SDRPlay Panadapter Instructions

I think the SDRPlay panadapter is one of the most popular aspects about my setup, and I get questions commonly on how everything is setup. Comparatively speaking, it’s relatively simple enough to get up and running if you have all the right equipment. I’ve been meaning to make a post for the longest time on how I have everything setup, including how I have my cables routed, my audio levels, all that good stuff! So I will attempt to start a post here and refine & add information to this over time. I think first it’s good to provide a diagram on my system to show how everything is laid out:

 

Forgive my chicken scratch drawing, lol. Now keep in mind this is just a rough sketch of what’s needed to get up and running with an SDRplay panadapter with your 590SG. You’ll of course need to ensure all the other details we’ll go over are sorted out as well, but this is the primary equipment you’ll need. Don’t skimp on the cables, and feel free to go crazy with snap on ferrites. No matter what, keep your cables SHORT! My two cables below are 2 & 3 ft respectively. I recommend Tripp Lite or Belkin for the USB-A to B cables & you’ll probably have to find a custom cable maker to make the cable that goes from the back of the 590SG to the SDRPlay which looks like this:

 

In addition to having your radio up to date with the latest firmware (which you should already! tisk tisk!), ensure that your computer is up to date. Keep in mind that if you have other audio devices hooked up to your computer, i.e. USB sound cards, or the like, that is beyond the scope of this setup, and will require some additional configuring (but it’s not impossible – I use an audio mixer myself – but I like to keep the mixer out of the setup – it only adds another element between you and the signal getting out.) I’ve also noticed that the SDRPlay is pretty sensitive when it comes to sitting near other equipment. It especially doesn’t like the power supply my mixer uses, nor a USB powered monitor that I use occasionally (it has caused HDSDR not to initiate the SDRPlay in the past – took me forever to figure out the culprit!).

You’ll want to download the most recent versions of HDSDR & Omni-rig. Then you’ll want to head on over to the SDRPlay website & start by clicking their “Start Here” tab. You’ll need to enter some information so you can get the full support from the SDRPlay support team, else your product won’t be registered, so take the time to register your product. After registered, it’ll take you to a page where you’ll have to download the SDRPlay API installer. Once ran, you’ll then need to download the SDRPlay EXTIO plugin & place it in the same folder as your HDSDR program (usually under your C: folder, but may differ from machine to machine). Assuming all went well with the install & everything is hooked up correctly, you’ll probably need to do a machine restart. You’ll want to ensure that the driver for the SDRPlay has been installed correctly, to do this goto your Device Manager and under your USB ports you should see the device there. If not, something might not be installed correctly somewhere.
When you open up HDSDR, you should automatically see a window pop up that says “SDRPlay EXTIO Starting.. Please Wait…” If HDSDR started properly and it was able to initiate your SDRPlay, look over on the TS590SG, and go to menu option 85 and set the DRV to ANT OUT. This allows your transceiver to split the antenna signal between your rig & the SDRPlay. You “should” see signals pop up on the waterfall once this key is depressed (you’ll even hear a little relay click inside).
If not, stop! We need to go back to square one and figure out what happened!

I’m also going to create a video on all of this, because lets face it, videos are much easier to follow right? So stay tuned, i’ll do one on how everything is hooked up, and then walk through the software installation and getting everything setup. Trust me, if you have this radio, and your not utilizing the DRV out, you don’t know what your missing! It may not be the world’s best panadapter, but it sure rivals some serious expensive rigs out there! I know a few guys who pipe the output to a projector screen! Now that’s a serious panadapter!

More to come…

Hustler 5BTV Problems & Solutions

Hey folks,

So when my antenna analyzer finally arrived in the mail (a RigExpert AA-30), I was quick to hook it up to my Hustler 5BTV, and WHOA, my frequencies were way off!! SWR was sky high, and the antenna was already starting to show signs of corrosion near the contact points on the aluminum tubes (I forgot to use dielectric compound).

Long story short, I took everything apart, reused the original dimensions from the DX engineering guide, I kept trying to get 10m to resonate near 28.500, but I just couldn’t get it to resonate anywhere on 10m! 15, 20, 40 & 80 were all reasonably acceptable (need to adjust a little more), but 10m was just being stubborn!

I still haven’t figured out why I can’t get it to resonate. I’ve adjusted the trap up & down & the tube lengths up and down to no luck! Why would 15, 20, 40 & 80 work but not 10?

I’m still stumped.

Here’s a few photos of what I did to change my install:

 

 

 

 

 

Since the tilt base wasn’t mounted to a metal pole effectively grounding the tilt base to the radial plate, I added a thick piece of copper plate behind the two & bolted it on (had to drill more holes between the copper plate & stainless steel plate (almost ruined my drill bit – the DX engineering steel is tough). This was suggested over on eham (actually to use a metal braid – but a strip provides more surface area). I cut the strip from an old grounding plate I had previously attempted to use.

