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Author Topic: Looking for CW software to use with MFJ-461 Pocket Morse reader  (Read 4881 times)
KU4UV
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Posts: 375




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« on: August 09, 2012, 05:22:20 PM »

Hello everyone, I have an MFJ-461 pocket Morse Code reader that I would like to be able to use with a computer terminal program in order to display the text from the code reader onto a computer monitor.  Does anyone know of a good free CW terminal program that would be good to use with the MFJ-461?  I have an older Toshiba laptop that I would like to be able to put the software on and then just build a cable to connect the 461 to the computer.  Thanks!

73,
Michael KU4UV
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K7MH
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 10:16:01 PM »

The pocket Morse reader has just an LCD display. It has no video output so it isn't going to happen.
The thing to do is get/make a soundcard interface to use with your rig and the laptop with a (free) program such as CwGet.
Then you would also be all set up to use the various digital modes as well.
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KU4UV
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 10:32:24 AM »

The reader has a "serial out" jack on the top of it that is supposed to be used to connect it to a computer serial port so that you can display the text on a computer monitor without having to use the LCD display.  I know it does not have a video output.  The literature that came with the reader says it can be used with a CW terminal program.  I am trying to figure out what program would be a good one to use before calling MFJ and asking them, if they even know.

73,
Mike KU4UV
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N0PP
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 10:49:12 AM »

There are many possibilities. Depending on the operating system you have installed on that laptop do a Google search for "windows terminal program serial port" or "linux terminal program serial port", or similar (without the quotes).

I assume you have a RS-232 port on that Toshiba laptop. If not you will need a USB to RS-232 converter (a little hardware gadget).

When you build the cable keep in mind that you probably will have to cross the Rx and Tx wires (depending on the wiring of the MFJ-461).

73,
Juerg N0PP
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K0JEG
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 11:53:15 AM »

The reader has a "serial out" jack on the top of it that is supposed to be used to connect it to a computer serial port so that you can display the text on a computer monitor without having to use the LCD display.  I know it does not have a video output.  The literature that came with the reader says it can be used with a CW terminal program.  I am trying to figure out what program would be a good one to use before calling MFJ and asking them, if they even know.

73,
Mike KU4UV

Windows 98 to XP (maybe Vista): Hyperterminal

Vista, Windows 7, Linux, MacOS: PuTTY. http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/

As others have pointed out, you'll need a USB to serial adapter and a custom cable. The instructions that come with the 461 tell you how to make one. It's a fairly simple project, even for someone who's never picked up a soldering iron before.

However, there are better options out there. I never had much luck with the MFJ-461 unless you have a lot of filtering, a 599+ signal, and the sender has an iron fist (or keyboard). Even then it makes a lot of mistakes. I have a program on my Android phone called simply "Morse Decoder" that runs circles around the MFJ box, even with fades and QRM. It also has a much wider frequency band it can hear, so you can dial up the tone that works for your ear instead of what works well for the 461. It won't decode to a PC though. Just putting the phone's microphone next to the radio speaker works well enough, but building an audio interface will improve accuracy.

You can also use a computer program like FLDIGI to receive code. Like the Android app, it will receive over a wide frequency range and does a better job than the MFJ unit. It's also free. Just run the audio output from your radio into the audio input if all you want to do is monitor.

I'm trying not to knock the MFJ unit, but because it doesn't maintain a WPM lock on the received signal it just has a hard time decoding less than perfect audio. One thing it did was force me to improve my antennas and learn how to really use the RF gain knob and the CW settings on my radio. A few years ago I thought what little it could do was magic, but technology marches on.
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K7MH
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 07:33:51 PM »

The reader has a "serial out" jack on the top of it that is supposed to be used to connect it to a computer serial port so that you can display the text on a computer monitor without having to use the LCD display.  I know it does not have a video output.  The literature that came with the reader says it can be used with a CW terminal program.  I am trying to figure out what program would be a good one to use before calling MFJ and asking them, if they even know.

73,
Mike KU4UV

Ok, I wasn't aware that it had that.  Embarrassed
There has been a couple questions on how to have a rigs LCD display show up on a computer monitor (without HRD) like can be done with a IC-7000 which has a video output so I thought it was going in that direction.
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KU4UV
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Posts: 375




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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2012, 12:25:27 PM »

Thanks for all the great advice guys!
73,
Mike KU4UV Smiley
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