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I must be doing something wrong. . .

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by WA9FZB, Dec 31, 2020.

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  1. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    OK, so I am finally taking the plunge into FT8. Rig is a TS-590S, using a Dell laptop with WSJT-X ver. 2.2.2 loaded. All went well at first, because I already had CAT set up on the rig for contesting, etc. so communication to the rig was solid.

    I installed WSJT-X and got through the setup. I installed a time utility to synch my computer clock with NIST. After multiple iterations of some of the settings for sound card and rig, I got things so they look like they work. I can decode incoming traffic all the time. The problem comes when I try to respond to a CQ. I answer, but I haven't gotten any responses. When I look in PSKReporter, though, I get heard all over the world.

    Being so new to digital modes, I really don't know where to start looking. The RF side of the rig seems to work fine, other than perhaps running too much output power and having ear-shattering side tone volume on transmit. Where else should I be looking to diagnose my lack of responses from stations called? Am I doing something wrong in how I use WSJT? Timing? Frequency? (WSJT sets the standard calling frequencies, I pick an offset.)

    I'm so new to digital that you cannot offend me by whatever you suggest, so please fire away!
     
  2. AJ4WC

    AJ4WC Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you're showing up on PSK Reporter that usually means other stations are able to decode your signal. However, PSK Reporter will sometimes display other stations that can't really hear you. Set your display options on PSK Reporter to show "snr." This should indicate if you're really getting out. If you see your snr on another station, they really heard you. Unfortunately, the snr function doesn't always work on PSK Reporter.

    I'm concerned that you're hearing your transmit audio. It sounds like you have the speakers selected for TX audio instead of the radio. Do you have indications of RF transmit power on your wattmeter or tuner? If not, your audio is going to the wrong device - speakers instead of the radio. I think this is the most likely issue based on your description.
     
  3. G0JUR

    G0JUR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Also make sure your tx (little red marker on waterfall is on a clear spot if you have tx/rx locked and reply on the staions freq your probably getting swamped by others calling at same time, operate split untick the little ticky box that laocks tx/rx
     
  4. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I could be missing something but don't know what CAT has to do with digital modes. Think of digital modes as an alternative to your microphone. The data may not go to the actual mic connection I didn't check but would guess the 590 has some sort of data jack in the rear which should be explained in the manual. I can't tell what type of interface you are using i.e. SignaLink. On many of the computer-based digital modes, it's critical that your computer clock be very accurate. There are a few ways you can achieve this either via the web or by an external USB GPS receiver.

    The other issue would be in the software selection of the correct sound card if you are using an external device. Have had difficulty in the past with this step.
     
  5. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, focusing on domestic reports on PSKReporter, with snr displayed, I see dozens of reports across the country with signal to noise ratios from -20dB all the way to +15dB, so I would have to think that the signal is out there and is readable to at least some. I may not have picked a (very) clear spot on the waterfall - beginner's haste, I guess. (And, that waterfall is not too large on my 14-inch notebook screen.)

    The reason I am hearing my TX audio is because I had the TX Monitor function turned "on" to ensure that the audio was, in fact, there. I could turn it down or off, but dumb me - just sat there in sensory overload. (hi, hi)

    The reason I mentioned that CAT was operable was to also indicate that the rig was communicating with WSJT and that the USB connection was valid.

    I probably do have some (a lot?) fine tuning to do on the rig settings, as I am sure I was transmitting with more RF out than needed. Also need to check ALC reading, as TX audio level may be set too high.

    I guess I should look into operator profiles to see if it makes sense to dedicate one of the two to digital and the other to CW/SSB.

    It would not surprise me at all to learn that my major problem is, as we called it in the Signal Corps, OPM -- Operator Malfunction. I know that if I sat down at another ham's working rig and watched him operate for a half hour, I would learn a lot -- maybe even enough to become successful. These days, even with the internet, there is a lot more trial and error without those good examples to see.
     
  6. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm back. . . and The Beast lives!

    Nothing super, just an N1 station, but proof of function, nonetheless! I'm chuffed, as our friends in the UK say. With all of 25 watts, no less.

    So, now I go on to follow the learning path. I need to better understand how to identify stations that are likely to hear me, and how best to choose my transmit frequency, etc. and maybe get used to the operating rhythm of this new mode and the new computer application.

    Progress! And, I'm one of those "old guys" who've been a ham for over 50 years and never ventured into the digital modes until today.

    Thanks for the ideas and for the moral support, everyone!
     
  7. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just as a rule of thumb - don't try responding to stations that are below about -10. They may or may not hear you. Over time you will see what works for you and your antenna on a given band.
    And keep that ALC down! You can compress your signal so badly that many will not be able to decode it.
    GL!
     
  8. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Once you get everything set up, check your ALC. It should be minimal. Set your AGC to fast or max. If you see a lot of S meter reading, turn off the preamp or even turn on the ATT if you have one. You want to see minimal S meter readings. Do not turn off your AGC like the manual says but you might try, my TS2000 won't work FT8 with AGC off. I set WSJT-X up so you double click on a CQ station and call him on his frequency. If the band is not busy, lots of empty spaces, then you can select a place where you can park and set the TX to 'hold'. Once you finish a qso, make sure to change your frequency unless people are calling you. Lots of times I call guys that have finished with a RR73 and call them on another TX freq you can type in the TX freq box. That way you are not transmitting over lots of other guys calling the other guy. Make sure you have auto sequence checked. If calling CQ, choose an empty spot. Do not overdrive the TX, watch your ALC TX control. Good luck. HNY.
     

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