20 April 2015

FSQCall on 60m


I've been playing around a little with FSQCall on Linux. It runs fine under wine, although I've never tried using the CAT control as I used vox via a G4ZLP soundcard interface with my KX3.

The only real issue I faced was a problem with the display of the RTF formatted help text on the Rules and Syntax pages, which showed the raw RTF markup.

I thought winetricks might provide a solution and I was right.  Rather than fiddling around I went straight for the scattergun approach and installed all of the packages that mentioned RichEdit, as shown in the picture below.


This fixed the issue.  The only other UI quirk is the brightness slider, which is apparently falling back to a basic widget rather than one that matches the rest of the UI.  There might be a winetricks  solution for this too, but I've not bothered looking for that yet. Another minor oddity is that two audio sinks and sources show up in pavucontrol for each running instance of FSQCall.  I set them both to the same device (or null sink).  This is a minor irritation as I have so many sound devices that having pointless ones in the lists marginally complicates the chore of manually assigning audio inputs and outputs.

I've worked a few european stations on 30m (10.144MHz dial)  and 40m (7.044MHz dial), but have gravitated towards operation on 60m, where the de facto spot seems to be a dial frequency of 5.3675MHz.  The nice thing about this spot is that the main spot for Olivia, 5.3680MHz, fits in the receiver passband below the FSQ waveform, as long as the Olivia users aren't running wider than 500Hz.

There are presently two variants of FSQCall.  The US version is the one I find most interesting, as it offers features for message relaying, and has slightly more right-click context menu entries.  The ZL version provides an image transmission scheme. The picture below was my first attempt at receiving an image from GW8ARR.



Some have noted on 60m that FSQCall isn't as robust as Olivia, and I would tend to agree.  Perhaps a little FEC would cut down some the errors.   I don't really think of FSQCall as a QSO mode though.  It seems more like an IRC for HF, suitable for chatting.

There are presently two variants of FSQCall.  The US version is the one I find most interesting, as it offers features for message relaying, and has slightly more right-click context menu entries.  The ZL version provides an image transmission scheme.

I have 2 pieces of advice for new FSQCalll users:
  1. Always enter your callsign in lower case. The modem is optimised for this, and the SELCAL is case-sensitive, so other users will know that you didn't RTFM before trying it, even after you subsequently edit your callsign, as they will see both versions in their heard list.
  2. If you adjust your receivers pass-band filter, you will notice that the SNR meter varies.  With a pass-band width of 500Hz, it will show about 0dB SNR on background noise. You need to click in the SNR meter to set the squelch level just above the background noise level, for two reasons. Firstly, to squelch the modem and supress spurious characters and secondly, to let the CSMA-like channel access mechanism do its job properly in SELCAL mode.  If you don't set the squelch threshold appropriately, you will find that you cannot transmit.

I've not been on 60m for a few days now, as there has been a new addition to the shack, in the form of an ANAN-100D.  It's arrival has been highly disruptive and has caused a significant refactoring of the distributed shack architecture here.  More on that subject to follow.  First impressions are however, very positive, even without resorting to running Windows software.






1 comment:

Murray Greenman said...

Hi,
I'm pleased to know that FSQ works well on 60m. We find it too much of a stretch between 40m and 80m in the late afternoon, but unfortunately don't have a 60m allocation here yet.

By the way, it would have been a nice thought to correctly adjust the phase of the FSQ picture you show on the web page. It doesn't give a good impression with a misaligned picture!

73,
Murray ZL1BPU
Developer of FSQCall