Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Session 2 - Summer Digital Series - FLDIGI Setup

QST de WR5J – For the Educational Radio Net – Curt in Seattle

Here is the second post of the Summer Digital Series for Seattle hams interested in trying out some digital modes over the next several weeks of the coming summer.

This post is intended to provide step by step instructions for the download and setup of the FLDIGI software as part of the NBEMS suite. For questions contact Curt at black@nwfirst.com and put SUMMER DIGITAL somewhere in the subject line,

Thanks es vy 73 de WR5J

Introduction:

The purpose of this file is to help Elmer those interested in NBEMS/FLDIGI to develop standardized procedures and settings for the use of the software.

The material in this file was only slightly modified from the information on the Pennsylvania SitRep ARES group website for Western Pennsylvania. A big “Thank You to this group for doing the heavy lifting of assembling and organizing the information. Their original information can be found at http://www.pa-sitrep.com/NBEMS/index.html

The use of the NBEMS software requires nothing more than a laptop or desktop computer and an amateur radio transceiver (even an HT) to send and receive data/text using the NBEMS soundcard-based digital software.

This site concentrates on only a few of the primary digital communications modes available within the FLDIGI software package that are best suited to Emergency Communications.

A key to promoting the widespread adoption of digital communications is to keep the protocols as simple as possible and providing means of conducting digital communications with the use of equipment and transceivers that are already commonly used.

The NBEMS/FLDIGI software is the perfect package for digital emergency communications because it is:

- FREE!
- Easy to configure
- Easy to use
- Easy to modify and standardize
- Works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Apple and Linux systems
- Usable without the need for additional/complex/expensive hardware

Step 1, Get the Software:

Here is the link to the NBEMS/FLDIGI Software Download:

NBEMS/FLDIGI Software Download

Make sure you select the proper operating system

- "win" is for windows XP
- "winV" is for windows Vista

When you click on the link for the appropriate download, you should be prompted to either "Open" or "Save" the program. Select "Save".

Click "Next" which lets you select the directory where you want to save the program on your computer. Select the directory for desktop or another directory (make sure you note which directory you save in) then click save. I usually select a download directory so I can archive these files as downloaded. This way, even if the internet is unavailable, I can access the files, possibly move them to a thumbdrive, and easily set up a new installation with the software. Similarly, in the sprit of preparedness, I like to store the files unzipped in a sub-directory, named, “extracted” to avoid any problems with that step. That way you can be certain you have the files and versions you want.

An alternate site for download of the software and its help file is http://www.w1hkj.com/Downloads.html This site may have updated versions a little ahead of the PA-SitRep group and may be worth checking from time to time. It is also the direct source for the Linux and Apple (OS X) versions of the software.

Step 2: Installation

FIRST! - Be sure you have only one copy of cygwin1.dll (the one that came in your zipped file) on your computer.

WindowsXP users:

- Single right click on the "Start" button on the bottom left corner of your desktop.
- Arrow up and single left click "Explore". This opens your entire computer file directory.
- Single right click on your computer's root directory ( usually Local Disc (C:) )
- Arrow down and single left click on "Search".
- In the "All or part of the file name" search box, type cygwin1.dll then click "Search".
- After the search is complete, single right click on the instances of cygwin1.dll (with the exception of the one in your FLDIGI file folder) then arrow down and left click delete. Repeat this for each instance of this file with the exception of the one in your FLDIGI file folder.

Vista users:

- Single right click on the "Start" button on the bottom left corner of your desktop.
- Arrow up and single left click "Explore". This opens your entire computer file directory.
- Single left click on your computer's root directory ( usually Local Disc (C:) )
- In the "search" box in the upper right hand corner of the window, type cygwin1.dll
- Single right click on the instances of cygwin1.dll (with the exception of the one in your FLDIGI file folder) then arrow down and left click delete. Repeat this for each instance of this file with the exception of the one in your FLDIGI file folder.

Now you are ready to install FLDIGI.

Go to the desktop (or the directory where you saved the NBEMS/FLDIGI download file) and double click the FLDIGI file icon.

This will open up the file folder, which is in a compressed .zip format.

