[Solved] Crap ! I seem to have a USB buffering issue.

Take a look at this video:

Because of the bad propagation i was trying to make some QSOs on JT65 and i was not able to get any response from anyone. So, because i don’t use WSJT-X a lot and because its CAT always interferes with RUMlog and CubicSDR who also want a CAT connection, i just went over the initial setup again.

At some point in the manual it says: “Click the Tune button on the main screen to switch the radio into transmit mode and generate a steady audio tone. Listen to the generated audio tone using your radio’s Monitor facility. The transmitted tone should be perfectly smooth, with no clicks or glitches.” So that’s what i did and the above video showed. So what’s next? How do i solve this?

I tried with FLdigi to send a long PSK31 signal and the same behaviour shows. I tried with my old MacBook Pro and that one works fine. Crap! Can i not use any digital modes anymore now??

So i sent the following message to the Apple forums and to the Silicon Labs Community:

USB buffering MBP 2001 vs 2015?

I am a HAM and i am using my Early 2015 MBP for data communications. I seem to have a problem where the USB ports are not able to handle the traffic going from my software to the radio.

I am using a USB cable running at 115200 between my radio and the MBP. You can see the behaviour in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cxr5axl_60

In this video i first put a continuous tone on the USB port. The effect should be that the radio sends out this continuous tone on the air. However, as you can see in the video, the audio is interrupted and gets worse over time up to the point that the USB port is not receiving any data anymore and the transmit signal gets interrupted.

I tried this with various USB cables and various different programs and the behaviour is the same with all.

In the video you can also see that i am sending out a CW signal not using the MBP and that signal is clean.

Why do i think it’s the MBP? Because i tried a Late 2011 MBP running the same OS as my 2015 one (Sierra) this morning and that MBP doesn’t have the issue.

 

Any idea what has changed in the USB handling between 2011 and 2015?

Any idea how i can manipulate the buffering if the USB port on the 2015 MBP?

 

Thanks for your input,

 

Ton.

No answers yet…

UPDATE!

When i set the audio preferences in WSJT-X like this i don’t have the issue:

SOLVED!!

I opened a ticket with Silicon Labs explaining the issue and they have sent me a previous version of the driver. This version doesn’t show the above behaviour. So i’m a happy camper again.

How i LOVE PSK31!!

 

11:51:45> Main

Adios y hasta la proxima!! I don’t know how to say that in your language!!

73 sk sk !!

e

EA3HOE de PD5V PD5aV ese kn

11:53:08> Main

PD5V de EA3HOE

 

Hi M,

Your Report is 599 599

My name is Ton Ton ( Age 48 HAM since Dec 2Ø11 and EPC#17184 DMC#Ø5Ø31 )

My QTH is sunny Sant Cugat del Valles (near Barcelona, Spain) ( JN11bl )

My log and More info about me on http://www.ea3hoe.net

Dit was mijn standaard macro. Haat jij die macro’s ook zo??

BTU M, PD5V de EA3HOE pse kn

 

EA3HOE de PD5V

Hi Ton,

Report : 599 599

Name : Rien Rien

qth : Berghem Berghem

loc : JO21SS [11.6° 1,174.7km] JO21SS

Info o : www.qrz.com

How copy? BTU Ton, EA3HOE de PD5V pse kn

 

11:55:18> Main

 

PD5V de EA3HOE

 

Tnx fr QSO.

Please select macro you want to receive:

1. Short, un-personal RST

2. Short, un-personal STATION

3. Short, un-personal 73

4. Long, semi-personal RST

5. Long, semi-personal STATION

6. Long, semi-personal 73

7. Free typing so you know you have contact with a reay human being and we might even get to know each other.

Please enter required option:

BTU Rien, PD5V de EA3HOE k

 

EA3HOE deiPD5V

Ton, my station

Radio : Icom 7Ø6 MK2G, 25, MicroHam USB 3

Software : HRD + DM78Ø v4.1 Beta

Antenna : Windom FD-3

Operator : Created 1951, licenced 198Ø

My QSL is OK via eQSL.cc or via the bureau.

BTU EA3HOE de PD5V kn

 

11:57:49> Main

 

PD5V de EA3HOE

73 Rien and thanks for QSO, good DX in 2Ø12!

All my QSO are uploaded to eQSL.cc (AG). 1ØØ% digital QSL.

Hope to hear you again soon on PSK31 or on any of the other modes.

PD5V de EA3HOE 73, bye, bye! sk sk

73 Ton and thanks for this BPSK-31 QSO on 2Øm, ghod DX in 2Ø12.

EA3HOE de PD5V sk

Starting with PSK31

This morning i made my first QSO in PSK31 mode. For me this is a step into the new world of digital communication.

What is PSK31?
PSK31 is the first new mode to find popularity on HF bands since many years. It combines the advantages of a simple variable length text code with a narrow bandwidth phase-shift keying (PSK) signal using DSP techniques. This mode is designed for “real time” keyboard operation and at a 31 baud rate is only fast enough to keep up with the typical amateur typist. PSK31 enjoys great popularity on the HF bands today and is presently the standard for live keyboard communications.

