Ham radio enthusiasts enjoy operating in digital modes just as much as they enjoy talking to each other with voice or through Morse code. Setting up for the digital modes, such as PSK, only requires a computer and a device and software capable of decoding these transmissions in a matter that the computer understands.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Windows-based computer
- WinPSK software
- Yaesu FT-857
- Buxcom Rascal
- Buxcom 5DMDIN 6-pin connector cable
Unpackage the Rascal, and the 5DMDIN cable. Set the software CD included with the Rascal aside; this includes the WinPSK software necessary for PSK-31 operation.
Connect the Rascal's serial or USB cable to a free port on your Windows PC. Connect the 5DMDIN cable from the Rascal to the port marked "Data" on the rear of the FT-857.
Place the CD received with the Rascal in your CD/DVD drive and navigate to the folder for WinPSK. Find the set-up executable and double-click it. Follow the installation process as requested by the application. If it asks to place a WinPSK icon on your desktop, answer "Yes."
Double-click the WinPSK icon to load the application. Once in the application, click "Settings," then "General Settings." Enter your call-sign in the text box provided, and change the COM port to the open port to which you connected the cable from the Rascal. This may take several tries to select the correct port.
Load the instruction manual for the Rascal that is included on the install CD. Go to the part labelled "Receive Audio Input Level." Follow the instructions and suggestions to tweak your levels to ensure that the application is not overloaded by levels that are too high. Do the same for the section labelled "Transmit Audio Level Adjustment." Close the instructions.
Tune to a PSK frequency and look for transmissions to begin appearing on the "waterfall." Click on the whiter portions to tune directly into a specific conversation. Ensure that the program is properly decoding the conversation. Attempt to start a conversation of your own with someone who is calling "CQ."
Tips and warnings
- Keep your transmit power to 10 watts or less. Any greater can cause your signal to be unnecessarily wide and create interference to others using PSK.
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