Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wiring simplified

Equipment selection is an iterative process. In a previous post, I showed a complete station assembled and wired. It was a mess, but it everything worked and it gave me a starting point.
I've been thinking about what I wanted to change from that first attempt. I identified a couple of things that either make me nervous or seemed unsatisfactory. Falling squarely into the made me nervous category was the power cable for the IC-7000. It is a four pin connector, different from all the other power connectors that I have for my IC-766Pro and FT-897D. I had only one such power connector (the one that came with the radio) and while it is unlikely that it would be damaged or lost, such an event would basically ruin my whole trip. It was irrational, I suppose, but I thought I needed a second (backup) power harness for the radio. I purchased one a few weeks ago and put PowerPole connectors on it last night after cutting the the wires to a more reasonable length. The new cable, with about 6 feet of run, is now the main cable with the original one that came with the radio now serving as my backup.
In the unsatisfactory category was the Icom level converter. It is large, heavy, and served only one function: linking the computer to the radio. There were two choices, as I saw it: find something smaller that did the same job, or find something did that and more. Since I also wanted to beef up the CW capability of the station, the obvious choice was to substitute a MicroHAM CW keyer for that bulky Icom level converter. The MicroHAM device provides rig control and CW memory keyer capability all through a single USB connection. MacLoggerDX already supports this device. Here is a picture showing the equipment with this new configuration:

The items stack nicely as shown below.

I may change the stacking order putting the tuner between the radio and power supply, or pull it out entirely and move it behind everything. There is some improvement to the wiring mess as shown below:

While not great, this is an improvement from last month's configuration. The additional CW capability demanded three additional items: the numeric pad is connected directly to the CW keyer and will play CW keyer memories 0-9 with just a touch of a button, the Bencher paddles are now off to the right by the mouse, and there is an additional piece of software running on the HamMac to make things easier.
The software is called FKeyer, a program I began fooling with about a year ago. The program maps function keys K1-F8 along the top row of the keyboard to convenient CW macros. F1 will send "CQ DE VP2MRD K", F2 will send "callsign 5NN BK", F3 sends "TU", and so on. The program works with MacLoggerDX. When you enter a call sign and press RETURN, FKeyer sends a message to MacLoggerDX to enter that call sign into its lookup field and perform a lookup on it, thus filling in all the interesting information (name, city, state, country, etc.). When you press "F3", it logs the contact. When you are running CW, your main interface is FKeyer.
The version currently out there (V1.01) does not have the new features I'm talking about. Version 1.02 (with the features) will be published by the end of the weekend. If you have a MicroHAM CW keyer and MacLoggerDX, give it a try. It won't be supported like my other freeware programs (Cab-converter and QSLpro) for a while, but I will get to it eventually.
Tomorrow I'll break out the scale and start weighing everything again. I know I was overweight last time. I also need to budget space and weight for the band pass filters which should arrive in the next week or so. I suspect they'll be light, but bulky. Maybe they'll go in with my clothes. Hmmmm.


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