Welcome to QUISK (February 2014)

This is Quisk, a Software Defined Radio (SDR). You supply an antenna, a complex (I/Q) mixer to convert radio spectrum to a low IF, and send that IF to the left and right inputs of the sound card in your computer. The Quisk software will read the sound card data, tune it, filter it, demodulate it, and send the audio to headphones or speakers. Quisk has a microphone input and a key input so it can operate as a complete transceiver. Quisk works with this hardware:

Quisk is small and simple, and has been designed so that it is easy to change Quisk to suit your own hardware. Quisk rhymes with "brisk", and is QSK plus a few letters to make it easier to pronounce. QSK is a Q signal meaning full breakin CW operation, and Quisk has been designed for low latency. Quisk includes an input keying signal that can mute the audio and substitute a sidetone.

Please read the file CHANGELOG.txt for changes.

When running Quisk for the first time, please press the "Help" button on the lower right.


Quisk was originally written by James Ahlstrom, N2ADR.

Thanks to Leigh L. Klotz, Jr. WA5ZNU for configuration improvements, factoring out my eccentric hardware control, and adding panadapter and other hardware support.

Thanks to Franco Spinelli for a fix for the H101 hardware.

Thanks to Andrew Nilsson VK6JBL for adding support for SoftRock Rx and Tx.

Thanks to Terry Fox, WB4JFI, for code to support the Charleston hardware.

Thanks to Maitland Bottoms, AA4HS, for the sub-module linkage patches.

Thanks to Philip G. Lee for adding native support for PulseAudio.

Thanks to Eric Thornton, KM4DSJ, for adding async support for PulseAudio.

Many others contributed to Quisk, and are mentioned in comments in the source code.


Quisk is registered on http://pypi.python.org; just search for "quisk" to see the latest version and the download URL. The download page is http://james.ahlstrom.name/quisk/index.html. There will be a source distribution (a tar.gz file) and a binary Windows version (msi installer). The Linux version is for 32-bit Linux. If you get the message "wrong ELF class", you have 64-bit Linux, and you must recompile (use "make"). You do not need to compile the Windows binary, but you need Python to run it.

You must have Python installed on your computer, preferably version 2.7. Linux almost certainly has Python installed. For Windows, visit http://www.python.org and download the Windows installer for Python 2.7 to install it. You must also install the latest wxPython package for your version of Python from http://www.wxpython.org.


I recommend that you just uncompress and un-tar the tar.gz file somewhere under your home directory:

gunzip quisk-3.4.4.tar.gz
tar xf quisk-3.4.4.tar
# Check directory quisk-3.4.4 before removing the tar file
rm quisk-3.4.4.tar
# Perhaps change to a shorter name unless you want multiple versions
mv quisk-3.4.4 quisk

That way all the source for Quisk is available so you can change or add to Quisk. If you need to recompile the source, use the "make" command in the quisk directory. If there are compile errors or missing *.h files, you must install some "dev" packages. See below for needed "dev" packages.

Run Quisk using a terminal with the command "python quisk.py". If there is any error output, it will appear on the terminal. After testing, you can create a panel launcher with the same command but a full path, for example "python /home/jim/quisk-3.4.4/quisk.py" or "python /home/jim/quisk/quisk.py" if you used the shorter name . Then just click the button to run Quisk.

Another way to install Quisk is to change to the superuser (root) and run "easy_install quisk" or "python setup.py install". If you don't have easy_install, install the python-setuptools package (for Debian/Ubuntu). This method installs Quisk as a package. But you need to be root, and the source is not in a convenient place; it is in /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages. And there is no uninstall feature.

Quisk needs a few additional packages to run. All should be available as packages or RPM's so you don't have to compile the source. Generally you would get the most recent versions rather than the versions I show below. Needed packages are:

If you want to attach a key status line to your computer, you need to change is_key_down.c and run "make". I currently use Ethernet to send key up/down status. I previously sent a 5 volt CMOS signal to my parallel port, but new computers often lack a parallel port, and Ethernet is much easier.

If you decide to use the parallel port, you need the ppdev Linux driver. To load it on boot, add it to /etc/modules (on Debian). The permissions on the port (on Debian) are 660, group "lp". So add yourself to the "lp" group. Otherwise you will have to run "modprobe ppdev", and run "chmod 666 /dev/parport0" as root to access the parallel port.

