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Author Topic: Using Digital Modes with Kenwood TS-450S  (Read 9499 times)
KL3HY
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Posts: 117




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« on: November 01, 2011, 02:11:38 PM »

I just got my General license and bought a used Kenwood TS-450S, and I'd like to try using it with digital modes.  The owners manual is a little vague, and searches here haven't really told me what I need.

From what I can see if I want to only do CW and RTTY, all I need is the IF-232 or equivalent, is that correct?  Also, I'm thinking if I want to do PSK or MFSK, etc. then I'd also need a TNC like a Rigblaster or Signalink in addition to the IF-232?

Thanks,
Mike
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AG6WT
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2011, 03:11:38 PM »

If you want to run digital modes on your TS-450 without having to build anything, one solution is a Signalink USB with the 13 pin Kenwood connector (part number SLUSB13K). One end of the Signalink connects to the ACC port on the back of the TS-450 and the other into a USB port on the computer. This will provide audio in and out between your Kenwood and computer, and PTT control. As far as I know it won't provide rig control or even reading frequencies, but you don't need that to make contacts.

I'm certain that there is a similar solution from West Mountain.
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KL3HY
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2011, 03:58:57 PM »

Thanks--the Signalink USB is actually the one I'm looking at.  I like the idea of a stand-alone sound card.  It looks like DX Engineering has a good deal on them, along with the correct cable.

So it sounds to me like the TNC provides the modulation signalling, and the IF-232 interface is just rig control, correct?

Thanks very much,
Mike
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AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2011, 04:14:21 PM »

The Signalink really isn't a TNC, its just an interface with a built-in sound card. But, yes it does simply provide the audio tones and PTT while the IF-232 provides rig control (frequency, etc).

A real TNC (Terminal Node Controller) contains a microprocessor and other chips that actually do the encoding and decoding. With the Signalink, and other sound card interfaces, you have to run software on the computer to do the ecoding and decoding.
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W8JX
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2011, 05:46:26 PM »

I use RigBlaster P-n-P with my 570 and 480. I plug it is data port on rigs and PnP will PTT rig and not depend on VOX keying like Signal link does. I also use a cheap generic USB sound stick on laptop that is hooked to rig so I can use laptop audio and digi audio separately and at same time. You do not need a signal Link to have a extra sound device nor give up PTT control either. 
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KL3HY
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2011, 08:27:27 AM »

Doesn't the Signalink use VOX keying only if you plug it into the mic port on the radio instead of the ACC port on the back?

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W8JX
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2011, 08:35:54 AM »

Doesn't the Signalink use VOX keying only if you plug it into the mic port on the radio instead of the ACC port on the back?


To best of my knowledge it support only VOX keying regardless or interface. Personally I feel that if you are going to use a plug in device it should support software driven PTT too. That is why I went with Rig Blaster PnP. (it will work with VOX if you want to but why would you?) Been using it 3+ years and it has been trouble free. Before that I used VOX keying and cables for Digi and TNC and FSK for RTTY and Pactor. 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2011, 10:34:55 AM »

The Signalink-USB has nothing to do with the radio's VOX circuit. Signalink has its own built in VOX circuit that grounds the PTT output any time it is generating audio output signals to the transmitter. In that regard, the Signalink VOX keys the PTT line regardless of how you have it connected to the radio (mike or acc jack).

On some radios the **radio's VOX** is disabled when you use the ACC jack but that has nothing to do with the Signalink because it has its own VOX circuit that keys the PTT line.

I use the Signalink on PSK31 and sometimes other digital modes, with it connected to the ACC1 jack on the back of an Icom and have not had any problem with it.

The benefit of the Signalink's VOX is that it doesn't require the use of a serial port on the computer to operate the PTT. The only computer connection is the single USB connection from the Signalink.
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W8JX
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2011, 11:09:29 AM »

The benefit of the Signalink's VOX is that it doesn't require the use of a serial port on the computer to operate the PTT. The only computer connection is the single USB connection from the Signalink.

My Rig Blaster P-n-P only has a single USB connection for it and its driver creates a virtual com port in unit for PTT control using P-n-P. I prefer software PTT control vs "automatic" VOX control in a adapter. I think it was a mistake on Signal Links part to leave out software PTT support.
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KL3HY
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2011, 11:17:34 AM »

Thanks guys, this is all brand new to me so I really appreciate your replies.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2011, 01:10:45 PM »

Before there was a Signalink-USB I designed and built an interface that had a built-in VOX (which I called SOX because it is sound operated rather than voice operated). It was published in QST and I heard from quite a few who built it. I never had a problem with that and Signalink seems to have done a good job as well. Small Wonder Labs has also changed to that method of keying their PSK series of transceivers.

My issue with virtual com ports and USB is that you can wind up with a few of them installed and it can be difficult to determine which com port is connected to which device. The com port can change too if you plug the device into a different USB port.

So, I guess it is a matter of personal preference and what exactly you are doing with the computer. In one case the sound card creates tones which causes the PTT to close. In the other the software closes PTT via a serial port while it creates the tones. Six of one and half dozen of the other in my experience.  Cheesy

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W8JX
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2011, 04:16:31 PM »


My issue with virtual com ports and USB is that you can wind up with a few of them installed and it can be difficult to determine which com port is connected to which device. The com port can change too if you plug the device into a different USB port.


While comm port can change if you unplug adapter (especially if you plug it in a different USB port) it will not change if you leave it in. I have 3 virtual comm ports on a old (updated CPU, Ram and HD) XP laptop I use in shack and I have had zero problems with the virtual ports. I even use a extra sound card via a USB device as well so Laptop has its own sound while digi has its. Been that way for over a year now.
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W4HIJ
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2011, 03:53:15 PM »

IIRC the IF232C is for CAT control. it converts the TTL voltage levels of the TS-450 to serial levels. That's a completely different animal from an audio interface for digital operation. You need both but there is a difference between the two things.
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W8JX
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2011, 07:32:07 PM »

IIRC the IF232C is for CAT control. it converts the TTL voltage levels of the TS-450 to serial levels. That's a completely different animal from an audio interface for digital operation. You need both but there is a difference between the two things.

You are confused. To use PTT software control you need to virtualize a com port for software to use. The Rig Blaster P n P does this but does not control radio remotely thru its 232 as it does not need to for digital. It uses radio mini DIN plug on back for audio in/out and PTT control.
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W4HIJ
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Posts: 367




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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2011, 06:46:40 AM »

IIRC the IF232C is for CAT control. it converts the TTL voltage levels of the TS-450 to serial levels. That's a completely different animal from an audio interface for digital operation. You need both but there is a difference between the two things.

You are confused. To use PTT software control you need to virtualize a com port for software to use. The Rig Blaster P n P does this but does not control radio remotely thru its 232 as it does not need to for digital. It uses radio mini DIN plug on back for audio in/out and PTT control.
No, not confused. It depends on what you want to do. A Rigblaster or homebrew interface can  control PTT and audio in/out just as you say. However, if you WANT any sort of CAT control for the Kenwood 450, you need the IF232C or an equivalent. The OP mentioned the IF232C and maybe I misspoke when I said it was "needed". My main point was to differentiate  between it and an audio interface for digital operation. Frankly though, I don't know of many ops who interface their rigs to the PC for digital without also going the whole nine yards and instituting CAT control of frequency, mode etc. etc.
73,
Michael, W44HIJ
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