 10 machine. But I do know how to load Mint on a Virgin Hard Drive connected to a fast Intel Machine --so that is may be the answer.
Funny things that happen along the way. I noticed that I was getting intermittent pulsed audio from my $6 headset which was connected through a Sabrent dongle to the computer. So I have a Mpow headset (costing about $30) and the audio dongle is built into the cord. Boom louder audio, no pulsing and more mic audio and VOX now works smoothly as there is noise cancelling built into the sound dongle. You have got to love this technology.
Today I am working on making an interface box to the HL2 to automatically turn on a linear amp. When I made the contacts running a linear, I used VOX and manually shorted the Linear control cable with a screwdriver. Clumsy at best. Long ago I designed a control circuit for my KWM-4 so that it had solid state switching of voltage and controlled CW operation.
So the HL2 has an Open Drain FET switch to control a linear amp with the caveat of no more the 28 VDC, So if you look at just the part of the schematic of the 4N35, the 7400 IC and the 2N3904 connected to pins 3,4,5. The 2N3904 will subsequently control a relay connected to the linear. Thus we have isolation from the HL2 to a linear amp control.
I am somewhat hampered by my lack of software skills otherwise I would be much further along. Here is an example going back to WSJTX. When you make the settings and click OK you get an error message like this.
So what do you do with that message? One software techie type told me "Oh that is simple". You need to go to Menu 23 and adjust the "skeederwich on the framasaddle" and you are there. So my next question Menu 23 is where?
I will get there just this is not for a novice software guy!
October 23, 2020 ~ It Works!
After posting on the reflector about the lack of RF output I was politely told "Hey Dummy" you need to enable the PA output in the QUISK Menu. Yes that did it and it looks like about 5 watts on 40M (only band I tested). But it did not work on SSB. So a bit of detective work. The You Tube suggested using the Default Pulse Audio. Well I am not using the audio in the computer but a dongle. Light bulb -- call up the proper audio and then we have SSB.
BTW the Tinker Board and the HL2 must be on friendly terms now because every time you start up the system they connect instantly. So that has got to be a plus. I have gone further and added an ethernet switch which seems to work FB --still connecting at turn on. Bravo. The Tinker Board seems the best fit of what I have in the shack.
I need to investigate the linear amp control (there is a RCA jack) on the back panel. Just need to be sure what I connect won't smoke the HL2. My current bent is to use an optoisolator interface as was done by one poster to the reflector. I will share that when I get it built. My main concern is turning on a really big amp with just the HL2.
The actual work to take what is shipped to you and make it a working radio is not too difficult. The "careful" work involved the drilling of the hole for the heatsink shim and the really hard part was the interface to the computer.
I hope to make some contacts today and will provide feedback on the signal reports.
Oh there was that extra piece of wire in the kit to rewind the balun so you would get full power out on the higher bands. Well in looking at my balun it had smaller sized wire installed than what was shown in the final assembly tutorial. So I connected my HL2 to a dummy load and tested the higher bands with CW -- full power out so Build #9 must come with that issue fixed.
Oh I also noted many signals on 17M -- hey maybe the sunspots are coming back.
HL2 is ALIVE!!!!
Another HL2 breathing RF Fumes! The HL2 was tested with 3 different boards and the best seems to be the ASUS Tinker Board as it has a gigabit LAN. The setup is kind of flaky and the Computer and HL2 don't always want to connect. I followed the you tube video on the QUISK setup and that seems Ok. BUT it does not spit out RF -- so either I had to add some settings or the RF section is inoperative. Given my luck of late the finals are likely inoperative and I did nothing to smoke them!
One cool feature is the bandscope -- I can look at 40 MHz of spectrum and tonight only the 160-40 Meters had an RF --the rest was dead>
October 22, 2020 ~ Thanks Blog Readers!
Putting the hole in the case, installing the heat sink and buttoning things up!
Up front I must admit I was off in the weeds and thanks to a couple of Blog Readers, I now have a better understanding of some of preparatory things I need to do to implement the HL2
I had been reading about the "heat sink shim" but it was not until I looked at the very bottom of the box containing the case that I spotted the jewel. It looks like a small metal bar. I should mention that I have Build #9 which includes this shim for the the 1st time.
So to start off with one needs to read the Final Assembly instructions. I stumbled across these and I do not know how that came about. (With thanks to Brian and Dave)
Without these instruction you would never figure out the critical steps. I also found out why there was a chunk of red wire in the kit.
This is what is the critical part --HEAT from the Finals. The assembly in the case has the two boards (Hermes and N2ADR LPF) connected together and that is done via the 2X20 Header that is actually jumpered via a small PC Board soldered across the two sets of pins on the connector that mates with pins, one on each board.