If running WindowsXP:

- Click "file" at the top right side of the current window, then click "Extract All". This opens an extraction wizard.
- Click "Next", then click "Browse" and select the directory where you would like the NBEMS/FLDIGI file folder to reside then click "Next". The window should now say that the files were extracted properly.
- Make sure the box marked "Show Extracted Files" is checked, then click "Finish".
- Double click on the FLDIGI folder icon.
- Now single right click on fldigi.exe, arrow down and single left click on "Create Shortcut". A new file will appear in the folder that says "Shortcut to fldigi.exe".
- Single right click on that folder, arrow down and single left click on "Cut".
- Close all open windows, then single right click on your desktop, arrow down and single left click on "paste".
- You should now have a shortcut icon to FLDIGI on your desktop.

If running Vista:

- Single left click "Extract all files" from the selections along the top of the current window, then click "Extract All".
- Single left click "Browse" and select the directory where you would like the NBEMS/FLDIGI file folder to reside. Make sure the box marked "Show Extracted Files" is checked, then click "Extract".
- Double click on the FLDIGI folder icon.
- Now single right click on fldigi.exe, arrow down and single left click on "Create Shortcut". A new file will appear in the folder that says "Shortcut to fldigi.exe".
- Single right click on that folder, arrow down and single left click on "Cut".
- Close all open windows, then single right click on your desktop, arrow down and single left click on "paste".
- You should now have a shortcut icon to FLDIGI on your desktop.

Step 3, Configuration and Setup:

Double click your FLDIGI desktop icon. If you have any errors or the program closes, please see the first item in Step 2, above about the cygwin1.dll file

1) Click Configure, arrow down to defaults, arrow over and click Operator. Then enter the appropriate information, click Save Config, then click close. The specific layout of the windows has changed since the figures shown below for FLDIGI 3.03, but the general approach to setup is the same.

2) Click Configure, arrow down to defaults, arrow over and click Waterfall. Click the left arrow on the low cutoff box until the figure is at 50. Click Save Config, then close.


3) Click Configure, arrow down to defaults, arrow over and click Video. Uncheck small font, video text - type "MT631K-L", video width - 4, check View Xmit Signal, then click Save Config and close.

4) Click Configure, arrow down to defaults, arrow over and click Sound Card. Select the appropriate sound card for capture and playback under port audio for the sound card that you will be transmitting with. Click Save Config, then close.

In Seattle we are starting with acoustic coupling of our radios and computers. For this reason, we will want to set up with the “capture” through the microphone input of the internal soundcard on your computer. “Playback” will be through the speakers by selecting the internal soundcard of your computer. This is different from what is shown below for what we will do later if we install a hardware interface between the computer and the radio.

5) Click Configure, arrow down to defaults, arrow over and click Misc. Check Transmit RSID and Wide Search Detector. Make sure Slow CPU is unchecked unless you are operating on a very slow computer.

6) On the main screen of FLDIGI, go to the bottom of the screen and set the first waterfall figure to -20, the second figure to 70, and the x setting to x1. Uncheck the sql box on the right bottom of the fldigi window.

Adding the Standardized WPA NBEMS Macro Set

1) Go to http://www.pa-sitrep.com/NBEMS/fldigi_macro.htm

2) Right click on the link to the macro, arrow down to "Save Target As" and left click.

3) You should now see your windows file directory. You will need to click on your profile directory (this will be the name that appears when you start your windows login). Double click on your windows profile name in the directory.

4) When you make it to the proper directory, you should see an existing file named "macros". This is the file you will be replacing.

5) Left click the save button. A window should come up saying that the file already exists and will ask if you want to replace/overwrite. Click yes.

Here is the current WPA Standardized NBEMS/FLDIGI Macro (25-Oct-2008):

NBEMS/FLDIGI macros.mdf

Right click on the link above, then click "Save Target As", then place the file in the following directory:

WindowsXP users save to:
c:\Documents and Settings\urlogin\fldigi.files

Vista users save to:
Desktop\urlogin\fldigi.files

Replace "urlogin" with your login name when you start your computer.

