Picture of Icom IC-705

How to set the clock on your laptop using the IC-705 built in GPS

Last Updated on June 14, 2021

No internet?
Tweek you laptop’s time for FT8 using the IC-705 built-in GPS

Getting out of the shack and into the great outdoors is something that most of us aspire to. The allure of a quiet RF environment free of city noise can incentivise most amateur radio operators to go bush.

From the Kimberley in Australia’s vast northwest, and Uluru in central Australia, to the Macedon Ranges in the South East of the country, taking your hobby with you adds a little something to the outdoor experience.

Even operating in the local park on a warm sunny day away from noise of suburbia can be very rewarding.

The now ubiquitous IC-705 along with the FT-818 make it easy to go portable – albeit QRP, and with the rise in popularity of FT8, more and more people are taking this mode into the wild.

Picture of 4 men leaning against a 4WD with lots of amateur radio gear
Picture of an Icom IC-705

FT8 relies on accurate time synchronisation, but what happens if you find your laptop’s clock needs adjustment and you have no internet?

The good news…
The IC-705 can synchronize your clock with its onboard GPS.

You don’t need an internet connection, just your Icom IC-705, a USB cable,  and some lightweight software called BktTimeSync by  IZ2BKT.

Before you head out into the wild, it may pay to download a copy of BKTtimesync from the software tab. This software listens to the output of the built-in GPS in your IC-705 and accurately sets the PC’s clock.

Out of the box, all you need to do set the com port to the non-CIV port.  You’ll also need a USB cable as this process can’t be done using a virtual com port. When connecting the IC-705 to a USB port on your PC that has the Icom USB driver installed, USB (A) and USB (B) are named as “IC-705 Serial Port A (CI-V)” and “IC-705 Serial Port B.”

First, we’ll set up the IC-705 to send GPS data out the USB port. Assuming you haven’t been fiddling in the GPS section of the radio, most settings are already correct.

On the radio press Menu -> Set -> Connectors, then select USB(B) Function. If it’s not on already, turn GPS Out on.

Now go to the GPS menu by pressing Menu –> Number 2 –> GPS, and make sure GPS TX Mode is set to NMEA. That’s it for the radio.

IMPORTANT: Always install the Icom USB driver BEFORE connecting the radio.

Make sure the satellite icon is steady and not blinking which means the radio’s GPS output is reliable.

If you need to or want to, you can check the GPS is working by looking at the GPS information option in the GPS menu on the IC-705, or you can press QUICK and GPS INFORMATION. This will show the visible satellites and their relative signal strength.

The GPS position option- press QUICK and POSITION and the GPS position will show your current lat long, elevation, grid locator, speed and of course, the time.

Now to the BKTTimeSync software. It’s intuitive.

NTP works from home where you have an internet connection but when you’re in the field chances are you don’t have mobile coverage and this is why we use the IC-705. You can safely uncheck this option.

Be sure to check the ENABLE GPS box and set the serial port. Choose the USB B port number in the Serial Port dropdown. If you’re not sure what it is right-click the Windows 10 start button in the lower-left corner of your screen, then click DEVICE MANAGER. Locate the Ports and press the triangle to reveal the com ports active on the machine.  Choose the one which ISN’T LABELLED C-IV.

Once you’ve entered the com port number in the serial port dropdown, yes old meets new here, close the app and re launch it.

You should now see live coordinates, altitude and grid locator. As well, you should now see a successful synchronization in the large dialogue box at the bottom of the screen.

Now the DT should be spot on. If it isn’t, chances are it’s not you.