Packet (user) problems

March 30, 2014

There was really no packet in my area other than APRS. None. Nada. Crickets. So I was really interested when a local ham threw up a WinLink gateway that allows you to send and receive internet email over radio. Awesome! (Of course, it’s low speed and governed by ham rules.. no commercial traffic, etc. But it’s a great fallback method of email.)

The traffic on the system is really low. Actually, he recently told me I’m the only one who’s used it in.. what?.. a year? Even then, I don’t use it much. I’ll pull it up every month or so to make a connection and make sure everything’s still working. Unfortunately, the WinLink client doesn’t run under OSX so I have to pull up Windows and.. well.. that’s just a nuisance. So I don’t do it often.

At some point, I built a new Windows virtual machine and reinstalled WinLink. Went thru the settings. Fired up the client. No connection. What? Started in on troubleshooting, which led me to turning up the handheld so I could hear my tones going out. Not sure what it was but it sounded like a wounded camel. Oh that’s not good. I reset the PK-232. I swapped cables. I tried a different radio. Ugh.. clearly my old and trusted PK-232 has gone to it’s eternal resting place.

As much as I love my PK-232, I can’t afford a new one and, let’s face it, most of those modes can be done in software now. But I gotta have my packet. And, yes, I know that too can be done in software but the last time I tried it.. well.. I hated it and it never really worked for me. And, as I find myself saying more and more, “ain’ nobody got time for that”. So, I ordered a new PK-96, which also gives me 9600 baud packet.. not that anyone has it around here. But I’ll be ready.

My modem came in and I got it hooked up. Of course, you KNOW the 12v plug was backwards from the PK-232 but I got that fixed and the little beauty fired up. Had some problems getting the serial connection going and, in the process, went into the settings on the WinLink client.

You know that moment when you realize you did something stupid?

My serial connection to the PK-232 was at 9600 baud. In the process of reinstalling it, I had selected 9600 baud. What I DIDN’T realize is that I had set the WinLink client so the packet would be 9600 baud. The PK-232 doesn’t support that. (Not even the new one, which I’m not sure I understand).

Are you telling me that….? I swapped the new PK-96 back out and put the PK-232 in. Set the packet speed for 2400. Hit the start button and the CON(nected) lights up on the PK-232. Everything works fine. <sigh> What an idiot.

Well.. I’ve wanted to buy another packet modem so I can do some coding and testing. And, it’s nice to have 9600 available. I just couldn’t justify spending the money. Problem solved. The user problem? I suspect I’ll see that one crop up again.

Chris  AK4KZ

cocoaModem and MacLoggerDX

November 3, 2011

I’m working on moving from running Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) on Windows in a VM Fusion session.. to using native Mac OSX apps. I found that MacLoggerDX from Dog Park Software is the absolute bomb. It’s exactly what I want for workflow and has all the bells and whistles to keep me happy for a long time.

For digital modes, I’m currently using cocoaModem. It makes me happy and is easy to use.

Running HRD, I’m spoiled by the integration built into it. You make a digital QSO and.. boom.. you can log it directly to the logger. My two super cool Mac programs really don’t do that.. unless… you use Applescript. There were a couple scripts around but I had problems with them or they didn’t do what I wanted. So I wrote my own. To make a long story short, it works good and I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

Here’s the script if anyone wants to use it or add to it. Paste this into your Apple Script Editor, under Utilities, compile and save it out. (You cannot use a text editor). If you go into Preference in cocoaModem.. under Applescript / Log QSO, you can point to your saved script. This’ll activate the Log button on the bottom of the cocoaModem screen.

(Note: It’s best to have MacLoggerDX running and connected to your radio before you log.)