Nah, you don’t need all this…

What do i need to use PSK31 on the HAM bands?

  • A radio with audio-in and audio-out capability. This can be a dedicated interface or just the Mic and speaker connectors of the radio
  • A PC with PSK software on it. There are many programs out there, many of them are freeware and are very capable and full of features. My preference is WinWarbler from the DX Lab Suite, but Ham Radio Deluxe also does a great job.
Then what do i do?
Simply connect the audio out from your PC to the audio in of your radio. You will have to find a way to connect, for example, your speaker, line or headphones connector to your data-in or microphone connector on the radio and connect the headphones or data-out connector of the radio to the microphone or line-in connector of the PC.
You really don’t need more. There are many hardware solutions on the market, which are more and better isolated, have better filters, etc, etc, but at the end what they do is transfer the audio from the radio to the PC and from the PC to the radio. 
More important than WHAT you use is HOW you use your setup. You have to control your audio levels for in- and output and control your PTT well. And here is where the real fun starts.

PSK in DM780

DM780 vs. WinWarbler

I had quite a few issues getting WinWarbler to work with my TS-480. Not because the software is bad, but because i had no clue what i was doing. And my frustration was that HAM Radio Deluxe DM780 everything worked correctly from the beginning.
There is a big difference between the HRD Suite and the DXLab Suite. Compare HRD to a Mercedes and DXLab to a Formula 1 race car. In HRD you get in, everything works and you start driving. DXLAb has many more buttons, you have to know what you are doing and get everything straight before it works. But once it works you have a race car instead of a road car.
My issues with DXLab was that i had my PTT settings correct, but i was not transmitting. I have my PC audio in and out connected to a special DATA port on the TS-480, but i didn’t really realized it. This sounds strange, but here is what happened:
I was sure i was using the right ports on my PC and that those ports were correctly configured in Windows. When i took out the headphones cable from the PC (audio IN for the radio), i could hear the signal and the radio was sending signal. So to me that meant that my Windows setup was correct, after all HRD worked, and that the radio setup was correct. Something must have been wrong in my WinWarbler setup.
Dave AA6YQ asked me several times if i was using the Mic input or the DATA input and i kept insisting i was using the Mic input. And yes, i was, but i was using the Mic input of the PC, not of the radio!! On the radio i was using the DATA input.
Then Dave pointed me to a checkbox on the radio setup in Commander where you can select whether you use the Mic or the ANI input for data. I looked ANI up in the radio manual and that’s when my coin dropped. I was using ANI and not Mic. And that’s when everything started to work.

PSK in WinWarbler

A couple of hints for setting up the radio and software for PSK

1. Set sound card sampling rate to 8000Hz This must be at least a 16 bit sound card. 
2. No Signal observed? Check WAVE slider is not zero and check if you are using the right ports. 
3. Set Rx and Tx frequencies to 1000Hz. This value will get you up and running but if you plan on using a filter change it to the center frequency. I currently use 2400Hz with a center of 1500Hz.
4. For PSK set your radio to USB.
5. If you get too much noise, consider using a narrow filter. My TS-480 has special filters for data use. Check if your radio has those as well and use those. If not, consider using a CW filter. 
6. Your sound card output must NOT overdrive your Mic Input. Do not overdrive the sound card input from the Radio. 
7. Do not use your Speech Processor.
8. Always check your ALC meter. MANDATORY that the ALC meter stays on 0!!! 
9. ALC on 0.
10. ALC has to be on 0.
11. Read 8, 9 and 10 again.
10. Use to the Waterfall/Phase indicators for tuning. PSK works with channels. Channels are very small frequency ranges that all fall inside your filter, so you can hear them all. Make sure you know who you are talking to.
PSK Macro examples

Macros

Many PSK software allow you to use macros. Macros let you switch your PTT on and off, send your text, log your QSL and many many things more.
A good (read: smart) set of macros can fully automate your QSO’s. If you want to, that is. I see those fully automated QSO’s and really, for me this is only useful for contesting.
Personally I use macros ONLY for calling, standard responses and closing the call. I DON’T use macros for regular QSO. I think it makes you look like a robot and makes (at least for me) the QSO completely impersonal. If someone asks you what the weather is like at your QTH or how long you have been a HAM, which function key to you press?
Where can i find PSK?
In priciple you can find PSK all over the assigned digital mode frequencies. PSK operators sort of made an agreement to use the following frequencies:
PSK31 Frequencies
160m 1838.15
80m 3580.15
40m 7035.15 (Region 1&3, 7080.15 – Region 2)
30m 10142.150
20m 14070.15
17m 18100.15
15m 21080.15  (or 21070.15)
12m 24920.15
10m 28120.15

Conclusion
And last but not least: Be patient, learn and have fun while doing it.
If this is new for you like it is for me, take your time to understand everything step by step. It’s way different from making a phone QSO, there are many more variables and it’s a lot more technical. It will probably not work perfectly from the beginning. Approach the learning process step-by-step and everything will come. 
Enjoy the ride of learning a new thing.

Surely they didn’t have any digital modes yet