Now the case has slots in the sides so that the two board assembly is slid into the case using the slides as a holder. Next the front and back panels are screwed into place and the assembly is tight and no fear of movement of the boards.
Prior to Build 9 the user had to do one more step not done at the factory and that was to remove the paint around the slot at the location of the Finals. There is metallic material at this point so that heat transfer is made from the board to the case. There is a hole in the board located between the finals.
So the first step is to connect the boards with the 2X20 and then slide the two boards into the slot and then attach the front and back panels. Then using a punch insert it it the hole so that you mark the inside of the case at which is the center of the hole. Next you disassemble the case and boards and drill that hole from the inside through the case out through the bottom. On the bottom side you counter sink the hole so that when the case is on the operating position it will lie flat.
Prior to Build 9 you would then add some heat compound to the contact between the board and the slot which was made bare using a Dremel tool or sand paper. On final assembly the boards go back and the front and back pieces are installed and the final step is to pass the bolt through the countersunk bottom hole through the board and then snugged up, They specify the bolt and nut in mm. The thought behind this was that the nut bolt put compression (or tension) at that point so that thermal contact of the finals was "cinched" into place.
That worked for a bit; but Build 9 has you do those same steps (with two added) that now has you remove the paint below the area of finals on the inside case and one more part is added, a metal bar that is not totally rectangular. The bar sits underneath the circuit board and the bolt passes through the hole (already drilled in the bar) through the bar and then through the board where the nut is installed. Heat sink compound is applied to the bar and the case. Bottom line: the real heat path is through the heat shim to the bottom of the case.
HB9BDM wrote a document to show how you can do this so the bar stays aligned with the hole.
He starts by placing the bolt through the top of the board through the heat shim. Since there is only one place where all align (board, heat shim, hole) you can slide the boards into the case with the shim and it will be aligned. when you get to the proper location the bolt will easily drop through the hole. Then you carefully remove the bolt and feed it through the bottom.
Now there was a lot of traffic about the proper orientation of the heat shim. You see the cross section of the shim is not rectangular but essentially has a corner notched off. The corner should face inboard so that there is thermal contact with the board but that there are also contact points on the underside that must not be shorted. Thus the notch corner provides the clearance.
Oh the RED wire in the kit. There is a factory installed Balun on the main board and it was found that this balun transformer was the root cause of lower power output on the higher bands. It seems the wire used to originally make the baluns was fatter and as such you could not get a "tight" winding to enable energy transfer at higher frequencies.
Several solutions were offered including rewinding the transformer with a smaller diameter but Teflon coated wire which would lead to a tighter coupling, or change a SMD cap or change a SMD resistor. The preferred method as stated, is the new transformer. I guess my first choice is to do nothing and see how much the output is affected and if required, press on with the transformer rewind. I can hardly see some of the SMD parts.
Found out some interesting factoids about the actual HL2 topology. The architecture has no analog front end whereby you could heterodyne bands of frequencies to the mainboard. Instead what is used is a 80 MHz chip that by virtue of the Nyquist theory could be used up to half frequency --so we have a nice HF transceiver that avoids issues with analog front ends and frequency translation. Boom, a nice up down frequency excursion through 10 Meters. This approach simplifies things from a hardware standpoint and avoids possible/potential issues with an analog front end -- if it ain't there it can't break!
But I must also state that one reader of this blog input that life is a trade-off, and so this direct approach may also limit the dynamic range.
Of import is that I have two homebrew SDR transceivers using QUISK and they are nothing more than two ADE-1's so I will be able to compare the HL2 to what I have using the same SDR software.
But of course I would not be able to test against a FLEX 6700 or the Apache ANON. So if HL2 is an improvement over what I have -- then that has to be good, albeit it will not be the ne plus ultra! I also did not spend $4K
Watch this space.
October 21, 2020 ~ Plan of the Day (POD)
There were three boxes inside the shipping package and thus some minor assembly is required. The case seems to just screw together and the two circuit boards are fully built. There is a connector (2X20) on the filter board that might have to be soldered (some place) and there is one small chunk of red wire. Two stick on heat sinks are in the bag and sort of clear where they go.
But it does not look like you would have to do any SMD soldering of wires or parts. No instructions were included. I need to go back and see if there are instruction on taking these boxes forward into a working transceiver.
Given I had some time I have identified some issues that must be resolved before powering up/powering on my HL2.
