Demonstrating Ultra-Portable Amateur Digital Stations
Very often I’m asked about ultra-portable amateur digital comms. So I thought right now would be an excellent time to kick off the ultra portable digital comms series.
To kick off the series I put together three different types of stations.
- The first station is built around a notebook type laptop.
- The second is built around an Android tablet.
- The third is built around an Android smartphone.
We use a common interface for all three, but more on that later.
This kit includes:
It’s the least portable but most functional of the three variants. It is a 12-volt laptop but unfortunately, it also has a higher current draw than the tablet or the smartphone variants.
Running FLDigi, this is the most powerful of the three variants. You can run all of the modes available in FLDigi, with the only apparent downsides, being weight, and current consumption.
Planned updates for this Netbook are SSD hard drive, and new high capacity battery pack.
The tablet is 1/4 weight of the netbook, but only runs APRS, JT65, SSTV, RTTY, PSK & FLDIGI Modems.
It’s the best compromise of the three variants, having much of the functionality of the laptop with longer battery life and lower weight.
With modest display setting you can run the tablet continuously for 6 to 8 hours, provided all Bluetooth, WiFi antennas are disabled.
Expanding the capability of the tablet is pretty simple, since Bluetooth keyboards have come down in price, size, and weight.
The WolphiLink interface has been my preferred interface for android based solutions. That’s also true for this tablet.
But in terms of interoperability I’ve decided on a common interface compatible with all three variants. This is a personal choice.
The smartphone is 1/2 the weight of Tablet. Like the tablet it only runs APRS, JT65, SSTV, RTTY, PSK & FLDIGI Modems.
Most portable, Least practical, great for summits on the air, or ultra-light hiking.
It’s the most energy efficient and easiest to charge. Like the tablet we can also integrate a Bluetooth keyboard into the kit.
The reason someone would want to utilize this Smartphone variant is to have Digital Communications capability without carrying any unnecessary equipment.
Using TIVAR, it’s possible to decode almost any digital modes, with a smartphone that’s already in your pocket.
Until recently I’ve been using the Wolphilink interface for Android. It’s very simple interface and quite effective.
Recently I decided to step up the audio interface in game, investing in an audio interface that would be compatible with all three variants of my ultra portable digital comms setups.
So the thing with the WolphiLink is it utilizes the sound card from the device that you’re using. Which means the quality of the audio for your digital Communications is dependent upon the quality of the audio card embedded in your Android device.
For high-end devices this is absolutely okay. For many of the Chinese devices, audio quality can be questionable at best.
The point here is we remove any variables and audio quality by introducing an audio interface which has its own embedded sound card.
The answer here is the MiniProSC. It is Plug and Play on Android Linux and Windows systems.
The Achilles heel is it’s powered over OTG from the Android device, or from the USB port on a laptop.