For the past few months I have been back and forth about picking up the FFT-1 board for the FTDX1200, or going with a software solution.
The FTT-1 is a user add in board for the Yaesu FTDX-1200 that will give you the ability to decode CW, RTTY, PSK, as well as a small (a few kHz) real time spectrum scope.
My immediate value for the board is / was for the CW decode feature, as I will need a computer to send PSK31 and log the contact – the same with RTTY. So, while real time decode of these settings is nice, you really can’t do anything with the data real time, as you need another interface to operate.
The install is easy.
- Remove the power plug from the back of the radio
- Flip the radio over, so the feet are pointing up in the air
- Remove all 17 screws off the bottom of the radio
- Remove the cover off the bottom of the radio
- Take the FFT-1 board from the box and throw away the directions – they tell you nothing
- Install the board in the FTDX-1200 in the space provided in the upper left of the radio (with the front facing you)
- Use the 4 screws in the box and screw the board to the radio mounts
- connect the two connections, the smaller connects to the port near the front, the larger in the rear of the board.
9. Put the bottom cover back on the radio
10. Screw in all 17 screws
11. Flip over radio
12. Attach the power cable
13. Hit the power button
You can find this install process in dozens of Youtube videos. That was easy. What was a bit confusing was how to get the decoder boards to become active.
What I found is that you have to hit the SCOPE button a few times, then double push the button to get the menu item to switch from the spectrum scope view to the decode window.
What I found is that you have to be in USB-CW for the CW Decode window to show up, as well as USB-DATA for the PSK Decode window to show up. The same applies to RTTY decode, you have to be in the correct mode setting. This is what is should look like below when properly setup. You peak the signal with the window on the right with the peak of the signal in the middle of the three vertical dotted lines.
Think of this as a “tuning” section of the scope, where the peak of the scope readings is centered in this area, and the result is data being printed into the left window.
I immediately found that it was pretty quick to pull in PSK31 conversations, even through it was a bit strange use a spectrum display vs a standard waterfall display to find strong PSK31 signals, I was able to print several different lines of text. Cool.
I then went to use the CW Decode feature. I found several stations to choose from, however, all I could decode was the letter “E” as well as the occasional letter “I”. I could tell there was a CW contest going on, as I could hear CQ TEST.. repeated as well as 5NN. However, the decode board was not decoding this CW. I found some slower CW as well as faster CW, the same result. I went to the internet to find out what I was missing..
- I was using the right mode
- I was using the three “tuning” dotted bands to peak the signal
- Signals were anywhere from S1 to S7, all perfectly comfortable copy.
- I still only would decode “E” and “I”.
Frustrated, I pulled up my iPhone and ran the Morse Pad software from Black Cat, which is a Decoder software for the iPhone. Firing that up, I set the WPM (words per minute) setting to AUTO… and it started decoding CW on the iPhone. Then it hit me, maybe I need to adjust the WPM setting on the FTDX-1200.
I looked at the iPhone, and saw it was decoding at 21 WPM. I dialed up the WPM from 10 to 21 WPM on the FT-1200. Boom!
CW being decoded!
I further discovered that faster QSOs at 30 words a minute wete possible to be decoded and leaving the setting higher at 30 words per minute allowed decodes at 21 through 25 WPM. The trick was setting the WPM rate close to what was being sent. All in all, quite happy now that it is working!