Getting started with IC-7300, WSJT-X and the Mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Ham Radio on macOS & iOS' started by FRANKZ, Feb 13, 2018.

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    FRANKZ QRZ Member

    After years as an on and off SWL, Saturday I passed my Technician exam, and I plan to take the General in three weeks. My primary interests are DX and digital modes on HF. Other interests include QRP, kits/homebrew, learning Morse code, and VHF primarily for emergency preparedness.

    For the past six months I've been listening with an SDRplay RSP2, using software under macOS High Sierra as well as with Windows 10 and Linux in virtual boxes, all on my 2015 MacBook Pro. I've gotten WSJT-X running (as a listener) in both macOS and Windows, successfully decoding FT8 and WSPR.

    Yesterday I bought an Icom IC-7300 which I expect will be my main transceiver for some time to come. In addition, I picked up a RigExpert antenna analyzer. So now I have a few things on my to-do list in the days ahead: learn the 7300, figure out how to interface it to the Mac, get my antennas tweaked for transmitting (and/or build new ones), and study for the General test. As a starting point, I thought I'd see (once my license appears in the FCC database) if I can get FT8 and WSPR operating on 10 meters, since that is the only HF band I can use for digital as a Technician. Then after I pass the General I'd foresee moving primarily to 40 and 20 meters.

    Here are some things I'm wondering about at this point:

    -- Interfacing the Mac and 7300 seems to be a little complicated, with possibly different ways of doing it, and a lot of detail to work out. Is there an easy way to get this going?

    -- Are there other Mac programs for hams I should get and use? I see a fair number of references to MacLoggerDX -- is that a widely popular program?

    -- Are there any Windows programs lacking macOS versions that I should think about running in a virtual box?

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  2. K8AJS

    K8AJS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I can't help you with the 7300, but there are no doubt a number of people here that can.

    MacLoggerDX is a popular program, but it's pretty expensive. I've been using RumLogNG for a while, it is a good program for DX with support for eQSL and LotW. It's the right price (free) and has very good support from its author, DL2RUM.

    I haven't completely gotten away from Windows; I'm still using N1MM Logger+ in Windows 10 running in Parallels on my Mac Pro for contesting. One of these days I hope to find a good Mac contest logger; there are some out there and I haven't tried them all yet. Actually, RumLogNG has a pretty good contest module in the package but I'm not fluent enough in it yet to say I really like it. I keep lookin' and tryin'.

    Hope this helps.

    John Bastin K8AJS

    FRANKZ QRZ Member

    Thanks very much for the suggestions, I'll check them out.

    FRANKZ QRZ Member

    An update: After a couple of evenings I've been able to get WSJT-X and MacLoggerDX installed, and each controlling the 7300. Bands are fairly quiet at the moment, but I've been able to decode some FT8 on 80 meters in listening mode. Hopefully my call sign will be turning up in the FCC database soon, after which I'll see if I can get WSPR going on 10 meters (FT8 too, if anyone is out there). Also will download RumLog to check out its features.
  5. S59GI

    S59GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Frank, can you write what are your settings in wsjt-x because i simply can not make it work with my 7300. Thnx

    FRANKZ QRZ Member

    Yes, there were a few settings I had to play with to get it to go.

    First, I installed the driver from the link below on my Mac to support USB communication with the 7300:

    It's possible I also installed a driver from Icom's site, but I don't have notes on that handy. I think the first one was more critical, though.

    Then, in the WSJT-X Preferences menu, under Settings > Radio:

    Rig: Icom IC-7300

    Serial port: /dev/cu.SLAB_USBtoUART

    Baud rate: 19200

    Data bits 8, stop bit 1, handshake none

    DTR and RTS: leave blank

    PTT method: CAT

    Mode: Data/Pkt

    Split Operation: Fake It

    Then, in the WSJT-X Preferences menu, under Audio > Soundcard, Input and Output must both be set to USB Codec (or some similar wording that includes "USB" and "Codec").

    Any one of a number of these proved to be a showstopper at different times. For example, I've seen videos that suggest 115,200 as the baud rate between the 7300 and the computer, but the 7300 is set by default to 19,200 baud and I haven't figured out yet how to change it; I just set WSJT to that speed and it works fine.

    It's also really important to set the soundcard input and output. Sometimes when I turn everything on, I know the Mac is talking to the 7300 because WSJT-X can be used to change the radio's frequency, but I don't see anything in the WSJT-X waterfall despite seeing lots of signals on the 7300. I found that this happens because WSJT-X will set its soundcard input and output back to other defaults (or error out completely) if it doesn't see the USB connection right away. My order of turning everything on is always: (1) connect USB cable between Mac and 7300, (2) turn on 7300, (3) turn on Mac, (4) load WSJT-X.

    Hope this helps, and I'll be interested to see if you get it worked out.
    KK1N likes this.

    FRANKZ QRZ Member

    I forgot to mention a few settings on the 7300:

    Set mode to USB-Data

    Turn off AGC and ANL

    Once you are seeing signals in the WSJT-X waterfall, adjust the RF control on the 7300 so that the meter at lower left on the WSJT-X main panel shows signal strength somewhere around 60 or 70 -- consistently in the green range, never red. If it's going into red, turn down RF gain. This setting usually needs to be reset each session because the signal strength will vary greatly depending on band conditions and number of signals. Don't forget to set the mode (FT8, WSPR, etc) in the WSJT-X menu. There is a lot more information on how to use the various modes available in WSPR-X, and once you get the radio and Mac communicating to each other it's definitely important to give the WSJT-X user manual a thorough read.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
  8. S59GI

    S59GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Frank

    sorry for late reply... busy times. Ok, I tried your method but unfortunately my IC7300 don't want to cooperate. Instead I used the RumLogNG as interface between WSJT and IC7300 and it is working nicely. But of course not everything is running smoothly. WSJT is sending signal and keying the transceiver but after few minutes the sound just starts coming through my MacBook speaker instead of being send via USB cable... I am not sure what to do anymore because FLDigi is working without problems.
    The link for the 'RumLogNG' method:

    Thank you again for your efforts and help.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  9. WV8A

    WV8A Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a frequently reported problem going back at least a couple of years. Reported here and on fldigi and WSJTX forums on other sites as well. There appears to be an issue with USB in recent OS versions and older (pre-2016) Mac hardware. I ended up using a Thunderbolt to USB adaptor to create a USB bus independent of that on the main logic board. This completely fixed the "audio in the speaker" problem on my 2011 MacBook Pro. Also, one work around that has worked for some is, use Audio MIDI setup to set audio sample rate for the USB codecs to be 44.1kHz rather than 48kHz. While WSJTX is optimized for the higher sample rate, it will work OK at the 44.1kHz rate.

  10. S59GI

    S59GI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Chuck, you are the man :)
    The MIDI setup did it for me and WSJTX seems to work ok now. I've already started to think about changing the computer but it seems it will still be ok. Thank you again.

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