Ultra Portable Digital Modes

I have too many computers. I know this because my wife very kindly reminds me, constantly. I recently viewed some YouTube videos by WH6AZ (this one if a good starting point) about setting up the IOS RadioMail app to use the VARA modem running on a PC to send and received winlink email. RadioMail seems to be a decent Winlink Client and I liked idea of a small form factor PC to bring along on my portable ops for the times I dont want to carry a tablet PC or laptop, such as when I am on my e-bike.

It took longer to convince Sarah that this was a good idea than it took me to convince myself, as expected. I don’t really understand why I cant have more computers but she can have as many crochet hooks and knitting needles as she likes.

So armed with the knowledge gained from the YouTube presentations I remained on the internet to find a suitable low power pc. It had to be powered from my radio batteries and be small enough to fit in my lightweight station radio bag along with the IC-705.

It did not take long to find a suitable one, I was planning get one to set up headless and connect via RDP from my phone but I found this one that had a a small touch screen and a battery built in.


It arrived today so I spent the afternoon installing the inevitable windows updates before setting up Icom Remote utility, JS8Call, VARA and of course the varanny software (scroll down to the installation section for the link to download the executables) to allow the RadioMail connection.

The PC fits in the palm of my hand but still has four USB 3, one Ethernet and two HDMI Ports external power is over a USB C ports so I should be able to charge from most of my portable power sources.

Settings screen indicates 2h45m battery life so i expect to get around 2 hours in use which is fine because I wont ever be far from something to recharge it with.

The only antenna I have up currently is one for 2m so the only chance I had of getting a response was on FT8 so I gave that a try (computer connected to IC-705 via WiFi)

Although no chance at all of connecting via VARA FM I also tested that I had configured that and RadioMail correctly, all three devices connected wirelessly over WiFi.

This setup will fit into the bag along with my IC-705 and therefore easy to carry on foot, on the bike or to chuck in the back of the car.