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RE: [wsjtgroup] Re: [DigitalOnSix] Do you think a sound card interface can make a difference?

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  • Russ K2TXB
    Bob, what do you mean RigExpert will decode signals ? Is RigExpert a program or an interface box? I thought it was a box... 73, Russ K2TXB
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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      Bob, what do you mean "RigExpert will decode signals"? Is RigExpert a
      program or an interface box? I thought it was a box...

      73, Russ K2TXB

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bob Poortinga
      > Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 2:17 PM
      > To: DigitalOnSix@yahoogroups.com
      > Cc: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [wsjtgroup] Re: [DigitalOnSix] Do you think a sound
      > card interface can make a difference?
      >
      > Howard S. White KY6LA writes (in another group):
      >
      > > As a result of my extensive bench testing of virtually every sound
      > > card interface device I could get my hands on such as the MFJ 1279,
      > > the Microham Keyer and the RigBlaster in parallel with the
      > RigExpert,
      > > each on a separate but identical computer but attached to the same
      > > Radios (IC-756 Pro3, IC-2720, IC-706 MKIIG were tested), I have
      > > observed that the RigExpert will decode signals in signal to noise
      > > situations about 10 db better than ANY of the devices based on the
      > > internal PC Sound Cards.. Which means that it will still
      > give you 100%
      > > copy when the internal Sound Card Devices no longer copy anything.
      >
      > So has anyone used a RigExpert (with built-in soundcard) with WSJT?
      > Does it really exhibit a 10db increased S/N on decodes? If
      > so, this could make a huge difference especially in JT65.
      >
      > --
      > Bob Poortinga K9SQL
      > Bloomington, Indiana US
      >
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    • Randy Tipton
      Bob I know that Jay W5DN is using a RigExpert. He had some problems setting it up for WSJT but posted this to the files area of the WSJTGROUP. Jay would
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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        Bob I know that Jay W5DN is using a RigExpert. He had some problems setting
        it up for WSJT but posted this to the files area of the WSJTGROUP. Jay would
        probably be a good person to comment on any improvements from such a device.

        I copied what Jay posted relating to the set-up at the end of my note.....

        I wonder if you can use the same PC to run two Soundboard programs? It would
        be nice to work HF Digital Modes while still monitoring 144.140 or 50.260
        all with the same PC.

        Tip

        SNIP:
        Someone had a question about how to make WSJT work with the
        RigExpert interface. I have been looking for that answer myself for
        a while and finally came upon the answer this afternoon. Here is how
        I did it. The following screen is from what Joe calls the Console
        window of WSJT 5.8.3.

        ******************************************************************
        WSJT Version 5.8.3, by K1JT
        Sat Sep 10 21:39:38 2005 UTC

        Audio Input Output Device Name
        Device Channels Channels
        ------------------------------------------------------------------
        0 2 0 Microsoft Sound Mapper - Input
        1 2 0 NVIDIA(R) nForce(TM) Audio
        2 2 0 RigExpert
        3 0 2 Microsoft Sound Mapper - Output
        4 0 2 NVIDIA(R) nForce(TM) Audio
        5 0 2 RigExpert

        Default Input: 0 Output: 3
        Requested Input: 2 Output: 5
        Opening device 2 for input, 5 for output.
        ******************************************************************

        Note from the bottom line that I have chosen Device 3 as the input
        device (RigExpert) and Device 5 as the output device (RigExpert
        again). The top three selections are apparently input devices and
        the lower three output devices.

        On the main WSJT screen then, at the top of the window, click on
        setup and then options and the paramaters there on my scree are as
        follows:

        My Call W5DN
        Grid Loc EM20ki
        ID Inter 10
        Com Port 8
        Audio in 2
        Audio out 5
        -----ETC-----

        The comm port should be set to 8 since that is the default comm port
        for the Virtual sound card driver. I am including pictures of my
        screens in the files section so that anyone that wants to look over
        the details then. If you will use these as a guide, they will work
        for you. Be sure to set the PTT Output line to Cat port RTS line as
        included in the pictures. I'm a lot better at doing this than
        explaining it so I hope the pictures there will help you. Please
        feel free to drop me a note at W5DN@... if I can help.
        73 Jay W5DN



        Randy Tipton WA5UFH (Tip)
        Edna, Texas EL19pa
        Email : wa5ufh@...
        __________________________________

        HomePage : www.qsl.net/wa5ufh
        NA Activity Periods : http://www.qsl.net/wa5ufh/WSJTGROUP/WSJTGROUP.htm
        DigitalOnSix : http://www.qsl.net/digitalonsix/
        Please ask for Internet Bible Studies if interested.

