Sunday, November 30, 2014

From my junk box : a QRP CW transceiver

I gave $5 for this critter at a Hamfest some time ago.  Never played with it as I don't know Morse Code.  But, I wonder if I can add an audio oscillator and maybe even experiment with PSK ?

Super Simple Way to do FLDIGI with the Baofeng HT

Had to "experiment" with a super-simple Baofeng HT FLDIGI station.  Thanks for the generosity of Scott KD5NJR for letting me try out my idea on his HT pair.

The Baofeng HTs have a 2.5 mm female connector for audio output (speaker) and a 3.5 mm female connector for microphone.  The two connectors are designed to be plugged into a "remote" mic that can be placed on your shirt or belt buckle.

3.5 mm is the standard "1/8 inch" audio connector size that we use for consumer electronics, such as MP3 players.  It is also the size used by most computer sound cards for either microphone or audio out.  2.5 mm is a non-standard size and is typically only used on cell phones.

I used two male to male adapters to complete the connection between the Baofeng HT and a SYBA sound card.  One is a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm adapter.  The other is a 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm adapter, which can easily be found on  It is important to note that both adapters are 3-pole (meaning there are three sections, two black rings).  Four pole adapters will not work with the Baofeng.

You end up connecting the 2.5 mm Baofeng connection (audio out) to your sound card microphone or line-in connection.  The 3.5 mm Baofeng connection (microphone) is connected to your sound card audio out or speaker connection.

All of this completes the plumbing, but what about push-to-talk?  That is the easiest, as Baofeng includes a "VOX" function that will key the transmitter whenever a certain audio level is detected on the microphone.  All you need to do is turn the VOX function and set the VOX level to a comfortable speaking level.  Test by speaking into the HT and adjusting accordingly.

After you get everything plugged in, start adjusting your sound card microphone and audio out levels.  Be careful not to overdrive the output, or you will get a distorted waterfall.  Same will be true if the microphone level is too high.  If you go too low, the PTT won't engage or you won't see another station's signal on your waterfall.  Always helps to have another friend that is running FLDIGI to start making the correct adjustments.

Typically I like to put an audio isolation transformer between the radio and the sound card, but this "shortcut" method will get you on the air.  Since you are running FM, there is a little more forgiveness in the waterfall, as you will not be knocking off other stations like you would on SSB.  Still, a highly distorted signal will not be copiable and will be hard on other station's ears, so try to get as close as possible to the ideal waterfall.

I ran all the way up to BPSK-1000 with good success between the two Baofeng HTs with this simple setup.

Baofeng 888 series HT connected to SYBA sound card using
male to male adapters (3.5 mm to 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

FLDIGI on the Raspberry Pi / Getting Better

FLDIGI is a great software package that uses lots of processing to convert the analog signal into the streams of characters and files for the user.  With that conversion comes the cost of processing power.

Ideally, you should run FLDIGI on a computer with a microprocessor speed of 1 Ghz or greater.  The Raspberry Pi only runs at 700 Mhz, so it has typically been overlooked or even discouraged as a platform for FLDIGI.

As I stated in the November 22nd training session, my past experiences with FLDIGI on the Raspberry Pi were mixed.  It typically maxed out the processor and was sometimes unstable.  Early attempts to use sound cards with the Raspberry Pi were also less than ideal, as the early soundcard drivers in Raspberian had difficulties with normal day-to-day audio, let alone modes that require high linearity.  Early versions suffered from snap-crackle-pop sounds on both the output and input (if you used an external USB soundcard), which usually brought experiments in something like FLDIGI to a quick end.

I am pleased to report that the sound card drivers are more robust, plus the hardware solution of an SYBA SD-CM-UAUD has very low background sound levels and appears to get along with Raspberian very well, as evidenced by work by persons on the Dire Wolf APRS project.

So, I used this morning to revisit FLDIGI on the Raspberry Pi.  I took a new Raspberian SD card, booted up, and entered "apt-get FLDIGI".  Within 20 minutes I had FLDIGI and FLARQ icons in the Ham Radio program group.

The version of FLDIGI that is currently available via apt-get is several versions behind, so it does not have all the latest updates, like PSK-500, PSK-1000, or the KISS port.

So, I decided to connect the SYBA soundcard to my laptop (which is running the latest windows version of FLDIGI).  Audio out to audio in on both sides.

After trying to run PSK-250 with some lockups, I decided to drop to PSK-125.

FLDIGI and FLARQ running side-by-side on the Pi

I was able to transfer several files between the two computers using FLARQ with no lockups or problems.  In fact, I didn't have any errors on either side.  Of course, all of this was with a "perfect" audio cable, as opposed to a radio-to-radio connection.  However, it was a much better experience than what I had almost a year ago performing the same experiment.

