So I’ve just got my digital mode setup working again. It seems that somewhere, somehow, a driver for the SignaLink USB decided to stop working, and at best I got no signal on transmit and a very very quiet one on receive. Now my mind’s back in radio mode, I realise there’s a ton of stuff I’ve bought and found to be of variable utility. This is the good stuff:
Rigblaster Pro: this audio interface is far larger and far more expensive than it needs to be, but I got it used for a good price. Coupled with a $3 (!) USB sound card, it makes a sensitive and controllable sound device. I think I now prefer serial PTT-controlled audio interfaces to the SignaLink’s vox-style “Make a noise and I’ll transmit it” mode. It means you won’t accidentally tx system noises. That’s worth having another USB cable lurking about.
LDG autotuner: because of the wild and pointless diversity in radio interfacing, LDG makes a bunch of autotuners for specific radio models. Mine just works, and will tune my mini-G5RV from 10 to 80(ish) metres.
Big external meter: a cheap LDG meter is way better than the fiddly bar graph on the front of my FT-857D. I have it set up for signal on receive, and perhaps slightly unusually, AGC on transmit. Since I have a tuner and run almost entirely digital modes, it’s important that my signal doesn’t distort, so seeing AGC and being able to tweak it is important.
Heil Pro-Micro headset: this is comfy, and keeps the family sane. I have the footswitch too, which really helps to run nets.
Quarter-wave dual-bander HT antenna: The rubber ducks that all my HTs have are a bit rubbish. A simple replacement antenna allows me to talk through fairly distant repeaters from my sheltered back garden.
WinKeyer USB: I’m just starting morse. The WinKeyer kit was so well put together it was a delight to build, and seems to be an utterly sound keyer.
Fldigi: the digital mode program. Reliable, full-featured and free. It basically runs all the time on my shack computer.
Chirp: I can program all my HTs and my HF rig with this. It’s truly great, and miles better than proprietary programming software.
PSKReporter: a few minutes after calling CQ, I can see where in the world I’ve been heard. This automatic reverse-beaconing site is magic, and I’m amazed that a lot of digital users don’t even know it’s there.
My one annoyance about having a Linux-based shack is that ham radio is still very stuck in using serial ports. None of my computers have hard-wired RS232 ports, so I rely on USB serial adapters. These mostly work well, but Linux has a habit of shuffling the allocations around, so what was /dev/ttyUSB0 controlling your rig today might be ttyUSB1 tomorrow. You can get around this (if the software supports it) buy using long serial device names from /dev/serial/by-id/, which don’t change. They don’t change, that is, unless you have two Prolific serial interfaces that don’t have serial numbers set, so I can only have one attached at a time. Annoying.
Strange to think that I’m on the east coast, but actually further west than home in Toronto. That whole curving away to the Gulf of Mexico thing will get you if you’re not careful.
The strange thing is, if you take my current longitude, and the latitude of our house, you get a point near Rte 16 near Brussels, ON that I’ve been through on the way back from the wind farm. That’s like, y’know, stuff, and some like other stuff too, whoah!
Switched ISPs from Sympatico to Teksavvy today. Couldn’t keep paying Bell $46 a month for something I could get for less elsewhere. I’m not (yet?) getting faster service, but the Speedtouch modem has all the admin stuff I’d need.
Must remember to copy over my old Sympatico web pages …
I used to be an avid reader of Adbusters, but now I’m letting my subscription slip. It used to be quite amusing, but it’s taken itself far too seriously for the last couple of years. When the stuff about subvertising went, so did my interest.
Incongruous sign on the Zen Buddhist temple near Spadina on College: Rummage Sale. I suppose you could bring stuff, and not buy anything. What would the folks from the temple be selling? I wonder how much this moment, slightly used goes for?