We both like the performance on Anita’s (AB1QB) Yaesu FTdx5000 Transceiver. It has an excellent receiver and is integrated nicely with our recently completed microHAM system. One area where the FTdx5000 Transceiver leaves a bit to be desired is its Pan Adapter or Spectrum Scope capabilities. We have both the DMU-2000 and the SM-5000 Station Monitor options for this transceiver, but they do not provide the high-resolution Pan Adapter features we are looking for. When we purchased this radio, we also purchased an RFSpace SDR-IQ Software Defined Receiver device to use with it. I recently set the SDR-IQ up to operate with Anita’s FTdx5000 to get the best of both worlds – the high-performance receiver capabilities of the FTdx5000 and the high-resolution Pan Adapter and Tuning features of a Software Define Radio (SDR).
We are using Simon Brown’s (HB9DRV) SDR-Radio Console Application to control the setup. The picture above shows this software, the RFSpace SDR-IQ, and the FTdx5000, in operation together in the phone section of the 20m band. As you can see, the software provides an SDR-like waterfall interface to the radio. The SDR-Radio Console software has the option to control the FTdx5000 via its CAT Interface, and we have enabled this in our configuration. All one needs to do is click on one of the signals on the waterfall or drag-tune the setup with a mouse, and the FTdx5000 is automatically tuned to operate on the correct frequency to receive the desired signal. The current version of the software only controls one of the FTdx5000’s two VFOs, but Simon has indicated that he plans to add support for controlling a connected transceiver’s second VFO in the future. This combination results in a considerable improvement in the FTdx5000’s operating interface. In addition to the waterfall display, the SDR-Radio Console software also provides audio scope and other spectrum scope functions as part of its displays.
The RFSpace SDR-IQ Software Defined Receiver is a small unit that connects to our FTdx5000 via the IF output connection on the transceiver. This device uses the FTdx5000’s wide-band IF signals to create a digitized IQ interface. Our readers should note that only a few radios have an IF output built-in – fortunately for us, the FTdx5000 does have such an output. See RFSpace’s website for some options for radios that do not have a built-in IF output. The SDR-IQ can “see” up to 190 kHz of bandwidth on the transceiver’s IF, which is more than enough to cover an entire sub-band spectrum on most HF bands. The SDR-IQ unit connects to the PC, which runs the SDR-Radio Console software via a USB interface (a USB 3.0 connection is recommended). With some simple configuration and adjustments to the RF levels in SDR Console, the unit was ready to go (we used the software supplied with the SDR-IQ to bring its firmware up to the latest version before setting up SDR-Radio Console). There is a groups.io support group for the SDR-Radio Console software, and the folks there were very helpful in answering our questions as we worked through installing the setup and getting it configured.
I believe that an SDR interface added to an existing “knobs and buttons” transceiver can provide a transceiver system that is much easier to operate. Thanks to folks like Simon Brown, HB9DRV, and his work on SDR-Radio Console software, we have yet another way to explore the world of Software Defined Radio.
– Fred (AB1OC)