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FT-817 Companion Android software and cheap BT adapter


#1

While not directly SOTA related software (at least not yet - see below), given that so many on this reflector have an FT-817, I thought I’d mention that this remote control software for the FT-817 works fine with the Blue Tooth adapter for the FT-817 which is available via eBay out of China for around €12.

Those wondering whether this cheap adapter will also work with the repeater book software, it won’t as the Repeater Book author has a contract with the company producing the more expensive “Blue Cat” adapter and the program code specifically looks for only this hardware.

The 817 companion Android software is available for €4.75 from google play (here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.iu4apc.eightoneseven ).

The Bluetooth adapter is available from several dealers - this is the one I used and got the device in just over a week rather than the predicted 6-8 weeks. http://www.ebay.de/itm/271698510738?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

The 817 companion transfers most FT817 options onto a smart phone or tablet screen. It includes a waterfall display and a rolling DX Cluster listing, where clicking on an entry in DX Cluster immediately sets the 817 to that mode and frequency. I have emailed the author to ask whether an upgrade to the software could give the option of going to the DX-Cluster or to SOTAWatch to list spots. As yet I have had no reply however as a SOTA chaser, or an activator looking for an S2S contact, this function would be very useful.

Ed.

P.S. there is also a KX3 Companion app at €4.99 for those with that rig.


#2

The Windows FT817 software is free and can be had from below. You’ll need a COM port of some kind to connect it to the 817.

http://moosedata.com/HRD/FT817Build739.exe


#3

But doesn’t give a waterfall display since it doesn’t have access to the audio stream like a Bluetooth adaptor does.


#4

The 817 Companion Android software can also connect via a usb-to-go cable to a cat port to serial/USB lead but the real advantage is the use of bluetooth to avoid the need for those cables (especially if operating portable).

Ed.


#5

You mean it’s not rewrite of the existing 817 commander program for Android? Well you live and learn. Ah, no it’s 817 Companion not Commander, Ed got the name wrong.

As for the DXcluster link, the SOTA cluster speaks DXcluster format data. Well one of the formats, not the compressed mode so this should just work.


#6

DOH! Sorry - and it’s right in front of me!! I’ll update the title and references.

I use FT817 Commander on the Windows PC to back up the FT817’s menu settings and memory channels.


#7

There is also Pocket RxTx from Dan, YO3GGX, which works with the BT dongles:

https://www.yo3ggx.ro/

This is free but he accepts donations. It also receives from Web SDRs.


#8

I’m sorry if this is a bit off topic, but I’m struggling with one of these cheap BT adaptors and my FT-817.

First question is regarding baud rates. On my PC (Win 10), when the bluetooth is connected, I see two com ports. I think it’s the first one that I need. There is a baud rate associated with each com port. I assume that the bluetooth protocol is not affected by this baud rate, so is this the speed for the link between the adaptor and the 817? In other words, does setting the baud rate to something different in device manager send a command over bluetooth to set the adaptor to that new rate?

I downloaded the FT817 program from http://moosedata.com/HRD/FT817Build739.exe and it seemed to install, but where to? I can’t find it on my C: drive. Is it part of HRD? I can set HRD up for an FT817 but can’t get communication. Yesterday it must have got some connectivity but it always failed after three attempts at reading the frequency. Today the com ports have reasigned to com 6 and 7 and the drop down in HRD only goes to com 4. I reassigned com 6 to com 2 but that doesn’t work - I get a message saying:-
FT817, 9600, COM2 The system cannont find the file specified.

I’m wondering if I should try a loop back test with a terminal program, just to confirm that the BT adaptor is working, but the 8 pin DIN isn’t the easiest to get in to.

Any thoughts?

John
G4YTJ


#9

It installs it in the directory name it gave during setup. You get to change that if you want. I haven’t used it for a while so I tried it on a scrap VM here at work running Win7 Pro 64. It installs by default to C:\Program Files (x86)\Amateur Radio\FT-817Commander and on a 32 bit machine I would think C:\Program Files\Amateur Radio\FT-817Commander.

EDIT: I tried on a W10 32bit laptop and it installs to C:\Program Files\Amateur Radio\FT-817Commander

The speed of the Bluetooth dongle plugged into the FT817 must match the speed for the 817’s serial port. I can’t remember what that is but you cannot set the speed the 817’s dongle uses from the Windows machine over the BT link.

The settings on the Windows machine are for the dongles connected to the Windows machine NOT by Bluetooth. i.e. if you plug a USB Bluetooth adapter into the Windows machine, the Windows machine can configure the dongle via USB. There should have been some docs with the BT adapter that tells you how to configure it.

