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Author Topic: PK-232 on USB  (Read 6051 times)
K6DDX
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Posts: 9




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« on: July 14, 2012, 05:38:16 PM »

My computer has no serial port connector to which I wanted to connect my PK-232.

So I bought a device to convert between serial and USB.  Now I can't seem to make my old packet software operate through this port.  In fact I think I don't know what I am doing.  Can anyone offer a suggestion?  A shame to scrap the TNC!

Bob K6DDX
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NA4IT
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 06:47:53 PM »

Some USB converters are garbage. You may need to try a different one. But before you do, understand that a USB to serial converter shows up as a virtual serial port in Windows Device Manager, so you do select it as the serial port for your software. That said, some of them are garbage.

Timewave does sell a mod for the PK232 that will convert it to USB. See http://www.timewave.com/a_upgrades.html and look at the bottom row in the first table under PK232. This page http://www.timewave.com/support/U-232/index.html explains what it is and does.
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K6DDX
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 07:20:08 PM »

You are probably right about the converter not being good.  There is no way I can control it to be COM1 or COM2 etc., for instance.  And in my case it does not show up in the Device Manager.

I will check the links you offer.  But really the only reason I want to continue using the TNC is for occasional CW use (I prefer to copy in my head) and for packet.  I have not found a packet program that will work through the sound card.  I do have SSTV, RTTY, PSK, etc. without the TNC.
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K6DDX
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 07:22:35 PM »

I just checked the link and wow! those are a bit too pricy for my budget.

Maybe I'll sell off the TNC.
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NA4IT
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 04:36:25 AM »

I am probably going to ask a dumb question, but did the drivers for the adapter load correctly?
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KH6DC
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Posts: 632




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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2012, 02:18:40 PM »

You have to find out what port is assigned to the converter, i.e. COMXX, etc.  Some converters have a utility that is a stand alone software that will locate the port number for you and others is like shooting blindly in the dark.  Also as others mentioned, make sure you have the latest drivers loaded onto your computer. 

The easiest way is to sell the TNC and pick up a Singalink USB which is the most cost effective selling for less than $100 and with the cable for your radio, a little over $100 at DX Engineering.  It's simple, just follow the instructions and voila, you're on the air and it works with most or all of the modes (I haven't tried them all yet).

Good luck and 73, Delwyn KH6DC
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
K6DDX
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2012, 03:02:20 PM »

I fussed with the drivers a bit and don't know anything else to do.  In fact I had my son, somewhat of a guru, help me to no avail.  I can't modify my packet program to use other comports; I lost the source code many moons ago.

It seems that packet is an obsolescent mode anyway.  I may reconnect my aging Win2000 machine just for playing with the TNC.

So thanks to you all for your suggestions and comments.  This is all in fun anyway.

73, Bob K6DDX
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K6DDX
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 03:51:09 PM »

Well I hooked up the old computer and it works fine with the TNC.  So I should unload them as a set maybe.

For a while, modes like AMTOR, PACTOR, and such were popular but I don't hear that stuff any more.  I do hear plenty of PSK and of course CW.  But there is one mode that puzzles me.  It sounds like a carrier that keeps changing frequency.  It doesn't appear to be carrying data but I'm not sure.  Does anyone know what that is?

Bob
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W6TGE
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 04:07:45 PM »

Bob, what freq are these tones on? Can it be JT65-HF?

Also, you may find that Ham Radio is a good use for an old Computer. Perhaps running LINUX would make it very fast...or fast enough for Ham Radio.

P.S. I have an original PK232, but am amazed at what they want to upgrade it!!!
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K6DDX
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2012, 10:59:11 PM »

I don't know what JT65 is.  The frequencies of the signals are between the RTTY and PSK regions I think.

Oh the computer was fine until I got this laptop.  Well not really; I got warnings that Firefox no longer supports Win2000 so I switched to Opera, which I don't like much.

Yes, AEA prices are too high for hobbyists, in my opinion.  Upgrading a PK-232 costs more than the prices of used units.  I have had about three of the things, this one has the MBX which I never have used.  In fact, I haven't used the unit in several years and was pleasantly surprised when it worked right off tonight with the old computer.  My main interest in it is for very fast CW copying but I think even at those speeds I can copy better than it can.  I can do RTTY with software and that pretty much makes the PK-232 almost worthless to me.  I only went through this exercise for fun.

