Ham Radio – FLDIGI, the KX3 and Linux

I love Linux, not only because it makes sense, but because the programs available for ham radio are in many cases superior to the Windows equivalents.

CQRLOG is one of them, and fldigi is another one that works well with my small laptop and Elecraft KX3. It took me a while to get them both working right, and here’s a couple of tips so that others may not have to reinvent the wheel. I’m running Ubuntu 12.04 on a small laptop.

In the fldigi preferences menu, under rig control, click on “Hamlib” and click the small box that says “Use Hamlib.” Select the K3/KX3 from the drop down box, and the device “/dev/ttyUSB0”, 4800 baud and two stopbits. Leave the other defaults. If you click on “initialize” and see your transmit frequency in the main box, then celebrate and ignore the rest of this post.

When you set up the CQRLOG TRX Control parameters, enter your rig name under “Radio one, desc:,” use Rig ID model 229 (which is the one for the K3, but it works), click the “run rigctld when program starts” box, and specify only the serial speed of 4800 and 2 stop bits. Leave the rest default.

But it probably won’t work, because when you plug the serial port adapter into your Linux machine, the computer may recognize it but will prevent you from accessing it because you don’t have permission to do so. That’s because you don’t belong to the proper group. Part of Linux security. There’s a command you can enter every time you boot up, but that’s a pain and easy to forget.

Here’s a step by step guide to making it work permanently.

1. Plug in your USB to serial port adapter and get your rig running

2. Open a terminal window in Linux by pressing CTL-ALT-T. You’ll get a prompt which consists of your username, the computer you are running on and a dollar sign. Mine is “steve@steve-Latitude-D420:~$” From this prompt, enter the following commands. Case is important.

3. Discover what the USB adapter is called by entering:

ls /sys/class/tty

You’ll get a list of perhaps 50 various devices; the last one is your adapter, and should be ttyUSB0 or ttyUSB1. If you don’t see it, you are in trouble and may have to install the proper drivers. I didn’t have that issue, but if you do, remember that Google Is Your Friend.

4. Find out which user groups are authorized to access the adapter by entering:

ls -l /dev/ttyUSB0 (or ttyUSB1 if that’s where your device ended up)

The output will show you what permissions have been granted, and to which user groups. Mine shows that members of two groups can access ttyUSB0: root and dialout. You don’t want to become a member of the “root” group because that would compromise security.
5. Find out which groups you belong to by entering:

groups

You’ll probably see a long list of groups, but “dialout” isn’t one of them.
6. Join the dialout usergroup by entering:

sudo usermod -a -G dialout yourusername

7. Log out and log back in, or reboot.
No doubt, there are easier ways to do some of these steps, but this worked for me. Good luck.

73’s
Steve, K0GUZ

Cablea’s moment

For those who don’t know about it, Cabela’s advertises itself as the Worlds Largest Outfitter, and their store in Grand Junction (an anchor store at Mesa Mall, located at the site of an abandoned Mervyn’s department store)  is filled with hiking, camping, fishing and hunting equipment.  Including firearms and a huge selection of ammunition…much of which, oddly enough, comes from Russia.  When you enter the store, a large sign announces the greeter is there to check any firearms the customers may be carrying.

I went there yesterday to buy some gifts, and noticed that the man in front of me, who was about my age and looked perfectly normal, bought three boxes of.38 caliber bullets. He grumbled to the the cashier that he wished there wasn’t a limit of only 3 boxes. The total cost was over $200, although he had a Cabela’s loyalty card so I’m sure someone was tracking his purchases.  I wonder what he planned to do with his purchase.

The nice middle aged lady behind me in the line, who was there with her teenage daughter,  had stopped at Cabela’s folksy homemade fudge shop, and bought a box of fudge, and a box of shotgun shells.

Surreal.