Quisk does not use the serial port, but some of the special hardware files do. If you need Python serial port support, install pyserial from package python-serial. Note that many programs use USB, but are based on a USB to serial converter, and pyserial works with these too.

Windows Installer

To install Quisk, first install Python and wxPython (see above). Next download the quisk.msi installer, right click it, and select "install". This is best for those who plan to run Quisk, but not work with the source code. To uninstall Quisk, use the Control Panel item Add/Remove Programs. Quisk is installed in the site-packages folder under the Python 2.7 libraries. This enables Quisk to be imported as a package by other software.

Windows Source

If you want to see and change the source code, or recompile the Windows version from source, download the source tarball (the tar.gz file), uncompress it and extract it into a directory somewhere. This is the same as the Linux install proceedure. I use the directory C:/pub/quisk because I synchronize this directory using SpiderOak on multiple computers. You should probably choose a directory under C:/Users/my_name with Windows 7, or perhaps a directory under the Documents folder. You can then run Quisk with the command "C:\python27\pythonw.exe quisk.py" from the Quisk directory, the directory where quisk.py is located. You can create a shortcut on the desktop with this command. There is no need to recompile unless you change the C language source, as the needed DLLs are included. You can change any of the Python *.py files, and there is no need to recompile.

To recompile the DLL, install the MinGw compiler and the same dependencies as the Linux version, and enter "make win". If you get errors, look for missing *.h files from missing dependencies.

Quisk Files

These are the Quisk files in the distribution:


Quisk does not have a menu to control its operating parameters. Instead, you must create and edit your own configuration file. For Linux, the default configuration file name is ".quisk_conf.py" in your home directory; that is, "~/.quisk_conf.py". For Windows, the default configuration file name is quisk_conf.py in your My Documents folder.
To help you get started, there are several configuration files included, such as quisk_conf_model.py for sound card, quisk_conf_sdriq.py for SDR-IQ, and quisk_conf_fixed.py for fixed VFO such as SoftRock. Do not change any of the quisk_conf_*.py files. Instead copy one of these files (but NOT quisk_conf_defaults.py) to your own config file. Newer versions of Quisk will not overwrite your personal config file.

The file quisk_conf_defaults.py contains all Quisk's parameters. It is read in first; then your config file is read in and overwrites some parameters. Do not copy quisk_conf_defaults.py to your config file. It is too long and is subject to change with each new version. Instead, read it to see what you can change, and then just put the lines that need changing into your config file.

If you are controlling custom hardware, you will need to specify a hardware file in quisk_conf.py. The default is quisk_hardware_model.py. Look at the other quisk_hardware_*.py files. For example, quisk_hardware_fixed.py is for crystal controlled SoftRock. To use that hardware file, change your quisk_conf.py to include:

import quisk_hardware_fixed as quisk_hardware

There are comments in quisk_conf_model.py showing this change. If none of the hardware files do exactly what you want, copy one of them to your own quisk_hardware.py, edit that file, and include this line in quisk_conf.py:

import quisk_hardware

Newer versions of Quisk will not overwrite your quisk_hardware.py. Your hardware file enables you to customize Quisk without changing the Quisk program files.

Alternatively, you can define a class named "Hardware" in your config file, and that class will be used instead of a hardware file. This is recommended only for simple hardware needs. The class should start like this:

from quisk_hardware_model import Hardware as BaseHardware
class Hardware(BaseHardware):
    def __init__(self, app, conf):
        BaseHardware.__init__(self, app, conf)
        # Start your hardware control here.
        # For ideas, see one of the other hardware modules.

Both the config file and your hardware file are written in the Python language. Python is an easy to learn but powerful computer language. Quisk can be adapted to different hardware because of the power of Python.

Sound Cards

If you use a sound card for input, the quality of your sound card is critical; but you can start with the sound card you have. Check the Graph screen with no input to see the noise floor. It should be as flat and as low as possible, with no bump near zero Hertz. The 0dB line at the top of the Graph screen is the maximum level, so if your noise floor is at -90 dB, you have that much dynamic range. The IF (sound) input to the sound card should raise the noise floor only slightly to avoid losing dynamic range.

The sample rate determines how much of the band you can see on the screen. My 96 kHz card shows a little over 80 kHz of bandwidth, from -40 kHz to + 40 kHz centered at the VFO frequency. Generally you would choose the highest rate available to get the most visible bandwidth. Be aware that a card claiming to work at (say) 192 kHz may in fact play at that rate, but only capture (record) audio at a lower rate. It is the capture rate that matters. Enter only the sample rate you know your raw hardware supports for capture.

