K3S and digital modes?

Discussion in 'OS: Mac OS' started by K6FOD, May 22, 2019.

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  1. K6FOD

    K6FOD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    After a year of using an Icom 7300 with my Macs, I recently took delivery of an Elecraft K3S which I expect to become my main rig. After a few days of getting set up, things are going reasonably well but I have a few issues I'm still ironing out. It would be great to make contact with other K3/K3S owners here who are also Mac users in order to be able to get some feedback.

    Here are my issues right now:

    1) WSJT-X is functioning well with the K3S attached to a MacBook Pro by a single USB cable for both CAT control and audio transfer via the USB Codec. It works pretty much as my 7300 did, with WSJT-X controlling the radio; when I click in WSJT-X to log a QSO, it goes via JTBridge to MacLoggerDX and is uploaded instantly to LoTW, ClubLog, eQSL and QRZ.com.

    One issue I've noticed is with received signal level. On the 7300, I could dial the RF Gain knob up and down to set the vertical signal level bar at the lower left of the WSJT-X window to an appropriate level in the green zone based on band conditions, strength of the DX signal I'm chasing, etc. With the K3S, apparently it's normal to leave the RF Gain knob fully clockwise all the time. Even there, the signal level meter in WSJT-X never gets higher than about 60 dB. That's okay for many sessions, but sometimes if a DX signal is weak and there isn't too much else on the band, I might want to crank it up to, say, 80 dB on the edge of the green-red zones.

    On the K3S, I've experimented with going into Config and increasing the setting for Line Out from its default of 10 as high as its upper limit of 100. However, that doesn't generally result in a dramatic increase in the level on the bar in WSJT-X. To the best of my knowledge there are no settings to adjust in the Mac's audio system or within WSJT-X. So, are there any other settings on the K3S that can cause a bigger change in the audio level sent to WSJT-X? What are typical values to use for Line Out?

    2) I don't have as much experience with FLdigi as with WSJT-X, but it seems as though in FLdigi the received audio level is an even bigger issue. Maybe it's due to band conditions, but when I've looked on 14.070 or 7.070 at seemingly appropriate times, I'm just seeing nothing. Can any FLdigi users recommend settings to adjust to bring up the audio in?

    3) I'm still getting a handle on how the K3S deals with power level out. On the 7300, there was a horizontal meter bar that showed what seemed to be actual power out at any time, taking into account other settings, SWR, etc. On the K3S, there's a PWR knob to turn to select a numeric value for desired watts out, and I'm aware that with Elecraft radios the goal is to set the ALC on transmit to show 4 1/2 bars. But if I have the K3S's PRW knob set to, say, 60w, does that mean I can actually expect 60w to be sent to the antenna? How does the vertical power slider in WSJT-X, or the Tx level attenuator (dB) setting in FLdigi, affect that? Short of connecting a wattmeter between the rig and antenna, is there a way to get a good approximation of the actual power out to the antenna?

    Thanks for any possible feedback on these questions.
     
  2. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I used to own a K3, and it is pretty similar to the K3S, so I'll endeavor to answer your more general questions while leaving the K3S specific ones to someone else.


    As I recall on my K3, a setting of around 10 was plenty, but that was using the Line Out connection to the Mac, not the USB one. The K3S manual says that the Line Out audio setting also affects the USB audio which also carries Line Out audio, so what you are doing in adjusting the audio should make a difference. I'm not sure why it isn't really.

    The normal sound preferences in macOS won't allow you to adjust the input level. You might try the MIDI Settings in the Utilities applications folder, but I also think there isn't anything there to adjust either. I can't be certain as I'm not in front of my Mac right now, so I'm working for memory.


    Try adjusting your waterfall signal range on the bottom toolbar to show 70 or 80dB rather than the 60 I believe it normally shows. Also, make sure you have the correct audio selected. All that being said, I see the same thing on my Mac with my 890S and USB audio: Fldigi audio in just seems lower than it does on WSJT-X, but I also suspect that is simply a matter of the two different programs.


    Yes, if you set the power to 60w, and you are seeing 4 bars of ALC, you should expect 60w out of the rig into a dummy load. Of course, any antenna issues may impact that a bit, but generally the power out is what you should expect to see leave the rig. That was one of the things I loved about the K3: set the audio drive level once, and then simply spin the PWR knob to change power out. The power adjustments in Fldigi and WSJT-X affect your audio drive into the rig, which can affect the level of ALC action you see. Once you have them set for your 4-5 bars of ALC action on the K3S, you should never need to touch those. Simply dial down or up the power on the K3S using the PWR knob and you'll be running along quite smoothly.

