Adjusting your BFO offset using audio spectrum analyzer software

In adjusting the BFO  you have to be careful to not transmit both the signal AND the carrier.  If the filter has been shifted too far, it is possible to have the carrier transmitting unintentionally. Roman K7TXL found this out while trying to transmit FT8 signals.  He found two spikes on his SDR.

In his experience he has found that the only reliable approach, that doesn’t involve complex test instruments, is to download and use an audio spectrum analyzer program.

Roman uses SpectrumView by WD6CNF.

SpectrumView software

WD6CNF Audio Spectrum Analyzer runs on the Windows operating system and has the following features:

  • Analyzes audio from 10 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Takes an input from a microphone or wave file
  • Has variable displays
    • Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) display
      • Variable sample rates (8000 Hz, 11025 Hz, 22050 Hz, 44100 Hz)
      • Variable transform sizes (1k, 2k, 4k, 8k)
      • Upper and lower limits adjustable
      • Continuous, averaged, peak hold
      • Selectable foreground/backgrounds
      • Variable markers (2)
      • Save a reference plot, compare with the foreground plot
    • Time display (oscilloscope)
      • Triggered sweep
    • Waterfall display (color or B/W)

Alignment procedure from Roman K7TXL

  1.  Disconnect antenna from ubitx, or better, find an unused part of the band with just hiss, no other signals
  2. Run audio out from ubitx into PC/Mac/Linux audio in
  3. Run spectrum analyzer and configure it to listen to the audio in
  4. Turn up volume on ubitx until levels are reasonably high but not clipping in the spectrum analyzer
  5. For the ubitx 5 (not the earlier versions), you will want to set the BFO somewhere around 11.055-11.056 MHz as a starting point.
  6. I am going to presume that you started with the BFO frequency on the high side, say 11.057 and you are lowering it. As you do so, you should see on the spectrum analyzer that the noise’s high frequency roll off frequency increase. At some point it will no longer get any higher no matter what you do with the BFO value. The point you want is right as you touch that max value. You might have to back off and watch the max value decrease, then adjusting again until you find the maximum.
  7. Save the BFO frequency using the PTT where you get maximum high frequency response. Roman found that the BFO frequency was about 1.5-2 kHz lower than the frequency where he got the most “bass” response in his headphones, thus the final result had less bass response.
  8. If you have an SDR, you can double-check your results: Run ubitx into a dummy load and have an SDR with separate tiny (or no) antenna nearby, either run WSJT-X “Tune”, or a single frequency of audio into the ubitx mic. The SDR will likely be sensitive enough to pick up stray RF (even with the dummy load) and you should be able to see only one, not two spikes on the display (make sure you zoom in maximum to a narrow bandwidth view).

After this adjustment, Roman has managed to make a few longer distance FT8 contacts, i.e. Seattle to Alaska on 40m.

Reference

Using uBITx Memory Manager with the HF Signals v4.3 Firmware

Remi F1MQJ has modified the manufacturer’s v4.3 original firmware (published on may 23 2018) to include communication with KD8CEC memory manager.  

This could be very useful for those wanting to stick with the HF Signals latest firmware, while making it easier to view or update initialisation settings, such as calibration of frequency or setting the BFO injection point, in the original firmware.

Modifications are the same as those described by Ian KD8CEC  here but are adapted to the HF Signals V4.3 original firmware.

The file removes all text after .ino in your firmware directory replacing the original ubitx_cat.ino file.   

You can access this file at the following URL:
https://groups.io/g/BITX20/files/ubitx_cat.ino_modified_KD8CEC_F1MQJ.txt

How will you know you need to calibrate your BFO?

  1. Tune to 7074 using LSB. You should hear nothing.
  2. Change to USB and you should hear all kinds of PSK and other digital modes. If you hear these signals in LSB then your BFO frequency is not correct, and may even be placed on the wrong side of the passband.

My BFO was way off after I first tried to calibrate it. I then started over with mine at 996.4 and ended up at 996.7. If yours is a long way off from that then I’ll bet you hear psk at 7074 when in LSB.

Reference

Calibrating your uBITx

Many constructors have had issues calibrating their µBITx.

To begin with, you have to figure out how to get into the expanded “Settings” menu.  Push on the encoder, and select “Settings”.  Wait for the menu to exit automatically.  Then press the encoder again and in turning the dial you should see the additional menu items displayed.

Jacob AG7CT has documented the steps he takes to calibrate his µBITx:

  1. Tune to WWV on the dial
  2. Enter menu
  3. Turn setup on
  4. Reenter menu turn to and select calibrate
  5. Zerobeat the WWV carrier. (May be difficult if BFO is too far off.)
  6. Click PTT.
  7. Click encoder, select set BFO.
  8. Zero the sideband off WWV.
  9. Click PTT to set.
  10. Click encoder, turn setup off.
  11. Wait more than 10 seconds to ensure setting are saved before removing power.