If you use the SDR-IQ or other hardware for input, you still need a sound card for sound output. The quality of this card is not so important, so try the one you have. Be aware that most sound cards require the capture and playback rate to be the same when used for both. Here are some sample configurations:
If you buy a new sound card, make sure you know the capture (recording) sample rates and the noise level. Sound cards are usually specified over the audio range up to 24 kHz or so. But we need low noise and distortion over the whole range.

Linux Names

Quisk can use PulseAudio, PortAudio or ALSA to access your sound card. Names can be a fragment of text from the device description. It is better to use this text search rather than an index number, because the index number can change if you plug and unplug USB sound cards.

The ALSA drivers use different names for the same sound card to provide different access. The names "hw:0" and "hw:1" refer to the raw hardware devices of the first and second sound card. You should use the raw hardware if possible. If the raw devices don't work, use the "plughw" name. The ALSA name can also be a string name. Here are some ALSA names:
"hw:0"		# First sound card
"hw:1"		# Second sound card, etc.
"plughw"	# plug device
"default"	# alsa default device
"alsa:NVidia"	# Search for the name in the alsa device description
Alsa names starting with "alsa:" are an extension to the normal alsa names. They search for the text after the colon in the alsa device name. The alsa device names are shown on the config screen. Or you can start a terminal window and enter "aplay -l" for a list of play devices, or "arecord -l" for a list of capture devices. See alsa_names for more information.

The PortAudio interface is newer, may be easier to get working, and may be used to connect Quisk to other programs (I have not tried this). But for CW, ALSA has lower latency. Run "python portaudio.py" in a terminal window to see a list of available names, or use a different PortAudio tool. Here are some PortAudio names:
"portaudio:(hw:0,0)"    First sound card.
"portaudio:(hw:1,0)"    Second sound card, etc.
"portaudio:NVidia"      Search for the name in the portaudio device description.
"portaudio#1"           Directly specified index.
"portaudiodefault"      May give poor performance on capture.

Linux Sound Servers

Newer Linux systems are now shipping with PulseAudio enabled. PulseAudio is a sound server, a program that takes control of your sound cards, and controls usage by applications. The idea is that your applications talk to PulseAudio, and PulseAudio talks to the sound cards. Another example of a sound server is JACK. You can control the sound routing with the pavucontrol program. Remarkably, this is not included with PulseAudio, and you will need to install the pavucontrol package first.

Thanks to Philip G. Lee, Quisk now has native support for PulseAudio. For PulseAudio devices, use the name "pulse:name" and connect the streams to your hardware devices using a PulseAudio control program. The name "pulse" alone refers to the "default" device. The PulseAudio names are quite long; for example "alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo". Look on the screen Config/Sound to see the device names. There is a description, a PulseAudio name, and for ALSA devices, the ALSA name. Instead of the long PulseAudio name, you can enter a substring of any of these three strings. An example is:
# As seen on the Config/Sound screen:
  CM106 Like Sound Device Analog Stereo
     USB Sound Device USB Audio (hw:1,0)

# In your config file:
# Use the default pulse device for radio sound:
name_of_sound_play = "pulse"
# Use a PulseAudio name for radio sound:
name_of_sound_play = "pulse:alsa_output.usb-0d8c_USB_Sound_Device-00-Device.analog-stereo"
# Abbreviate the PulseAudio name:
name_of_sound_play = "pulse:alsa_output.usb"
# Another abbreviation:
name_of_sound_play = "pulse:CM106"
The PulseAudio code should not cause problems, but I am not sure what happens if PulseAudio is not installed, or if you replace it with JACK. This config file option will turn off all but directly entered "pulse:" names:
show_pulse_audio_devices = False

Linux Problems

If Quisk appears to run but you get no sound input or output, you may be having trouble with your settings. Start Quisk and look at the graph. You should get a moving line display. Look at the Config screen. Interrupts should be increasing and latencies should fluctuate. If all this looks normal, but you get no sound output, or you get only white noise output, then you may need to change your settings with a mixer program.

If you capture data with the sound card (no SDR-IQ) then you need to set the "capture device" to the line-in jack, and set the volume of the line-in to 100%. To play sound, you need to increase the volume of the playback device. Since a typical sound card has ten or twenty controls for all its analog and digital inputs and outputs, it is a guessing game to figure out which control to adjust.

