[pskmail] Feedback on Field testing of Android Pskmail with Bluetooth interface

  • From: John Douyere <vk2eta@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: pskmail@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2011 23:39:36 -0500

The tests, over 10 days, were conducted only while mobile, not portable,
but they provided good insight about the overall system.

First I have to say I am pretty pleased with the interfacing of the radio
with the Bluetooth adapter. I think this is a real winner as it make the
usage of the Android device much more convenient.

I have prepared a technical presentation for the simple modifications
required for the Bluetooth handsfree adapter but I am waiting to complete
the test across different versions of Android as the interface has evolved
quite a lot in the last iterations: from Android 2.1, where it is still
very basic for our application, to 3.0+ where it allows a nice and easy
integration in the AndPskmail application.

That way I can have a consistent technical section and a user's section.

I used principally PINGs, INQUIREs and BEACONs for unconnected mode and the
usual list of connect, headers and email downloads and web-page retrievals
for connected sessions.

The bands used were mainly 40M and sometimes 80M. The PSK125R mode was used
by default and was quite resilient except when lighting crashes were very

The servers (VK2FWW-1 and VK2ETA-1) were up to 500KM away so it was mainly
NVIS conditions. It worked quite reliably despite using almost exclusively
the vertical antenna on the car.

The automatic mode adjustment were mostly finishing on PSK500R for the
receiving side of the client and PSK250R for the TX side. Considering the
level of noise around the servers and the poor efficiency of the vertical
antenna on the car on the 40M band I think that is a good result.

The automatic noise cancelling of the Bluetooth unit did not seem to affect
the receceiving of the PSK modes despite an obvious reduction in volume for
these modes. It reached PSK500 on receive on a few occasions.

So what did I miss on the Android phone:

1. An automatic beacon/link feature. That is in the pipeline, with some
smart beaconing and smart RX switching (e.g. adjustable thresholds of speed
and distance between beacons).

2. A more robust mode for NVIS conditions. I have seen that Rein is working
on MFSK for the version 2 of jPskmail so I'll re-use that development.

Otherwise, the modem/waterfall screen was quite handy but I found myself
flipping often between the modem and APRS screen. I guess if I had an
automatic beaconing function I would have stayed on the modem screen and
checked the acknowledgements from there. Or alternatively I could add a
split APRS screen with the modem text at the bottom similar to jPskmail.

So what next:

1. The list above: auto beacon and MFSK

2. Finalizing the software side of the Bluetooth interface for various
versions of Android

3. Implement the storage and display of sent items.

4. Fix a few annoying "bugs" like loosing the new mail content if
navigating away from the new mail screen before saving, and orientation
changes between landscape and portrait.

At this stage it will be ready for a beta release and an upload to the
Android Market (free application of course).

All in all it is a lot of fun to operate such a device. I have been
thinking about adding a simple standard PSK31 screen to that it can be used
like a normal digital mode application too although I don't want to
duplicate what is already done (see the DroidPSK application in the Android

That's all for now,

All the best,

73, John

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