New Toys In The Shack This Week!

So, I’ve added 2 new gadgets to the shack this week. The first is a SignaLink USB interface. This is to allow me to run FT8 via the WSJTX application from the Yaesu FT-891 and therefore run just a little bit more power (50watts).

The gadget actually is made very nicely made and feels like a quality solid little box of tricks. However, as always with so many Amateur Radio gadgets, out of the box they only seem to work about 80% of the way and the last 20% involves a lot of messing about, digging through the internet and old fashioned guess work.

In this case the problem came from the internal jumper board inside that needs to be configured to match the FT-891. There are 2 options. The first is to use individual jumper wires which I didn’t have and to manually bridge the 2 sides of the jumper block. Alternatively you can buy a small pre-configured “chip” that just plugs into the jumper block and sets everything up form you, and I did have this chip so that’s what I used.

With the chip installed and everything plugged in correctly I tried switching on and seeing what happened……………..as expected nothing happened!

The computer talked to and could see the SignaLink USB box and at the same time the computer could see the radio via the second USB cable but the radio could not see the SignaLink via the rear control port.

After many hours of messing around I came to the conclusion that either the SignaLink was bust or the chip wasn’t making the correct links. A quick online order to good old Amazon and within 24hr I had a box of wire jumpers in my grubby mits, and within. 30 minuets I had them installed according to instructions and the SignaLink plumed back in.

I hit the transmit button in WSJTX and to my delight everything fired up, the little red and green lights came on and went off when they should have done and everything on the computer worked perfectly. Within a few minutes I had an FT8 contact. It’s fair to say that I was VERY happy.

It’s fun to solve problems and as a former computer and network engineer it’s what I love doing but sometimes I think the Amateur Radio world lets itself down with things like this. Why don’t they just finish things off properly and provide fully working products and meaningful and comprehensive documentation!

The second new toy added to my shack this week was the Icom-VS-3 Bluetooth microphone and headset. I get so frustrated with what seems like miles of power, USB and coax cable all over my desk constantly knitting itselfintoa massive birds nest. So when I saw this wonderful little gadget at the best radio toy shop in the UK ML&S I had to have one. A few clicks online and 24hrs later it was here.

Unlike the SignaLink USB I unboxed the microphone, powered it up linked it to the IC-705 and away it went.


Bluetooth Mic VS-3