Addition to the portable kit..

Last spring I completed my portable kit for digimodes on HF to be used during the summer of 2016. Unfortunately I didn’t got to use the kit as much as I wanted due to family activities and work, so the kit was mostly just in standby. However, I´ve promised myself to be more active this spring and summer. This because both me and the rest of the family need to get out more. That´s why I’m about to try to plan a number of outdoor activities together with the family this spring and summer and work some QSO:s with the portable kit. 🙂

Regarding the portable kit, the small Intel Atom computer I´m using for the kit is pretty slow when using it with WSJT-X 1.7. Also, the battery is not good to last more than 10 min and one hour the most on the battery bank for the radio. This made me thinking about a replacement of some kind that´s small, light and ultra portable. By accident my partner stumbled up tablet which seemed interesting.

The tablet was an Trekstor Wintron 7.0 tablet which seem to use Windows 10 Home instead of Android. This was particularly interesting as the chance that it would be able to recognize both the signalink and the CAT-adapter was quite higher than an android or Windows 10 Mobile tablet. The specs also seemed to match what I was looking for, 1.8GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM (WSJT-X requires 1.5GHz CPU as a recommendation).  The cost was only 60 Euros why I gave it a try! I ordered one online and a few days later I got the package.

dsc_1864The same night I got the package I started to experiment with the tablet. As the OS of the tablet was Windows 10 and the limited disc space of 16GB, I was afraid that it might not be able to support any of my external USB-devices. I was wrong! I also expected the Windows version to be a “sneak” version adapted for tablet use, but it turns out it really was a full Win 10 Home that was installed. It was able to handle the signalink directly to the USB port via the USB-adapter cable that came with the tablet. Since I wanted to connect more devices to the USB-port I then tried to connect a USB-hub with the signalink, CAT-adapter and a wireless mouse. This didn’t work good at first but after som tweaking in the device manager (energy saving properties) I was able to get it to work!

I then installed WSJT-X 1.7 and tried to run it monitoring the 40m band that normally has a lot of traffic during the evenings. My intention was to try to put some stress on the tablet as the decoding is the most critical point in running the JT modes. This regarding both time and processing power. It actually decode OK and the tablet could handle the extra CPU-load during the multipass decoding without any problems at all!

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Monitoring the 40m band.

No need to say I was very pleased this had worked! Now it was time to give it a trial run before officially giving it a place in the portable kit! 🙂

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The Wintron tablet with USB-hub and external devices connected.

I left it running, from fully charged, and managed to get about two hours of running time before the internal battery was depleted. An OK time! 🙂 I also made a couple of QSO:s on JT65 and JT9 and I’m more than satisfied with the solution! I also discovered that my protection case with integrated bluetooth keyboard for one of my older tablets also worked with the new one. This made the setup even more complete. 🙂

So now I have an updated portable kit, ready for this spring and summer adventures! 😀

73 de SM7VRZ

Translations and summer plans..

It seems like there’s some time between the updates in the blog right now and I do have my reasons for it. A hectic work situation with a number of new projects starting and an ability not to leave the thoughts about the project situations when you get home have rendered me some what exhausted. However I’ve done some progress with my latest undertaking, the translation of the WSJT-X user manual into Swedish. svmanJust this morning I’ve completed the basic translation work and I now have to proof read the entire manual to check for consistency and spelling errors. After this, then additional content for WSJT-X V 1.7.0 has to be inserted.

The manual however is more or less a complete translation for the V 1.6.0 but as it has elements of the coming version in the texts it may be some what confusing to read in certain sections. There are also elements in the translated material that seems hard to change and are probably related either to the ASCIIdoc markup language or in the maner that the documentation is built. For example I can’t find out were to change the text “Table of Contents” in the left margin into Swedish as this is the only text that can’t be changed in the entire document, unless you change it in the compiled html-file. 🙂

Well, I guess I just ned to do some more digging to solve it I guess. 🙂

Thank’s to some work related circumstances I might get the chance to do some portable work on the Swedish West coast this summer. Even though it might be more work than play, I will try to find some time to make som QSO:s on digital and voice with my potable kit. The QTH is in the archipelago outside Gothenburg and I will probably be there for at least two weeks. Lets hope for the best! 🙂

73 de SM7VRZ

SJ7SOP/6

The activity for SJ7SOP in the SM6 area is slowly coming to it’s end as me and the family are leaving the summer QTH tomorrow. So far I’ve managed to get about 50 worked stations during my stay. I’t could have been more but the family activities comes first. However I’m satisfied with my activity and especially as I’m working QRP.

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Station setup with FT-817ND, Signalink USB and Acer Aspire One notebook

I’ve mostly activated 40m and 20m PSK31/63 as I didn’t realy find out a good way to work JT65/9 with the /6 suffix in WSJTX. When calling CQ in WSJTX with the /6, the locator is missing in my transmission. This problem will not be an issue back home why i’ll wait activating the JT modes until I get home again.

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The portable antenna, linked dipole for 20m and 40m setup in the garden.

The antenna setup is the same as my portable kit, the linked 20 and 40m dipole. In the garden, next to the house I’ve set it up in a inverted V configuration with good results. I could have set it up in the surrounding trees but I figured that it would be a perfect field testing for the antenna kit so I put it up as it was intended for.

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The house in Tösse, JO68HX.

I’m glad to see that some of the stations I worked are qualified for the SOP award. Hopefully I will manage to get a diploma this year myself, not only helping others to earn theirs 😉

 

73 de SM7VRZ / SJ7SOP/6

 

 

 

Vacation

Finally I’ve started my three weeks vacation and it feels really good to turn of the mobile phone and just relax. And relaxing also includes some radio activity for my part.
To start of the vacation, me and the family have rented a small house in the vicinity of my parents. It’s the third summer we have done this and of course I’ve brought my radio equipment with me as usual. During my stay here I also activate the SJ7SOP callsign to work as much stations as possible for the SOP award.
The setup this time is part of the QRP kit excluding the battery as I figured that it would be a good test before going out to work portable.