When prompted with the message that this file already exists, select the appropriate option to overwrite or replace the existing file.


The primary macro set is indicated with the number 1 in the furthest right button. This is the primary set used during transmit and receive sessions.

The number 2 macro set is used for changing to different modes.

The number 3 macro set is for the use of MT63 1k Long transmit and receive sessions.

Here is a screen shot of the 3 macro sets:

To change from one macro set to another while running FLDIGI just click on the number to the far right of the macro line – it will change to 2, then 3 then back to 1 with each mouse click

Step 4, Sound Card Calibration

1) Download and save CheckSR.exe to your desktop. This is a small, standalone, application that consist of a single exe file. When you double click on it, once it's saved to your desktop, it provides the capability of analyzing your sound card offsets and gives you the corrections in parts per million (ppm):

http://www.pa-sitrep.com/checksr/CheckSR.exe

2) Open NBEMS/FLDIGI, go to configure, defaults, sound card, audio devices tab and make sure you have the sound card you use for your interface properly selected from the capture and playback drop down choices. For Seattle folk, that will be your internal sound card. Later, if you choose to move to interfaces like the Signalink or Navigator, with their own sound cards inside, we will recalibrate to those external devices. Next click the audio settings tab.

3) Under the audio settings tab, you should see a sample rate drop down box for capture and playback. Under each drop down box, select the sample rate that has (native) listed after it and take note of this figure. Click save config, then click save. Close FLDIGI.

4) Going back to CheckSR, open the application (if it's not already open, double click on the desktop icon now) and from the drop down boxes for sound card settings, Input and Output, choose the sound card you are using with FLDIGI. Next, select the sample rate from the drop down box in CheckSR for the sample rate that FLDIGI showed as "Native" then click start.

5) Let the application run for about 15-20 minutes. You will notice that the numbers will progressively stabilize. After about 15-20 minutes, click stop then write down the resulting figures on input and output for the measurements in Hz and PPM. Keep this record – I keep a little table for each of the hardware interfaces I have as well as each internal soundcard – makes configuring for any laptop, desktop or interface easier… While it might seem counter intuitive, running the application for more than an hour or so seems to produce less accurate values – I don’t know if some internal register or something begins to overflow, but it starts to move to unrealistic numbers with more time.

6) Open FLDIGI, go to configure, defaults, sound card and click on the audio settings tab. Enter the PPM figures for RX ppm (CheckSR ppm Input figure) and TX ppm (CheckSR ppm Output figure). If you had a figure that resulted in a minus from CheckSR, enter the PPM setting with the minus symbol followed directly by the figure with no space. Then click save config, then close.

Although this procedure does not seem to be necessary for MT63 2k long on FM, it is advisable that anyone using FLDIGI, regardless of modes used, should perform this procedure immediately following setup. Once these calibrations are applied to the software, no changes should ever have to be made again, unless you change your software to radio interface sound card.

Step 5 First QSO with FLDIGI on BPSK-31

These instructions are assuming that you are using a properly configured sound card interface. Keep in mind that if you do not have a sound card interface, you can plug a simple microphone into your sound card mic jack to monitor received audio from your transceiver speaker, but you will not have automated push to talk in order to transmit.

Double click your FLDIGI desktop icon. If you have any errors or the program closes, please see the first step on the installation page

1) Adjust your TX and RX window sizes by arrowing over the divider between the upper window (received text) and the lower window (transmit text). Left click and hold, then drag the divider up or down. Typically it is better to have the RX (upper window) using about 75% of the overall screen.

2) Go to Op Mode at the top of the screen and left click, arrow down to PSK then arrow over to BPSK-31 and left click. This sets you in PSK-31, the most common digital mode you'll find on the HF bands.

3) Tune your transceiver to a common PSK31 frequency:
Daytime: 14.070 MHz/USB, 10.140 MHz/USB, 7.070 MHz/USB
Evenings/Night: 3.580 MHz/USB, 7.070 MHz/USB, 10.140 MHz/USB

4) As is the case for all digital comms with FLDIGI, make sure all DSP including compression and noise blanker are turned off on your transceiver.