Basically you start the alsamixer program (use "man alsamixer" first) and adjust the volume controls and capture device until Quisk works. It is wise to reduce or mute unwanted inputs to avoid adding extra noise. Quisk does not do this for you. But once you have the controls set, they will stay the same and Quisk should keep working until you run another audio program that changes them.

To make Quisk adjust the mixer controls when it starts, you need to know the control id number. Run the command "amixer -c 0 contents" (for card zero) and look at the control ids, names and values of all your controls. Figure out the control you need to adjust. For a setable option (on/off) the control value is one or zero. For a volume it is a number from 0.0 to 1.0. Make a list of (device_name, numid, value) and add it to mixer_settings in your .quisk_conf.py file (see quisk_conf_defaults.py). I don't need to do this on my computer except for the microphone input on my second sound card.

If you really get stuck, try one of these commands (see the "man" page):
And try to play an audio CD or run some other Linux audio program just to see that you have a working sound system. If you can't get ALSA to work, you could try the PortAudio or PulseAudio interface by just changing the sound card names.

For more information try these articles:

Windows Names

To see what sound cards you have, use the Control Panel item Sound Devices. There is a separate list for capture (recording) and playback devices, and a specified default device for each. The name of the default device is "Primary". To specify your sound card name, use either "Primary" or a substring of the device name. The search is case sensitive.

SDR-IQ as Input

Quisk can use an SDR-IQ from RfSpace instead of a sound card for input. Edit your config file to select the SDR-IQ. Read quisk_conf_defaults.py to see what changes you need to make. For Linux, try the USB driver that came with your system first. If you need a faster driver, install the ft245 Linux USB driver. See http://james.ahlstrom.name/ft245 for installation instructions. You still need a sound card for output. The output is 48 kHz stereo and a high quality card is not required. Files that support the SDR-IQ are now in subdirectory sdriqpkg.


There are several configuration parameters devoted to tuning; read the file quisk_conf_defaults.py for documentation. For most users, Quisk should run fine with the default settings. But if you use Quisk as part of a QSK CW transmitter, you should reduce latency_millisecs to as low a value as possible. This will reduce latency, but increase the likelihood of clicks and pops due to sound buffer underruns.

USB Control

Many radio devices are now controlled through a USB interface. In many cases, the interface is actually a serial port, and an external or internal USB to serial converter is used. In other cases, the USB is native, but requires a custom device driver. In still other cases, the USB device announces itself as a standard device such as a sound device or human interface device, and uses a standard operating system built-in driver.


Default USB permissions do not allow a non-root user to write to the bus. You may find that Quisk will complain about lack of permission to access the USB. You could test this by running Quisk as root and seeing if that works; but this is not acceptable except for testing. To change USB permissions, add a rule to /etc/udev/rules.d/local.rules (for SoftRock on Debian and Ubuntu) like this:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="16c0" , ATTR{idProduct}=="05dc", MODE="0666", GROUP="dialout"

This changes the USB device permissions to read/write for all users, and changes the group to the "dialout" group. Default group permissions are read/write, so if you are in the "dialout" group, you don't need "MODE"; modify as appropriate. To load the new rule, you can either reboot or on Ubuntu use

sudo udevadm control --reload-rules

Custom Hardware

Quisk receives RF using your sound card or your SDR-IQ out of the box. But if you have custom hardware such as a VFO or a transmitter, you need to describe your hardware to Quisk.

First, Quisk has a transmit (Tx) frequency and a receive (Rx) frequency. The transmit frequency is the one shown in the frequency display, and shown by the tuning line on the graph and the waterfall. The Rx frequency is always equal to the Tx frequency except when the RIT (receiver incremental tuning) button is down or the Split feature is in use. The primary frequency in Quisk is the Tx frequency, even when you are receiving.

Quisk has a "VFO" frequency. This is the RF frequency corresponding to zero Hertz audio frequency, and is the frequency shown at the center of the graph display. For a SoftRock or a direct conversion receiver (Tayloe detector, SDR1000-type hardware, etc.) this really is the VFO frequency. But consider an AOR AR8600 receiver with a 10.7 MHz IF output to a pan adapter. For that case, the VFO is always 10.7 MHz since that is the center point of the display, and signals at exactly 10.7 MHz are at zero Hertz audio. But to display the correct frequency within Quisk, the VFO would be the tuning frequency of the AR8600.

