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Author Topic: PK-232 upgrade to USB vs. Signalink USB?  (Read 1428 times)
W2JH
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Posts: 4




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« on: March 12, 2009, 04:18:49 AM »

What are the good and bad of each? 232=$200 while Signa=$120+/-, one plus for Tiger! Any input appreciated. Thanks Hugh n2yub@aol.com
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K0XU
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Posts: 294




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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2009, 04:33:40 AM »

The Signalink is really just a usb soundcard with a vox type ptt. There is no way to do true fsk if your rig requires it for best filtering. However if you want to use the newer sound card based modes, the PK-232 does not do them unless you have the upgrade that routes the audio to your computer sound card. In other words if you want to run RTTY go with the PK, if you want PSK31, Olivia, etc go with the signalink.

Jim
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12980




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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2009, 05:10:40 AM »

As Jim said, the PK-232 is a hardware TNC that does all the encoding and decoding and just sends ASCII text to the computer which acts as a simple terminal display. The PK-232 does RTTY, AMTOR, PACTOR, Packet, and CW. The latest version can also route audio from the radio to the computer sound card so that you can use computer software to encode/decode other modes like PSK31. On those modes the PK-232 is not really doing much.

The Signalink contains an audio interface and a sound card. Software on the computer does all of the encoding and decoding for all modes. Windows software on the computer is presently not able to do AMTOR or PACTOR ARQ modes due to timing limitations in Windows.

My personal choice for RTTY is the computer software (via the Signalink). Software is pretty good now and I'd say can decode signals as well as the PK-232. The big advantage is that you get a nice on-screen display rather than trying to tune signals with a series of LEDs. I think that you can even use the direct FSK ability of most software although you'll have to build a separate FSK keying transistor circuit to connect the serial port to the radio's FSK input. In that case you'd use the Signalink only for receive on RTTY. As long as you don't overdrive the transmitter or have RFI problems AFSK generates the exact same FSK output from the transmitter as direct FSK keying so personally I wouldn't bother UNLESS you have a transceiver that won't let you select narrow IF filters in the SSB position.
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N8KOM
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Posts: 16




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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2009, 08:04:18 AM »

I would agree with the previous posts - Signalink USB for easy of use with the PC soundcard and software - PK232 only if you need to work Pactor 1 mode. Pactor 1 is the only mode that an updated PK-232 can operate in that I do not believe they have really gotten to robustly work with PC soundcards (yet). I have used both the PK-232 (updated) and the Signalink USB, and I feel the PK-232 is a bit out-dated technology for the $$ they command new or used -last PK-232 operating mode firmware update was ~1993?.  Last terminal SW for the PK-232 is late 1990s at best. (Again, PK-232 HW seems outdated without all the updates for USB, DSP - except for the pactor 1 capability - and in the end, the "soundcard" mode on the PK-232 appears to be a glorified switch inside the PK-232 that routes the audio signals to and from the PC soundcard)

Steve
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WW5AA
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2009, 12:37:21 PM »

If you want to do it all, the fully upgraded PK-232MBX is the way to go, or better yet, the PK-900. With a high quality external sound card and the proper software, it will leave the Signalink standing in the dust! Nothing wrong with the Signalink if you do not want to spend a lot of money getting into digital. The software that is free from the internet these days provide all the tuning indicators required for any digital mode, no need to use the tuning indicator on the PK, although if you understand it it works very well.

73 de Lindy
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WW5AA
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Posts: 2086




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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2009, 12:48:13 PM »

Oh, If you check out Digital Master 780 (Ham Radio Delux) you will see most of the modes that you can run with the PK.

73 de Lindy
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W2JH
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Posts: 4




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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2009, 04:16:50 PM »

Thank you all for input. Hate to shelf 232, but @ $200+, guess that's the decision.
Meant to put my e-mail in - don't really know what I'm doing here! Hugh n2yub@aol.com   Any further help appreciated.
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W9GB
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Posts: 2650




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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2009, 01:48:05 PM »

Interesting, since I upgraded a PK-900 for the sound card interface in March and preparing to update a PK232MBX (1989 version) for latest firmware and sound card interface.

Minimizes cable interfaces to the radio(s) -- I can run either sound card modes OR the PK-232 modes native.  
Much easier to use with 2 radios (PK-232 and PK-900) -- than sound card.
RTTY (Baudot) still solid with PK232 -- and Pactor -- well you will spend more on the PC upgrade to run that IF it is ever offered!

Ham Radio Deluxe and the new CCS Radio Opeaitons Center are good software applications that support all of the switching!

Want to see what $370 buys today?
US Interface -- The Navigator -- LOTS of surface mount parts inside!
http://www.usinterface.com/

w9gb

BTW, I have many home built sound card interfaces (Icom design; N9ART board, etc.) .. yet I see > $100 spent for $10 in parts -- to each their own.
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W5RKL
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Posts: 894




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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2009, 04:47:16 AM »

I use the PK-232MBX for RTTY and CW through the RS-232 port. An original factory adjusted PK-232/232MBX tones for RTTY and HF packet are set for 200Hz. Adjusting the tones for 170Hz shift using the CAL command and tone adjust pots help eliminate those "off frequency" reports plus feeding the tones back into the PK232 and adjusting the MARK and SPACE filter pots helps reduce the trash on either side of the filter's bandwidth quite a bit.

As for software, I've tried most of the free terminal software including Windows Hyper Term. Although they work, I wanted something that provided 2 windows, one that handles data from the PK232 and one to enter commands/configuration or transmit data. So I designed my own software using Visual Basic 6. It's still in the design stages but it works quite well so far.

I've also tried the sound card interface and most, if not all, of the digital software. They all work quite well and many have some very nice features. Since I have the PK232MBX I figured why not use it instead of it sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

The PK232MBX will most likely end up be a dedicated RTTY setup. If you have a PK232MBX, they do a fairly nice job on RTTY after adjusting the HF tones from 200Hz to 170Hz plus adjusting the filters.

73
Mike
W5RKL

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