5) Arrow over a PSK signal in the waterfall and left click on the signal. You should now see the receive text being decoded in the upper RX window. If you see no text, make sure the squelch box at the bottom right hand corner of the program is unchecked.

6) Wait for a station to call CQ. On the received text, arrow over the first character on the Call Sign in the CQ and RIGHT click. This brings up a window that will let you insert the text that you right clicked on into the log. Arrow to Call and left click. You will notice that the call sign has now been inserted into the log. You are now ready to respond to the calling station.

7) Left click on the 2nd macro in the 1 set that is labled "ANS CALL/CQ" or hit F2 on your keyboard. You should now be transmiting and you should see that the station call you added in the log is now being sent along with your call sign. At the end of your response, assuming you are using a sound card interface, the rig should automatically go back into receive. At any time if your rig does not return to receive mode, you can pres the esc button on your keyboard to manually abort transmission.

8) If your system is configured properly and band conditions are sufficient, the CQ calling station should respond. Typical first exchange is name, location and signal report.

9) As you receive the calling station's name and location, you can right click on the given text and insert the information into the log, just as you did in step 6 to insert the call sign into the log. If the location is city and state (two words), highlight both words by left clicking and holding then drag over the desired text, then unclick. You will see that the text is now highlighted and you can right click to insert to the appropriate section of the log.

10) To respond with your first information exchange, click on the "exchange" macro or hit F3 on your keyboard. Now you can manually type your information or click the station info macro.

11) IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that the exchange and station information macros will not automatically end your transmission, so you will want to click the BTU (Back to you) macro or hit F4 on your keyboard.

The symbols displayed on the macro buttons indicate how the macro will function:

Indicates auto transmit and auto receive

Indicates auto start (you will need to use BTU or manually switch to receive)

Indicates auto receive

Step 6 – Try Different Modes – Olivia

We will be focusing on 3 primary digital communications modes:

MT63 - Olivia - DominoEX

Each mode has it's advantages and disadvantages and the WPA-SitRep group recommendations are based on extensive field testing under varying situations and conditions.

MT63 2k Long - Local FM Comms

For local portable, mobile and fixed station operations on 2m and 70cm FM (repeater or simplex), MT63 2K long is our primary mode for detailed situation reports and database transmission and has been chosen for the following reasons:

- Can be used very effectively without a sound card interface (audio coupling)
- Extremely effective under poor RF conditions
- Extremely accurate decoding (major duplication of data and forward error corrected)
- Very forgiving on sound card tuning and calibration when used on FM
- Excellent for sending larger situation reports or databases

MT63 1k Long - Regional/Local HF Comms

For regional and local portable, mobile and fixed station operations on HF USB under moderate to good condition, MT63 1K long is our primary mode for detailed situation reports and database transmissions and has been chosen for the following reasons:

- Very effective under moderate to good RF conditions
- Extremely accurate decoding (major duplication of data and forward error corrected)
- Works extremely well under QRM and QRN conditions - Excellent for sending larger situation reports or databases

-

Disadvantages:

- Requires fairly accurate tuning
- Does not work well under very poor RF weak signal conditions
- Long decoding FEC delay not well suited for short keyboard to keyboard communications
- 1k audio bandwidth is very wide as compared to other digital modes

Olivia 16 Tone/500 Hz - Regional/Local HF Comms

For regional and local portable, mobile and fixed station operations on HF USB under good to poor conditions, Olivia 16/500 is our primary mode for short messages and situation reports and has been chosen for the following reasons:

- EXTREMELY accurate decode, even under the worst conditions (major duplication of data and forward error corrected)
- Very resiliant to QRM and QRN
- Best suited for short messages and situation reports under poor HF conditions

Disadvantages:

- Slow data rate (slightly faster than writing speed)
- 500 Hz audio bandwidth is wider than several other modes

DominoEX11(FEC) - Regional/Local HF Comms

For regional and local portable, mobile and fixed station operations on HF USB under good to moderate conditions, DominoEX11(FEC) is our primary mode for short messages and keyboard to keyboard communications and has been chosen for the following reasons:

