Setting up SDR Console V3 with an RTL-SDR for use as a panadapater with Yaesu FTdx3000 (or other rig with mods)
It is wise to ensure you have a genuine RTL-SDR dongle. Others may work (I also have a Noo-Elec NESDR SMart and it worked for higher frequency IF’s ) but other cheap knock offs may not. They might also cause unforseen problems.
Equipment you will require
You will need a genuine RTL-SDR dongle. A USB type B to USB type A cable (printer type cable) to run as a CAT control from the FTdx3000 to the PC/Laptop (This description is for Windows 10 only) and an RCA Phono plug to SMA plug cable (RF cable) to run from the dongle to the IF port on the back of the FTdx3000. (If you look at page 29 [online version page 31] of the user manual, rear panel view, it’s labelled No. 8).
Connect the SDR dongle to the FTdx3000 via the RF cable but do NOT plug the dongle into the PC/laptop yet. Connect the USB cable to the FTdx3000 USB port but do NOT plug that in yet either, you need some drivers and software first.
Now, I’ll be honest here, I’m not sure if you need this driver just for a panadapter but I’m pretty sure you will need it to do other stuff via the CAT so it’s a good idea to install it. So, download and install the USB to UART driver from here: https://www.silabs.com/developers/usb-to-uart-bridge-vcp-drivers
Go to the RTL-SDR Quick Start Guide and follow the procedures laid out there https://www.rtl-sdr.com/rtl-sdr-quick-start-guide/ installing all the necessary drivers for the RTL-SDR and most importantly – zadig!
We’re not going to use SDR-Sharp so it’s not necessary to install this software, we’re going to use SDR-Console V3
Follow this link download the latest version: https://www.sdr-radio.com/Console and create a desktop icon.
When the installation gives you the option of installing Omni-Rig, do so.If it doesn’t, go and get it and install it manually. You’re going to need it. Sorry, but it’s a long time since I first installed SDR Console so I’m not sure if Omnirig is bundled with it or not. Make sure that you create a desktop icon for this software too. Note: You do not want Omnirig V2, it does not work with SDR Console only version 1 does.
Incidentally, Omnirig is what you might call a ‘go-between’ piece of software. Instead of having to tell SDR Console what sort of rig you have and all the different CAT codes etc required for it, you just tell Omnirig and that does all the work sending a standard set of instructions to SDR Console (and other software like logging programs) what it needs to know. It also works both ways as well, so if a command comes from SDR Console to change band/frequency etc, then Omnirig will send the correct command to your rig. It’s genious really.
You will need to check or change a few menu items on the FTdx3000. If you don’t know how to do this then R.T.F.M.
- Menu 37 – CAT Select – USB
- Menu 38 – CAT Rate 38,400 bps
- Menu 40 – CAT RTS – Enable
OK, you should have all the necessary drivers and software you’re going to need installed so its probably best to reboot your PC/laptop to be on the safe side and then connect both the SDR dongle and the CAT cable.
Leave your FTdx3000 powered up. This will ensure your PC/laptop sees it and registers the necessary COM ports.
Double Click on the Omnirig icon and using the drop-down options (arrows), copy the settings like so, except your Port settings will likely be different. See the paragraph below.
To find this click the Windows icon (bottom left) and type Device Manager. When it comes up in the list, right click on it and select open. Click on the Ports (Com & LPT) to expand it.
Once you have all the settings in Omnirig, click OK and close it or leave it open. It seems to make little odds.
Now you can double click on the SDR-Console V3 icon and open that. It won’t start yet because we need to set it up to work with the dongle and to run as a panadapter for an external radio. If it comes up with a message saying ‘This action cannot be completed ..blah blah blah’, make sure Omnirig is running and if you’re sure it is, try ‘Switch to’ and do nothing or ‘Retry’ often works. Don’t ask me, I didn’t write it.
SDR CONSOLE SETTINGS
Click the View Tab and under ‘more options’ on the right hand side, select ‘External Radio’. It will tell you SDR-Console needs to restart for the changes to take effect so close the program and re-open it.
Click on the Receive tab across the top and then on the DSP button on the left hand side. This should open the DSP options window on the left hand side of the screen.
Click on the External Radio little arrow if it’s not expanded and then in that window click on the ‘?‘ on the right hand side.
Under the Radio (OmniRig) menu selection, this is how I have set up mine and at least until you know better, I suggest you do the same.
Now click on the frequency menu option and copy my entries here as well. It’s important to tell SDR-Console the correct IF of the FTdx3000 which is 9MHz. This needs to be written in HERTZ! so it’s 9000000. Get this wrong and it won’t work!
When you’ve done that click OK and it will save your settings.
Click the Home Tab
- Click Select Radio and make sure it’s set to RTL Dongle – R820T
- Set the Bandwidth to 1MHz
- Click the box Invert Spectrum so there’s a tick (check) in it.
At this point it is probably a good idea to close SDR-Console and restart it to be sure of it working.
If all is well, you should now be able to start the SDR by clicking the little button that looks like a ‘Play>’ arrow. Incidentally, there’s an option to have it automatically start the SDR when you run it, once you know all is just ticketyboo.
Once you have it running, click the Home Tab again and set the following parameters using the buttons
- RF Gain – 2.7dB
- AGC – ON
- Bias T – OFF
- Visual Gain 0dB
OK, so this should have got it all working. You can now experiment with the layout of the screen with the different options. I wouldn’t take too much notice of the S meter. It’s acting on the IF of the rig after all. You might also want to mute the audio as it’ll be delayed from your rig audio.
Clearly, if you want to use a different rig to the FTdx3000 you’ve got quite a few changes to make but the procedure will be pretty much the same. Simply substitute the rig settings in Omnirig for your rig settings and make sure the baud rate settings etc are compatible with your rig settings. If you can get the CAT controls working between your rig and the PC/laptop the SDR Console setting will be very similar. Obviously, you’ll need an IF output port and you’ll also need to enter the correct value for the IF frequency of your rig. Incidentally, I’ve use this method for other rigs I’ve had (FT897, FT920) by fitting the G4HUP IF tap board inside them. Usually it’s pretty straighforward. They are available from SDR Kits and are very good value. You do quite often need to be fairly handy with a soldering iron though so read the instructions on the one you’re thinking of buying before you spend your hard earned, to make sure you’re happy to get inside your rig.
Since SDR Console is entirely free I’d like to say at this point that if, like me, you think this is an awesome addition to your radio setup, that you go back to the SDR Console website and make a donation. I have as I think the people who write this stuff deserve to get some thanks for what must be a huge amount of work. Not only that, but they’re way smarter than me and should be rewarded for sharing their knowledge.
I hope you manage to get this working OK and if you think I’ve left anything out of this page. made a mistake, or have found an improvement on my setup, then do please let me know in the comment section (click on the relevant post on the home page or here) . All comments are vetted but I’ll publish the legit, sensible ones.
Further reading on SDR-Console as a panadapter here: https://www.sdr-radio.com/external-radio and let’s face it, this is where I got the bulk of the info for setting up my panadapter.