Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Farewell, Powermate

The latest casualty of my new computer is that I am no longer able to use my Griffin PowerMate. It's a rather nice black anodized aluminium knob with a glowing blue base which can be configured to control various applications. I had written a program called KTune which allowed me to tune my Elecraft K3 using this knob beside the keyboard instead of reaching over to the radio, and I found it really convenient. So I am disappointed that it no longer works.

When I installed the PowerMate for the first time I got a message from Windows that "there was an error with your hardware" but the base started its pulsating thing and I assumed it was just an initialization glitch. However, the knob itself didn't have any effect. I rebooted the system and it froze at the boot menu screen. I switched off the power and tried again - same thing. And I got that sick feeling you get when you think that four days of work has gone down the pan because you have somehow managed to trash the hard disk.

Then I had the idea of unplugging what I'd plugged in since the previous boot, which was the PowerMate, and lo and behold the system started up. Phew! But obviously my PowerMate is incompatible with my HP computer. As the system froze before even Windows had started loading it isn't something that can be fixed with an updated driver - it's obviously the hardware itself that my PC doesn't like. Did I mention that I don't like computers? Obviously they don't like me either!

On the plus side the new system is much faster, which makes a big difference when running computing-intensive tasks. When running JT65-HF, the old computer took so long to decode any calling stations that by the time I saw that someone was calling CQ I'd missed the time-slot for calling them back. Now everything is decoded in a couple of seconds. There's no gain without pain, as somebody once said.


IW1AYD said...

Hi Julian and all other readers.
I also was a powermate addicted but for N1MM software with whatever radio I have used. Mine still work but need to be not inserted each time I boot any of my two PC bricks.
Due to the acquisition of a FLEX-3000 I become a happy user of Tmate, an expensive but very useful accessory made for Perseus, FLEX boxes and other transceivers. It droved me far away from the powermate. Essentially due to it's software that permit to drive the VFO and some other useful things directly even if the main windows, by now the PoweSDR application, isn't anymore on focus.
This is the win win aspect of TMATE. Now I could use the left hand to drive the VFO and some more things still having the mouse control on N1MM macros. Not evenly worried on who have the focus, that by the way is still on the N1MM bunch of windows. As some picture may be clearer than a whole bunch of words, I could send a picture of the whole mess of windows on my screen.
Tmate on the net is at: http://www.woodboxradio.com/uk/tmate.html

In the hope that my ItalEnglish is readable.

73 de iw1ayd Salvo

Unknown said...

Looks nice, Salvo. But, uhhh, 189 Euro ... So, OK if I win the Euromillions this week. :)

Unknown said...

Try using a USB hub (with a PSU) between your PC and the PowerMate. Some PC chipsets have problems when the USB device tries to use 500mA of power.

Also check that the option to boot from USB is disabled in the bios.

Unknown said...

Thanks. Good tips. I'll check the boot option when I'm able to reboot the PC (which I can't do now as I'm downloading a Linux distro which despite my "up to 24Mb/s" broadband connection is coming down at 50Kb/s and looks like taking all night.)