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Author Topic: RIGblaster Advantage vs SignaLink USB  (Read 10909 times)
STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2012, 11:05:32 PM »

Hi Chris,

Sorry about the confusion.
The method whereby you inject a pure audio tone into the audio line in SSB mode is the indirect way.
The method whereby you close some contacts and operate in CW mode is the direct keying way.

My personal preference is to do direct cw keying (closing contacts using a hand key, electronic keyer, bug or PC hard keying).
The advantages range from not having to monitor the audio level to ensure you don't overdrive your audio stages and having use of the CW filtering amongst others.
As in all things, there are many roads to achieve a goal, so do what is best for you.

Since the USB signalink does not do direct keying, I built a little interface into a DB9 plug to provide CW and PTT from the DTR (CW) and RTS (PTT) RS232 signals.
But that is just my personal bias towards not putting all my eggs in the same basket.
If you are not into homebrewing, and since it all adds up in cost, the rigblaster may be viable for doing that all in one package.

Again, have a look at the eham reviews, even though they are not scientific, they give you an idea of problem areas (if any) which exist.
This is true for both the USB Signalink and Rigblaster units.

So again, do what is best for you and fits with your personal outlook.

73 - Rob
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 11:08:21 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
AK4SK
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Posts: 146




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« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2012, 07:28:25 AM »

Hi Chris,

Sorry about the confusion.
The method whereby you inject a pure audio tone into the audio line in SSB mode is the indirect way.
The method whereby you close some contacts and operate in CW mode is the direct keying way.

My personal preference is to do direct cw keying (closing contacts using a hand key, electronic keyer, bug or PC hard keying).
The advantages range from not having to monitor the audio level to ensure you don't overdrive your audio stages and having use of the CW filtering amongst others.
As in all things, there are many roads to achieve a goal, so do what is best for you.

Since the USB signalink does not do direct keying, I built a little interface into a DB9 plug to provide CW and PTT from the DTR (CW) and RTS (PTT) RS232 signals.
But that is just my personal bias towards not putting all my eggs in the same basket.
If you are not into homebrewing, and since it all adds up in cost, the rigblaster may be viable for doing that all in one package.

Again, have a look at the eham reviews, even though they are not scientific, they give you an idea of problem areas (if any) which exist.
This is true for both the USB Signalink and Rigblaster units.

So again, do what is best for you and fits with your personal outlook.

73 - Rob


Rob,
Thanks for the clarification and thanks again for all the help.
73,
Chris
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W9ARX
Member

Posts: 318




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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2012, 12:28:25 PM »

From what I can tell, the Signal Link is all about cheap cost, giving you the ability to run RTTY, but in the packet mode on your radio as they do not cable into the rtty jacks on the radios (being it is a sound card I suspect).  Works okay, cheap cost (60-90$ typically), but that is about all it will do.  I run MTTY software and no problem.  Someday, I will get with the program and learn some other digital modes and then will need a real interface....
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2012, 02:37:08 PM »

From what I can tell, the Signal Link is all about cheap cost, giving you the ability to run RTTY, but in the packet mode on your radio as they do not cable into the rtty jacks on the radios (being it is a sound card I suspect).  Works okay, cheap cost (60-90$ typically), but that is about all it will do.  I run MTTY software and no problem.  Someday, I will get with the program and learn some other digital modes and then will need a real interface....

Hi,
When you get into the other digital modes, you will find the USB-Signalink will do a fine job, so you should not need another interface.
Except:
If you are using digital ACK/NACK modes which require a quick turnaround.

The USB-Signalink is simply an external soundcard, suitably R.F. bypassed, which has an internal VOX-like Push To Talk facility.
When the signalink is putting out an audio tone, its internal P.T.T will key a relay who's contacts are available on its radio port.
The drop delay of the P.T.T. is adjustable on the front panel "delay" knob.
The other two knobs are TX and RX audio level controls.
That is about all there is to the signalink - one cable from the PC, and usually one to the radio.

Any of the commonly used digimodes such as PSK31, Olivia, MFSK, HELL, Thor, ......etc etc will work perfectly with the signalink.
In fact the drop delay control is very useful for such things as stopping the TX dropping while sending slower information such as video ID.

The only situation where you will find the signalink is not optimum is where you need very rapid TX/RX switching.
This applies to ALE400 for example or PACKET.
CW direct keying (hard keying of a set of contacts) is also not well supported.

Other than those cases, you will find the signalink will do all the digimodes very well indeed.
Cost is not really the issue in this case, as the many happy users will attest.
I work primarily digimodes and have a homebrew multi-function interface which does it all, even real FSK keying capability.
But I still use the USB signalink for 90 percent of my activity as it is so easy to setup and clears the rats nest of cables.

