VARA HF and VarAC and USB fiddling

I had heard of VARA HF but not done anything about it because the Windows machine is not connected to the HF rig. That was cured yesterday by something I should have got ages ago – a USB switch. This switch has two USB connections aimed at connection to two PCs, and then four USB sockets for devices. So the SignalLink and the USB adapter for CAT control are now plugged into this switch which shares these between the Linux and Windows PCs. It all seems to work fine with USB devices connecting and disconnecting and, fortunately for Windows anyway appearing in the same place. It took me a whole to figure out that the CAT control, ends up as COM6 on the Windows box but so far it has not decided to change when reconnected.

Now the Windows box can see the FT450D I tried WSJT-X – no issues there, and it provided a good end to end test. I downloaded VarAC and the VARA HF modem. Installation went fine and almost straight away it decoded a beacon on 14.105. Since then it has been decoding numerous other beacons and a few CQ calls but I have yet to answer one. No time right now and I don’t want to use this for short FT8-like overs. I did send a few beacons and pskreporter showed that I am being received. Nice.

I have yet to get CAT working though. I don’t know what the issue is there as everything is set the way it should be so I am tuning the rig by hand until then. PTT is via the SignaLink which will do vox so tx works anyway. (Update: CAT now works fine – I had not set RTS and DTR to High in the CAT Configuration section despite it being that way in the pics in the documentation…)

And there is an issue I missed at first – VarAC plays sounds on events so the right would occasionally transmit for a bit of a second – Settings -> Appearance and Sounds and unchecking ‘Play application sounds (…)’ sorted that out.

I did notice one thing though. When I turn the Linux machine on it is generating noise on 20m. The Linux and Windows machines are essentially identical so something is causing pickup. I’ll need to unwind all the cables and add ferrites – a useful indication hopefully easily fixed. There are now far too many cables and all in a mess!



Recent Posts