- First is the interconnect of the HL2 to the Computer with QUISK installed. Two approaches, with the preferred being connected to a gigabit router. This is to mitigate any latency issues in handling data streams. So far I have not found -- "use this as it is the preferred router model". The second method is a direct connect between the units using CAT 5 cable between the HL2 and your computer. Using an older computer and even the RPi3 (not the RPI3B+ or RPi4) limits to data rate to 100 Base-T (about 1/10 the speed of the gigabit). So will the direct work? Likely; but will it work as well as the gigabit router, probably not. It is all abut how the data packets are processed (Now I am telling you really a lot more than I know). BUT this is an issue. If the Router is a must for maximum performance then tell me which are appropriate models. If I think I understand what the nice lady from Linksys in the downtown Philippines told me -- the router you want must essentially support a local LAN especially if you are not connecting the router to the internet; but only using it locally for data transfer. There continues to be the pesky issue of some sort of supplied IP address that many are hunting for. So that needs to be fleshed out. But if the router is connected to a cable modem -- then any computer on the network with QUISK installed can get on the air.
- I have seen several comments about adjusting the PA Bias. Evidently as I am told this was on earlier builds of the HL2 and supposedly the latest factory shipped models have that set at the factory -- guess we will find out
- Connections of power to the HL2 -- I think I have some of the barrel connectors used but they may be the wrong size. The Barrel connectors have the center positive and the OD is 5.5mm but the one needed requires a 2.1 mm inside diameter to cover the hot pin on the HL2. I think the ones I have are 5.5 mm but 2.5 ID --which means a flaky power connection. More stuff for Amazon to supply.
- RF Connections. The RF In/Out is through an SMA connector which is cool because it is small; but I need to find some SMA to BNC adapters to be able to connect to the real world. Include that in the Amazon order
- Heating of the main HL2 chip has to be addressed and some traffic I saw suggested that it was so critical to drill this hole in the heat sink so much so that the person posting spent a day incantating about it. So I do not know as yet if my HL2 has the het sink, whether that is another item to buy and if it is supplied do I need to practice incantation.
- Then I need to make adjustments to the Hermes QUISK settings like the LPF Matrix, and some other parameters that were identified in the You Tube video.
So my HL2 will not be on the air this weekend; but more likely in about a week to ten days as I wrestle with what has been identified.
October 20, 2020 ~ Update
At around 5 PM the HL2 showed up. My standard process for boxes coming from Chine spray the outside of the box with Clorox cleaner and leave overnight. That I did.
Well that gave me more time to look at the HL2 documentation and I did post on the email reflector that I was awaiting my HL2 -- got a couple of very nice and friendly welcome emails with some links to information.
The 1st thing I am wrestling with is the "hookup" ( were not talking about the earlier GF). While I am sure the info is in nuggets and gems is buried in the videos and links -- it didn't jump out at me.
I foresee that a documented procedure that steps you through the all important link up of the HL2 to the computer would be most helpful for someone just entering the world of the HL2.
The intent as was shared with me is that the HL2 is hard wired to a router where it can be hidden out of sight. Also connected to that router is a computer and for that matter any computer that has access to that router can get on the air. It was pointed out to me that here in Southern CA some days the garage is 100F and in winter I have seen it 39F -- so I could be sitting in my office and working 20M DX all comfy no matter what the weather.
I am beginning to experience what happens with some of the hardware rigs that I have designed and built -- everyone knows that -- so why do you need to create a document. Well everyone doesn't.
Here is Pete headed back to SDR Transceivers. If you are put off by anything SDR, then we likely will be parting ways. For the next several months I will be involved in an evaluation of a SDR Transceiver that has great promise for providing a champagne class transceiver on a beer budget.
I was approached by the Designer and Project Leader (Steve, KF7O) of the Hermes Lite 2.0 (DDC topology) to provide such an evaluation and agreed to do so. Follow the link listed below
But my agreeing to came with some stipulations. Firstly a trial unit was offered to me wherein upon completion I had to return the unit. I turned down that trial offer and simply purchased a unit.
That is almost like buying the cow when you could get free milk. By my purchasing the unit, I felt such a commitment of resources would enable me to share more openly my full evaluation. Also I would likely be more careful in what I did since it was my $1.
So what is a Hermes Lite 2.0? To quote the website.
"The Hermes-Lite is a low-cost direct down/up conversion software defined amateur radio HF transceiver based on a broadband modem chip and the Hermes SDR project. It is entirely open source and open hardware, including the tools used for design and fabrication files. Over 300 Hermes-Lite 2.0 units have been successfully built."
Its birth has a unique twist to it. KF7O was looking at a high end cable modem which is essentially a transceiver with a lot of capability. By using QUISK as the GUI (Graphical User Interface) this now gives the waterfall, spectrum, band change, filter selection etc. Thus the idea of repurposing a cable modem into an SDR Transceiver was born.
