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Wireless FT8 on the IC-705

Picture of FT8 on the IC-705

Wireless FT8 on the IC-705

Last Updated on May 15, 2021

Going portable can take a bit of effort, so the fewer cables you have to lug around, the better. FT8 on Icom’s IC-705 is good fun. Setting up a USB connected station is pretty straightforward, but operating wirelessly, with the exception of your antenna, takes a little more preparation, and maybe the purchase of some additional Icom software, namely the RS-BA1 second version. FT8 on the IC-705 is a great way to operate.

To set up for wireless FT8 you will need:

  1. A PC or device of your choice that will run WSJT-X and that has WiFi capabilities.
  2. The Icom IC-705 transceiver.
  3. The Icom RS-BA1 Version 2 software.

At this stage, it’s worth noting that the RS-BA1 software is not free. It can be purchased at your local amateur radio supply store and comes on a CD. The new version of the software supports the new Icom radios which have waterfalls. The first version does not support these newer radios.

 

What we’re going to do is replace the USB cable with WiFi.

 

It sounds like a bit of a challenge. and it sort of is, but hopefully, this post will get you there.

Let’s assume a few things. Firstly, that you have a USB cable connection between your PC and IC-705 and that the latest driver is installed and working correctly.
Secondly, that you have WSJT-X installed and working with a USB cable.

 

Background

When you plug a USB cable into a PC, Window’s assigns it a port. This com port is allocated a number which you can see in the device manager. Right-click START then select Device manager then click Ports (COM & LPT).  Let’s assume it’s com port 4. When you set up WSJT-X, in settings, specifically the radio tab, you would have selected Com 4.

There are two types of com ports – physical and virtual.

When you remove the USB cable between the IC-705 and the PC, you have to replace it with a virtual cable. This virtual cable is WiFi. The IC-705 has built-in WiFi.  To establish the link over WiFi you need the RS-BA1 software which builds the bridge between the radio and the PC. We’re going to set the radio up using it as an Access Point, not as a station.

The how-to below is all about configuring the radio AND the RS-BA1 software to make this virtual com port.

 

Getting the PC talking to the IC-705

Step 1: Setting up the PC.

  • Install, if you haven’t already, the latest version of WSJT-X. This post assumes version 2.3.1.
  • Install and register your copy of the RS-BA1 Version 2 software from the CD.  (I had to copy the CD contents to a USB drive)


Step 2: Getting the WiFi going

On the IC-705 let’s turn on the Wireless Lan
MENU ->SET -> WLAN SET -> WLAN = ON

While your there, make sure the connection type is set to Access Point (Connect to Phone, PC)
MENU ->SET -> WLAN SET -> CONNECTION TYPE = ACCESS POINT
When in Access Point mode, the IC-705 acts like your home modem or router allowing you to connect to it.

Access the Connection Settings screen and make a note of your IP address.
In this case, my radio’s IP address was 192.168.59.1 If you haven’t set this up, you’ll need to create a WiFi password just like you do for your home modem. If it’s greyed out like in the example below, turn off WLAN on the previous screen first but don’t forget to turn it back on once you’ve created a password.

On your PC, open up your WiFi settings and you should see the IC-705 available as an Access Point.
Connect to it using the password you created above.

Picture of the PC wifi show the IC-705

 

This is optional but once you’re connected, you can double-check the connection by opening up the command prompt on windows and pinging the IP address on the radio – 192.168.59.1 in my case. You can also run ‘ipconfig‘ at the command prompt to see your PCs IP and a gateway address. The gateway should be the IP address of the IC-705.

If you can ‘ping’ the IC-705 at the windows command prompt you have successfully got the radio talking to the PC via WiFi.

 

Getting the virtual com port going

 

You’re well on the way to getting FT8 on the IC-705 going. At this stage, you should have successfully got your PC talking to the IC-705 using the radio’s built-in WiFi and Access Point. If you connect, it should show “Connected, secured” on the PCs Wifi tab. The next task to get FT8 on the IC-705 wirelessly working is to build a virtual com port between the PC and the IC-705. We’ll do this using Icom’s RS-BA1 software. It must be version 2 as version 1 doesn’t support the newer radios with waterfalls.

There are two things to do here, and once again it involves usernames and passwords.
This set is different from your WiFi credentials. It’s the authority for the PC user to gain access to the radio.

At this point choose a memorable username and a password. Write it down somewhere as you’ll no doubt need it again in 6 months time. It doesn’t have to be a really secure password as you’re probably going to be the only one using your radio.

Setting up the radio password on the IC-705

Let’s add a username and password to allow remote access to the IC-705. This is NOT your WiFi password, It’s a new username and password for the sole purpose of letting you have remote access to the transceiver.

On the IC-705, press MENU -> SET -> WLAN SET -> REMOTE SETTINGS -> NETWORK USER 1.
You’ll need to scroll down for the REMOTE SETTINGS option.

Picure of IC-705 Remote Settings screen

In Network User 1 (or 2)…
In the ID settings enter your Username. (I’ve used my callsign)
In the password field enter your easy to remember password
Make sure you’ve made yourself admin.

This Username and Password will be needed in the Icom Remote Utility Server and Radio info detailed below. 

Let’s go and set up your radio username and password, and your IC-705. Chances are you can skip this if you’ve has the USB connection working correctly.

  1. Open the Icom remote utility.
  2. Click Options then select Local/Server Settings.
  3. Select the Registered Radio List tab, then the Add button.
  4. Check Accessible from other PCs the Next.
  5. Check Manual, and from the drop-down menu, select IC-705 then Next.
  6. Leave this CI-V/COM port Settings screen unaltered and select Next.
  7. Choose the ICOM Virtual Audio option for AF Input Device at 48kHz.
  8. Choose your speakers for the MOD Output Device also at 48kHz then Next.
  9. From the Registered Users pane add one or more to the Accessible Users pane. Create a new user with admin privileges using the credentials mentioned earlier if needed. Click Next.
  10. Enter a Radio Name and click Next.
  11. Finally, click Finish.

If you get any errors you can safely click through them as any issue can be corrected from the properties page.

Add the IC-705 to the Server List in the Icom Remote Utility.

  1. Open the Icom remote utility.
  2. Click the Server List tab.
  3. Click Add located at the bottom of the page.
  4. Enter the IP address of your radio in the Server Address or Network Name dialogue box. 192.168.59.1 in my case.
  5. Leave the Control Port (UDP) at 5001.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Now enter the User ID and Password for the radio and click Next.
  8. After the server connects to the radio, click Next to save the Sever settings.

If you have a server connection issue, check the IP address and make sure it’s the same as the one displayed on the IC-705. Also, ping the radio from the PC again, just to make sure something hasn’t gone to sleep.

The Radio List tab you should see something like this. Note the virtual com port – Number 4 in this example. This indicates Com 4  needs to be selected in WSJT-X

By this stage you have the connection sorted for running FT8 on the IC-705. Everything should be connected and talking. Now, all that needs to be done is running up WSJT-X.

Running WSJT-X

 

If you’ve run WSJT-X before then you’re all done. Make sure the settings in the software are pointing to the right com port, and Audio is pointing to the Icom virtual ports. And like any FT8 installation, you’ll need to set the audio levels on the soundcard.

Picture of Wireless FT8 on the IC-705 WSJT-X

Running FT8 on the IC-705 can be tricky to get going, but persistence and tweaking will get you there. Cordless operation makes life easy, especially if you’re going portable, and on the odd chance you leave the USB cable at home… you’re still going to get on air. Don’t forget to add a /P you tour call in WSJT-X.