Sunday, July 9, 2017

SSTV: It's there, still working out the fiddly parts.

Following up last month's discussion of slow-scan TV, the problem all along has been getting the Linux-based software to key the radio.  Or, more specifically, to trip the internal VOX on the SignaLink interface box.  Everything seemed to be functioning correctly, but no joy.  I could describe a month's worth of spare time menu-flipping, but it was both pointless and tedious.  (Side Hint: the Options>Configuration>CAT panel doesn't have anything to do with SignaLink VOX keying, so just leave it alone.  That was one very large dead end.)  Moving on to Yet Another Rainy Day in Coastal MS, after some more tedious and pointless menu flipping, I decided to consult the SignaLink web site to see if there were any internal adjustments on the interface for VOX level.  Nope.  But reading the troubleshooting guide Yet Again yielded a nugget: "If the PWR indicator still won't turn ON, then try changing the USB cables, USB ports, or using a different computer."  

Swapping two USB plugs was the easiest of the three options; tried, and it worked.  Now why would two adjacent built-in USB ports on a laptop be so different?  No idea.  But that, dear readers, is all that it took.  

Made one test transmission at 5 watts on 80 meters, the RF equivalent of whispering in a padded room while a thunderstorm rages outside.  (Which in fact was happening down the beach about five miles away.)  That seems to have gone well.  Still working out the awful image editor and file management in the SSTV software, but the main problem is solved.  Got to have the image editor to insert call signs, etc., and it has to be easy and convenient to use; still not quit there on that one.

Overall, it would've been better to just go with the iPhone, Black Cat's CQ SSTV software, and an Easy Digi interface – all of which I still may do, since with an iPhone the computer and camera are already nicely integrated, and it'd work better in the field while camping.  But it is good to have the SignaLink for digital text modes using FLDIGI, which worked well from the get-go.  For that reason alone, the SignaLink interface box was worth it.

Victory, but at a price.  And there're still some mop-up with the image editor.  I'm sure another rainy day will come around soon.  But for now, the sun is shining and the CX bike calls.

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