I like PSK because I can monitor several conversations at once, and get a cute spectrum display too.  I use Digipan for that, and something called, I think, MMTTY for RTTY.  I like the AFC capability on that.  Most of my operation is SSB or CW anyway.  And the main use for the computer is QRZ and the DX cluster.
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2012, 12:28:48 AM »

If the changing tone is slow, it is probably JT65 which is a low throughput mode for extremely weak signal detection.
It the tones are changing rapidly, it may be Olivia, which is another low signal mode, but with much higher throughput.
OR -
It could be any one of dozens of other digital modes.
These modes if between PSK31 and RTTY tend to be 500hz maximum bandwidth digital modes.

I would agree with you on packet/Amtor on H.F.
They have their place, but PSK31 in particular, has taken away the oxygen from these, and many other modes.
If you want a quick way to get on digimodes, the signalink usb interface works well for me anyway.

Good luck, and 73 - Rob
 
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12641




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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2012, 06:02:12 AM »

Step one is to use Windows HyperTerm or some other "dumb terminal program" (there are a number available for free on the Internet) to exercise the port and make sure it is working. You can connect the port to your TNC and type commands to the TNC to see if you get characters echoed back, etc.

Most of the usb-serial converters REQUIRE that you install the drivers BEFORE you plug in the converter USB cable for the first time. If you haven't done that then you will probably need to uninstall the driver and start over. Also make sure that you have the correct driver for your particular Windows operating system.

Most programs require that the serial-USB converter is connected BEFORE you start the program. The program identifies ports when it first starts and if the converter is not present at that time then it won't show up on the list of available ports.

Some programs are limited to COM1, 2, 3, or 4 while USB drivers often assign port numbers higher than that so they are not recognized by the program. After the driver is installed, you can go to the driver properties in Windows and change the port number to any unused port. If you computer has no other serial ports then you should be able to assign COM1 to the USB driver.

Don't toss the TNC. The serial to USB cable can be made to work (or at least most of them will work). Converters that use the FTDI chip set seem to be the most reliable and have the best selection of drivers available.
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K6DDX
Member

Posts: 9




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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2012, 10:43:57 AM »

Thanks for all those useful ideas.  I will try them this afternoon.  First uninstall driver, then remove hardware and reinstall.  Then get a dumb terminal program and see if anything can be exchanged with the TNC.  I also have to see what the Baud rate needs to be.

I do suspect my USB/serial converter isn't any good.  It was very expensive, I think $2.67 including shipping, so I don't want to lose my investment.  hee hee  If I can get it to work, I will post that fact here, and even tell everyone where I bought the hardware.  I think it's less money than the $100 plus AEA wants for the hardware and software needed to use USB.

I can't fault AEA for asking high prices for their stuff but it does rankle that they don't seem to be sympathetic to ham operators.  After all, they are entitled to charge whatever they think will maximize profits.  (I am reading a text on Economics that explains the relationships between price, market, cost, and so on, very interesting.  There is a price level that maximizes profit and it's not generally the high price.)
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W8JX
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2012, 11:40:58 AM »

You are probably right about the converter not being good.  There is no way I can control it to be COM1 or COM2 etc., for instance.  And in my case it does not show up in the Device Manager.

I will check the links you offer.  But really the only reason I want to continue using the TNC is for occasional CW use (I prefer to copy in my head) and for packet.  I have not found a packet program that will work through the sound card.  I do have SSTV, RTTY, PSK, etc. without the TNC.


You did not mention OS version but if you do not have correct driver for it it will not show up in device manager. Once it is there you can assign it to any comm port you wish and its baud rate and hand shaking.

As far as using a Signal link for digital until a PK232 there is no positive PTT control which makes a few mode like Pactor not possible and modes like Packet can be difficult because of it VOX keying delay. Alos PK232 support FSK keying if your rig does and Signal Link does not (because it has no PTT control)
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--------------------------------------
Entered using a  WiFi Win 8.1 RT tablet or a Android tablet using 4G/LTE or WiFi.
AA4PB
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Posts: 12641




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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2012, 12:46:29 PM »

You don't need to pay AEA prices. Try something like:
http://www.usbgear.com/computer_cable_details.cfm?sku=USBG-RS232-F12&cats=199&catid=482%2C199%2C601%2C461

If you don't see the driver then it's not installed. You may not have the correct driver for your OS. With the driver not installed and working properly your software will never see it either.
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