Interfacing an amateur radio transceiver to a PC
The potential problems in with interfacing a rig to a modern PC…
- Poor quality soundcards
- No RS232 serial port on modern machines
- Non functioning USB to RS232 interfaces
- Adjusting levels
I and I’m sure many others have encountered all of the above problems so I resolved to end these problems and bought a Tigertronics Signalink USB. This little box is easy to set up and simply works. No extra drivers are needed for Windows (at least for XP) or Ubuntu Linux where on my machine it was recognised and appeared as /dev/dsp1 – I couldn’t get the mixer on Ubuntu working but that didn’t seem to cause any problems at all.
The following Linux commands may help to show the device identification..
After connecting – sudo tail -f /var/log/messages
or look at dev folder before and after connecting ( ls /dev/dsp* )
Before you can use the unit it is necessary to “jumper” some connectors inside – this simply means fitting some supplied jumper wires to patch between the internal connections and the 8 modular output connector for the lead to the rig. The supplied chart worked out perfectly for me without the need to check the connections with a multimeter – I checked them with a multimeter anyway though.
Use with alternate radios
The unit comes with one lead – I chose the 6pin mini din to interface with my FT-817ND as the lead for my TS-2000 cost extra and I already had the required connector.
I’ve seen reviews on eHam.net where people complain about
having to “re-jumper” for different rigs – that is a nonsense – simply build your cable to suit the way it is already jumpered. As a bonus the layout for the 6 pin mini din allows you to use a standard network cable using one side of a twisted pair for each signal lead and ground the spares to provide some shielding.
For the TS-2000 I simply cut the modular connector from one end of a network patch cable. By checking the marked connections inside the Signalink against the actual wires and the TS-2000 connector requirements making up the extra lead was very simple and the rudimentary “screening” seems quite adequate.
The pots on the device make setting up levels very easy. The setting obviously vary from rig to rig and jotting them down will save time when swapping.
PTT is handled by VOX within the Signalink so no COM port is necessary on the PC.
The interface is not cheap and a DIY approach would undoubtedly cost far less. I guess a lot depends on your skills and just how much junk is in your junkbox. In my own case deteriorating eyesight has taken most of the joys out of homebrew and the junkbox never seems to hold the precise bits of junk needed so I’d have to buy components and probably save very little.
Works very well with both PSK31 and packet. Simple setup and only two cables – great for portable and holiday use.