When Quisk starts, it uses the hardware description in quisk_hardware_model.py, but this file doesn't do much. It is mostly useful as a model or starting point. To use a different hardware file, first create a custom file such as my_hardware.py. Look at the various quisk_hardware_*.py for ideas. Then import your file in your config file:

 import my_hardware as quisk_hardware.

Suppose you have a crystal controlled SoftRock. A good model hardware file is quisk_hardware_fixed.py. Copy quisk_hardware_fixed.py to my_hardware.py, make any changes to my_hardware.py, and import it in your config file.

At my shack, I control an AT-200PC antenna tuner, my SDR-IQ, my filter boxes and my SSB transceiver (using Ethernet) all with Quisk. Take a look at my n2adr subdirectory.

The quisk_hardware_model.py file shows the basics of hardware control. There is an open() and close() function called once on startup and shutdown. The ChangeMode() and ChangeBand() functions are called when the user changes the mode or band with the corresponding buttons. The HeartBeat() function is called at about 10 Hz by Quisk. You can put code there to poll a serial port or to perform other housekeeping functions (try to be efficient). The two remaining functions deserve more documentation.

ChangeFrequency(self, tune, vfo, source='', band='', event=None)

Quisk calls the ChangeFrequency() function when the user changes the Tx frequency with a mouse click on the graph or waterfall, with the entry box, with the band Up/Down buttons, etc. The "source" is a string giving the reason for the change:

BtnBand A band button was pressed (the string band is in the band argument)
BtnUpDown The band Up/Down buttons were pressed
FreqEntry The user entered a frequency in the box
MouseBtn1 Left mouse button was pressed (for the mouse, "event" is the handler event)
MouseBtn3 Right mouse button was pressed
MouseMotion The user is dragging with the left button
MouseWheel The mouse wheel up/down was used

Most of the time you will not care about the "source". You just need to react to the user's action, perhaps by changing the hardware VFO frequency. It is not necessary to actually make the change requested. Just adjust your hardware as required, and return the actual (tune, vfo) that you want. Quisk will ignore its requested values and use your actual values instead.

For example, suppose you have a crystal controlled SoftRock. The VFO frequency is fixed at (say) 7.025 MHz. Then when ChangeFrequency() is called, return (tune, 7025000). This will fix your VFO frequency to the only one available.

Suppose Quisk calls ChangeFrequency() with vfo=7050000 and tune=7100000, so the tune is 50 kHz above the VFO. Suppose that is unacceptable because of (say) bandwidth limitations, so you want the VFO closer to the tune. Set your hardware VFO to 7090000 instead, and return (tune, 7090000).

Suppose Quisk is just controlling a receiver and the audio is demodulated by the receiver and not by Quisk. Then the center frequency is always the tuning frequency, and you would set the receiver frequency to tune, and return (tune, tune).


When Quisk starts, it calls ReturnFrequency() to get the initial tune and VFO. To display an initial frequency, return (tune, vfo) on the first call.

Thereafter, Quisk calls ReturnFrequency() at a 10 Hz rate to poll for frequency changes. You should almost always return (None, None) to indicate that the frequencies have not changed since the last time ReturnFrequency() or ChangeFrequency() was called. Returning (None, None) is slightly more efficient than returning the actual frequencies, and thus forcing Quisk to see if its frequencies are out of date.

The only reason to return something other than (None, None) is if your hardware can change frequency by itself; that is, other than in response to ChangeFrequency(). For example, if your hardware is a receiver with a tuning knob, and the user turns the knob, you must return the new frequencies from ReturnFrequency() or else Quisk will be unaware of the change.

Extension Packages

Quisk comes with two extension packages. The sdriqpkg package supports the SDR-IQ hardware by RfSpace. The n2adr package supports the hardware in my shack. There are other extension packages available from third parties.

All extension packages are directories (folders) in the Quisk root; that is, in the directory where quisk.py is located. This enables Quisk to find extension modules, and extension modules to find each other. You can install in a different place, but you will need to know what you are doing.

Starting with Quisk 3.6 C-language extension modules are not linked with _quisk.so. Certain symbols from _quisk.so are exported using the Python CObject or Capsule interface. That simplifies linkage and eliminates problems with module search paths. See the documentation in import_quisk_api.c. This change was suggested by Maitland Bottoms, AA4HS, and he also provided patches.

