Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Signalink = fantastic...getting it to work....frustrating

This week has been dedicated to setting up for the CQ WW DX CW contest this weekend. Making sure the contest logger works (N1MM), try out the CW macros along with the K3, test out the antenna on all the bands and finally make up some goals. I find by doing some prep work before the contest Murphy does not rear his head as often during the contest. Early last week my Tigertronics Signalink USB came in and it was my ticket to get into the digital world. Years ago I had a Yaesu  FT-1000MP MKV I had the Rigblaster Pro along side it. I dabbled in PSK and was into RTTY contesting at that time. I had hopes of setting things up and getting on the surf board of Digital communications last weekend.
Well that dream was short lived, the memories came back of sound card setup, adjusting the ALC level and basically getting everything just right for the digital engine to purrrr. Over the weekend the setup was not purrrring at all it was more of a hisssssss.  The connections between my K3 and Signalink were smooth going. The PC recognized the on board sound card in the Signalink. At first I ran into some trouble setting up the CAT connection between the K3 and software  (Ham radio delux's digital master 780) I was able to decode PSK signals with Digital Master, in transmit with the K3 set at 100 watts I was able to use the TX control on the Signalink to raise the output power to what I wanted (5 watts). The unresolved problem is I am not able to get any ALC reading on the K3. I know the ALC is very important to a clean signal. I have given up trying to solve this problem at this time. I am as I said concentrating on the CQ WW DX CW contest. 




9 comments:

  1. Mike,

    I never use the ALC (except sometimes as just a sanity check). I simply set the power on the rig, say, 20w, then hit Tune (in Fldigi) and adjust my sound card output so that the needle on the wattmeter (which I put between ATU and antenna) is about half of max. When ops do report my dBm it's always been good.

    73,

    Casey

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  2. Good evening Casey, well that sure is good news I can set the rig to about 10-20 watts. I can put the rig into transmit and adjust the signalink for 5 watts. The watt meter I use is the LP 100A and it's located between the ATU and antenna as well.

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  3. Hello Mike, the way Casey does is the right way. I always set my radio for 50W and adust for max. 25W or less with the audioinput. I set up a signal link for a local amateur and although I think they are too expensive they work very well. Hope to catch you on digital modes some day (JT65 could work?) 73, Bas

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  4. Hi Mike, I had a lot of troubles to get it working. CAT control etc. Still I work the old fashion way: digi modes with VOX and mic. ;-) 73 Paul

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  5. Good morning Bas, your advice seems to be the common thread I am getting as an answer. Next week after the contest I will give the digi modes a go and see what happens.

    Good morning Paul, yes I have found the CAT configuration can always be a challenge. I do have LP-bridge which gives me many virtual ports....but.... even with that I get some programs that stop working when adding a new one. It can get frustrating.

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  6. Hi Mike,

    To transmit a clean PSK signal, it is very important that there is NO ALC reading at all....if ALC starts to kick in, the PSK signal starts clipping and you get bad IMD with spurious sigs all over the waterfall....and that's not what we want eh ! ;-) I set my TRX to max 20 Watts (NO need for 100 Watts) for any digital mode, adjust my Signalink USB TX level until there is no ALC readout, and you do this in idle mode i.e. not sending text.
    Succes and 73 !

    Patrick ON4CDJ

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  7. Good evening Patrick, thanks for stopping by the blog and for your time to give me your comment. I will be at around 5 watts or less in the Sufi modes. To get 5 watts I still have to have the K3 at around 40 watts to achieve this. I adjusted the wave in the sound card to a higher level. The volume level is full but this config gets me to 5 watts no problem. Hope to see you on the waterfall.
    Mike

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  8. Hi again Mike,

    I am a regular reader of your and other (QRP)blogs, but not a blogger myself. Always nice to read interesting things and to comment here and there if I have something meaningful to say...hihi.
    See you on the waterfal, or maybe in CW. Still trying to take the plunge and make CW-qso's, but still intimidated by the fast speeds...ughh.

    73 !

    Patrick ON4CDJ

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  9. Hi again Patrick.....great to hear from you again and sound off anytime....even if it's something you don't agree with. Patrick in contests yes the speed is fast but in most contests really all you have to do is get the call sign and maybe a serial number or what ever the exchange is for the contest. I don't mean to make that sound easy but if you kinda know what to expect in the CW message it makes it easy to pull it out of fast CW. I guess what I am trying to say is I might be able to pick out a call and exchange traveling at 35WPM (after listening to the station 3-5 times) but for conversational CW I at about 20-22WPM. So don't think if your at 12-20WPM conversational that you can't pick up a call and exchange in a contest at 30WPM or so. Give a contest a go and after listening to it for awhile you will get the swing of things. Just do search and pounce.
    Mike

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