-- Log a QSO from cocoaModem to MacLoggerDX
-- Chris Lonsberry / AK4KZ
-- 11/03/2011 v1.0
-- This is a revised cocoaModem to MacDXLogger routine. I had problems
-- with the others. If you modify this and add something cool, please
-- let me know so I can use them too.
-- Notes:
-- I'm not pulling the operator name over because I'm relying on MLDX
-- to pull it.
-- I'm also not pulling modem info for CW. USB or LSB is fine. Nor am I
-- pulling mode for Sitor or stuff I won't be making a contact in.
-- I only pick up transceiver 1. I don't really use the second. If you
-- want to do so, you'll have to add the code.

tell application "cocoaModem 2.0"
	set cocoaModemCall to qsoCall
	set cocoaModemName to modemName
	if cocoaModemName is "psk modem" then
		set cocoaMode to modulation of transceiver 1 of psk modem \
as text else if cocoaModemName is "mfsk modem" then set cocoaMode to modulation of transceiver 1 of mfsk \
modem as text else if cocoaModemName is "hellschreiber modem" then set cocoaMode to modulation of transceiver 1 of \
hellschreiber modem as text end if end tell tell application "MacLoggerDX" activate -- Get the initial mode to restore it copy mode to FirstMode lookup cocoaModemCall delay (1) -- Parse thru the modem and modulation strings to -- determine what to stuff into MLDX log. It ain' -- pretty.. but it works fine. if cocoaModemName is "hellschreiber modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " HELL" else if cocoaModemName = "rtty modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " RTTY" else if cocoaModemName = "wideband rtty modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " RTTY" else if cocoaModemName is "dual rtty modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " RTTY" -- This is required because the other PSK lines don't -- parse right. It doesn't break.. but it doesn't work. -- Help would be appreciated. else if cocoaModemName is "psk modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK31" -- else if cocoaMode is "bpsk31" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK31" else if cocoaMode is "qpsk31" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK31" else if cocoaMode is "bpsk63" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK63" else if cocoaMode is "qpsk63" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK63" else if cocoaMode is "bpsk125" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK125" else if cocoaMode is "qpsk125" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " PSK125" else if cocoaModemName is "mfsk modem" then setModeMapping FirstMode & " MFSK16" end if -- Log the call log -- Set the mode back to the original. I did this so that I could -- shut down cocoaModem and log more entries with the log setup -- for th right mode.. USB, LSB, etc. setModeMapping FirstMode & " " & FirstMode end tell

A little frustrated

June 1, 2011

I’m a little frustrated with digital comms. With my Signalink USB and HRD, I can decode till the cows come home. Last week, I actually tried to transmit and make some contact. Ugh. I tried SSTV since that’s a simple contact. Send the picture.. done. Yeah.. no. Keying up the transmitter. No audio. Really? Okay.. let’s troubleshoot. Nothing. Go back thru the Signalink setup. Nah. How about other modes? Well.. I finally got CW sending tones. But I have no idea if the levels are right or if I’m splattering all over the planet. PSK31.. well, it’s sending something. Sounds more like the aforementioned cows being tortured. Still no SSTV. RTTY.. I didn’t even try yet. Suddenly, my old PK-232 is looking pretty sexy. Have to get the cable to go to the new radio though. AND.. while I have no VHF packet (other than APRS) in my area.. I found some HF packet. That’s appealing.

Digital Modes

April 30, 2011

I had little success in using soundcard programs under either a Windows VM or Linux VM to decode digital modes into HRM… or any other of those programs. I assumed that maybe the soundcard drivers for VM machines were just not up to snuff. I can’t plug into my iBook because its old and has no audio in jack. So.. I bit the bullet and ordered a Signalink USB. That should solve my VM problem AND let me run into my iBook. It also gets me closer to being completely portable since it gets power from the USB and doesn’t require a power adapter. When I’m currently doing RTTY, packet (including APRS), Amtor or CW, I run it into my PK-232. LOVE that box. But it takes an adapter. And those are almost the limit of the modes it does.

Anyway.. as a last ditch effort, I went back and tried feeding audio into my VM again. Hey.. whaddya know? It’s working. I’ve been decoding PSK and RTTY. I picked up some JT-65, which is an interesting mode but not for me. I also picked up some Olivia. Huh. Interesting. I wanted to go find some SSTV too. That’d be very cool but.. not this time around. I’m real impressed with PSK though. No wonder it’s popular.

Of course, I’m limited to receiving as my HT won’t transmit on those bands. But.. someday soon…. that Icom IC-7000 is calling me. Oh yeah.