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The ideal Doppler tuning program



I have been out of touch over the holidays, and see that I missed a long thread last week about the new Nova Tune.  I was anxiously awaiting the release of Nova Tune, hoping that it would combine the best attributes of "InstantTune" and "W6ILT Radio Tuner".  Attributes such as:

Direct serial connection from computer to satellite radio (like InstantTune and Radio Tuner)
"Transparent" manual tuning of the radio's tuning knobs (like InstantTune)
Display of "antenna frequencies" and "satellite frequencies" (like Radio Tuner, but preferably a smaller window)

I was stunned when I went to the NLSA web page and saw that the Doppler tuning package requires a $150 interface, plus I would need to buy a new parallel port card for my computer.  People with multiple radios will love Nova Tuner.  And people who want to automate switching of preamps and converters will appreciate the "remote control" lines in Nova Tuner.  But I suspect that the majority of satellite operators use a single "satellite radio".  Doppler tuning via a direct serial connection would be sufficient for those satellite operators.  Reading the manual, I see that "semi-transparent" tuning is supported in a clumsy way.  That is, you can manually tune the RX VFO if you disable FDT before tuning the radio, then enable FDT after tuning the radio.  The TX offset cannot be adjusted via the radio.

Not being a software guy, I feel like I'm just whining.  But am I the only guy who wants a simple low-cost Doppler tuning package that interfaces Nova to the popular satellite radios?  Here's what I would like:

1. Serial connection between the computer and the satellite radio (no external hardware interface).

2. Support genuinely "transparent" radio tuning.  That is, the operator tunes across a transponder using the radio's main tuning knob, and adjusts the TX offset using the sub-tune knob.  To avoid "fighting" the user, the software automatically suspends Doppler tuning when a frequency poll detects that either VFO frequency has been changed by the user.  The software resumes auto Doppler tuning after it has polled the same RX and TX frequency twice to verify that the user is not tuning manually.  Doppler tuning resumes using the new (manually adjusted) RX and TX frequencies.  It should not be necessary to manually enable/disable FDT.  The software can do that automatically with radio models that support frequency polling (FT-847, TS-2000, all Icom satellite radios).

3. A small window that displays the "antenna frequencies" (after converters) and "satellite frequencies" (after Doppler).  Display of "radio frequencies" is not necessary because my radio displays that.  The window should be very small so that it does not "cover up" other applications such as the Nova Map display or a logging program.  Perhaps the window could be small when in "transparent" tuning mode, but large when in "computer" tuning mode, where tuning knobs or sliders must be displayed.

4. Computer tuning should offer multiple methods to tune.  Personally, I find it extremely difficult to tune using mouse-driven sliders.  Perhaps the ideal computer tuning method would be to use cursor keys as follows:  The Left/Right cursor keys function as "up/down" tuning controls.  The Up/Down cursor keys select the tuning increment, such as 10 Hz, 100 Hz, 1 kHz, and 10 kHz.

Despite occasional computer lockups, I really liked InstantTrack/InstantTune until I got a new computer that doesn't support the InstantTrack map screen in a window.  So I bought Nova and W6ILT Radio tuner.  I got them working, but Radio Tuner doesn't support "transparent" tuning and the Radio Tuner display window is far too large.  Even with a 1280x1024 pixel monitor, the Radio Tuner window obscures portions of the windows for my logging program and the Nova map screen.

I guess I should try SatPC32 again (I was a beta tester when DK1TB was developing transparent tuning for the FT-847).  It supports "transparent" RX tuning and has a very elegant display that combines the map, tuning controls, and frequency displays in one window.  Last time I tried it there was no easy and fast way to adjust the TX offset.  The online manual for version 8.0 shows some improvements, though.  SatPC32 demo version can be downloaded from http://home.t-online.de/home/erich.eichmann/indexeng.htm

Wayne Estes W9AE
Mundelein, IL, USA


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