There is a way to recompile the latest version of FLDIGI, FLARQ, FLMSG, and FLAMP on the Raspberry Pi.  If you would like an SD card with all four on them, please comment below and I will go ahead and make some cards up (assuming there is interest).

Close-up of FLDIGI on the Pi

Close-up of FLARQ on the Pi

Hello Austin!

No matter how much we talk about the theory of FLDIGI, it always speaks larger volumes to have actual reports from someone operating.  Mike AE5QL made a trip to Austin, TX, and  this is the email he sent back to us about running an FLDIGI/BPQ32 combination back to the TDRC BBS on 40m:

Jeff, Scott,

I could not connect Friday at mid-day it was about 2:00PM. I did see AE5ME answering my connect request once however the signal to noise ratio was just too high.

Early this evening about 5:00PM I was able to connect however I had two CW conversations going on about +/- 800 Hz from where we were trying to connect. I had a very strong signal on the water fall from AE5ME but the CW conversations were wiping things out.

I tested the transmit side of my softrock today and all is working perfectly. once I have the amp built and software loaded and working to interface my softrock to FLDIGI I will be able to notch out any type of CW interference.

With the look of our strong contact early this evening we should be able to make reliable contact from Austin.

Mike, AE5QL

Monday, November 24, 2014

Something to keep an eye open on : PSKREPORTER

This is a website I have open just about everytime I play radio lately....
    You can use it for check for activity
  • on a particular band:
  • on a particular mode:
  • or by a particular user
so you can use it to see if you're "getting out".

Olivia HF action

I didn't catch the MT63 bulletin either , but I did monitor most of a NBEMS roundtable from the 1st call district last night.

FLDIGI test : step zero

To test FLDigi Saturday afternoon , I had it decode not from a radio , but from a recorded Olivia test I found on YouTube .  Looks like Radio Cuba was experimenting too. This is something anyone can do. You don't need a license or a rig interface to "listen in." Shout with questions! Scott

New FLDIGI Port on 2m!

I am pleased that we have added a new FLDIGI port on 2m, in addition to the one already on 40m.

The new port operates at BPSK1000 at a center frequency of 1500 Hz on 145.03 Mhz FM.

The instructions previously given on this blog are identical, with the exception that you have to change the configuration file mode to BPSK1000 instead of BPSK250.  Due to the nature of an FM signal, we opted to provide a speed that is comparable, if not a little faster than conventional 1200 bps packet.

Once you connect to the BBS, you can create outgoing connections to HF BPQ32 stations and conventional packet stations on 145.01 Mhz.

For those of you that do not have HF equipment, this is an excellent opportunity to try out the capabilities brought by marrying FLDIGI to BPQ32.

Next stop: APRS on FLDIGI!

Thanks !!

Thanks for everyone who came out to the FLDIGI training session. We had nine folks turn out for the first training session. Lots of conversation. Please feel free to ask questions. 73 Scott

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monday Night PSK-31 FUN

I was lucky and had some "Free Time" Monday Night. Jeff had mentioned I might try 7070 kHz instead on 7035 kHz for PSK-31 signals.
Boy was he right. Plenty of signals in the waterfall. I worked stationed in IN, OH, ON, PA, OR and a W1AW/7 station in WA. Not bad.
All of these contacts were made using 3 or 5W on my dipole antenna. Mine is down low. It's below the roofline as a matter of fact.
It was later on in the evening, say, 9 or 10pm when I started to wonder "how low can I go?" Using the website I turned the rig down to 1W and started calling CQ. I didn't work anyone, but I did pop-up on the website as being "spotted" in GA.
I have not worked any stations at the higher data rate, PSK-250, (regardless of power) besides Jeff. That's my next project.

This Weekend I Tried Out the BBS via HF

So, Thursday Night Tony (KA5TRO) and myself (KD5NJR) tried out Jeff's BBS via the new HF port. WOW ! IT WORKED !!

It was very similar (and easy) to logging in via VHF using UZ7HO Soundmodem and the terminal emulator that ships with that software.

