I can’t recommend you buy this product, Not yet anyway. It’s not an issue with the device, the build quality or the actual product operation. I cannot recommend you buy the product because of the poor purchasing experience.
I wondered before my recent camping trip and first real try of QRP portable (non sota) if the FT817 / random wire and 5w would give me enough signal to make it useable, i wondered if digital modes might give me some radio ability while camping and mean i didn’t spend my whole time calling and not getting a reply. Well the HF SSB performance didn’t need me to worry, as i worked around the world and had a good time., BUT, i wasn’t sure before the trip so…
In preparation for digital modes while camping, a random google search uncovered this locally made interface cable for iOS devices and my FT817. (think of it as a mini/portable Signalink) designed especially for the FT817 and iPad. The reviews and commentary on eHam were good as well.
The device is made by a Melbourne Ham, Josh, VK3XJM, I visited his Website and went to the purchase page, this said 7 cables were in stock and the price was reasonable, $52aus posted. So i clicked buy and ordered the cable. A couple of days later, I hadn’t seen any progress on my order (the money had been taken) and so I started to search on the net to find out why. When I had ordered the item, it said in stock, but my searching indicated id purchased a spot in a backlog of cables yet to be made. hmm. It said 7 in stock, i expected it to arrive soon after making my purchase.
There is a yahoo group for the cable, and i read with horror that some people had been waiting 3+ months and still no progress, so I joined the list and asked my own question of my cable progress. The consensus was that, the cables did arrive, but took a very long time, Josh produces them sporadically and when it would arrive was a mystery.
Not long after this, a new blog entry appeared on Josh’s website, he had gotten a new job and had been busy but was making an effort to produce cables and clear the backlog, I emailed him directly, keen to have a cable before my trip, being local and organised to collect one from him direct, and picket one up from his workplace in the city just before I went on my holiday. I talked to Josh briefly about the build issues and delay and he hinted that something better may be in progress, continuing production, but moving the load elsewhere.
As I said at the top, the cable is well made, and works well. Ive used it for PSK31, SSTV and APRS/Packet activity on the FT817. It comes with around 2m of cable, the PCB is wrapped in heat shrink and sealed with silicon. On the iPad, you need to adjust the headphone volume to get the right level for the software to work, about ¾ seems to be the sweet spot on my iPad mini, a fraction lower on my iPad2, and iPhone5. And thats all you need to do, the app software now has a nice input audio stream, and the microphone output feeds back into the FT817, driving TX when an input is detected, the power for the device comes from the FT817 data port.
Digital modes that can be (and have been) used (and are only limited by availability of software) include:
- PSK31 using PSKer, I-PSK31 or Multimode *see my review
- RTTY using IRTTY or Multimode
- SSTV using SSTV
- APRS/Packet using PocketPacket *ill write a review of this soon.
With this device and the iPads capabilities anything digital mode is now possible, only limited by the software that is available. The cable should also be possible to drive an android phone, once again software is the only limit to what can be achieved. when I get a chance ill connect it up to a samsung note2 device I have and see how that works. Now iOS software developers, we need you to produce a WSPR app. 😀