Saturday, September 5, 2015

Got the Signalink USB and IC706MkII working together

Inspired by my recent trip to Gola with the EJ7NET team, where we mostly used small rigs, I am aiming to set up an entire portable station - something that I could bring on such a trip. I have the IC-706MkII. I have the LDG auto tuner. I have the K9EL keyer. I don't have a small switchmode PSU - I had to borrow one for the trip. But I dearly wanted to get digi modes up and running. I never knew, however, that it would be so easy!

The "portable" station set up in the shack. Icom IC-706MkII, LDG auto tuner,
Signalink USB and Winkeyer USB.

I looked up the Tigertronics website and opened the Signalink USB up and re-wired the jumpers. They had been wired for my old Yaesu FT-1000MP, which I sold a couple of years ago. What I didn't realise was that I could use an ordinary RJ45 ethernet cable to connect the Signalink box to the rig. The beautiful thing (one of many) about the IC-706MkII is that it has TWO microphone sockets - one underneath the front of the rig, and one at the rear. The upshot is that I can keep the microphone connected at the front and the digital cable connected at the back - there's no need to unplug one to use the other.

So I connected everything up and downloaded fldigi. I didn't want to use HRD because it's already interfaced with my Icom 756PRO. Within minutes I had fldigi installed and running - and decoding signals from the IC706MkII via the Signalink. Wow. But it got better . . .

A screen shot of fldigi. I haven't used it much yet, but I already like it. 
I decided to try to CQ - on low power, which I think was either 5 or 10 watts - using PSK31. Immediately an EA2 came back to my call! I hadn't even set up the macros, so I had to manually type out my QSO. But I didn't mind. I was so delighted to get the digital modes running so easily.

I haven't been using fldigi for long - but I already like it. The installer was less than 5MB. It's a free program. It was easy to install and easy to get going. The macros are very easy to set up. I like the fact that it has a sort-of "super browser" (like HRD) built in, on the left-hand pane, showing live decoding of the various signals on the waterfall.

So a couple of things remain outstanding before I can say I have a fully portable station. I need a small PSU. I also need something like a Sota pole and an antenna - preferably a multi-band dipole such as the "Iona Dipole" that Gordon GM7WCO used on Gola. Then I will be completely set up. Oh - I also need a case or box in which to put all the equipment. But I will figure that one out in time.

1 comment:

  1. Its a neat little program and will run quite happily on a netbook (use a 5 euro usb soundcard if you need jacks!). I've used it with a homebrew interface and a Kenwood TS-430 & my current Icom IC-746. Good to get you in the log from Gola.

    73 de EI5HRB

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