Friday, 19 January 2018

Configuring your FT991A for Digital and Gotcha's

This post doesn't go into to much detail about HOW-TO configure your FT-991A for digital modes as this has been covered very well by Bob's (KR4DA) HOW-TO Guide for setting up FT-991A with FLDigi

This post is about those little things that I've encountered and how to I've corrected or overcome them

Features I'm encountered while using Digital Modes and how I addressed them.
Feature / IssuerDescription / Resolution
PTT works, but no Audio via FLdigiI was a little stumped with this one, as all my digital mode applications (ie WSTJ-X, WSPR, MRP40, MMSSTV) would key-up and audio come via the radio fine (ie tune) except for FLDigi (which mind you had been working previously) . After reviewing the settings under MENU I found the little bugger. I'd for some reason recently change item "070 - DATA IN SELECT" to "MIC". When I changed it back to "REAR" all audio started working again via FLDigi.

Note: This post will continue to grow as and when I encounter more of these little gems :) 73 De VK4TMZ

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Allowing Multiple Applications To Control your Rig(s) - Dealing with "Exclusive Serial Port Locking"

Until yesterday, when I finally decided to do a little review of my logging and rig control software, I'd been using DXLab Suite for Logging (DXKeeper), Rig Control (DXLab Commander).  WSJT-X was able to natively talk to "DXLab Commander" and setting up virtual "cat" under DxLab Commander  N1MM was able to also access VFO etc.  FLDigi was able to access DXCommander via a nice little bridging tool developed by N2AMG called "Fldigi-DxLabs Gateway". But it always annoyed me that I was not able to run RCForb (server) while DXCommander was running due to the serial port being exclusively locked.

So I remembered a little tools called "Omnirig" which I installed and quickly had WSTJ-X configured as it could natively integrate with it.  Next looking round the web for a new Logging application I came across "Log4OM" which also natively integrates with Omnirig and its a slick and easy to use UI as well as all the external logging (eSQL,, LoTW, ClubBook, HamQTH, etc).  As a bonus now that Omnirig was running a contest logging software I use "VK Contest Logger - VKCL" was able to also integrate with it too!.  However I was to quickly learn N1MM did not integrate with Omnirig nor did many of my other applications (PC-ALE, RCForb, MRP40 (CW RX/TX) etc) so back to square one kinda!.

So a little more googling, I saw reference to using to a little gem off a tool by Eterlogic called VSPE which offers "virtual serial port splitting".  The tool is free to download, and use but you will be reminded to purchase a "64-bit License" which I highly recommend for such a great little tool.

This tool appears to take care of the "exclusive serial port locking" by creating a "virtual serial port split" from the source serial port.

  • Note: The only hassle I had is that RCForb needs to be started first, after that any and all applications work running at the same. I've not dug any further as to why RCForb has requires this but hey there's a work around.

Here is overview of my serial port topology / application integration:

Here is my VSPE config - "vpse_ft991a_virtual_split.vspe" which has both my FT-991A's serial ports (Enhanced / Standard) configured as "Virtual split".  Your ports may and will mostly differ but, the port settings will most likely be the same......

That's All Folks!   I hope this post helps you out to get all your applications that all want to talk and control the rigs working in harmony :)

Mark (de VK4TMZ)

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Getting Your RTLSDR Online Using OpenWebRx

Over the Christmas break a few like minded folk including myself monitor and share each others HF/VHF comms of the Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race (S2H) via the internet.  This year we were missing someone to help cover the NSW south / mid coast. Searching the web I stumbled onto "SDR.HU" which has a heap of online KiwiSDRs plus a few RTLSDR online and free to access.  (Note: the KiwiSDR project has forked code from a project known as "OpenWebRx").

