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Author Topic: Digital modes  (Read 2903 times)
KB7FXJ
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Posts: 2




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« on: October 18, 2017, 06:40:27 PM »

 I’m a older ham and want to get into the digital modes but which is best a desktop or laptop computer?  Thanks.
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WW7KE
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Posts: 581




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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 06:56:10 PM »

I’m a older ham and want to get into the digital modes but which is best a desktop or laptop computer?  Thanks.

Doesn't matter, as long at it's no more than 5 years old, runs Windows 7 or 10, Linux, or Mac OSX, has 4 Gb RAM or more, and has analog audio input (microphone) and output (speaker) jacks.

Your rig should have a "digital" audio output that can connect to the microphone and speaker connections on the PC.  The best software is WSJT-X for JT-65 and FT-8, and Fldigi for PSK31, RTTY, Olivia, and even CW (although that can be problematic).  Both are free.
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He speaks fluent PSK31...  One QSO with him earns you 5BDXCC...  His Wouff Hong has two Wouffs... Hiram Percy Maxim called HIM "The Old Man..."  He is... The Most Interesting Ham In The World!
VA3VF
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Posts: 792




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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2017, 10:31:03 AM »

I’m a older ham and want to get into the digital modes but which is best a desktop or laptop computer?  Thanks.

It depends.  Grin

Mobile, portable=laptop
Home=desktop

As already mentioned, go with something fairly new.
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KG5AHC
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Posts: 76




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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2017, 07:04:33 PM »

If you are working up a shack installation, a desktop or small tower would be better because you will be able to add physical COM ports onto the motherboard to give you reliable COM ports to operate digital software that uses COM ports for PTT and or FSK keying.  Not all products have CAT or CI-V rig control, but need a way to PTT the radio.

USB COM ports are virtual and can potentially "float" around to different COM port numbers if you attach and detach the associated device from your USB hub/ports.  Software products have to be aligned with the COM port that your Rig is attached, such as Signalink, Rigblaster, or CAT/CI-V USB cable.

I prefer a soundcard that has LINE IN and LINE OUT jacks (usually in the back panel)   LINE in is LINE LEVEL audio, which is compatible with LINE LEVEL output of some radio DATA OUT lines.   

I am pretty sure you can install multiple sound cards in a PC to drive multiple radios, but I have not tried this myself.

If your radio has a sound card in it, that is VERY good way to go with digital modes.  My ICOM 7200 has a soundcard and it makes it very easy to use...  I run 1200 baud packet on my Yaesu 7900 dual bander using the soundcard inside the computer, no problem... but I did  take care to ensure the lines between the radio and the sound card were electrically isolated by way of 600/600 ohm AF isolation transformers.

Good luck and 73's
Jeff KG5AHC


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K0UA
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Posts: 1364




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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 01:05:46 PM »

OR if you have a modern radio, you will not need com ports, nor sound card ports, nor interfaces of any kind.  All of these methods are in the past.  If you have a modern radio you will "interface" it with a single USB cable into a single USB port on your PC.  Be it laptop, or desktop.  It just needs to be a newer PC as outlined above. 

The advantage of a newer radio with its built in sound card are many. Ease of setup and adjustment is one, but the biggest one is not trying to share a single sound card with a PC which some still stick to, and lack of clutter and complexity for another.  Just a single old common USB A to USB B cable that has been around for decades will carry both the received and transmitted audio as well as the CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) control signals between the software programs and the radio.

If you don't have a newer radio with a built in sound card then there are plenty of ways to interface it with a PC, but they all involve more complexity and clutter.  But they work fine.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 14332




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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 01:25:24 PM »

If you have an older radio with no computer USB interface then I recommend the RigExpert TI-8 interface. Get it with the cable to interface to the accessory jack on your radio and you can control Tx audio, Rx audio, PTT, CAT, FSK (for RTTY), and CW keying all via a single USB connection to your computer. One of the nicest things is TI Manager, a small program that runs in the background and makes sure that all of your virtual COM ports stay assigned they way you want them configured. No more loosing COM ports because you changed a USB connection or went through a Windows update. In addition, both Rx and Tx audio levels are adjusted with a "real knob" on the front of the TI-8. The TI-8 has a built-in sound card so there is no need to mess with the computer sound card.