    I hope that at least some of this helps.
     
  3. K6FOD

    K6FOD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks, I appreciate the help.

    In FLdigi, besides the "Signal range" window, is there a number you generally go with for the "Upper signal level (dB)" window just to its left?

    Also, could you tell me anything about how you have the settings at the far lower right of the FLdigi screen configured? For example, is SQL enabled or not, is PSM enabled if this button is in the version you use, how high do you have the vertical slider at far right, etc.

    With it now late evening here on the U.S. west coast, I was able to make sufficient adjustments to see one op calling CQ in PSK31 on 7070 kHz. The waterfall area still seemed quite dark, though. It appeared to be a Central American call sign, and I could only make out about a third of the text. If I go into the K3S's Config menu and turn the Line Out value up considerably, a lot of speckling appears in the waterfall background, but I assume this is really noise.
     
  4. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    My Upper signal level is set for -15dB, with a range of 80. I usually run with the SQL (Squelch) turned off. The slider on the right doesn't matter as that is the squelch level setting, so if it is off it isn't needed. I don't have PSM in the lower right corner because I don't use that feature.

    Regarding the ability to copy and make out only about a third of the text, that sounds like the squelch was set too high. Also, you can change the waterfall palette to perhaps show a bit more activity. I use Green1.pal and it looks much better in my opinion than the default palette.


    And going back to my first post, in the Audio MIDI Setting utility, it does not seem like you can amplify the audio input any more than it is already set for.
     
  5. K6FOD

    K6FOD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks. I just changed my FLdigi settings to the ones you mention, including changing the waterfall to the green1 palette. At the moment it's late morning here, 14070 looks very quiet, but just for test purposes I tuned FLdigi and the rig to 14074. On the K3S's panadapter I can clearly see a lot of quite strong FT8 signals. In FLdigi I don't expect them to be decoded, but I ought to be able to see the signals in the waterfall. If I turn up the K3S Line Out to maximum, the entire FLdigi waterfall begins to appear speckled, which indicates to me that the right audio device is chosen in FLdigi and that some audio is getting to FLdigi. However, I'm just not seeing any signals at all. So I'm still baffled at this point.

    I just noticed one other odd item. There is one faint vertical line in the waterfall at an offset of about 850 Hz -- it's not a signal, it's a continuous vertical line like an EMI artifact. When I change the frequency in FLdigi (say, from 14070 to 14074 and back), that line should move, but it doesn't.

    I have a feeling there's some other obvious and simple setting I don't have right in FLdigi.
     
  6. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Which sound device do you have selected in Fldigi? You say that the display "indicates to me that the right audio device is chosen in Fldigi," but have you double checked. I've had occasions in the past where I selected a device in Fldigi and then it got removed when I removed a USB cable or changed something. Next thing you know, it is picking up noise through the mic or something else other than the USB Audio CODEC. So start there.

    Sounds to me like you might have an audio artifact created in the selection of an incorrect audio device.
     
  7. K6FOD

    K6FOD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In Fldigi 4.1.01, I go to Configure > Sound Card > Audio, and under Capture the selection is "USB Audio CODEC." Next to it, a box for PortAudio is checked (and, in fact, cannot be unchecked).

    The other options for Capture are Built-In Microph, eqMac2, Digital Modes Sound Siphon, and Sound Siphon. With the exception of the built-in mike, these refer to other audio software I have installed.

    I'll keep poking at it further. If I can't make any headway, I'll probably attach an external soundcard-type device and see if that works more smoothly for audio transfer than the USB codec does.
     
  8. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Ok, that's correct. I'm not sure what's going on with the sound in Fldigi then.
     
  9. K6FOD

    K6FOD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think tomorrow I'll hook up an external sound card-type device. Since the bands are quiet I'll probably run tests with an input signal from a waveform generator.
     
    K3DCW likes this.
  10. K7GQ

    K7GQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Do you think it might be an issue with the factory implementation of the USB CODEC? I have a upgraded K3 (not the S) with mini jacks on the rear panel which provides more than sufficient audio.
     

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