I now have an FT818 as well as the FT817 so I have been rearranging stuff yet again. The FT817 was destined to be used portable but will now be a shack fixture – it has 2m and 70cm which is lacking since I sold the two transverters. The FT818 will be paired with the LDG Z817 autotunes and I will put together some wire and stuff to go portable. Both rigs came with the internal battery packs and together there is now a car charger, two mains chargers (one converted to power pole connectors) and a couple of leads that are of no use now with the power pole adapters being fitted to both rigs. There are lots of ideas floating about on using better battery packs or external batteries which I will have a think about. Given my ‘portable’ use initially is more likely to be in holiday accommodation there will be mains available.

So, having decided the FT817 is to become a fitment I have connected its Signalink to the Linux box along with the one already attached to the FT450D. Wsjt-x has this though out nicely through the ability to have multiple configurations. I’d never want to run two copies of wsjt-x for the two rigs at the same time so this works well. The documentation explains it but basically it’s a matter of selecting Configuration and cloning the current one, choosing names for each (I just used the rig names), and then selecting the second Signalink and rig details in the cloned configuration. All seems to work fine, the only thing that initially caught me out is that when one selects a configuration wsjt-x closes and reopens – I thought it had crashed.

I only run the radio at 2.5W but I do have a 2m linear to play with at some stage. It always surprises me how far 2.5W and the loft mounted big wheel will get on 2m.

This means my current configuration – digital wise anyway – is the FT817 and FT450D are connected to the Linux box via their Signalinks and CAT cables but the FT450D Signalink and CAT control can also be switched across to the Windows PC where I have Vara and VarAC installed. And a mess of wire…

Update: clearly I have overcomplicated things. Last night when changing configs wsjt-x could not sort itself out. Rebooting the PC sorted that. But this morning the FT817 was sat flashing its screen and although the FT450D was fine and I could make FT8 contacts all was not well. Unplugging everything from the FT817 and power cycling it cured the flash but then the FT450D had dropped off CAT control as well. For now I’ve set everything back as before, with the FT817 on the Mac.

First experiments with the FTM100DE

Well I got up relatively early and cut 35 foot of WF103 and soldered a PL259 on one end. The hole in the ceiling above the radios won’t take the width of a plug but will – just as it turned out – take the cable. It now has one run of RG213 and three of WF103 and an RG58 and I reckon nothing else is going up that way now. My little Antex iron had no chance against the copper in the WF103 so I had to drag the reflow machine in from the workshop, overkill but it made a good joint. Got the co-linear set up and mounted and the VNA said 1.2 SWR on 2m (it only goes to 180MHz).

The radio was easy to install and is smaller than I’d imagined (but then I’d not taken any notice of the stated dimensions). I put the SWR meter inline and it agreed with the 1.2 SWR on 2m and said the same for 70cm.

The first thing the rig did was tell me that the micro SD card I fitted is bust so its in the bin. Another one worked fine. Mind you, I should have realised because I had one SD card that would not boot pi-star  no matter how I tried – I guess its the same one. Other than that it does what they say it will and works fine in both analogue and C4FM, receive-wise anyway.

The FTM100DE is a neat little thing and fairly intuitive in its use. I’ve programmed in the two local repeaters, one 70cm fusion, the other 2m analogue and both work fine and safely stored in memory. Not actually talked on the radio yet apart from a couple of tests to see if I could get into the repeaters (no time today) but it seems all systems go and hopefully I’ll be able to join in on the local natter net next week.

Time to add YSF to the pi-star hotspot.

New toy

I got myself a combined birthday and Christmas present – actually the first radio I’ve ever purchased new apart from the handhelds – a Yaesu FTM100DE. Not set it up yet, and I’ve still got to run some WF103 down to connect up the 2m/70cm co-linear which is sitting in the loft waiting. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, this means I finally have a C4FM radio (one of the the local repeaters speaks it) and this time I have a Yaesu box with a radio inside, unlike the empty box that scammer Steve 2E0STI sent me a while ago.

Now, where can I install it where it won’t be noticed… hmmm.


Sulking rigs

I think my shack was sulking tonight as I’d not played for two days. First the tuner played up and then the PC would not see the SignaLink. Running lsusb showed it to be missing. I could not reach round to replug the USB cable so rebooted the PC instead. Now it showed it but wsjtx-x could not. Checking the config wsjt-x had reverted to the internal sound card. I’m guessing that running it with the USB missing did that.

Or they really were sulking!

Oh yes and then 20m is completely dead. Trying 40…


Auto tuners

Ok, so I acquired a YT-1200 automatic tuner some time ago but left it gathering dust as I had always planned to add more bits of wet string to my loft fan dipole for other bands. The tuner was going to go on the long wire that I never got round to making via a 9:1 un-un which is wound but not soldered up and looking sorry for itself in a corner of the workshop. Plus there has been a lot of FT8 activity on 20m anyway and the internal tuner in the FT450D is happy there.

Well, I set this thing up last night and it happily tunes from 80m to 6m (not tried 160m yet). The fan dipole has two elements, one cut for 20m and one for 6m, but I’ve now made FT8 contacts on 40m, 30m, 17m and 15m, not bad for a bit of wire stapled to the rafters and 10W or however much actually makes it out of the tuner.

Yes it’s not a mega-station with a beam or even any kind of external antenna (yet!) but it works for me, aided of course by FT8 being a weak signal mode – my signal must be pretty weak!

Edit: I’ve now managed one FT8 QSO on 12m and today (5/Nov) one on 10m. 80m is probably a lost cause right now as although the tuner seems to tune it ok the rig is not happy. But there is a serious lack of wire up in the loft so not a big surprise.

FT450D, memory tuning and CAT

Interesting event yesterday caught me out. I’d been using the FT450D on 6m FM and had programmed and then selected a memory channel for the local repeater. But when I turned the PC on and ran WSJT-X it gave an error controlling the rig. So I killed WSJT-X and loaded flrig – it too could not control the rig. Then I noticed the rig said M-TUNE (memory tuning). One VFO was still set that way and I presume the program swapped VFOs then lost control and gave the error. I got it out of that and back in to VFO but still no CAT access. Something in the driver (Linux – dunno which driver, probably generic) had got screwed because rebooting the PC cured it all (thinking about it unloading and reloading the driver would probably have worked but by then I’d got into power-cycling mode).

This dual VFO business has caught me out before when I had one set to AM and the other SSB. When WSJT-X loaded it switched VFOs but that remained set to AM. Not the programs fault of course but is something to remember. Not a fault of the rig either, just the operator!




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