The Hermes Lite 2.0 can be connected to your home network via a CAT5 or CAT6 cable or a direct connection to a computer including a Raspberry Pi3 or a Big Box.
With the network connection there is the possible prize of the outdoor Starbucks trick! Several users are working on the application of the Smart Phone so you can work 20 Meter DX while out and about. Meanwhile the Hermes is connected to the power and antenna at home. Cool Beans! The nut to crack (as with many SDR transceivers) is the latency factors.
Basically a fully outfitted Hermes Lite 2.0 works all HF bands at 5 watts output. The units are built and sold from China and for $333 you get a built transceiver, the special LPF board to work the HF bands, a case, the assembly and shipping to you. With DHL it will take about 6 days. QUISK one of the possible OS suites is of course a free download.
There is functionality to control a linear amp and a follow on amp of 100 watts output would be ideal.. I think at this time the adaption of various external 100 watt amplifiers is being explored by the world wide community of users. So extrapolating the costs for around 1/2 the dollars, you can have something akin to an ICOM 7300. Just imagine a 72" display at your operating position!
One of the optional operating configurations for QUISK is the Hermes Lite 2.0. So my working knowledge using QUISK for Soft Rock type radios should be helpful. But for those who like Power SDR (FLEX Stuff) it is also useable with that software. There are at least one or two other software suites (SparkSDR) that will work as well. I have used both Power SDR and QUISK --- pretty easy choice for me and that is QUISK. Quisk comes in both Windows and Linux formats. I think Power SDR is Windows only (or at least it used to be that).
BTW I have done a 1st setup of the Hermes Lite 2.0 on the ASUS Tinker Board (Linux) and the 1st thing I did was to set the bandwidth to 384 kHz. Boom I could look at the whole 40 Meter or 20 Meter Band on one display. This would be the justification for the 72 inch display. I believe I saw that the Hermes could support 4 such receivers. I did not buy a 72" display but I did get a 24 inch as that is the only thing that would fit on my operating bench.
Now we often like to think of tantalizing projects like this as being a simple plug and play. Up front it is not and that is where the support group reflector plays an important and vital role.
Typically new users run into hardware and software issues where simply pushing buttons does not resolve the matter. You have to Read The Manual and do it two or three times! Actually there is no manual as such but the website and reflector has much of the data needed, The reflector group seems to be most helpful and are more than willing to share knowledge.
Below are some considerations as I move out on this project.
- The first issue is the interconnect of the Hermes Lite 2.0 to the home network. This means a cable connected into a Router or Cable Modem. This now requires an establishment of setting up an IP address. Often it is automatic often it is not. So that seems to be an initial hurdle for new users. I will be using a wireless connection for the connection to my cable modem/router. So the second method of connection is to the computer itself. Again the issue of recognizing the Hermes Lite 2.0. This is not the most desirable approach and it has to do with latency and CW -- read about this next.
- The next issue with any SDR is latency so for the "expert" CW ops that do 120 wpm in your head -- it will be a problem. Of those who operate CW with the HL2 most say 30 WPM is easily done without the latency issue gumming up the works. Here again the WiFi approach versus the direct connection has a direct bearing on latency. I have been advised that the HL2 was intended to be hidden in a back room at or near an antenna. So for CW there is the practical problem of keying the box and getting out a side tone. Some creative approaches are being employed and these are posted on the reflector.
- Internal hardware. The innards of the HL2 use a 12 Bit ADC. The 12 Bit for some of the die hard techie types has a limited dynamic range as compared to the 14 Bit or 16 Bit. But with the user base in Europe where the dynamic range is a huge issue -- there are not too many complaints using the 12 Bit. So guys likely "good enough" even in areas like Lost Angeles (near my QTH)!
- Very positive marks for the build quality, price point, and shipping. Transmit quality is considered quite good - we will have a chance to verify this.
So if you are not attuned to SDR -- tune me out as I will be spending a lot of time on my blog reviewing the Hermes Lite 2.0 over the next several months.
My evaluation will start from literally opening the shipping box to setting up the radio, interfacing to QUISK and then finally on the air operation. But along the way I would like to cover some of the technical details such as obtaining an IP address if you connect directly to a network. I will also try to add realism as to what the Hermes Lite 2.0 can and can't do.
My knowledge base at this time is somewhat limited about the Hermes Lite 2.0 and that is one added objective -- come up to speed on the rig and its capabilities. RTFM! So if I have misquoted something so far -- in time I will get it straight
Needless to say -- the uSDX is not on the radar at any immediate future time. That was such a disappointment!