Adventures in Urban HF Portable – Part 0.5 (The Delay)

In which fan dipoles are quick to construct, hardware is broken, and shipping from the US is slow

Almost a month with no update on the fan dipole urban HF adventure… Has cloud abandoned a new blog after the first post again? Does it really take them almost a month to build a fairly simple wire antenna? – i hear no one asking as this is an internal monologue…

No and no. let me explain.

The fan dipole has been constructed and is eagerly awaiting it’s first go on air. More will be detailed in it’s own post, but it was a quick build constructed out of some parts left over from a previous antenna project. A system for hanging it in the office window has also been devised.

The delay here is that while band conditions on 15 and 10 metres are starting to show promise, I think it’s still going to be a little while before SSB contact is possible from this location. As such, I wanted to get started using FT8. Here is where the problems arose.

A Faulty link

Earlier this year, I purchased a Digirig Mobile audio/serial interface, produced by Denis Grisak – K0TX. It’s a fantastically compact design for a Radio to PC interface, comprising of both a USB audio interface and a USB serial interface that connect to a PC with a singular cable, all packed into a case smaller than a pair of 9V batteries.

size reference for the unit, very compact – image credit:

I ordered my unit in March, and it finally arrived in May, my order having been held back so that I would receive one of the v1.9 units, instead of the v1.5 that that I ordered. Much appreciated Denis!

Upon receiving it, it unfortunately sat for several months before I finally brought it out for this adventure, where upon doing so I discovered that the device was faulty.

The audio interface component of the unit would not show up at all! multiple computers, cables, and operating systems were tried but the generic USB PnP Audio Device used in the unit failed to appear each and every time, with windows giving the cryptic message that the USB device malfunctioned, or Windows didn’t recognise it.

Digging further in device manager, the device didn’t appear under the list of sound devices, instead appearing as an unknown USB device with the message Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. (Code 43) A request for the USB device descriptor failed appearing in the properties for the unknown device

A Swift Resolution

Reaching the digirig forums, I found a post describing unit behaviour identical to mine. Reaching out to Denis with the information I had gathered about the fault, he quickly identified that the audio controller chip in my unit was likely faulty, and placed a replacement unit in the post. Massive thanks to Denis for getting that sorted out so quickly, especially considering that I’d had the unit for over four months before raising the issue.

That’s where we’re at now! Shipping times to Australia from the US are usually pretty slow, so I’m awaiting the unit. I’ll be getting on air with some FT8 as soon as it arrives.

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