        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On
        > Behalf Of Bob Poortinga
        > Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 1:17 PM
        > To: DigitalOnSix@yahoogroups.com
        > Cc: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [wsjtgroup] Re: [DigitalOnSix] Do you think a sound card
        > interface can make a difference?
        >
        > Howard S. White KY6LA writes (in another group):
        >
        > > As a result of my extensive bench testing of virtually every sound
        > > card interface device I could get my hands on such as the MFJ 1279,
        > > the Microham Keyer and the RigBlaster in parallel with the
        > > RigExpert, each on a separate but identical computer but attached to
        > > the same Radios (IC-756 Pro3, IC-2720, IC-706 MKIIG were tested), I
        > > have observed that the RigExpert will decode signals in signal to
        > > noise situations about 10 db better than ANY of the devices based on
        > > the internal PC Sound Cards.. Which means that it will still give
        > > you 100% copy when the internal Sound Card Devices no longer copy
        > > anything.
        >
        > So has anyone used a RigExpert (with built-in soundcard) with WSJT?
        > Does it really exhibit a 10db increased S/N on decodes? If so, this
        > could make a huge difference especially in JT65.
        >
        > --
        > Bob Poortinga K9SQL
        > Bloomington, Indiana US
        >
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      • Randy Tipton
        SNIP: I thought it was a box... Russ take a look at the webpage... http://www.rigexpert.com/ It is much more than a box ... Randy Tipton WA5UFH (Tip)
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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          SNIP: I thought it was a box...

          Russ take a look at the webpage... http://www.rigexpert.com/

          It is much more than a "box" ...

          Randy Tipton WA5UFH (Tip)

          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On
          > Behalf Of Russ K2TXB
          > Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 1:32 PM
          > To: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
          > Subject: RE: [wsjtgroup] Re: [DigitalOnSix] Do you think a sound card
          > interface can make a difference?
          >
          > Bob, what do you mean "RigExpert will decode signals"? Is RigExpert a
          > program or an interface box? I thought it was a box...
          >
          > 73, Russ K2TXB
          >
          > > -----Original Message-----
          > > From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
          > > [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bob Poortinga
          > > Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 2:17 PM
          > > To: DigitalOnSix@yahoogroups.com
          > > Cc: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
          > > Subject: [wsjtgroup] Re: [DigitalOnSix] Do you think a sound
          > > card interface can make a difference?
          > >
          > > Howard S. White KY6LA writes (in another group):
          > >
          > > > As a result of my extensive bench testing of virtually every sound
          > > > card interface device I could get my hands on such as the MFJ 1279,
          > > > the Microham Keyer and the RigBlaster in parallel with the
          > > RigExpert,
          > > > each on a separate but identical computer but attached to the same
          > > > Radios (IC-756 Pro3, IC-2720, IC-706 MKIIG were tested), I have
          > > > observed that the RigExpert will decode signals in signal to noise
          > > > situations about 10 db better than ANY of the devices based on the
          > > > internal PC Sound Cards.. Which means that it will still
          > > give you 100%
          > > > copy when the internal Sound Card Devices no longer copy anything.
          > >
          > > So has anyone used a RigExpert (with built-in soundcard) with WSJT?
          > > Does it really exhibit a 10db increased S/N on decodes? If
          > > so, this could make a huge difference especially in JT65.
          > >
          > > --
          > > Bob Poortinga K9SQL
          > > Bloomington, Indiana US
          > >
          > >
          > > ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
          > > --------------------~-->
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        • Bob Poortinga
          ... RigExpert is not a program but it is more than an interface box. It contains both an interface AND an external sound card. It is this external sound card
          Message 4 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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            "Russ K2TXB" <k2txb@...> writes:

            > Bob, what do you mean "RigExpert will decode signals"? Is RigExpert a
            > program or an interface box? I thought it was a box...

            RigExpert is not a program but it is more than an interface box. It
            contains both an interface AND an external sound card. It is this
            external sound card that provides a 10db S/N improvement over internal
            sound cards. There are several models of the RigExpert and the RigExpert
            Tiny does not include the sound card (it is an interface only).