    Wednesday night I did some prep work.
  • Upgraded to the most recent version of FLDIGI ( downloaded from the FLDIGI webpage )
  • Made a few test contacts with PSK-31 on 20m ( 14.070 MHz )to verify my mic and speaker settings were unchanged.
  • Downloaded and installed BPQ (as Jeff mentioned in his earlier post)

    Thursday night we
  • Made a few test contacts with PSK-31 on 20m ( 14.070 MHz )to verify my mic and speaker settings were unchanged.
  • Downloaded and installed BPQ (as Jeff mentioned in his earlier post)
  • Overwrote the configuration file for BPQ (as Jeff mentioned in his earlier post)
  • Made a few changes to FLDIGI (as Jeff mentioned in his earlier post)

    When you bring up BPQ32 (It will bring up FLDIGI as well)
  • open a terminal screen
  • give the command : attach 5
  • give the command : modem bpsk250
  • give the command : c ae5me-15

And you should hear the handshaking between you and Jeff's BPQ software.
    To check mail
  • give the command : BBS
  • give the command : OP 20 //this will keep test transmissions of a reasonable length
  • give the command L or LM //one of these is LIST, on is LIST MINE
  • if you see something worth reading, RM //read mine.
  • if you see something worth reading, R num //num is the message number.
  • ? gives pretty good help.
  • Try it out and have fun !!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New FLDIGI Port on AE5ME-15 BBS System

I am pleased to announce a new HF FLDIGI port on the TDRC packet BBS system on 7.036 Mhz with center frequency of 1500 Hz.  The mode is BPSK250.  The new port allows the use of the new "KISS" capability of FLDIGI coupled with the BPQ32 "switch" software to connect to our system, including the bulletin board system, chat room, and internet links.

It is real simple to set up.

1) Download the latest BPQ32 software from  Run and install.

2) Download the latest copy of FLDIGI from  Run and install.

3) Replace the BPQ32.CFG file with the following.  Anywhere there is KD5NJR, change it to YOUR callsign.  Verify that the path for C:\Program Files (x86)\Fldigi-3.22.01\fldigi.exe is correct, as the installed directory for FLDIGI varies according to operating system.

