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Author Topic: CW with SignaLink USB interface  (Read 6029 times)

Posts: 179

« on: September 02, 2011, 02:32:08 AM »

Hi --

I'm thinking of buying the SignaLink USB interface from Tigertronics ( I currently have a homebrew CW/digital interface that works, but I'm starting to operate portable fairly often and I'm afraid my own box is going to fail on me at a critical moment. That's why I'm thinking of buying a commercial interface.

My question: Does the SignaLink unit do an OK job of sending CW from the computer? I notice it generates "AFSK CW" as opposed to directly keying the rig via the CW input (which it can do, but it's limited to about 25 WPM, which is a problem in my case since I like to operate contests).

Another question: I'm using an FT-817 so would AFSK CW prevent me from using the 500 Hz filter that I installed in my rig during receiving?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

Gary, ES1WST

Posts: 179

« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2011, 02:45:50 AM »

Oops, I researched further and apparently it's not supported by N1MM (for CW). So I guess this product isn't an option for me.

Posts: 302

« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2011, 05:13:58 AM »

I currently have a homebrew CW/digital interface that works, but I'm starting to operate portable fairly often and I'm afraid my own box is going to fail on me at a critical moment.

There's not much difference between a homebrew direct-keying CW interface and a commercial one. They all do the same thing with essentially the same components.

My direct-keying CW interface consists of a USB to Serial adapter plus a simple isolation circuit.

See here:  One resistor, one diode, one opto-isolator, and the cable/connectors.   If you're clever enough you can even fit the components inside the shell of the DB9 connector.

There's not much that can go wrong with such a simple circuit.

If you have a serial port on the computer, you don't even need the USB to serial adapter.

Or, you could take along a straight key in case your computer interface fails.

« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 05:17:59 AM by WN9HJW » Logged

Posts: 386

« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 06:49:59 AM »

I've done this with my FT-857. Works fine.

What I've found works best for PSK and CW is to work "split" where you receive on one VFO in CW mode (to get the narrow filtering) and transmit on the other VFO in USB so you can use the tones from your software (HRD, for ex.). When the radio is in SPLit operation, it works automatically.

To do this, you need to tune the radio in CW mode until you get a good signal. On the 857, the purple light lights up.

Push the A=B button to match that in the other VFO

Push the A/B button to switch VFOs and select SSB in that VFO. That will be your TX VFO.

Push the A/B button to switch back to the VFO in CW. That is your RX VFO.

Finally make sure your software is set to send tones on the same freq as your CW TONE (I use 800Hz, but you can adjust it to whatever you like. The important point is that your software is set to the same tone).

Just remember, that if you retune your RX VFO to go to another station, you need to repeat these steps.

Also, when you're done, don't forget to turn off the SPLit feature (Don't ask me how I know that Smiley )

In this configuration, you can listen (and decode) using the narrow CW filters to help your software and your ear, but transmit using the SSB mode. The way the radio is set up, if you are listening to a frequency in CW, the radio shifts the "base" frequency by the value of the CW TONE setting. So, if you set your software to send tones on the same freq (800 Hz for example) as the CW TONE, when you switch to USB, that will result in transmitting a CW carrier on the freq. you were listening to.

It sounds more confusing than it is in practice because the radios (at least the Yaesu radios) are set up so that it just works. I've done this for PSK a lot and "Signalink CW" a few times.

Posts: 4

« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 08:50:13 AM »

Hello Gary,

My experience using both the Signalink USB and the SL-1+ as tone keyers using the PTT line, is the hang-time after the CW tone ceases is too long.   What I did was build the tone keyer on the Fldigi website with minor changes to shorten the hang-time and eliminate RFI.  It's installed in an Altoids box.  If you would like the as-built schematic please send a message to my e-mail address here on eHam.

Best Regards,

Lee  KR6LH

Posts: 249

« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2011, 02:44:15 PM »

Really the only way to reliably key on a Window's computer at higher speeds (> 25 wpm) is with an off-board keyer.  The K1EL WinKey USB is the only one I'm aware of.

Windows has too many lags/latency issues for generating solid, fast CW via serial port or USB->serial adapter.  The days of making a simple switching circuit off your serial line are over if you use Windows.

The SignaLink generates CW audio and sends that the same way it sends PSK or any other digital mode.  I think it would work reliably at higher speeds since the sound card is its own processor.

Posts: 19

« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2011, 10:32:03 AM »

I use a SignaLink USB and a K1EL Winkeyer USB along with Ham Radio Deluxe and DM780. Using DM780 in Winkey CW mode the FT817 runs in CW mode and so you have full use of the filter as well as being able to operate split mode. I have never found AFSK CW to really be acceptable. I know this is a bit more money, but the Winkey will drive two rigs and generates flawless CW. Just a thought.

Posts: 2357

« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2011, 04:55:50 PM »

I'll give one more thumbs-up for the K1EL WinKeyer.  It's designed for contest use with a contest logger and paddle, and it works superbly.

I got the kit together in a long evening of work.  I'm not fast, but I can solder.  There are no surface-mount parts, it's all "through-hole" assembly.


Posts: 854

« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2011, 12:01:04 AM »

Hi, I use the FT817nd with its internal keyer and a paddle to go as fast as you want.
Just get a paddle, add a 3.5mm standard audio type stereo jack, set your speed in the menu and your good to go.

If you want to use a computer, I have used an old pentium under XP and a new Quadcore under win7 for cw keying
without any problems at all.
I have used it to key by PC up to 45wpm without any problems (my current maximum reading/paddle speed), so I would
not be worried about the PC not keeping up with your keying.
Like others have said tone keying through the signalink will work but for simplicity of operation I use a simple 4N25
optoisolator chip with an LED, 1K0 ohm resistor, and a 1N914 diode off a serial port (USB converter) - thats it.
You get an opto-isolated keying line for less than five bucks which works fine with the FT817/857/897 and probably
quite a few other low current positive keying line rigs.

The only possible gremlin is getting an RS232/serial port, which usually means a USB-serial adaptor dongle, some of
which some guys have had trouble getting to work on some PC's.

I can understand your curiosity in getting PC CW keying, but consider the option of just getting a paddle and using
the inbuilt keyer in the FT817ND, it is great fun, very low energy and your CW reading will increase with your
sending proficiency, since you need to read it to send it with a paddle.

Good luck and 73s.

Posts: 136

« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2011, 06:07:29 PM »

If you only want simple CW, indeed a paddle, etc. (I use a Vibrokeyer) hooked direct to the FT-817 works great.

If you need extra functions the the two best devices I've found are

1. WKUSB with either simple software like C-typer to more compex like SD, CT, HRD, etc..

2. K1EL keyer, needs wired keyboard or paddle but no computer. Numerous memories and functions avail fm keyboard.

Wtih the usual purpose of the FT-817, less to lug around is better.
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