            73 de
            --
            Bob Poortinga K9SQL
            Bloomington, Indiana US
          • Andrew T. Flowers, K0SM
            Bob, and group, Be skeptical of any magic box that appears to takes noise away. Both noise and signal arrive at the antenna in one stream and you can t
            Message 5 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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              Bob, and group,

              Be skeptical of any magic box that appears to takes noise away. Both
              noise and signal arrive at the antenna in one stream and you can't
              separate them. If he really did an empirical test something is
              seriously wrong--you might ask what his test setup was and how he
              measured the SNR and what confounds he controlled for.

              It's a little hard to speculate not knowing anything about how this was
              measured (or even what, exactly, was being measured), but here is my
              hunch:

              It almost sounds like he used a big "Y-cable" to hook all the interfaces
              in parrallel (!) to the same radio. If all of these interfaces have a
              different input impedence then we are going to see different amounts of
              power (volume) reaching each sound card...I wouldn't be surprised if the
              AF amp in the rig started limiting too. Did he measure and control for
              this? I believe that most of these soundcards have a resistive network
              that controls how much audio passes--changing one will likely change the
              input power to all of the other interfaces. Of course, there are all
              kinds of other problems that can result from not having the inputs
              isolated from each other, but I'm not even going to go there.

              I've also found some other "reasoning" having to do with the RigExpert
              being outside the "noisy" environment of the computer. If you just
              record dead silence you can indeed hear these birdies. You will
              probably have to crank your volume up all the way to hear them, though.
              Indeed, the noise floor of most sound-card systems is limited in this
              way, at least at 16-bit resolution and higher. However, the level of
              these birdies is typically on the order of *50dB* below what the input
              signal from the radio should be. Unless you have the audio gain set
              *way* too low, this should not be an issue. That's why WSJT gives you
              the green line.

              That's my two cents.

              Andy K0SM/2

              Bob Poortinga wrote:

              >Howard S. White KY6LA writes (in another group):
              >
              >
              >
              >>As a result of my extensive bench testing of virtually every sound
              >>card interface device I could get my hands on such as the MFJ 1279,
              >>the Microham Keyer and the RigBlaster in parallel with the
              >>RigExpert, each on a separate but identical computer but attached to
              >>the same Radios (IC-756 Pro3, IC-2720, IC-706 MKIIG were tested), I
              >>have observed that the RigExpert will decode signals in signal to
              >>noise situations about 10 db better than ANY of the devices based on
              >>the internal PC Sound Cards.. Which means that it will still give
              >>you 100% copy when the internal Sound Card Devices no longer copy
              >>anything.
              >>
              >>
              >
              >So has anyone used a RigExpert (with built-in soundcard) with WSJT?
              >Does it really exhibit a 10db increased S/N on decodes? If so, this
              >could make a huge difference especially in JT65.
              >
              >
              >




              --
              No virus found in this outgoing message.
              Checked by AVG Free Edition.
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            • Russ K2TXB
              Hi Bob & Randy. Well the page Randy cited is completely different than what I found: I found http://www.mixw.net/RigExpert/. It simply says USB Transceiver
              Message 6 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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                Hi Bob & Randy. Well the page Randy cited is completely different than what
                I found: I found http://www.mixw.net/RigExpert/.

                It simply says "USB Transceiver Interface". That was the first result from
                a Google search on RigExpert.

                Now I looked at the rigexpert.com page and can see that it is more than a
                simple interface, they say it has it's own sound card and does not use the
                one in the computer. How can that work for WSJT? WSJT needs to communicate
                with the sound card. Does RigExpert provide an interface via the USB
                connection that looks like a normal sound card, so that WSJT can interface?
                I cannot see on the web page where it says anything about that. It looks to
                me like it is only set up to work with CW and FSK - but not FSK as done by
                WSJT.

                Other that that, it looks like a nice product, but OH the price!

                As for low noise provided by their sound card, maybe, but if WSJT cannot
                interface to it then that benefit will be lost. Also, I suspect that many
                high end sound cards will be just as quiet. There may also be a benefit by
                having the USB interface, so that matching and ground loop problems between
                the computer and the radio are reduced - but you still have to interface the
                radio to the RigExpert... And low noise in those connections is pretty easy
                to accomplish anyway. One only has to pay attention to impedance matching
                and preventing ground loops.

                And finally, it still does not appear that RigExpert can decode anything. I
                think it is still the computer program that does the decoding. However it
                appears, Bob, that what you mean is that signals through the rig expert can
                be decoded when they are 10 db weaker than via other interfaces you have
                tested. That sounds very good, but the question becomes; how did you test
                this, and is your alternate interface set up in the best way to match
                impedances and eliminate ground loops?

