Re: uBitx V5 can't make a contact on ft8
Don - KM4UDX
Russ, if you have rig based CAT controlling the PPT and freq change function, and it appears you do, then you are good to go.
Using a cheap external USB sound card dongle may be better...but...I have never been able to tell a difference between the external sound card dongle and the direct connect between uBITX mic/speaker and the laptop speaker/mic. But my laptop audio jack broke, so I had to use a external sound card. Get the $7.99 version if you want to use the external sound card. Is it better? Beats me.
You do need some idea of power output, and using the cheapest CB meter will get you started.
If you hang with any other radio folks, someone will have an old MFJ antenna tuner or SWR/POWER meter that they will pass on to you. If you find a group of hams, then you will find a group of folks very happy to help you.
On the topic of tuning your antenna...it is generally a pointless procedure. (Don is ducking now to avoid the flying erasures and tomatoes). At uBITX power levels, matching the antenna to the uBITX is a fine activity while under CV19 lockdown. But. Your antenna and your uBITX will never send a post card saying "thank you", and you will never make a QSO that wouldn't have made without "matching".
It is good to know you power levels and your SWR. Really good. But your antenna is what it is, and matching it to your rig makes little difference to the receiving public. And if you jump bands with abandon, then you either "re-match" every time, or you get a automatic antenna tuner with a memory that will snap to your new frequency. And that complexity will cost you about the same as your uBITX, and produce near zero added value for the uBITX.
Old tube rigs and old timers (said with total respect and humility) have a different view on this. With hundreds or thousands of watts, matching becomes more important. But for us QRP uBITXers, to bother with matching is to stay busy. Not a bad thing at all. And a good learning exercise. But matching will not add any extra FT8 QSOs.
So get a grip on your PWR and your SWR levels, adjust as required, and go fourth into the airwaves. (hahaha...I loved the sound of that!)