Friday, March 20, 2009

Junior's first digi mode QSOs

It did not take long. I threw out a few CQs and EA4EQD (Javier) replied to may call. I received a good signal report and was told my trace on his waterfall display was clean. What a proud papa I was of Junior's first foray out into the real world and a DX QSO at that!

The next QSO was my first (and possibly the very first ever) digital QSO between the FLEX-3000 and another FlexRadio Systems' software defined radio with Carl WC0V. Carl was running a SDR-1000 using a compromise antenna. Again the signal reports were good and we were chugging right along with our rag chew when the first problem I have had with the FLEX-3000 arose.

Actually, it was not a FLEX-3000 problem, but a Vista x64 problem with Com0Com, the open source virtual serial port pair driver used to enable CAT between MixW and PowerSDR. The com port pair "froze" and stopped communicating with MixW in the middle of my transmission. Therefore, there was no PTT or frequency control and the radio hung in TX. I had to stop MixW and PowerSDR, but upon the subsequent re-start of those applications, the Com0Com com port was dead. I had seen this problem before and knew that I must reboot Vista to get it working again. To heck with that. I reverted to trusty XP and kept on truckin’.

So the PC was rebooted and XP recognized the new hardware (FLEX-3000) and went through the driver installation. You do not see this with Vista, as it is done silently and the user does not know the driver is loading for the hardware if the driver software is already loaded.

I copied the PowerSDR database from Vista to XP and fired up the FLEX-3000. All was working correctly again. I really wanted to shake out Vista x64, but the issue with third-party drivers is going to be troublesome. I have a support request in to the Com0Com developer so we’ll see where this goes.

I fired up again on PSK-31 on 20m and had QSOs with:
WA7HDZ, Larry
IW0GNC, Rino

I switched over to RTTY on 20m running high power (~90 watts) and had QSOs with:
EA5DM, Jamie
YV5JBI, Juan
P40YL, Sue
CT1BXT, Fernando
KL7J, Les

The band started to die, so I switched to 40m PSK-31 and had a nice long rag chew with WA1NGH, Jack. While in QSO with Jack, I see a familiar call, W9OL. Bill, my good buddy from the FlexRadio Reflector. We had a short QSO before the band died, but that was the first digital FLEX-5000 to FLEX-3000 digital QSO on record.

I received a few e-mails from others who were listening and all said the FLEX-3000 look great on their waterfalls and the copy was 100%. I am pleased with the initial outing. After that, I went to bed a happy and content Flexer.

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