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WSPR for Foundation Users on a Budget (1 reply and 2 comments)

User001
1 week ago
User001 1 week ago

Hi everyone, I am currently studying for my foundation licence with Essex Ham - should be passed next month.

I wanted to start out toying around with WSPR but I don't want to spend huge amounts on a fancy ICOM with built in USB etc.

Am I right in thinking that if I use a piece of equipment such as the 'TIGERTRONICS SIGNALINK USB' I can effectively use a 'dumb' radio even if its via the mic port as I will run the software on the PC > Signalink > Radio??

I have looked at specific kits, Pi hats etc but I thought this would work even initially with a UV5R and then any other radio I get in the future?

Secondly I am also presuming that I could make the budget version of this using a usb sound card and then breadboarding the diagram I have attached to this post.

//

I am not very knowledgeable re electronic components etc, I just know the basics. Enough to point n shoot ;)

Hoping you can offer help, thanks!!

https://www.essexham.co.uk/images/2020-11-16-12_44_58-iWSPR.png
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Peter 2E0PWX
1 week ago
Peter 2E0PWX 1 week ago

looking at that circuit, its very basic, its uses audio to trigger the PTT line, most rigs have a VOX function where you don't need that as they sense input on the mic input and start TX,

also the output / input on the right of the diagram could be confusing, the output will go to the mic input on the rig, the input will go to the audio out from the rig

the downside of these simple circuits is its easy for system sounds (the various dings and dongs for email alerts etc) can trigger the rig into TX mode

are you looking at HF or VHF/UHF?

if HF have a look at xiegu G90 its what i have 20w max output, 160m (1.8mhz) - 10mtr (28mhz) all bands tx and general coverage reciever for <£400, its what i use

as to the signalink interface, the other popular interface for digimode is uggcomms http://xggcomms.com its plug and play but they are specific to radio models

you normally need a seperate USB sound card (< £10 from your favourite online stores) as well, as you are presented with separate speaker and microphone leads from the interface and most PC's / laptop's have the combined socket

the other advantage of the usb soundcard is you can direct WSJT-x (wspr/FT8/FT4  etc) to use this and less danger of system sounds being transmitted by your rig

if you then use omnirig or FLRig you can then control frequency, modulation (usb/lsb etc) from the computer and many programs like FLDigi (used for rtty,psk,etc), WSJT-x using the interface using a protocol called CAT

coming back to wspr, look at http://wsprnet.org/drupal/ its useful when you listen only to confirm you are on frequency 

also look at pskreporter.com for general digimode signal information so you can target bands and stations and be more successful when you can transmit

while you listen with your rig, learn how RF gain affect the signals, how line out volume from the rig affects the quality of the signal to the PC and affects the number of signals resolved, this will help you when you pass and can transmit, as you will know how to operate most of your hard and be familiar with the apps on the PC which means you can concentrate on the TX side and get more out of your new hobby 

also remember you get more signal improvement from a better antenna than pushing more power out the rig, on FT8 / FT4 i get to south america and middle east on 10w or less with a very simple long wire, i will be upgrading it to a 5 band fan dipole in the next few days

a lot to take in, any questions just ask

User001
1 week ago

Thanks for the detailed reply Peter!

I was also looking at getting the G90 for HF - its pretty cheap on AliExpress, but also looking at the Yaesu FTM 3200D as a cheap VHF set for more local messing around.

I am predominantly interested in working HF but till I move out of my flat I am a bit limited on antenna options. Hence I thought I would spend some time experimenting listening to WRSP and building a pc to radio interface in the meantime - I have some UV5Rs that I can initially test it out on.

In fact last night I ordered all the parts necessary to breadboard out that diagram I attached. I just like the idea that I can build it for about £30 and if I move up to an off the shelf product at least I learnt something in the process. I'm a programmer by day, so I enjoy this sort of thing.

I will try and post my results later, although this may be towards the end of December.

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Peter 2E0PWX
1 week ago

for the G90 there is an active group on groups.io at https://xiegug90.groups.io/g/main with various sub groups as well,

there are some ops on there who have built their own digi interfaces that plug into the mini din on the back of the G90 as well which may help you

also there is a WSJT-X groups at https://wsjtx.groups.io/g/main/messages

the G90 has a few issues nothing major and they release new firmware every 2-3 months, its got a fairly sensitive receiver but there are a lot of controls with 2 or more functions on them, but you soon get to know the ones you use most (power, ATU, RF Gain etc) but you will find with the RF gain, less is more

back off the RF gain and line out volume in digimode until the level indicator on WSJT-x is between 50-70 and you will resolve many signal than if you have everything cranked up to max, its very counter intuitive and takes a little while to get your head round

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