/* This begins a multi-line comment
The purpose of this configuration is simply to confirm that the basic BPQ32
system is operable.  It contains only a LOOPBACK port.
To perform the basic test, compile this configuration file by executing
bpqcfg.exe, which will generate bpqcfg.bin. Now execute BPQTerminal.exe, and
in the lowest window enter:
You should receive the following response:
This is the CTEXT.
If you get the above response the basic test has succeeded.
This file: \Examples\Minimal\bpqcfg.txt
*/ This ends a multi-line comment
;See LOCATOR details at:
; SYSOP Passord - See
NODECALL=KD5NJR-5  ; Node callsign
NODEALIAS=TDRNDE ; Node alias (6 characters max)
IDMSG:   ; UI broadcast text from NODECALL to fixed dest ID
***   ; Denotes end of IDMSG text
BTEXT:   ; UI broadcast text from BCALL to destination UNPROTO=
***   ; Denotes end of BTEXT text
INFOMSG:  ; The INFO command text follows:
***   ; Denotes end of INFOMSG text
KD5NJR-5 > Main Node for Tulsa metro and surrounding areas.
TYPE - I for System Information
TYPE - H for Node Commands
TYPE N for Routes to other Network Nodes
TYPE ? for Available Applications
***   ; Denotes end of CTEXT text
FULL_CTEXT=1  ; 0=send CTEXT to L2 connects to NODEALIAS only
   ; 1=send CTEXT to all connectees
; Network System Parameters:
OBSINIT=6  ; Initial obsolescence set when a node is included
   ; in a received nodes broadcast. This value is then
   ; decremented by 1 every NODESINTERVAL.
OBSMIN=4  ; When the obsolescence of a node falls below this
   ; value that node's information is not included in
   ; a subsequent nodes broadcast.
NODESINTERVAL=0  ; Nodes broadcast interval in minutes
IDINTERVAL=0  ; 'IDMSG' UI broadcast interval in minutes, 0=OFF
BTINTERVAL=0  ; The BTEXT broadcast interval in minutes, 0=OFF
L3TIMETOLIVE=25  ; Max L3 hops
L4RETRIES=3  ; Level 4 retry count
L4TIMEOUT=60  ; Level 4 timeout in seconds s/b > FRACK x RETRIES
L4DELAY=10  ; Level 4 delayed ack timer in seconds
L4WINDOW=4  ; Level 4 window size
MAXLINKS=63  ; Max level 2 links
MAXNODES=128  ; Max nodes in nodes table
MAXROUTES=64  ; Max adjacent nodes
MAXCIRCUITS=128  ; Max L4 circuits
MINQUAL=168  ; Minimum quality to add to nodes table
; INP3 Routing is experimental.  The two parms which follow will be ignored
; unless activated in the ROUTES: section.
MAXHOPS=4  ; INP3 hop limit to add to tables
MAXRTT=90  ; INP3 max RTT in seconds
BUFFERS=255  ; Packet buffers - 255 means allocate as many as
   ; possible, normally about 130, depending upon other
   ; table sizes.
; TNC default parameters:
PACLEN=128  ; Max packet size (236 max for net/rom)
PACLEN is a problem! The ideal size depends on the link(s) over which a packet
will be sent. For a session involving another node, we have no idea what is at
the far end. Ideally each node should have the capability to combine and then
refragment messages to suit each link segment - maybe when there are more BPQ
nodes about than 'other' ones, I'll do it. When the node is accessed directly,
things are a bit easier, as we know at least something about the link. So,
currently there are two PACLEN params, one here and one in the PORTS section.
This one is used to set the initial value for sessions via other nodes and for
sessions initiated from here. The other is used for incoming direct (Level 2)
sessions. In all cases the TNC PACLEN command can be used to override the
; Level 2 Parameters:
; T1 (FRACK), T2 (RESPTIME) and N2 (RETRIES) are now in the PORTS section
T3=120   ; Link validation timer in seconds
IDLETIME=720  ; Idle link shutdown timer in seconds
; Configuration Options:
AUTOSAVE=1  ; Saves BPQNODES.dat upon program exit
BBS=1   ; 1 = BBS support included, 0 = No BBS support
NODE=1   ; Include switch support
HIDENODES=1  ; If set to 1, nodes beginning with a #
   ; require a 'N *' command to be displayed.
; The *** LINKED command is intended for use by gateway software, and concern
; has been expressed that it could be misused. It is recommended that it be
; disabled (=N) if unneeded.
ENABLE_LINKED=N  ; Controls processing of *** LINKED command
   ; Y = allows unrestricted use
   ; A = allows use by application program
   ; N = disabled
AX25 port definitions:
The LOOPBACK port simulates a connection by looping input to output. To test,
start BPQTerminal and enter: 'C 1 MYNODE via MYCALL'
In this example '1' is the LOOPBACK port number. The LOOPBACK port is provided
for testing purposes and would rarely be included in an established system.
    ADDR 7342 PATH C:\Program Files (x86)\Fldigi-3.22.01\fldigi.exe
ROUTES:   ; Locked routes (31 maximum)
/*   ; Begin comment block
MAXFRAME, Frack and PACLEN if stated override the port defaults.
INP3Enable = 1 enables, 0 or null disable.  The INP3 (internode protocol)
implementation in BPQ32 is experimental.  See additional details in bpqaxip.cfg.
Example of a route statement using INP3:
Locked routes tend to be overused and should not be set unless truly needed.
*/   ; End comment block
; No routes are specified, as they would be meaningless for this configuration.
***   ; Denotes end of locked routes
You can define additional Node commands that are available to your users. These may connect to
applications running on you computer, or be aliases or 'shortcuts' to other node commands.
For example you can define the command "BBS". This can either be set up to connect to a BBS running
on your computer, or to be an alias for a command that connects to a BBS on another system.
You can set up a callsign that if connected to will select the command, and if required cause the
call to be added to your NODES list.
The format is:
APPLICATION n,CMD,New Command,Call,Alias, Quality
n Application Number. You can define up to 32.
CMD The command the user types
New Command (optional) The Node command to be run
Call (optional) The call which directly invokes CMD
Alias and Quality (optional) If specified, causes an entry for Call and Alias to be added to your
NODES table with the specified Quality
For example:
Associated with each Application number is an applications mask. Most BPQ32 applications can be configured to
use any Application. An exception is AR-Cluster using the OCX interface, which must be Appl 1. Normally an Application Mask is configured in the application, rather than an Application Number. The following table gives
the Application Mask values:
  Appl: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, etc
  Decimal Mask: 1,2,4,8,16,32,64,128, etc
  Hexadecimal Mask: 0x1,0x2,0x4,0x8,0x10,0x20,0x40,0x80, etc

; In this example no applications are supported.


4) Run FLDIGI and follow the instructions for general configuration.  Then configure FLDIGI as shown  Make sure your squelch is set with the appropriate level in FLDIGI.  Also turn on KPSQL.

5) Fire up the BPQ32 software and type "ATTACH 5" and return, then "C AE5ME-15" and return from the switch prompt.  Make sure your radio is set to 7.036 Mhz USB and the FLDIGI software is set to 1500 Hz center frequency.

You should then get a note that you are connected to the AE5ME-15 node and can type ? to see the commands.

If you have any questions, email me at .  If you want even more information, be sure to sign up for our November 22nd training session.