This past weekend saw the end of birthday week, and a chance to get some new toys at AES. It was a blast, and the wife always makes such things very special. Remember, the password is “I’m looking for a safe house.”
First, I got a Signalink USB device. Digital modes are what first interested me in Ham Radio, since the program fldigi is available via the default Debian ad Ubuntu Repositories. Any windows user whom has tried Ham Radio Deluxe should be familiar with the type of application. I stumbled on to it, and was very mesmerized at the odd chirps coming through my speaker could be actual communication. It brought back memories of working dialup bbs’s with a 2400 baud modem in the early 90’s.
The device itself is a little metal box. It has a RJ-45 port in the back which pairs with a custom cable to go to the Kenwood 440’s accessory port. It also has a USB B port, which uses a USB A to B cable to plug into the computer. No additional power is required. The back also has three 1/8″ mini audio jacks for monitoring the various audio signals (I’m going to need an audio mixer very, very soon). The front has a power button, two leds (power and push-to-talk status) and three knobs for transmit audio level, receive audio level, and push to talk delay. To the PC, it only shows up as a new USB sound card, with no extra inputs for things such as PTT via serial. The push to talk signal is instead a vox circuit, which works directly off the internal sound card output.
Once opened, you need to insert a series of jumpers into an IC socket. This apparently lets them use the same cable on a larger number very different radios by mapping the signals to the connector in a custom manner. While I didn’t take advantage of it, apparently they sell plug-in jumper modules for your radio, making this process much easier.
While this is otherwise, was suppose to follow figure 2. It appears the 440 is the only “older radio” which required the “newer radio” setup. Once corrected, this worked well.
My other new big toy was a RigRunner. This is a little panel and fuse box that uses Anderson PowerPole connectors and automotive style fuses. Mine allows for 5 outputs. Sorry for the blurry photo. It was getting late, and my camera was trying to take a photo in low light conditions. Maybe I should add a tripod to my things-to-buy list.
It came with an input cable, which is wired to the solar controller’s battery lugs. I also bought a premade cable to go from the panel to my radio. You can see both above. I then took the transformers I had for both my Kantronics TNC and my Yaesu handheld, and spiced them into the extra powerpole connectors. My shack is now 100% solar-powered.
Finally, even though I didn’t get any images. The snow has melted enough to hang antennas. Apparently I can’t get a pulley and rope up 35 feet in a tree by hand, so I instead used my coax to run a line to a Diamond 510 base station antenna. This has allowed me to run packet for the first time. Unfortunately, it seems the local bulletin board and winlink systems are down. I hope they are just down temporarily and come up soon.
And finally, I got the back of the Panda House all trimmed up. Here it is with its permanent electronics and the HD unboxed for permanent placement.
Now to just get that front end sanded and finished. It’s coming together.