                I have no way to verify it, but I think my simple home made interface will
                work as well. I can decode JT65 signals that are as weak as -30 db, and I
                do not recall anyone ever saying they have done better. I doubt I have over
                20 dollars invested.

                73, Russ K2TXB


                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
                > [mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bob Poortinga
                > Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 2:58 PM
                > To: wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: Re: [wsjtgroup] Do you think a sound card interface
                > can make a difference?
                >
                > "Russ K2TXB" <k2txb@...> writes:
                >
                > > Bob, what do you mean "RigExpert will decode signals"? Is
                > RigExpert a
                > > program or an interface box? I thought it was a box...
                >
                > RigExpert is not a program but it is more than an interface
                > box. It contains both an interface AND an external sound
                > card. It is this external sound card that provides a 10db
                > S/N improvement over internal sound cards. There are several
                > models of the RigExpert and the RigExpert Tiny does not
                > include the sound card (it is an interface only).
                >
                > 73 de
                > --
                > Bob Poortinga K9SQL
                > Bloomington, Indiana US
                >
                >
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              • Joe - WD0M
                If you re interested in an interface at a much lower price (and without an external sound card), you may want to check out the MicroHam Keyer - much like the
                Message 7 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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                  If you're interested in an interface at a much
                  lower price (and without an external sound card),
                  you may want to check out the MicroHam Keyer -
                  much like the Rig Expert, and works well. The
                  company provides exceptional customer support,
                  and provides free firmware/software updates regularly.

                  Yes, it's the computer program that does the
                  decoding, not "the box". Purportedly, the
                  external sound card "helps" by providing a less
                  noisy signal to work with. I've been using the
                  MicroHam Keyer for WSJT and it does an excellent
                  job, along with all the other digital modes. It
                  also features the WinKey CW chip, and lets you
                  use only USB connections - no serial port issues.

                  http://microham.com/

                  No financial interest, just a satisfied customer.

                  73,
                  Joe WDØM
                • Bob Poortinga
                  ... Yes. ... Yes, they are pricey. How much would you pay for an antenna that gave you 10 db better S/N? ... The person who tested it (an EE with real test
                  Message 8 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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                    "Russ K2TXB" <k2txb@...> writes:

                    > Does RigExpert provide an interface via the USB connection that looks
                    > like a normal sound card, so that WSJT can interface?

                    Yes.

                    > Other that that, it looks like a nice product, but OH the price!

                    Yes, they are pricey. How much would you pay for an antenna that gave you
                    10 db better S/N?

                    > Also, I suspect that many high end sound cards will be just as quiet.
                    > And finally, it still does not appear that RigExpert can decode anything.
                    > However it appears, Bob, that what you mean is that signals through the rig
                    > expert can be decoded when they are 10 db weaker than via other interfaces
                    > you have tested.

                    The person who tested it (an EE with real test equipment, not me) stated that
                    the RigExpert sound card codec (ADC) provides 10 db better S/N. That means
                    that under 'no signal' conditions, the noise floor of the sound card is 10 db
                    lower than the other tested cards.

                    I'd be very interested in any comments from Joe, K1JT, on these figures.

                    --
                    Bob Poortinga K9SQL
                    Bloomington, Indiana US
                  • Joe Taylor
                    Bob -- ... When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Specifications of sound cards that refer to the S/N of the card are completely
                    Message 9 of 13 , Nov 7, 2005
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                      Bob --

                      > RigExpert is not a program but it is more than an interface box. It
                      > contains both an interface AND an external sound card. It is this
                      > external sound card that provides a 10db S/N improvement over internal
                      > sound cards.

                      When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

                      Specifications of sound cards that refer to the "S/N" of the card are
                      completely irrelevant to use of the card with WSJT -- or indeed just
                      about any other ham radio software. The reason is that the
                      signal-to-noise ratio that matters for MS or EME (with WSJT), or for HF
                      use of PSK31, is determined far upstream of the device interfacing your
                      radio to your computer.

                      A sound card would have to be EXTREMELY poor -- so poor that it would be
                      unacceptable for "normal" computer uses such as recording/playing music,
                      etc. -- before its S/N rating would significantly degrade the decoding
                      ability of WSJT and similar programs.

                      The noise that the WSJT decoders must cope with is a combination of
                      cosmic noise, atmospheric noise, and receiver noise; sound card noise is
                      many tens of dBs weaker, and entirely negligible.

