I first set up for WSPR a little over two months ago. At that time, I was using my main rig (FT840), the computer’s sound card with all the requisite cables for audio & keying, a RigBlaster and the latest-at-the-time WSPR software.
It was fun and surprising to see what could be accomplished with a watt, even on the low bands. But I had a ton of wires and a rig tied up to the mode. And I couldn’t use the computer’s sound card for other purposes without disconnecting wires and plugging in the speakers.
Then I saw a different type of interface mentioned on Dave AA7EE’s blog, did a little research and ordered one. Unlike RigBlasters, the SignalLink USB interface has its own built-in sound card and requires only two cables: one to the rig and a USB cable to the computer. It comes with both cables.
An additional and very real benefit to this interface is that I can control my rig’s output power as well as receive level via knobs on the front panel – none of that going into the software and using the mouse to move a slider, etc.
This set-up simplified the wiring but the WSPR software version at the time required that I tell the computer to use the interface’s sound card which again, rendered the computer useless for other audio tasks, like listening to MP3s. I couldn’t selectively use the interface for WSPR and the computer’s sound card for other audio functions – it was all or nothing as far as sound card dedication.
WSPR 2.0 was released a few weeks ago and now all that’s changed. Sound card assignment is now made from within the WSPR software, not the computer’s Control Panel. Other improvements to the software were also made such as the percentage of time desired for transmitting.
Now I can be WSPRing while the computer simultaneously allows me to enjoy the fine stereo separation and haunting melodies as Hayward and Lodge sing about Leary. If you know what I mean by that…..
Finally, I now have my old mobile rig, an FT857D, set up in the shack to use as a dedicated WSPR rig (and as a 6m rig once my antenna arrives).
I put the whole shebang on 80m last night with an output power of 1 watt. Stations in both Italy and England were able to copy me, and I them. My first impression of the new software is that I seem to be getting significantly more decodes than I did with the old software. Not sure if this is a benefit of the updated software or due to lower QRN as we move closer to winter.