I’ve heard from hams that say to ground the coax before it gets to the antenna, some say ground it after it gets to the antenna. Which is right? Both work, one just grounds the coax before it gets to the feed point, not sure if that’s the right way. This way is working though. So what if 10m isn’t working right now. I got pretty frustrated with it so I put it on the back burner again, lol.

So the Hustler is back up and running.

The SWR is a bit high for me though. I’m going to try and add some radials to attempt to get the SWR down below 1.8 or below.

 

I’ve learned that installation of ANY kind of vertical requires careful planning & execution! I suppose I learned my lesson here. Another gentleman suggested, “ah just let your tuner take care of the rest!” Wrong! A tuner only masks the problem IMHO.

So as you can see, I still have some work to do, but it’s at least working! Before my SWR on 40m was over 10 to 1. There’s only 22 radials down on the ground, I plan on attempting to add another 8-10 to see what that does. Some say 32 is the magic number. But I might need more since my radials are shorter in length than they should be.

Belton Hamfest A.A.R. (After Action Review!)

So the Belton HamEXPO was my first hamfest ever. I had high hopes for this event. Maybe I shouldn’t have. I was expecting more vendors, more companies to show up, but there were only a select few, and to those who did, like MTC Radio from Paris, TX! Where I scored my new Buckmaster OCF dipole (4 bander).

I’m surprised that with the prevalence of online dealers these days that hamfests even still happen. Although, I wish they’d happen more. There’s something almost nostalgic about them.

Snagged a shot of some boat anchors I spotted in the tailgating area that I had my eye on, but just wasn’t ready to make the commitment. I did realize that  my ultimate dream would be to have a shortwave radio from the U.S. Army of some kind. Working of course! Maybe even one that I could learn to rebuild (with assistance of course!). I think that would complement my shack nicely next to all my military memorabilia.

I haven’t had a chance to use the Buckmaster much, although I got it strung up already behind the house where my fan dipole was. This is much less obtrusive, covers more bands, and has similar performance to a fan dipole. Not to mention its built like a tank, this thing will last 30 years or more easily. I can see why they charge a little over $200 for these things, although I got mine at a pretty good deal.

I recently sold my KX3. I’m venturing into mobile HF because unfortunately I don’t have much time in the home QTH. I’ve decided that i’ll probably replace the KX3 with a Kenwood TS-480SAT, and just hook it up to some hamsticks for now until I figure out what kind of HF antenna to get for the truck. I’ve already gone over the age old debate of screwdrivers, Hi-Q antennas, hamsticks, and the like. They’re all a compromise of some sort, I think any crazy claims any of these antenna manufacturers make should be carefully examined before purchasing such an expensive one! (although, I would really, really like a Hi-Q antenna!)

I’ve also since moved my FTM-400DR back into the truck. There’s no sense in having a radio that has APRS capabilities and functions as a base station radio, so it’s back in the truck! I’m still busy moving things around, tweaking things as I see they’ll best suit my needs. I want my equipment to get the most use possible! It was my original assumption that any radio that goes in my vehicle should be plain, and have as little as functions as possible, but I’m finding that I actually want the complete opposite. New radios are going to have WAY more functions than your basic 2m rigs like the TM-281A I also have. In my opinion if you are shopping for a mobile VHF/UHF radio, definitely go for a dual band one, capable of at least 50 watts, and one that has all the bells and whistles that you want on it, because eventually, your going to want that more capable radio. I’m going to make another review on the Yaesu FTM-400DR, so be looking out for that in the YouTube channel! I’ve had a lot more time to review it’s functions and play with the radio.

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Saying a prayer for the folks in Houston today, hoping the waters subside quickly. We got quite drenched, but supposedly in for another wet week this week! Stay dry Texans!

The trusty dusty dipole.

Time & time again, i’ve tried these compromise antennas, only to come back to a good ole’ dipole.

Nothing i’ve used thus far has been able to beat it.

It’s a solid 1 or 2 s units above all the other antennas i’ve used, and the noise level is acceptable too.

I sold the magnetic loop this week. For someone who is already in a compromise situation, a magnetic loop is NOT the answer. You’ll be sorely disappointed if you rely on that kind of antenna for your “sole” antenna.

I’m only able to get the apex of the dipole up about 25 feet, which I figure is good enough for a 20m dipole. If I made it for 40, there’d be too much interaction with the ground, and too much loss. So 20m it is.

If I had the space to put the legs completely vertical I would, but i’m dealing with a small yard, so Inverted V works best, and since they’re more omnidirectional, I don’t have to worry about having a rotatable dipole.

Here’s a shot of the dipole, I had this up previously, but took it down to try 40m legs, when I had horrible performance on 40, I completely removed it, figured it just wouldn’t work, but didn’t realize that it would work for 20m. Give it a chance! lol

20m Inverted V – excuse that annoying star in the background

So back up it went, and boy am I ever glad its back up! I’ll keep this one up too.

I plugged the antenna analyzer into it, and got a 1.7 SWR on the first try, with a center frequency of around 14.150, I need to make some small adjustments, but anything under 2 to 1 for a dipole will work until it’s fine tuned.

Simple, efficient, and cheap. Don’t knock the dipole!