Most Quisk users will not need to write packages to support their hardware. They will need a config file in their home directory (or other name with the "-c" or "--config" command line option). And they may need a custom hardware file that can be written directly in the config file (for simple cases) or imported from the file quisk_hardware.py. If you need to import Python files, they must be on your PYTHONPATH. You could just put them in the Quisk root (not really recommended). Or you could put them in a directory somewhere on PYTHONPATH (import sys; print sys.path). Or you could put them in a directory somewhere and add that directory to PYTHONPATH in your config file:

import sys

Shared Libraries

The main Python extension module for Quisk is _quisk.so or _quisk.pyd. It is a shared library. To import it, it must be on the Python path. There are other Python extension modules (shared libraries) for other hardware, for example, sdriq.so. Quisk works fine when all these modules are in package subdirectories. If you want to put them somewhere else, be sure that the Python import mechanism can find them.

If you link your sub-packages against _quisk so you can use _quisk functions, be aware that your sub-package must be able to find _quisk.so at both compile and run time. You need to follow the Linux rules for searching for shared libraries. Try using the "ldd sdriq.so" command to see your library dependencies. Also try readelf -d sdriq.so.

For Quisk version 3.6 and newer, you should use the Python CObject or Capsule mechanism instead of using the C linker to access _quisk functions and data. Quisk will prepare an array of function and data pointers and transfer them to your sub-module without using the C linker. Only minimal changes to your sub-module are required. The SDR-IQ module sdriq.so uses this method, and you can use it as a model. See the file import_quisk_api.c for documentation.

New Packages

If you have more complex needs or want to distribute your code more widely, you need to create a new Quisk package. That is easily done by modeling your code after the existing packages. To create a new package you need a subdirectory of the Quisk root to hold it, perhaps "mypak". Then create these files in mypak:

To these files, you add all your Python files, C-language files and any other files you need. If you have a hardware or widget file, they should be named quisk_hardware.py and quisk_widgets.py. Longer names are not needed because you are within a package. You should include a sample quisk_conf.py too.

To compile C-language extensions (if you have any) enter "make". To import your hardware and widgets files from other modules, use:

from mypak import quisk_hardware
from mypak import quisk_widgets
from mypak import myext as EXT

The setup.py file describes how to build your package. But it is also used to distribute it. To create a mypak-1.0.tar.gz file in the "dist" subdirectory, use:

python setup.py sdist

You can then put the file on your web page (for example). To make your package available on PyPi.Python.org, first register with PyPi and then use:

python setup.py register sdist upload

Python supports quite complicated packages; see the distutils documentation.

Installing Packages

Your package mypak will run on your machine as is. But when another user gets mypak-1.0.tar.gz they need to install it. Basically, they just put it in the Quisk root with the same name as on your machine. Here is an INSTALL.txt:

Unzip and untar this archive at the root of the Quisk directory; that is, where the file quisk.py is located. In this example, the archive is named "mypak" and the path to quisk.py is /home/jim/quisk/quisk.py.

mv mypak-1.0.tar.gz /home/jim/quisk
cd /home/jim/quisk
gunzip mypak-1.0.tar.gz
tar xf mypak-1.0.tar
# Make sure that directory mypak-1.0 exists before removing the archive.
rm mypak-1.0.tar # tar file is no longer needed
mv mypak-1.0 mypak # change to the correct name

Digital Modes

Quisk has a number of modes "DGT-" to receive and transmit digital signals. The modes "DGT-U" and "DGT-L" decode the signal as upper or lower sideband, and send the monophonic audio to the digital sound device. The mode "DGT-IQ" does not decode the audio; the I/Q samples are sent directly to the (stereo) digital sound device. The bandwidth of the digital sideband signals is set with the filter buttons as usual, and the maximum bandwidth is 20 kilohertz.

Digital modes require an external program such as Fldigi to decode the received audio and to generate transmit audio. There are two aspects, rig control and audio transfer. Rig control is needed to synchronize the transmit frequency between Quisk and Fldigi (or other program) and to operate the PTT (push to talk). You can control Quisk using either XML-RPC or Hamlib. For Fldigi, start Quisk and select a digital mode. Then start Fldigi and set Fldigi rig control to "Use XMML-RPC". Now changing the frequency on one program will change the other. Keying Quisk to key down (however you do that with your hardware) will set Fldigi to Transmit. Pressing the PTT control in Fldigi will also press the PTT button in Quisk.

