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Best netbook, operating system and software for mo

I am very interested in going mobile data modes using a netbook and
also for qso logging when mobile/portable SOTA etc.
Am keen to optimise my purchase but am not very computer savvy
and have read recent posts about fdigi and linux. Please could someone
offer a list of good kit to buy?

Very much appreciated. Ian G4WTF

In reply to G4WTF:
I second the Ian’s question.
Ruda OK2QA

In reply to OK2QA:

There is no best, only what you prefer.

If you have limited computer experience then Windows is easier than Linux as more is done for you. OSX is better still. Linux is free. If you are prepared to learn then you can use any but the initial learning curve will be steeper with Linux.

I have an old Asus EEEPC701. The original netbook. 7in screen, 4GB Flash SSD. The screen is big enough for me to read just without glasses but it is anything but bright when used outdoors. Newer machines will have bigger and better screens. Bigger screens weigh more, brighter screens eat the battery quicker. But more modern electronics can be better and use less power.

It should be easy to do a decent digimode app for any modern smart phone (Android Galaxy S class devices or better, iPhone 4 etc.) These devices have the advantage of having daylight readable displays. I’ve seen mention of digimodes apps for these kind of phones but have not actually tried any of them.

The NUEPSK is a protable data terminal with a simple display. Unlike a PC it’s much less adaptable but if PSK is your bag then it is possibly better than a PC.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:
Andy,
I too have a 7 inch screen EeePC running Linux and would be most interested in how you use this for PSK. I have been reading PSK31 using fldigi on my Dell D610 (Mandriva 10 or Windows XP) but really don’t think this will be going onto the hills with me. Rig control (lack of) has prevented further progress with this so far.

Any pointers gratefully received,

Rod

In reply to M0JLA:

I made a cable that goes from a COM port and PC soundcard in and out connections using a DB9 and 2x 3.5mm jacks to the 817 6pin miniDIN data connector. The DB9 shell holds a tiny circuit which is used to translate RTS activity on the COM port into PTT signal. That will connect to any standard COM port. Of course COM ports are an endangered species now so I have a USB<>RS232 adapter. This one is fully supported under Linux and appears as /dev/ttyUSB0. I have fldigi set to PTT the 817 using RTS on /dev/ttyUSB0. Plug the USB<>RS232 cable in, plug the jacks into the PC, plug the DB9 into the other end of the USB cable, fire up fldigi and … digimode joy!

You need to play with the audio levels on the PC output mixer. These are fiddly to adjust. Also you have to play with the menu options on the 817 for the DIG mode. Do all this at home where you can check the TX signal is clean. In the field having checked the antenna is OK is plumb all the bits together and on a clear freq send PSK idles (i.e. just key up) and then using the 817 ALC display check the ALC metere shows no reading with the power level set to max. Job done!

The down side is that you cannot monitor your TX signal but if there is no ALC indication and is a power out indication you can be sure you are transmitting something.

Sounds harder than it is. Like everything to do with SOTA, it’s harder in the field than in the shack so practice setting up in the garden. Practice and practice then it will be easy in a howling snow storm at the top of a 10 pointer.

If you don’t feel competant at making a cable then email me off the list and we can discuss that as I have all the bits here.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Of course COM ports are an endangered species now so I have a USB<>RS232 adapter.

Once you go that far you might as well get a SignaLink USB and have it all in one box. Has the added advantage of having real volume controls and also does the PTT for you. It’s not much bigger or heavier than a USB->RS232 converter and it’s less plugs and leads to mess with.

Colin G8TMV

In reply to MM0FMF:
Andy,

Many thanks; I will investigate further and see how it goes. Thanks also for the offer of further help; I will follow it up if I get stuck again.

Rod

In reply to G8TMV:
Colin,

Thanks to you also.
Yes, I have considered this solution too.

Rod

In reply to G8TMV:

Once you go that far you might as well get a SignaLink USB and have it all in
one box

But I’m a proper radio amateur and like to make things. Whilst my eyesight holds out I will do. But not yet 50 and I’ve got 3 different pairs of glasses for shack work never mind a jewelers loupe for SMD work.

MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

But I’m a proper radio amateur and like to make things.

So do I!

Whilst my eyesight holds out I will do. But not yet 50 and I’ve got 3 different
pairs of glasses for shack work never mind a jewelers loupe for SMD work.

Heh! I’m 60 at Christmas and I’ve just built an ATS3B. Although it did need contact lenses, Reading glasses, an illuminated magnifier and a hand held glass.

Colin G8TMV

Thank you for your replies and advice. I shall seek out an appropriate computer
and get myself mobile. My eyes are not too good either - just built a deluxe tenna
dipper and will be starting on a Rockmite - takes some work focussing!
73 Ian

The NUE-PSK portable data terminal is the way to go for SOTA. A pair of 9v PP3 batteries will last for weeks of use. The unit does PSK and RTTY with the latest software and CW is due to be added to the modes in a future update.

The problem with a laptop or netbook that I have found is that to see the screen you need to block out the sunlight like some Victorian photographer. Sitting out on top of a mountain with your head under your coat seems a bit weird and you cannot see the changing weather or someone nicking your stuff.

The NUE-PSK LCD display is a lot easier to see.

73 Steve