Trying to figure out this computer/radio thing. LOL

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by N4FFL, Feb 21, 2018.

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  1. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey all,

    If someone could give me some general guidance to this, I would appreciate it. As you can tell, I'm new to amateur radio. I just passed my Tech & General license, but there are still some things I don't quite understand. I have a Kenwood TS-2000 transceiver and am looking to do mainly DX. I don't know CW as of yet (I'm going to work on learning), however, I was wondering if there is a way to connect a computer (I have a Mac, but can run Win10 on it too) to send and receive CW (on the CW parts of the band, of course)?

    It seems to me like their should be a way, but I'm not sure. I also saw a site or info on "Winkeyer", but nothing ever said exactly how to connect the computer up to the transceiver to do this.

    As a side note, I do have a serial cable to connect my Mac to my transceiver (USB to female DB9), so is that all I would need to send CW via a computer to the transceiver and receive it back?

    I'm also considering getting MacLoggerDX as I was hoping for something to log my DX QSOs on and it also says that it is compatible with Winkeyer and I know there is a MacWinKeyer program out there as well, but I just want to make sure that would be all I need or do I have to have some other interface between the computer and the transceiver to send and receive CW through the Mac?

    Any help would be appreciated!
    Mat
     
  2. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are many ways to send CW using a computer. I've done it using an Arduino and the K3NG keyer software, but there are other choices.

    It is much harder to find a good way to recieve CW via computer. There are programs that make an attempt, and some do pretty well with strong signals, low noise, and perfect code. But they fall apart when attempting to decode the more typical code heard on the air.
     
    N4FFL likes this.
  3. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page

    AG6QR - Thanks for the info. Well I guess I’m kinda stuck then. I just don’t know if I would be able to receive and decode fast enough for normal operation and I wouldn’t want to upset anyone cuz I’m super slow. LOL!

    Now is FT8 the same type of thing? Is that also running CW or is that different?
     
  4. W3JJW

    W3JJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    FT8 is nothing like CW. You have lots of reading to do.

    CW is really going to be hard to do without learning to at least hear it. I am at the stage where I can decode by ear at about the same success rate as my Elad Duo. But it's decoder (as was mentioned above) needs a pretty clean signal (which the Elad can very easily provide) to get everything right. So it's good if you can hear those missed signals despite the imperfect decoder.

    I am now focused on sending CW, and this has started to really make a difference also in my ear.

    Therefore, from my perspective, if you are going to go CW...you will enjoy it so much more if you take the time and invest the energy into learning to hear it.

    Good luck getting on the air!

    jay
     
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  5. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you're young enough and motivated, you can learn code in probably 6 weeks to a half year, depending on your motivation. When I learned at about 16 years old, I spent my whole day sending code in my mind for everything I saw that had words. Receiving was a bit more difficult, but it can be done, it's just like learning to type. It becomes second nature.

    There are no good CW decoding tools out there. The human mind is much better at it than computers and sound cards. We have a good filter in our brain. You'd do much better learning code than depending on a computer or 'Winkey' device. But they can be good learning tools, if somewhat erratic. Speed will come with time. It took me maybe 2 years to get to 20wpm., RX. As I remember the Army used to teach guys to type code in about 6 weeks on a 'mill', better known as a typewriter. And that was not even real words, just 5 letter random groups.

    Good luck and keep it up. Nothing wrong with the TS2000, I have one.
     
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  6. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Easy question first: FT8, like all the other digital modes except Morse code, was designed for machine decoding, and a computer is what you use for FT8.

    I encourage you to learn to receive CW by ear, if you are at all interested. Computer training programs make it easier to learn now than ever before. There are lots of people who will be delighted to slow down for a newcomer on the air. I've helped a number of people in my local club learn, and I myself just started learning about four years ago. It takes some persistence, but if you can dedicate 10 to 20 minutes a day to it consistently, you'll be there before you know it.

    I put up a page of learning resources at
    http://ag6qr.net/index.php/cw-learning-resources/
     
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  7. WF7A

    WF7A Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don't forget, you can always send to the other station QRS (Please send slower) or QRSS (Please send super slow); some may oblige you, some may not.
     
  8. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you all so much for the help, info and encouragement. I do appreciate it.

    As I’m waiting for my antenna to arrive, I picked up an FT-60R and put an extended Diamond antenna on it. Right now I’m using RepeaterBook and looked up some local repeaters that are near me on 2m/70cm. I have only heard tones a couple of times but of course I have no clue what was transmitted.

    I have just heard from another ham that FT8 has worked well for him so I thought I would look into it. I have read a ton up till now but always willing to learn. Problem is, where to go to learn. Seems like whenever I look up stuff it assumes you already know the process so I get lost almost first thing.

    I’m sure I can eventually pick up CW. I will have to really practice cuz I’m 45 and will be 46 on Sun. LOL! I consider myself old. LOL! But seriously, I used to work at one of the three top car auctions for years and could pick up what the auctioneers were saying while working so hopefully I can try and get used to Morse code. :)
     
  9. K2CQW

    K2CQW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I suggest ft8 or psk31. I see you have a Kenwad, can you do do cat with it? That's step 1. Big ssb contest coming up, do that.
     
  10. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page

    John - Thanks for the info. Over the past couple of days I have been looking at ft8 and how to do/run it. Right now I'm waiting for my antenna to arrive so that I can put it up and wire it in. As of right now, I'm only running off a FT-60R with a bigger Diamond HT antenna. So, the only thing I'm really doing right now is listening to my local repeaters to hear people chat. LOL!@

    But I do have some questions now regarding how to hook up and run FT8, so that will be something else I'm about to ask.
     

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