                      As it happens, there is one way in which poor sound cards can adversely
                      affect WSJT signals. It's not S/N, but rather inaccuracies in sampling
                      rate. WSJT uses a sample rate of 11025 Hz for both input and output.
                      All sound cards claim to support this rate, but some do it by
                      interpolating rather poorly from another sampling rate.

                      The Rig Expert may be a convenient way to do your radio-computer
                      interfacing, but it will NOT gain you 10 dB (or even 1 dB) in detecting
                      weak meteor pings or EME signals.

                      -- 73, Joe, K1JT
                    • Bob Poortinga
                      ... Doesn t sampling jitter also introduce noise? Wouldn t a highly-stable sampling clock produce a lower noise floor resulting in better decodes? ...
                      Message 10 of 13 , Nov 8, 2005
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                        Joe Taylor K1JT <joe@...> writes:

                        > As it happens, there is one way in which poor sound cards can adversely
                        > affect WSJT signals. It's not S/N, but rather inaccuracies in sampling
                        > rate.

                        Doesn't sampling jitter also introduce noise? Wouldn't a highly-stable
                        sampling clock produce a lower noise floor resulting in better decodes?

                        > The Rig Expert may be a convenient way to do your radio-computer
                        > interfacing, but it will NOT gain you 10 dB (or even 1 dB) in detecting
                        > weak meteor pings or EME signals.

                        Thanks, Joe, I was simply looking for a definitive answer in response to
                        the claims of others.

                        73 de
                        --
                        Bob Poortinga K9SQL
                        Bloomington, Indiana US
                      • Joe Taylor
                        ... Yes, but for any plausible amount of jitter that noise will cause negligible degradation of the WSJT audio signals sent from your radio to the sound card
                        Message 11 of 13 , Nov 8, 2005
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                          Bob Poortinga wrote:
                          > Joe Taylor K1JT <joe@...> writes:
                          >
                          >>As it happens, there is one way in which poor sound cards can adversely
                          >>affect WSJT signals. It's not S/N, but rather inaccuracies in sampling
                          >>rate.
                          >
                          > Doesn't sampling jitter also introduce noise? Wouldn't a highly-stable
                          > sampling clock produce a lower noise floor resulting in better decodes?

                          Yes, but for any plausible amount of jitter that noise will cause
                          negligible degradation of the WSJT audio signals sent from your radio to
                          the sound card input.

                          The "inaccuracies in sampling rate" that I mentioned are not jitter, but
                          rather a sampling rate that is constant but offset from the nominal
                          value by a significant amount. WSJT always requests a sampling rate of
                          11025 samples per second. The actual sample rate can be somewhat
                          different. Some recent sound cards are "off" by as much as 75 Hz,
                          sampling at about 11100 Hz instead of 11025. If uncorrected, this means
                          that the WSJT tone spacing will be off by about 0.7% in both time and
                          frequency, causing a loss of sensitivity up to about 2 dB.

                          The next WSJT version to be released will have the ability to correct
                          for errors in sound card sample rates.

                          >>The Rig Expert may be a convenient way to do your radio-computer
                          >>interfacing, but it will NOT gain you 10 dB (or even 1 dB) in detecting
                          >>weak meteor pings or EME signals.
                          >
                          >
                          > Thanks, Joe, I was simply looking for a definitive answer in response to
                          > the claims of others.
                          >
                          > 73 de Bob, K9SQL

                          Happy to help!

                          -- 73, Joe, K1JT
                        • Paul Whatton
                          Hi Joe Do you have any examples so we know which sound cards to avoid? For example at the moment I m using a cheap OEM PCI soundcard. I also have an external
                          Message 12 of 13 , Nov 8, 2005
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                            Hi Joe

                            Do you have any examples so we know which sound cards to avoid? For
                            example at the moment I'm using a cheap OEM PCI soundcard. I also have
                            an external Soundblaster USB card so I wonder if there would be a real
                            advantage in using that instead?

                            Paul G4DCV

                            PS the facility to click on and decode pings & bursts in real time in
                            5.8.6 is wonderful!

                            Bob Poortinga wrote:
                            > Joe Taylor K1JT <joe@...> writes:
                            >
                            > > As it happens, there is one way in which poor sound cards can adversely
                            > > affect WSJT signals. It's not S/N, but rather inaccuracies in sampling
                            > > rate.
                            >
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