Microsoft Surface for Ham Radio | Icom IC-705 Wireless Station

Hello Operators.
During my “spare” time, I’ve been quietly working with the Icom IC-705 to configure the most portable data mode configuration, we’ve ever seen on the channel. Since the last firmware update for the Icom IC 705, Wireless Wi-Fi access point functionality as been enabled. It can function in client mode attaching to your home, mobile hotspot, … Wi-Fi network.  It can act as a standalone Wi-Fi AP.

Now this isn’t Just for Cat control. It also transits the audio data from our applications like Winlink Express, JS8Call, wsjtx, HamRing, Fldigi, …

Left Chuwi Larkbox Pro and Lab699 TX500. Right IC705 connected wirelessly with Surface Go 2.

Unfortunately for operators with other radios, what you’ve read here isn’t possible without the cable mess, or an intermediate computer. It’s the reason we’ve used the Raspberry Pi and more recently, the Lark box Pro. These intermediate computers Bridge The Divide between our tablets, and the radios we’d like to use with them.

Since the latest IC-705 firmware update, the IC 705 no longer requires an intermediate computer to make the connection between itself, and something like the Surface series of tablets. Of course we could connect via cable, between the 705 and any Windows/linux tablet/laptop. What’s special now, is we can do this completely without wires between the radio, and the tablet, regardless of what data Mode app we happen to be using. No USB cable, nothing but an antenna cable connected to the Icom IC 705. All of this happens over the Icom IC 705 built in Wi-Fi adapter.

I’ve also tried this on my Lenovo Yoga c940. It also works fine, but the laptop is too large for fieldwork. That’s why I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the surface go 2, budget model.

Off grid Power & Charging

To power and charge the Microsoft Surface Go2, I use a cigarette socket charger/adapter from JGo Tech. The Surface Go2 requires 15 volts via its Surface port to fast charge. Here are some images.

My solution uses the PowerFilm Lightsaver Max as a power bank.SInce the JG0 tech adapter has its own boost converter built in, the 12v supply from teh lightsaver max is perfectly suited. The 12 volt cigar socket from the Lightsaver Max had its cord shortened, replacing on end with anderson powerpoles. I also made a short distribution cable with muliple outputs which plugs into the Lightsaver Max, to power my Surface Go 2, and Icom IC-705.


VK1MF asked if the keyboard was really necessary for the Microsoft Surface Go 2, or if it could be used in tablet mode primarily. Well, it can be used either way. For my own station, the Surface is primarily used in tablet mode. The surface pen is used to input data, rather than utilizing the keyboard all the time. The keyboard is usually available, especially since it protects the screen when the device is not in use. When rapid input is required, of course the keyboard is the best way to input data.

WSJTX & FT8

Another question came in about running wsjt-x and ft8 on the surface go 2. Absolutely. In fact when that question came in a little while ago, I switched over to ft8 with the Icom IC 705, and tried my luck on 40m, then 30m. Much better luck on 30 meters but that wasn’t the fault of the surface, that was operating qrp with an nvis antenna for this test. The CPU of the surface go never got above 27%. Also memory demands were quite modest, even with deep decode enabled. FT8 was actually Child’s Play for the Surface Go 2.


Here’s are two unnarrated previews of the Icom IC 705 and the surface go 2 running winlink express, with a Vara HF modem. There are literally no connections between the tablet and the radio. This is all working over Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately there’s a piece of software which must be purchased. It’s the Icom remote utility app for Windows.

For other radios like the discovery tx500, we can use a Raspberry Pi or Lark box Pro as an intermediate computer to achieve roughly the same functionality. At the moment there is no other way to achieve this without an intermediate computer, for any other radio.

Now the most important aspect of this is giving a huge thanks to Mark m0iax. Mark got me started down this wireless ic-705 path. He is also very often a unwilling participant, in much of this data mode testing. Marks contributions are massive!

73
Julian oh8stn

This was just a quick post because someone asked me. I’ll update this post and also publish a tutorial video in the coming days and weeks.

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3 Comments

  1. This is great! I’m using my 705 with a Surface Go 2 as well. Did you have problems with audio being sent over WLAN? On WSJT-X I can’t seem to get audio to send. Would you consider sharing your 705 config for WLAN digital operation?

    73!
    KC3JXQ

    • I think I figured this out. Reduce the buffer setting to 80ms for both transmit and receive. The recommended settings for icom don’t work well for data

  2. So I’m jumping on the Julian train. Selling my kx3 to switch to a 705. Instead of a surface I ebayed a Panasonic Toughpad fg-z1. It’s a snappy little machine and comes with some good spec battery options. We’ll see how it turns out.

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