Using Hamlib is similar. Set your digital program to Hamlib control, rig 2, device localhost:4575. This establishes a TCP connection to Quisk. If your program does not offer rig 2, please update your Hamlib files for that program. If your program can not set the TCP port to localhost:4575, then change the port Quisk uses by adding "hamlib_port = 4532" to your config file. This is the default port for rig 2. Hamlib control can be used by other programs such as logging programs. See http://james.ahlstrom.name/hamlib.html for more information.

Please read the file quisk_conf_defaults.py (as usual) to discover the various settings available for digital modes.

Quisk has an additional audio input and output for digital programs. They are named digital_input_name and digital_output_name. You need to set these names to a sound device, and then set the Fldigi (or other program) sound card to the same device. The sound device is not a real sound card; it is some sort of loopback device, and is only needed because there is no standard way of sending sound samples between two programs (yet). The method to use for Quisk is the same as for other programs, and is on the web. It works for any digital program, not just Fldigi.

If you use Windows, you need to purchase Virtual Audio Cable (VAC). Connect Quisk to one side, and your digital program to the other. I haven't tried this, so I don't know the device names to use.

If you use Linux, you can use the ALSA loopback device, or use PortAudio, PulseAudio or Jack to route your audio. The ALSA loopback device is simple, and works the same as the Windows VAC. First create the loopback device with the command "modprobe snd-aloop" (you will need to be root). You can create the loopback device automatically, but the way to do that depends on your version of Linux. I just put the modprobe command in /etc/rc.local for my Ubuntu system. Now you can enter "cat /proc/asound/cards" to print out your sound cards, and you should see a "Loopback" card listed. The cards are also shown on the Quisk config screen. The Loopback card has one side that connects to Quisk and another side that connects to your digital program. For the Quisk side use:

digital_input_name = "hw:Loopback,0"
digital_output_name = digital_input_name

Note that the Loopback card is full duplex, and handles both input and output. For the digital program side, set the input and output to "Loopback,1". For Fldigi this is in the Audio / Devices / PortAudio menu. Your audio is now connected and you should be able to receive digital signals. Be sure to test your transmit signal off the air. You may need to reduce power to improve linearity. I am open to adding support for other digital programs, especially if you provide information on how to do it.

The sample rate for digital_input_name (transmit audio) is fixed at 48000 sps. The sample rate for digital_output_name (received audio) is the same as the rate sent to your speakers. The Loopback device adopts the rate of the first program to use it. So starting Quisk first and your digital program next should work. Or you may need to set the appropriate rates. It is probably best to set all sample rates to 48000 sps because the digital signals are so narrow, and this make them easier to see.

Vector Network Analyzer

If you have my transceiver hardware from 2010 QEX, or the newer HiQSDR hardware, you can use it as a vector network analyzer by using a special program. You must be using FPGA firmware version 1.3 or newer. Run the VNA program with "python quisk_vna.py" or use a shortcut. The VNA program will not work with SoftRock or other hardware. The "Help" button explains how to use it, and should get you started. This VNA program enables you to analyze your antennas without additional expense.

When running in VNA mode the two control bytes [18:20] are the 16-bit non-zero VNA count "vna_count", the number of data points to send. This locks the transmit and receive frequency to the same value. The phases are also equal except for a fixed time delay, which causes a linear change of phase with frequency. The starting frequency is the receive frequency (actually phase) rx_phase. Subsequent points have the transmit phase tx_phase added to create a frequency scan. Specifically, after each data point, the tx_phase is added to create the RF output at the next frequency; then there is a pause of 65 microseconds to allow the external device under test to stabilize; then 4096 data points are added together to create the sample; then the sample is added to the block of data to send by UDP. A sample of zero is sent after the last data point, and the process repeats. The receiving software must look for the zero sample that marks the start of a new scan. The total number of points in the scan is vna_count, and blocks received with a different length should be rejected.

Since the transmit and receive frequency is the same, the data points are I/Q values at DC; that is, a complex number representing a voltage and phase.

A calibration run must be taken before any data can be obtained. The calibrations request a scan of data points every 15 killohertz from zero to 60 megahertz, or a little over 4000 points. These data are saved so that the scan frequencies can be changed without a new calibration. For any start and end scan frequency the user chooses, these saved calibrations are used with linear interpolation.

If vna_count is zero, the firmware is operating normally, and not in VNA mode.