The KiwiSDRs allows a bandwidth of 30MHz which covers the HF spectrum and allow (depending on processing power) up to 4 concurrent users to each have a virtual RX and tune to any frequency within the 30MHz.  This is a fantastic feature as most other online receivers  either only a single user can tune the spectrum (ie GlobalTuners), or most of the Multi user WebSDR ones are fixed to a set of bands usually the Ham bands which means does not cover the 4483 / 6516 kHz which are the frequencies used during the S2H yacht race.

On the SDR.HU site there was about 6 online KiwiSDR's online located in (SA, VIC, NSW and TAS).  Fortunately 2 of the Kiwi had fairly good antennas connected and in good locations:

  1. SDRTAS - Launceston, Tasmania
  2. Tecsun Radios Australia - Goulburn NSW
The Tecsun KiwiSDR was fantastic and we had great coverage of the start of the race until the yachts got near Bass Strait / Tasmania were the Tasman KiwiSDR and our groups coverage took over.

For Christmas Santa had brought me a SDRPlay RSP2Pro and I loved the idea of this this online, so I took a look at what was involved and had it online fairly quickly.  This post is not about the SDRPlay and I'll cover that in another post.  This post is about getting your RTLSDR online.  You do not need to register it under SDR.HU if you wish to have it private, but why not! the more the merrier right!

Even thought you the bandwidth of the  RTLSDR is around 2.048 MHz (without too much stress on CPU or loss of quality) and  if like me you have more than one it can put each one online and provide coverage of  a single large or even multiple band segments.

There are many useful HOW-TOs out there that can get you quickly up and running such as:

  1. Getting RTLSDR and OpenWebRx installed and running.
  2. Compile and installign SoapySDR and SoapyRTLSDR libraries and utilities.
  3. Compile and install RX_Tools and SoapySDR 

From the above sources of HOW-TOs I've put together a single script / set of commands that is needed to install the (Development Tools, OpenWebRx, Rx_Tools, SoapySDr, SoapRTLSDR etc)

Download - ""

Testing RTLSDR device

Once you have installed the necessary libraries etc, you can now plug in your RTLSDR(s) .  The following are example commands to (find / probe) the RTLSDR dongles.

rtl_test -t

SoapySDRUtil --probe

SoapySDRUtil --find

If you do not successfully see your RTLSDR listed, then please go back over the HOW-TOs and my script to see where the error may have occurred or step omitted and apply corrective actions.

Setting up OpenWebRx

If you have used my install script there is a folder "~/sdr/openwebrx" which contains the OpenWebRX project.  You can copy / clone and rename as many of these folders as you need for each RTLSDR you wish to run.

I will not be going into any detail about each of the config items but I have included two versions of the config files that I use when running my 2 RTLSDRs on the same PC.

  1. NooElec (see photo) - (configured to Monitor UHF Satellite and Repeater Output segments 436.9 - 439 MHz) 
  2. UV_HF (see photo) - (Configured to Monitor VHF Marine Simplex 156-158 MHz)
(FYI: I actually originally wanted to monitor the whole UHF Ham Satellite and Repeater Ouput 435 - 439 MHz but the UV_HF seems a little deaf on UHF even with the RF gain set to 49.6, note to self get another SDR to replace the UV_HF. On another note and not to be greedy, but another RTLSDR (or SDRPlay) would nice to monitor the Maritime Repeater Output between 160-162 MHz)

What I will make note of is that in both config files the "rtl_sdr" and "rx_sdr" config sections are valid and working.  I do have them currently on "rx_sdr" as I like it better because unlike the "rtl_sdr" were I can only specific a device number via the "-d" option, the "rx_sdr" allows you to specify a query so in my case its the "serial number".  This means if I unplug one of the devices the correct devices will be found and the issue of the ordering device number changing does not come into play.

Helpful hint: Tor working out what waterfall max/min level values to use go via your browser hit the button to auto-adjust the via the browser debugger looks at the values stored in "waterfall_min_level" and "waterfall_max_level" and update your config file accordingly.

That's all folks!! Hope the above get you online and sharing your RTLSDRs!
Mark (VK4TMZ)