Monday, February 28, 2011

Trying out Fldigi

As previously mentioned, I am a ham nerd. Yep, I like listening to the radio. Morse code? Never touched it. That's alright though, modern technology has removed the requirement for knowing those sorts of things (almost).  For instance, using computers to handle that work for us. Of course someone had to know it to make the software originally. But collaborative works are like that, you each do your part for the greater good.

Enter Fldigi. It's, simply put, a modem that runs off a sound card. It comes with a plethora of operating modes and data rates and allows for very available methods to do digital transmissions using your radio. I will have to point out that the first night I tried this I did not do any transmissions. I just listened in. Locally I found the VOR of our airport sending out it's identifier, tuned in, and watched Fldigi do it's magic.

Some configuration was required but it was trivial. Set the mode to CW, zero'd in on the frequency, and it automagically detected the rate. Then there it was... typing slowly out... my local airport's identifier. Very, very, very cool.

Here's what I needed:
My Yaesu FT-60R
Pryme Hand Mic
Male-Male 3.5mm 3 conductor (stereo) cable
My Computer, running Ubuntu whatever - it's up to date.

Steps to achieve to this:
Turn radio on tune to frequency performing digital transmission (or CW in my case)
Plug hand mic into radio
Plug audio cable into Headphone jack of hand mic
Plug audio cable into aux line in, or Microphone of computer
Install Fldigi: sudo apt-get install fldigi; fldigi &
Go through and configure your options, ignoring PTT for the moment
You should see the waterfall (pretty blue, yellow, orange) flowing at the bottom
Move the Red-box over the band of yellow/orange which looks like morse code
Magic happens.

Presto that's it!