Monday, March 28, 2011

Procedure for SoftRock SDR Receiver Start Up

Here is W4BXI's account of starting up a SoftRock Ensemble RX II SDR receiver from KE4ID at his station.

Version 1.0 March 23, 2011

1. USB Line is NOT connected.
2. Barker & Williamson Folded Dipole Antenna connected to Receiver Saver. No antenna tuner.
(B&W FD is the default antenna (no DC power) on the RCS4).
3. Turn all units ON (PC, power speakers, Receiver Saver, and SDR Black Box)
4. Receiver Saver is fully connected with PTT and power wall wart.
Beware: This protects the SDR receiver ONLY if the PTT is closed during Transmit! ... it must be connected!
5. NOW -- Plug USB cable into one of the FRONT USB sockets of this Dell PC; not the rear USB sockets. (Apparently the rear USB sockets are bad),
6. At this point I did hear faint amateur CW from the Va QSO Party! No other receivers or transmitters are on! I promise.
I guess this was the case because the software, or a version of it, was installed in the PC since the last power up.
7. NOW Screen Click ON the PowerSDR v2.0
8. I still hear faint amateur CW.
9. START the Power SDR now...from the software menu.
10. I do NOT hear the amateur CW now!.
(I presume the newer version of the Software/Drivers is now resident)
11. In Power SDR go Setup/Import Database/import/OK
12. Push START button on Power SDR.

Additional from KE4ID

1. After doing this, go to the PowerSDR toolbar and choose --->Setup--->General.
2. Under SDR-1000 config, be sure that the USBtoI2C box is checked. If not, click it to check that box and click okay. Did that do it?
3. Now, if it tunes, but you don't hear anything: Go to Windows "Volume Control" and open it.
4. Choose--->Options--->Properties--->SoundMax Digital Audio--->Recording
5. Choose "Line In" and be sure that is checked. Choose it and close the window.

It works!
DO use Stereo out of the PC audio!
Other comments from KE4ID
I have seen the SDR-1000 operating manual in at least a couple of places.
Here is one:
Here is another:

Earlier Problem - Results:
The freq display seems not to resemble what I am hearing.
At times I have faintly heard WWV, but not today.
I can input a freq, but it does not change what I hear.

I tried the Setup/Calibrate/Freq. It tells me "Peak is outside valid range"
"This value is outside of the specs of the osc. Do you want to try to use this value? YES/NO"
I have tried both...

(To be honest, I am only using one speaker out of the PC. Your pair of speakers are low volume. It appears I do get the same audio)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflow soldering for SDR kits

Here is a nice rundown with copious links that Phil wrote for our appreciation of this SDR build option. Thanks, Phil!
All right, SDR and SMD (topics of discussion on 3740 kHz lately) fans, let’s burn some daylight…

Sharing what I thought was an interesting video that I stumbled upon… featuring a Softrock SDR kit and an interesting variation of the ‘reflow’ technique for installing surface mounted components. The video makes it look easy… although Jack says forget-about-it and just use a narrow (conical?) tip soldering iron.  

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Amateur Logic series of videos produced sporadically (lately, about every 2 or 3 months) by a couple of good ‘ole boy hams from Mississippi.  I’ve followed ‘em for several years.

Episode 15 is an older video made in August 2007, so, given the speed at which things change nowadays, some of the references are outdated . The SDR board featured is the ‘Softrock 6’ which must have been an earlier version of the Softrock ‘Lite II’ kit available today.  In the video, George/W5JDX installs SMD components using a beverage mug warmer (to warm-up the board), some soldering paste and a hot air embossing gun. The SDR/SMD segment starts about 9 minutes into this video . (If your DSL’s too slow to play the streaming video, you can download it here.) Hard for me to believe that the SMD components don’t blow off before the solder paste melts… maybe because the “hot air embossing gun” he’s using is a lot smaller/lower CFM than my heat gun (perhaps something like this?)

The soldering paste is available in small quantities and reasonable prices from Cash Olsen/KD5SSJ); he has a tutorial on the ‘reflow’ technique on his website.

In the video, George promises a follow-up report on how it worked when completed. The closest thing I could find to that (but not with the Softrock) was in the October 2007 (episode 16) video… starting about +47 minutes. 

Building SoftRock SDR kits

Here are some helpful links for building and testing SoftRock SDR kits. Thanks, Jack!

Build instructions for latest SoftRock monoband radio    

Build-a-thon showing the equipment you need

Rocky software (use this first to test the radio)

Older version of PowerSDR-IQ v1.12.20 that works well

Tony Parks SDR ordering site

SoftRock SDR receiver with Kenwood TS-850s

Here is a report from Jack about use of a SoftRock SDR receiver kit working in tandem with his Kenwood TS-850s. Click on the thumbnail below for a larger view. Also included below are two Youtube video links. Thanks, Jack!
Good evening,
The CAT interface cable for my TS-850s came in today.  I also have finished a monoband SoftRock SDR for the Kenwood 8.830 MHz IF.  I used the PowerSDR/IQ software from here:
The software now works directly with some Kenwood radios and with the K3.  It can also link up with Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD).  Here are a couple of vides:
The software is superb.  By interfacing the $20 SoftRock to the TS-850s, I get the following:
  • A pandapter
  • The SDR receiver with an additional sub-receiver.  This includes DSP filters and noise reduction.
  • The SDR is muted automatically when transmitting through the Kenwood.
  • Software control of the combo as well as control via the radio knobs.
  • Interconnection with HRD
This is an impressive and inexpensive combo.

Dual SDR Receivers

This is an earlier report from Jack about his success running dual SDR receivers controlled by a single PC. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.

Good evening,
Last night I began running two SDRs: a general coverage unit connected to the Beverage antennas, and an IF unit connected to the TS-850S.  Each goes to a separate outboard sound card, but to the same PC.

The wrinkle was how to manage the audio going from the sound cards to the amplified sound system.  I decided to take a hint from W4BXI's approach to audio, and I hooked up a six channel Behringer mixer.  It works great!  It also looks like the PC will handle both SDRs okay.

Now if I can just get two monitors working like W4UOA...


SoftRock SDR Transceiver

Here are some low-quality PDA photos that I captured of two
different SoftRock kit SDR products displayed at the Thursday lunch
meetings of the Birmingham Crystal Radio Group:

The first four photos shows the SDR transceiver that KE4ID has been
using on recent mornings on 3740 kHz.

For more information about these kits, see:

Assorted SDR Links

Here is a list of web sites that provide SDR kits. The list was compiled by K9VV.

http:// (Transceiver) (Starsite) (German FIFI project) (German LIMA-SDR project) (Transceiver) (Transceiver) (Japan) (Transceiver) (Transceiver) UHF SDR (Transceiver) (Transceiver)