How to Work DX with PowerSDR

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How to Work DX with PowerSDR

How to Work DX with PowerSDR

System Dependencies
Minimum PowerSDR Version:
Applicable Hardware: Any transceiver 

Content provided by: Larry, WØOZ

I've had a lot of success using PowerSDR and a FlexRadio transceiver for DXing.

The PowerSDR software often allows me to work DX with or without a pileup. Let me describe the non-pileup case (usually called "simplex") first.

Note:  For FLEX-5000 users, this "how to" was developed without the RX2 installed.  Split behavior with the RX2 installed is different and may not be applicable

Working Simplex
I do simplex by simply using the panadapter, visually, and set the VFO to whatever signal looks interesting. That often enables me to find DX before the pileup even forms.

Here's how I do that.
  1. I pick the band of interest and set VFO A to the "bottom" of the band (as I define it -- as an Extra doing mostly CW, that means around 7.000 MHz for 40, etc.). Often, I get "good enough" for the "bottom" by simply cycling through the locations given on the band switch (you simply click on that repeatedly).
  2. Once I'm on the band segment of interest, I set the display to panadapter and right click once. Some yellow crosshairs appear (if they don't for you, right click until they do).
  3. At this point, all I have to do is click on the pandapter display, anywhere, and VFO A is loaded up with that frequency. I therefore simply visually scan for any frequency of interest. If DX Summit has anything interesting, I use my MixW software and its CAT facilities to set the VFO directly from the spot. If it isn't from DX summit but some other source, I can simply click on the panadapter 'til I get there.
  4. If the DX is working on frequency, then I'm already there. If it is the start of a pileup (but DX really isn't listening up yet), I often use the RIT to get the DX' attention. It usually works out better on CW to not be dead zero beat. Up or down 30 cycles actually works better.
RIT-ing up or down to where the last several guys made QSOs is a nice SDR-based trick that often works. The spectrum display makes that easy to see. Dead zero beat works best for all the RTTY/PSK31 type modes. I don't do much SSB these days, but with a little training, I was able to learn how to click on the panadapter to get VFO A reasonably precisely zero beat for SSB simplex communications. A little practice and you're good to go.

From there, you work DX pretty much as you always did for simplex.

Working Split
But, of course, a lot of DX works split where the DX listens someplace other than it transmits. That takes only a little more work, but once you get the hang of it, you won't want to work a pileup any other way.
  1. I set VFO A to the DX's calling frequency. So far, so normal.
  2. I press the [A > B] button, so VFO B is now the same as VFO A. This may not be strictly needful, but it's a handy beginning.
  3. I press the SPLIT button. This is slightly unnatural, and maybe a bit non-intuitive, but it also activates the critical functions on the panadapter display.
  4. I right click on the panadapter display. This gives me a yellow cross hairs (as before, if you don't see yellow cross hairs, right click until you do).  As in the simplex discussion, by now you know that if you click on the display here, you get VFO A loaded with that frequency. HOWEVER, that isn't what I want now.
  5. I right click on the display again. Because I have SPLIT activated, I get a red set of cross hairs. This is what I want!
  6. Now, every time I click the panadapter, VFO B gets loaded with the result. VFO A is unchanged. I am now ready to work DX. VFO A is listening on the DX' signal. VFO B is transmitting where ever I have most recently clicked it.
  7. The "secondary receive" (MultiRx or SubRX) can be employed or not to taste.  MultiRx™ will let you listen where you think the DX is listening. In marginal conditions, I turn off MultiRx. Or, you can cycle back and forth as you see fit.'
  8. As conditions change, you can set VFO B to a different frequency with a simple click of the mouse. After you get the hang of setting up the panadapter with the right level of zoom, you can see all but the largest pileups on the display (on CW for sure).
You're ready to work lots of DX for SSB and CW. For RTTY, it's a little trickier, because there's usually an offset of some kind or other. I typically use XIT instead of the regular panadapter function for RTTY, but that's because I'm using the display on the MixW software that drives my RTTY. Perhaps I'll learn to use the panadapter there someday, too.

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Last Modified:Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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