So there are many logging programs for the Mac out there. There is Aether, HamLog, JLog, KLog, RUMlogNG, SCR-Log, SkookumLogger, YeaLogger and of course there is MacLoggerDX, the software i was using up until now. Up until now? Why? Well, i don’t want to toss out $95 for a logger. It’s just way more money than what i want to spend on a software when there are many options out there that provide similar or even better functionality.
My main reason to stay with MLDX in the past was because it has a very handy voice keyer, something none of the other softwares have. It is very convenient to just press the mouse or a key and the computer makes the radio shout your callsign over the air. Specially if you have conditions like me this feature saves you a lot of calling the same thing over and over with other people in the house looking at you like you were silly.
So if MLDX has this feature, why not stay with it? Well, because of the price, but also because MLDX “calls home”. And i don’t like software that “calls home”. If its for a valid reason like to see if there are updates, then yes, although the Apple AppStore also takes care of that. Ever noticed that MLDX is not on the AppStore? But if it’s just to control me then i don’t want this to happen. I got around that for as long as i used MLDX by just pointing the hosts MLDX is calling for in the /etc/hosts file to 127.0.0.1 but then MLDX also started sending emails to “phone home”, behind my back. My Mac was sending out emails without me knowing it. That’s just too much.
Anyway, long story short, i found out that there is actually a piece of software that has a phone keyer, RumLogNG. It’s a bit hidden in the CW menu, but in the Phone preferences there is actually an option to send audio files. Audio files need to be dropped in a directory (which is not automatically created, btw) and then show up in this menu.
Then, from the CW menu, you can select a menu option or, if the main log window is active,which it is most of the time, you can just press the button you assigned to the audio file. Actually you can record many more audio files and assign them to keys if you wanted to.
RumlogNG of course takes a bit getting used to, but what i noticed is that it’s really a piece of software written by a HAM for HAMs. Tom has a forum and a Facebook page dedicated to his software and is a very good listener to enhancement or support requests.
For the moment i will go for RumLogNG. I am now reading the manual because i think, on the contrary to MLDX btw, that there is much more under the covers than what you would initially think.
To be continued, but at least i am not being watched over my shoulder and i’m not sending mails without knowing.
Now that i have an antenna again i can go back to making QSO’s. Phone QSO’s is easy, for this i have my mic and MacloggerDX for logging. Now digital modes, that’s not so easy on a Mac.
Of course there is CocoaModem from W7AY. CocoaModem is considered the standard for digital modes on the Mac. I tried CocoaModem and either it has too many obscurities or it has too many hidden functions but in any case, i don’t understand how to get it working and i am not alone in this, luckily.
Then there is Fldigi, a Linux program developed by W1HKJ & Associates. Fldigi has been ported from Linux to Windows and OSX and has a very good integration with MLDX, in theory…
Installing Fldigi is simple, you install it like any other OSX program. Configuring is also easy since Fldigi presents you a configuration wizard which helps you get through the first and basic steps.
This is where it gets complicated. On a Mac only one device can use a port at a time so i will have to decide if MLDX or Fldigi will control the radio. Now the good thing is that MLDX can send radio configuration reports and QSL logging reports over UDP on to the network.
And Fldigi can pick that UDP traffic up and use the information to populate the QSO panel. Well, I don’t know what i did wrong, but without touching the radio the frequency received by Fldigi goes all over the place. Probably this feature is still in beta or something. So i have to find another way to have MLDX and Fldigi talk to each other.
UPDATE: Ok, the “all over the place” issue is solved by unselecting the Spot Tune and Spot Capture options. It was them that made Fldigi move the frequency whenever a spot came in.
What is it actually that i want to achieve? Basically what i want is that all my QSOs, digital or not, end up in MLDX. Dogpark Software has published some AppleScripts that do this, but i found a much “cooler” way of doing this on MacHamRadio.com. What he proposes is to use OSX’s file monitoring function to check if Fldigi wrote a log entry and if it did you “automagically” import that log entry in MLDX and delete the Fldigi log file again. Like this you don’t even have to have MLDX open when you are working digital modes, OSX will take care of the log importing whenever a QSO is finished. Awesome!
Rig Control is now set to RigCat and works fine. Rig Control is done by MLDX and MLDX is pushing it’s radio config over UDP to Fldigi (see above). Initially i had Hamlib configured because i know Hamlib from my CubicSDR experiments, but with Hamlib on Fldigi i was not able to get Hamlib to key the radio. I have not tried flrig either. Flrig seems to be the preferred method of transceiver control so maybe i will try that out some day. Never change what works, so for now, until i have everything set up and under control i will stick to RigCat MLDX controlling the radio.
Audio setup was pretty easy. Just connect Fldigi to Kenwoods USB Audio CODEC and you should be good to go.
In my setup i had to Reverse the Left and Right audio channels because i didn’t get any audio out on the USB port.
What is also nice to now is that, when you are testing, it’s important to end your TEST message with a ^r so Fldigi goes into receive mode after the message. If not, the radio will stay in TX mode until you manually go back to RX.
Audio volume can be set using the OSX Sound controls, so that’s easy as well. What i am still looking for is a way to dynamically turn up or down the audio level so my ALC doesn’t go sky-high without me being able to do something about it immediately.
WOW!! I tried to make my first QSO only to find out that my three monitors switch off whenever i TX. I lowered the power to 25W but still…. WTF??!!
So i changed QTH and now i have space to put up antennas. BTW, in the move i lost my Falcon Outback 2000 “mobile dummyload” which served me so well in my last QTH. Anyway, my first idea was to put the 11m mobile antenna up again, but since all the bands from 20 to 10m are closed now i have to put up something bigger.
In a way the end-fed antennas call to my attention. What to do? Buy one like the HiEndFed 3 band antenna? At the end it’s just a 9:1 unun and a string of antenna wire. So build one? I’ve built so many antennas in the past and nothing ever really worked.
Anyway, so i took the model for the unun of M0UKD’s website and tried to build that one using the toroid Mark PA5MW sent me a long time ago.
I strung a 14m long piece of wire to it and in my test setup i got great results! I had an SWR under 2:1 over the whole band with dips at 1.8, 3.5, 7.2 and 14.3MHz, just where i wanted them to be. But now that i fixed the coax, tightened the wire to go straight, changed the direction of the radiator about 90 degrees my SWR looks like this:
So i don’t know what really happened? Maybe it’s the direction of the radiator, maybe the way the coax is laid out, maybe the fact that the antenna is a few meters higher from the ground but SWR has gone up and most importantly, my dips have gone. It’s not a really big issue because my ATU can match it anyway, but match or no match, a bad antenna is a bad antenna.
I haven’t grounded the antenna yet. I will try this today and see if that helps getting the SWR down. Ground is far away, so i have to figure out how to do this.
I just bought this to help me with the project. Awaiting delivery…