Regarding the SOP activation I will be active mostly between 1800-2300 UTC during my stay. Modes will be PSK/RTTY and JT65/9 on 40 and 20m.

Hope to work some of you! 🙂

73 de SM7VRZ

Portable kit, last piece of the puzzle..

As some may remember I’ve been looking for a stable, lightweight bracket for suspending the fishing rod for the antenna. After some searching I finally found what I was looking for!

The bracket is originally made for holding parasols during the lazy days outside but it turned out to be able to be used for antennas as well. 🙂

Another advantage is that it’s lightweight and not hard to pack along with the other equipment needed.

With this my kit is complete and just in time for the beginning of the three-week summer vacation. In addition I managed to get my hands on a 24Ah 12V battery for free. This means that, If I can manage the additional weight, I have a whole day worth of energy for my kit.

Now, where should I go first to try out my kit? 😀

73 de SM7VRZ

Project progression..

The portable QRP project is moving forward and I’ve started to look at putting it all together.

I have started to focus on the power supply for the portable kit. The battery of choice is a cheap lead type battery with a nominal voltage of 12VDSC_0730 and has 7.2Ah capacity. The battery and a suitable AC charger was purchased a while ago with battery backup functionality in mind but may be found useful also in this portable kit.  I have two main consumers to the battery, the computer and the transceiver. The transceiver is operational on 12V DC why it shouldn’t be any problem connecting it directly to the battery.

The computer on the other hand is operating on 19V DC which makes it a bit complicated. To connect the computer to the same power supply as the transceiver, I need a DC/DC converter to supply the correct voltage.

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I’d remembered noticing a sales add at a well known Swedish electronics accessories dealer having a sale on car accessories for laptop computers. A suitable converter along with a wide range of connectors was purchased for about 10€. Now I have the voltage conversion problem solved. The converter may come in handy in other applications as well.

Now when all the unit have the correct voltage and is ready for 12V operation I started to look at the expected operational time for the solution. To make an estimation on how long the operational time will be, I have to make some measurements on the current drain on both of the computer and transceiver. The transceiver was hooked up to a power supply with a ampere meter in serial with battery calcthe positive lead and was measured at RX and 5W TX @ CW. The transceiver showed a drain of appr. 2A in TX and 0.4A in RX. The same thing was done with the computer connected with the DC/DC converter and the Signalink USB plus a CAT-cable. The result was that It had a drain of ca 1.2A constantly. To do the calculation I made a quick Excel document with a formula specifying the typical operation. I calculated a TX cycle of 50% which means that half the time the transceiver will be in TX and half in RX.  Now, this may vary depending of which digital mode i wish to operate as well as the number of QSO:s being made. For JT-modes the cycle is close to 50% as you transmit and receiver half the time. When the calculation was done the result showed an estimated operation time of 2.25h. The calculation is however not exact enough as there are some factors that I haven’t included. An estimation gives that in reality I only should have about 1 to 1,5h of operation with the TX cycle above. This may require me to adjust my operational techniques to prolong the operational time.

Now, to connect it all together to the battery I had some thoughts about how to do this. As the DC/DC converter comes with a cigarette lighter DSC_0733connector, it seems stupid to cut this of. The converter Is also useful  in the car when using the computer mobile. One of my findings in the junk box was a power connector divider for cigarette lighter connectors. The use of this allows me to retain the connector on the converter and add one to the transceivers DC-cable, making the kit also useful for mobile operation as well.

I now feel that I have the power supply solution ready for testing. All I have to do is set the battery on charge and set it all up after it´s ready…

73 de SM7VRZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project digimode QRP portable, the first steps…

Today it’s saturday and I have actually nothing planned this weekend. Therefore I decided to startup one of this years projects, my QRP Portable digimode project. The goal with this project is to have a working solution for working digimodes (JT65/9 and PSK31/63) portable with my FT-817ND.  I’ve been giving this project some thought earlier and the other day I got some more inspiration when I got a new follower on the blog. VK1NAM, Andrew is a Australian Ham with an interest in SOTA, Summit on the air, which I think is something that I also would enjoy doing.  Not only is the project a reason to utilize my FT-817, it´s also a good excuse for getting out more! 🙂

Do check out Andrews blog here on WordPress with interesting posts and beautiful photos from his SOTA activations. I do hope to visit “down under” some day as both me and my fianceé would like to explore Australia. 🙂

So, back to the project. I started to collect some useful gear from the hidings in the basement. Through the years I’ve collected some stuff that may come in handy one day. When the search was over I got the following idea on how my “portable kit” could look like:

  • Portable HF antenna for 30m or 40m, 20m and maybe 10m. Andrews portable gear have given me some inspiration for a linked dipole construction.
  • An MFJ-901B manual tuner, if necessary.
  • The FT-817ND (naturally)
  • An old Acer Aspire One, lite notebook computer which I’ve been using before with my “traveling kit” setup. This computer already have the necessary software installed but is maybe a little slow for JT65/9 with WSJTX. The upside is that it´s small and light.
  • The Signalink USB interface for use with the computer and transceiver.
  • A small 12V 7,2Ah lead battery which should supply enough power to the FT-817ND and the computer ( both the transceivers and the notebooks internal batteries is depleted). The power solution should give at least some hours of operation.

That seems like a good starting point for creating a kit!

Now it´s time to build it all together and try it out!  🙂

73

de SM7VRZ