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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
VA3VF
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Posts: 792




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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2017, 02:09:42 PM »

If you have an older radio with no computer USB interface then I recommend the RigExpert TI-8 interface.

Or a Signalink USB. Nothing wrong with the RigExpert, just mentioning another option. It's what I use, and have no complaints.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 14332




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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2017, 02:18:19 PM »

Yes, a SignaLink-USB is what I used before I got the TI-8. The Signalink worked great however, won't do CAT control of the radio, direct PTT (it uses a built-in VOX), direct FSK, or direct CW keying. So, if you want those features with a Signalink then you still end up with a rats nest of wires and interfaces.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
K0UA
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Posts: 1364




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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2017, 02:25:10 PM »

If we knew what radio he has, it would help.  He may not need anything.
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KB7FXJ
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2017, 04:41:18 PM »

I have been out of ham radio for over 25 years and I am finding it’s nothing like I remember.  I have an old IC-701 (it will be 40 years old next year) I have my name in for the new IC-7610 whenever they get here, not sure I’ll learn to do all that it can do but will be fun to try.  I have new Kenwood TM-D710G and this is the one that I need to hook to a computer, I just didn’t know if I could us a laptop or I needed a desktop.  Thanks for all the help.
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AA4PB
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Posts: 14332




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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2017, 04:47:28 PM »

Most of the new "sound card" digital modes will NOT work correctly with FM. You must have a SSB radio.

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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
VA3VF
Member

Posts: 792




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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2017, 04:57:39 PM »

I have been out of ham radio for over 25 years and I am finding it’s nothing like I remember.  I have an old IC-701 (it will be 40 years old next year) I have my name in for the new IC-7610 whenever they get here, not sure I’ll learn to do all that it can do but will be fun to try.  I have new Kenwood TM-D710G and this is the one that I need to hook to a computer, I just didn’t know if I could us a laptop or I needed a desktop.  Thanks for all the help.

If you have your name in for an IC-7610, you'll be in excellent shape for digital modes. Forget about the interfaces.

Not sure why you want to use the TM-D710G. Things have indeed changed in the last 25 years.  Smiley
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K0UA
Member

Posts: 1364




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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2017, 06:14:06 PM »

I have been out of ham radio for over 25 years and I am finding it’s nothing like I remember.  I have an old IC-701 (it will be 40 years old next year) I have my name in for the new IC-7610 whenever they get here, not sure I’ll learn to do all that it can do but will be fun to try.  I have new Kenwood TM-D710G and this is the one that I need to hook to a computer, I just didn’t know if I could us a laptop or I needed a desktop.  Thanks for all the help.

If you have your name in for an IC-7610, you'll be in excellent shape for digital modes. Forget about the interfaces.

Not sure why you want to use the TM-D710G. Things have indeed changed in the last 25 years.  Smiley

He is probably wanting to do APRS with the Kenwood FM rig.  I believe it has a built in TNC.  so you should be good to go.  If you are going mobile  with it you will want a laptop of course.  Wait on the 7610 for the HF digital modes.  forget about the old Icom.  It is yesterdays news and then some. You will only need a stand old USB cable to interface the ic7610 to either a laptop or desktop.  That and a lot of reading about how to get setup and how to operate.
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K0UA
Member

Posts: 1364




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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2017, 06:17:33 PM »

Apparently the Kenwwood can function on APRS without a PC

http://www.kenwood.com/usa/com/amateur/tm-d710ga/
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VA3VF
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Posts: 792




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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2017, 06:24:52 PM »

He is probably wanting to do APRS with the Kenwood FM rig.
OK...I did not get the memo.  Grin
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