Almost mobile

Getting ready for a trip in early July, hopefully /A from a hotel and also /P from the car. I might even manage one POTA. I am just assembling the final items such as this LiFePO4 battery, the smart charger for which has no lights or any indication of when it has finished charging which I found a bit odd. Anyway, it is on charge ready to see if everything plays properly together while still parked on the drive!

FT818 progress

Getting dangerously close to being portable… after having wired a cable for the Signalink (I have three now!) because the Yaesu cable is always out of stock everywhere and realising that the FT818 was set for RTTY as digital, not User-U, which is why it would not decode any FT8, I have all the bits ready except for a power pack. I do have a lead for the car, and a 40m whip antenna and magmount.

The antenna is 2.2m long – don’t worry it won’t be used mobile, just put on the car once parked up!

It all works with wsjt-x on the MacBook. So, I have just two things to sort out (apart from the power pack); how to stop the 6-pin mini DIN plugs falling out whenever they want, and why the MacBook only manages about 20 minutes on battery. While that is long enough for a few test QSOs I really want longer. Unfortunately it’s not actually mine so I can’t just replace the battery. Maybe an inverter, which I bet would wipe out the band… the car (electric) only has a tiny 12V battery sufficient for short periods of electronics and to ‘start’ the car, so for prolonged use the main battery needs to be on (i.e. the car switched on), and I bet that will also produce a load of hash.

A driveway experiment is called for…


I now have an FT818 as well as the FT817 so I have been rearranging stuff yet again. The FT817 was destined to be used portable but will now be a shack fixture – it has 2m and 70cm which is lacking since I sold the two transverters. The FT818 will be paired with the LDG Z817 autotunes and I will put together some wire and stuff to go portable. Both rigs came with the internal battery packs and together there is now a car charger, two mains chargers (one converted to power pole connectors) and a couple of leads that are of no use now with the power pole adapters being fitted to both rigs. There are lots of ideas floating about on using better battery packs or external batteries which I will have a think about. Given my ‘portable’ use initially is more likely to be in holiday accommodation there will be mains available.

So, having decided the FT817 is to become a fitment I have connected its Signalink to the Linux box along with the one already attached to the FT450D. Wsjt-x has this though out nicely through the ability to have multiple configurations. I’d never want to run two copies of wsjt-x for the two rigs at the same time so this works well. The documentation explains it but basically it’s a matter of selecting Configuration and cloning the current one, choosing names for each (I just used the rig names), and then selecting the second Signalink and rig details in the cloned configuration. All seems to work fine, the only thing that initially caught me out is that when one selects a configuration wsjt-x closes and reopens – I thought it had crashed.

I only run the radio at 2.5W but I do have a 2m linear to play with at some stage. It always surprises me how far 2.5W and the loft mounted big wheel will get on 2m.

This means my current configuration – digital wise anyway – is the FT817 and FT450D are connected to the Linux box via their Signalinks and CAT cables but the FT450D Signalink and CAT control can also be switched across to the Windows PC where I have Vara and VarAC installed. And a mess of wire…

Update: clearly I have overcomplicated things. Last night when changing configs wsjt-x could not sort itself out. Rebooting the PC sorted that. But this morning the FT817 was sat flashing its screen and although the FT450D was fine and I could make FT8 contacts all was not well. Unplugging everything from the FT817 and power cycling it cured the flash but then the FT450D had dropped off CAT control as well. For now I’ve set everything back as before, with the FT817 on the Mac.



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