Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Insies and Outsies

One big advantage of having the radio be software, is you can connect to it in software. With the SDR-1000 there were cables all over the place. You had a parallel port cable between the computer and the radio, and you had at least 2 stereo cables between the sound card and the SDR-1000 or you had a firewire between the computer and the sound card and then the cables.

Now there is one firewire between the F5K and the radio. Firewire is able to generate all the channels needed to support all the control and audio functions between the hardware and the computer. Here is a screen shot of the driver

The driver is down loadable from the Flex website

This version is a beta release so it is slightly different than the production version.

The next thing we need is some access to CAT control. Cat allows other programs to control PowerSDR programs like N1MM or CW Skimmer. Here is a shot of the CAT screen in PowerSDR setup

PowerSDR uses the Kenwood protocol and also has its own superset of Kenwood protocol cat commands. I generally use TS-2000 because it is well supported across the Ham software kingdom, and has a few commands that the simpler radio sets (like the TS-50) does not have.

Also you can control the PTT line from a serial port, either virtual or real, so if your PSK 31 program uses a serial out to turn on the radio, you can just port into this aspect of the program to control transmit from the program. So what are virtual Com ports anyway?

There are several programs that will pair a couple of ports in software and they behave just as if I had a cable with two 9 pin connectors hooking things up. I use a program written by N8VB called Vcom. A lot of people have moved on to com0com. Here is a screen shot of Vcom (down the page) and how it works will become clearer

If you look I have 4 virtual serial ports active with addresses 6:16 7:17 8:18 9:19. The choice of pairing is yours, but I find this is easy to remember. If you look at DDUTIL I use that as my traffic cop between programs

Radio CAT is connected to Port 9, and if you look back at the CAT screen in PowerSDR the CAT input is set to Port 19. This is my 9:19 pair between PowerSDR and DDUTIL. I also have 6:16 between Skimmer and DDUTIL and 7:17 between Commander (DXlab) and DDUTIL. 8:18 is presently not in use. By this means I can control PowerSDR from these 2 programs and by this means the data from PowerSDR, such as band. freq and mode gets back to these programs. Note no wires!!! I do have a wired Com port that I use for CW. It is here:

This connects my keyer to the radio via COM 1, which is real (not virtual). I also have that wired so I can plug in a paddle to control the CW in the radio.

Finally I can get audio in and out of the program by means of VAC (virtual audio cable). This program is just what it says. Like Vcom is a virtual port cable VAC is a means to transfer audio in and out of PowerSDR. here is a screen shot

This shot includes VAC and a repeater screen. VAC is the main program. but if you want to send the same audio to 2 or more sources you just create a repeater and the same audio can feed multipe programs. If you look at VAC I have channel 4 set up for a very wide band feed. This the the channel I use to send base band to Skimmer.

Here is a shot of the audio routing screen in PowerSDR

From here I can choose the audio protocol and what channels of VAC are the input and what are the output. I can also choose the direct I/Q option from this screen which outputs base band instead of post processed audio. I would turn this option off if I was routing some audio to for example a PSK 31 or RTTY or slow scan program. Here is a screen shot of skimmer's audio screen

As you can see once again output goes to input and input goes to output Its simple!! I can control VAC from the front panel of PowerSDR

You turn on VAC for things like skimmer and digital modes and you turn it off for things like VOX

Not a wire in sight!!! How cool is that?