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Author Topic: com port sharing  (Read 4876 times)
G4MKR
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« on: December 12, 2009, 07:20:23 AM »

This is a radio question! Does anyone have experience of using several PC programs to control a radio (CAT) at the same time? It looks like I need some com port sharing software to allow N1MM logger and CW Skimmer to both control a rig, but what software? Has anyone done this?
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K5END
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2009, 08:44:52 AM »

Excellent question.

This can be tricky.

To use a single com port on one pc to do this would be difficult.

To answer your question fairly, I have done something similar to what you are asking with other gear, including digital radios, but have not done it with a ham transceiver.

First of all, I assume you are using one PC that is running more than one program? To use a single com port on the PC, the com port will show as occupied by an application when you try to use a second application on the same com port. You will very likely need external port sharing devices and some sharing software.

It may also depend on the type of data controlling the rig, and it will depend largely on which rig you are using. It might work for an ICOM-7000, but not for a Yaesu FT-450, for example.

That is all I can say that I know for sure. I would be interested in how it works out an what hams who have actually done this will tell.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2009, 08:49:40 AM by K5END » Logged
NO9E
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2009, 09:56:58 AM »

A software splitter would do it. See http://www.eterlogic.com/Products.VSPE.html
If your radio is K3, there is software splitter by N8LP as well.

Ignacy, NO9E
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K0BG
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2009, 10:37:01 AM »

Larry's correct when he says it can get tricky. For example, Icom's CI-V port is a shared port, as all of the hardware connected to it are in parallel. This works well in spite of an occasional data collision. However, some software packages hog the port settings in an effort to speed throughput. Unless the apps package in question reverts the radio back to its standby condition, all sorts of maladies occur. You just have to work through them with due diligence.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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N1DVJ
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2009, 12:12:10 PM »

Hmm, if you're into programming, you could do it yourself, but it's not trivial.

Write a program that can sit 'live' on the PC in question.  Have that program create and manage several 'virtual com ports' and the one physical com port to your radio.

Then have each of the programs that need to talk to the radio grab a virtual com port.  It sends data to the virtural port, and then the program you wrote just receives that data and sends it on to the physical port.  It then routes the respond data to the virtual port.  

If written correctly, each program would think it's got exclusive use of the radio.  

The hard part it is to 'manage' the ports routing to the radio port.  You might have to put some smarts into the router so that it knows what to expect based on what came through.  Thatway it can handle overlapping requests, knowing when it has to 'hold up' on one port while another finishes up.
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W9OY
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2009, 12:36:23 PM »

I use DDUTIL for the traffic management

http://k5fr.com/ddutilwiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

It was written for the Flex radios but it might do the trick for you.  For virtual com ports

http://k5fr.com/ddutilwiki/index.php?title=VSP_Manager

73  W9OY
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K2QPN
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2009, 02:48:09 PM »

I have a microKeyer by microHam. It has a USB connection for the keyer and rig control. The software can create 2 pseudo serial ports for rig control. I run 2 instances of Logger32 - each can control the rig. One instance is for normal operation and the other is for QRP operation.
Works for me.

73, Bob K2QPN
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F6GNZ
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2013, 06:35:59 AM »

Microham Router is perfect for radios like Icom for this application, but not for radios like FT1000MP that use very old binary protocol subject to crashes and radio timeouts caused by polling conflicts between application (in my case Omnirig/Router/DX4WIN logger ).
73, Radi F6GNZ
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K8AC
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2013, 10:34:45 AM »

I've done quite a bit of testing with port sharing software and there a several alternatives.  Which one might be best for you depends on which operating system you're running (I tested on Windows 7) and whether it's a 32 bit or 64 bit version.  Here are some alternatives - all software solutions:

1. LP-Bridge: Works well, well supported, but limited to use with supported transceivers.  Originally designed for the K3.  Free.

2. VSPE: the 32 bit version works well and I used it for years to share a rig port between the logging program (N1MM or DXLab) and panadaptor program (NaP3).
The 32 bit version is free, for the 64 bit version you must pay a $25 licensing fee.  The 64 bit version may or may not work for you and there is no refund if it doesn't and there is virtually no support.

3. Serial Port Splitter: by Fabulatech.  Runs on 32 or 64 bit versions of Windows 7 and has a 15 day free trial.  Sold as shareware with a cost of $129.  No refunds if it doesn't work for you.

4. Eltima Serial Port Splitter: by Eltima.  Runs on 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 7 and has 15 day free trial.  Price is $99.

5. GPSGate Client: by GPSGate (Australia).  Designed for sharing com port with GPS device attached.  Runs on 32 and 64 bit Windows 7.  Free download and it appears that the Client is free to use with no limitations. 

Contrary to what some people will tell you, it's perfectly possible to share a com port with a transceiver attached among two or more applications with no problems at all.  I've run programs 2 thru 5 at 57.6 kbps with reasonably high polling rates without problems.  You may have to play with the DTR and RTS specs in the program or applications to achieve communications (a particular problem with the Tentec Orion II, but works fine after the initial setup).

Products #2 and #3 leave the ports in place through a reboot and you can see them with Device Manager. 

73, Floyd - K8AC
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K2GWK
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2013, 03:00:27 PM »

I am no expert here but sharing a com port is one thing but having two rig control programs run at the same time is another. Which program would win if both programs talked to the radio at the same time? I may be all wet but it sounds like trouble at best.
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K8AC
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2013, 03:43:56 PM »

How the port sharing software works exactly seems to be proprietary, but I assure you that it works very smoothly.  In my case, I'm sharing the Orion port with NaP3 and DXLab Commander and DXLab Spot Collector.  Both programs poll the port for information, send commands and read response data.  I can mouse on a DX spot in DXLab Spot Collector and the Orion is immediately set to that frequency with NaP3 receiving the new frequency information as well.  Or, I can mouse on the NaP3 display and thus set the Orion VFO to the selected frequency and Commander follows.  Tuning the Orion with the main tuning knob results in both NaP3 and Commander following as if each was directly connected to the Orion com port. 

With the high polling rate from each program, it's obvious that there would be contention for the real port, but the software likely buffers the requests and resolves the contention issues.  Other than the polling issue, other commands from the programs would not be issued unless the user performed a manual action such as mousing on a spot or mousing on a signal on the panadaptor display.  Two actions like that would never occur at the same time and so that's not a problem. 

I've been doing this for years with the Orion, NaP3, DXLab (N1MM when contesting instead of DXLab), VSPE and before that a K3, LP-Bridge and the same other software.  One of the port splitters mentioned creates additional virtual ports with the same comx number as the real port.  The other programs create virtual ports with different com numbers and provide the data flow between the real port and the virtual ports.  I've never used more than 2 virtual ports connected to a single real port, but the software supports many. 

73, Floyd - K8AC
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