If you think that Bluetooth is all very messy then you would not be mistaken! It confuses the hell out of me and I spent some time working on the design of chips/software for BT.


#10

Menu 14, 4800/9600/38400 I think.

Brian


#11

Pedantic, but Baud rate and data speed are not the same thing :wink:

9600 Baud is commonly used. I command my external homebrew amplifier at 9600 Baud.


#12

Ah well, to me baud is something that goes with bed!


#13

Thanks for the reply Andy. I have searched both Program Files and Program Files (x86) for FT-817 Commander without success. I’ve been through the install process three times but it just disappears into a black hole somewhere.
The adaptor defaults to 9600 baud according to the description on eBay - there was no documentation with the package - and the 817 is set to 9600.
I’ve also tried using an Android phone and YO3GGX’s Pocket RxTx as mentioned above but again I couldn’t connect, although the BT adaptor was paired to my phone at that point.

I’ve just found that the lid comes off the BT adaptor, so I should be able to get a scope in to see what’s happening :slight_smile:

I’m going to have to leave it for today because I’ve other things to do, but I’ll be back to bother it some more.

Thanks again,
John
G4YTJ


#14

Hi John,

There are 4800, 9600, 38400 Baud version of the Chinese BT FT-817 adapters - you need to check what the advert said when you bought it and set the speed right for the cat port in the FT817 menu. When you have it correct the led will stop flashing. Until the BT device is “talking” to the FT817, you will not be able to “pair” it with the computer / tablet / Smart-phone. when the pairing fails it will often say that the code (1234) is incorrect.

Get the BT device working with the FT-817 (no flashing LED) before looking at the PC or smartphone side - in principal if you have Bluetooth installed and working on your PC or phone, all you should need to do is scan for devices and then pair with the device (mine is called FBT06 - yours could be different).

73 Ed.


#15

Hi Ed,

That’s interesting. The LED always flashes.

I know the CAT interface in the 817 is ok because it works with an LG 817 ATU.

Yes, my adaptor is FBT06 as well. The advert on eBay said 9600 baud but I have tried all 4800 and 38400 as well.

It’s looking more and more like a faulty BT adaptor to me.

Thanks for the reply
John
G4YTJ


#16

If you are using LDG 817 ATU as well as the Bluetooth Dongle, they must be using the same speed - which is recomended to be 38400 Baud, rather than 9600 Baud. At least that is what it says in this advert (which incidentally is for the 38400 Baud version),

Correcting my earlier comment (having checked again) - The light stops flashing ONLY when the program (in my case 817 Companion) starts talking to the Bluetooth dongle. Even when the dongle is already paired with the phone. the LED still blinks.

Another thought - is it possible you have the plug the wrong way around in the Acc socket ? It appears that is possible to do if you are not very careful. On the plug on my dongle, there’s a small arrow mark on it to show where the TOP of the plug should be.

Ed.


#17

for the real homebrewers, Dan YO3GGX has a description on how to build your own BT adapter very cheaply (depending on what you already have in your junk box) :

YO3GGX BT adapter

73 - Luc ON7DQ


#18

Hi Ed,

Thanks for your suggestions. I realise the ATU needs a different baud rate, but at the moment I don’t intend to use the ATU and the BT dongle together, so I’m happy to switch between them.

Those mini DIN plugs are awful, but I did orient (orientate?) the plug correctly with the arrow on the top. I think if it was round the wrong way the dongle would not get power from the 817 - I notice that the LED flashes even if the 817 is switched off.

No time to play with it today, but I will keep the list updated with any results so that others may benefit from my experiences.

73
John
G4YTJ


#19

Yes the Dongle has power even with the FT-817 turned off - I noticed that as well.

When you gt to try it again - with the FT817 set to 9600 Baud and the dongle connected, do you have a mobile phone that has bluetooth and can it see the device and pair with it (code 1234 or 0000)? If so, the device is working and the problem is with the application.

Ed.


#20

Today I finally had a chance to to some tests on the BT dongle. I checked out the continuity between the 8 pin DIN plug and the dongle and everything was fine, so I soldered some wire loops to the Tx, Rx and Ground in the dongle, ready to attach 'scope probes. I paired up the BT dongle with my PC and fired up HRD on the PC.

You all probably know what happened next.

It worked! Don’t you just love electronics :slight_smile:

I’m sure I haven’t done anything different to what I did before.

Thanks to everybody for their help in trying to sort this out.

John
G4YTJ