- Duplication of data and forward error correction provides good copy under moderate RF conditions
- Well suited for keyboard to keyboard (chat)
- Relatively narrow audio bandwidth (approx. 200 Hz)
- More forgiving on tuning inacuracies than Olivia
- Resiliant to QRM and QRN

Disadvantages:

- Not available on many programs other than NBEMS/FLDIGI and Multipsk
- Not as reliable as Olivia 16/500 under very weak RF conditions

Step 7 – Specifics on Operations and Procedures by Mode

Operations and Proceedures

MT63 - Olivia - DominoEX

MT63 VHF/UHF FM ops - 2K Long Interleave

Instructions for FM 6m/2m/70cm ops:

### SETUP ###

1) Go to Configure/Modems and click the MT63 tab.
2) Click 64 bit interleave long, save configuration, then close (on vs 3.03 this setting is now saved after restarts of the program).
3) Go to Op Mode/MT63, arrow over and click on MT63 - 2000.

### TUNING ###

1) Tune transceiver to desired FM frequency (make sure all DSP, compression and noise blanker settings are disabled and stations operating under weak signal conditions should open the squelch on the transceiver).
2) All stations should always center on 1500 Hz on the waterfall (MT63 always uses a bottom freq of 500 Hz on transmit. When you initialize MT63, the waterfall tx will be set to this default).
3) Transmit and receive some text to make sure all stations are decoding properly. Assuming that all soundcards are properly calibrated, no tuning should be necessary.


MT63 HF USB ops - 1K/Long Interleave

(recommended USB frequencies: 3.590, 7.090, 14.109):

### SETUP ###

1) Go to Configure/Modems and click the MT63 tab.
2) Click 64 bit interleave long, save configuration, then close (on vs 3.03 this setting is now saved after restarts of the program).
3) Go to Op Mode/MT63, arrow over and click on MT63 - 1000.

### TUNING ###

1) Tune transceiver to desired HF frequency (always us USB and make sure all DSP, compression and noise blanker settings are disabled).
2) All stations should always center on 1000 Hz on the waterfall (MT63 always uses a bottom freq on 500 Hz on transmit. When you initialize MT63, the waterfall tx will be set to this default).
3) Click tune button in the upper right corner of the program and let it transmit for about 10 seconds. Click the tune button again to go back into receive.
4) RX stations center on the received 1000 Hz tone by tuning the receiver VFO.
5) Transmit and receive some text to make sure all stations are tuned and decoding properly.

Olivia HF USB ops - 500Hz/16 Tones

(recommended USB frequencies: 3.584, 7.074, 14.074):

### SETUP ###

1) Go to Op Mode, left click, arrow over Olivia, arrow over to 16/500 and left click.

### TUNING ###

1) Tune transceiver to desired HF frequency (always us USB and make sure all DSP, compression and noise blanker settings are disabled).
2) All stations should always center on 1000 Hz on the waterfall.
3) Click tune button in the upper right corner of the program and let it transmit for about 10 seconds. Click the tune button again to go back into receive.
4) RX stations center on the received 1000 Hz tone by tuning the receiver VFO.
5) Transmit and receive some text to make sure all stations are tuned and decoding properly.

Domino HF USB ops - DominoEX11(FEC)

(recommended USB frequencies: 3.583, 7.073, 14.073):

### SETUP ###

1) Left click on Configure, left click on Modems, left click the Dom tab.
2) Type in your secondary text (i.e. call sign, tactical call, station location), left click both check boxes for Filter On and FEC, then left click save config, then left click close.
3) Go to Op Mode, left click, arrow to DominoEX, arrow over to DominoEX 11 and left click.

### TUNING ###

1) Tune transceiver to desired HF frequency (always us USB and make sure all DSP, compression and noise blanker settings are disabled).
2) All stations should always center on 1000 Hz on the waterfall.
3) Click tune button in the upper right corner of the program and let it transmit for about 10 seconds. Click the tune button again to go back into receive.
4) RX stations center on the received 1000 Hz tone by tuning the receiver VFO.
5) Transmit and receive some text to make sure all stations are tuned and decoding properly.