ZS2EZ SOFTWARE SETUP
Like most modern Amateur Radio stations, the ZS2EZ station revolves around a computer and an efficient software setup. Due to IT being my livelihood, this is perhaps more so than most in my case!
The Shack Computer at ZS2EZ is an Intel i5 PC running Windows 10 64 Bit Professional, with 3 hard drives (primary drive is a 480GB Gigabyte SATA SSD) and 16Gb RAM. It feeds 5 monitors (a 24", and 3x 18.5" displays via 2 Gigabyte G210 graphics cards, and a 23" display via a USB-HDMI Adapter. It also has an onboard RS232 port running a connection to my Elecraft W2 Wattmeter. There are a number of USB devices connected - a MicroHam MicroKeyer II, an Encore USB Sound Card and a K3NG Keyer. A set of powered speakers are connected to the Encore sound card. A wired HP keboard and an Asus TUF M3 Gaming Mouse round off the PC setup.
I also have an Intel MiniPC running Windows 10, which has the SDRPlay RSP1 connected to it via USB, and CAT information is fed via DXLab Commander software, VSPE and Com0Com virtual cables (See the SDR Page for more on this setup). This provides a Panadapter display on a 23" Monitor running SDRUno.
I have an additional Intel MiniPC running GridTracker software (fed via Multicast UDP from JTDX or WSJT-X). This PC also runs my WeatherSat image downloading system.
The heart of the software setup is the brilliant DXLab Suite by Dave Bernstein AA6YQ. This is a suite of seven "modules" that work seamlessly together. I use DXKeeper for my logging (including Award Tracking, LoTW uploading, automatic uploading to ClubLog and printing of customised QSL cards), SpotCollector monitors 4 different DX Cluster feeds and Commander provides CAT control of my Kenwood TS-590S, as well as providing a Secondary CAT port that feeds my SDRPlay through a complex network system. WinWarbler makes use of the Winkey built into my MicroHam Microkeyer to ensure perfect CW, and provides excellent RTTY operation via the MMTTY engine (also maintained and supported now by AA6YQ). Pathfinder allows automatic lookup of station info via QRZ.com, DXView provides Map facilities, beam headings and a Progress Matrix, and Propview provides propagation forecasting. The Suite is run through the DXLab Launcher application, which checks for updates at launch and allows control of configuration data via it's Workspaces feature. A fantastic suite of software.
The perfect companion to the DXLab Suite is the magnificent MicroHam MicroKeyer II. This provides "virtual" serial ports for CAT control, PTT, FSK keying and CW keying (either via Serial Port or via it's built-in K1EL Winkey chip). There is also facility for secondary CAT, PTT and FSK ports. It also provides connections for a Footswitch, PA and LNA switching and facility to take either a PS/2 keyboard or keypad. It also includes full Voice Keying functions, and can take both microphone and headset connected simultaneously. More detail on this incredible interface can be found here.
CW is operated using WinWarbler for keying (it integrates perfectly with the K1EL Winkey in the MicroKeyer II), and either MRP40 or CWGet for receive. Both of these packages have Gateways available to work seamlessly alongside WinWarbler. MRP40 also has the capability of transmitting CW via the Winkey, and there is Winkey support in both FLDigi and MixW.
For all other mainstream modes (such as PSK31/63, MFSK, Olivia etc) I make use of FLDigi . This package offers a plethora of modes, and has Gateway software from N2AMG linking it to both Commander and DXKeeper for CAT and Logging facilities. I also have MultiPSK loaded, but find the User Interface very cumbersome.
For the WSJT modes (FT8/FT4/JT65/JT9) on HF I use JTDX by Igor,UA3DJY , with Joe Taylor K1JT's WSJT-X software as an alternative. WSJT-X and JTDX combine well with the DXLab suite through VK3AMA's excellent JTAlert software, for which I am a Beta Tester.
For RTTY I use WinWarbler to key my Kenwood TS-590S in FSK. Transmission is via the MMTTY engine, and I utilise WinWarbler's built-in facilities to run 2 additional Decoder Panels. WinWarbler has support for the 2Tone software to operate in RX-only mode, and (via a Gateway provided by AA6YQ) I run VE3NEA's GRITTY decoder package in a 3rd window. This setup works VERY well, as both the MMTTY version built into WinWarbler and 2Tone offer selectable Profiles for specific band conditions, and GRITTY has a Smart Decoding mode that works incredibly well. I also have a HAL DXP38 freestanding TNC that I can run via it's proprietary DXPWin software as an additional decoder. This TNC is certainly no slouch at RTTY either, easily able to keep up with the software decoders - particularly under fluttery band conditions.
For RTTY Contesting I make use of N1MM Logger+... For many years I contested actively using the original N1MM Logger, and when I returned to Contesting at the beginning of 2016 I moved over to the new N1MM Logger+. It has been quite a learning curve, but the new version is VERY powerful indeed. For the 2016 CQ WW RTTY and JARTS contests I ran with 3 decode windows (MMTTY, 2Tone and GRITTY). Under Contest conditions GRITTY proved to be the best of the 3....
During General operation I make use of both Elecraft's W2 Wattmeter software (to give a graphical display of the W2 Wattmeter on my PC screen) and DL9HO's LogPublisher (which automatically uploads each QSO logged in DXKeeper to my HRDLog.net and QRZ.com online Logbooks) and SpotSpy software.
I am currently exploring the various SDR packages to use with my SDRPlay unit : I currently use SDRUno to run the SDRPlay as a Panadapter along with my Kenwood TS-590S (see description on my SDR Setup Page ), and am also experimenting with SDRSharp and HDSDR.
I have a separate freestanding Mini PC running Windows 10 , controlling my RTL-SDR Dongle for Weather Satellite Image download. My CCW SDR+ Unit and HAL DXP38 are currently connected to my Admin PC (an i3 PC with Windows 10).