They are both good interfaces, it's just a matter of operating style, and choice.

73 - Rob
« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 02:40:52 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


WWW

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« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2012, 05:37:13 PM »

See posts referring to the cost between the SignaLink and RB Advantage as not being much Huh

Looking at the websites, the difference is nearly $100!!! SignaLink is $109 from Tigertronics, RB Advantage is $199 from West Mountain Radio. I would NOT call that insignificant.

On another note, if you are planning on using RTTY, I'd suggest you use the FSK mode if your rig supports it. Much simplier and no issues with drive, ALC or splattering since there is no mic gain or soundcard levels to deal with. If you are mystified by RTTY and want to learn more, I would STRONGLY suggest a visit to Don Hill AA5AU's RTTY webpage (http://www.aa5au.com/rtty.html) to get a solid foundation to begin with before jumping in to purchase any interface. Don is probably one of the smartest RTTY guys around. It will be well worth your time to do some reading at Don's website.

For you homebrewers, building an interface to run FSK RTTY isn't hard at all. There are tons of ideas and schematics online to start from. Takes a handful of cheap parts, a project box and some time. Probably $25 in parts and you've done it yourself. Save the extra money for better coax or towards a bigger, better antenna system or QRO amplifier.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
AK4SK
Member

Posts: 146




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« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2012, 07:23:40 PM »

See posts referring to the cost between the SignaLink and RB Advantage as not being much Huh

Looking at the websites, the difference is nearly $100!!! SignaLink is $109 from Tigertronics, RB Advantage is $199 from West Mountain Radio. I would NOT call that insignificant.

On another note, if you are planning on using RTTY, I'd suggest you use the FSK mode if your rig supports it. Much simplier and no issues with drive, ALC or splattering since there is no mic gain or soundcard levels to deal with. If you are mystified by RTTY and want to learn more, I would STRONGLY suggest a visit to Don Hill AA5AU's RTTY webpage (http://www.aa5au.com/rtty.html) to get a solid foundation to begin with before jumping in to purchase any interface. Don is probably one of the smartest RTTY guys around. It will be well worth your time to do some reading at Don's website.

For you homebrewers, building an interface to run FSK RTTY isn't hard at all. There are tons of ideas and schematics online to start from. Takes a handful of cheap parts, a project box and some time. Probably $25 in parts and you've done it yourself. Save the extra money for better coax or towards a bigger, better antenna system or QRO amplifier.

Gene W5DQ


Gene,
Thanks for the info. I think my radio (Yaesu FT-897D) only supports AFSK but I may be mistaken.

73,
Chris
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W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


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« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2012, 09:32:21 PM »

Chris,

Looking at page 36 of the FT-897 manual, it states:

1) Connect your TNC (Terminal Node Controller) or terminal
modem to the FT-897’s rear-panel DATA jack,
per the illustration. Be sure to use the “TX AUDIO” line,
not an “FSK” line, for the transmit data connection to
the FT-897.

So clearly you are correct. Only AFSK is supported.

Good Luck and hope to catch you on RTTY sometime.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2012, 12:47:06 AM »

Just re-iterating what Gene has said - you will need to use AFSK with RTTY for certain on the FT897D.
I use it in this mode all the time, and it works fine - the same cautions as with using any other digital mode apply to the modulation level.

In fact if you are using the USB-Signalink with the FT897D just get an SLUSB6PM cable with it - if you decide to order one.
This means you will only need to plug in the USB cable to the PC, and the SLUSB6PM cable from the "Radio" port to the FT897D "Data" port.
After you have set the header block inside the signalink for the FT897 (same as FT857/FT817), you are good to go on the air.
Very simple, neat and tidy setup - just two cables with the signalink in the center.

Then, whether you are using PSK,Olivia,RTTY, SSTV ... or any of the dozens of other digital modes - the hardware stays exactly the same.
The only thing you change is the mode selection in HRD, FLdigi or whatever digimodes programs you are using.
Remember the USB-Signalink appears as an external soundcard which identifies itself as "USB-AUDIO-CODEC".
This is the device you should select in your digimode programs soundcard selection menu.

You can even pipe voice through this soundcard which lends itself to PC based audio processing (compression etc) and use it for SSB.
Some guys use it this way in contest work.

Anyway, you should have plenty of information now - just a matter of letting the moths fly out of the wallet.
Oh, and as others have said, homebrew interfaces can be every bit as good as a commercial unit if you are that way inclined.
The main advantage of the signalink external soundcard type is that you can still use the PC onboard soundcard for other uses.
For example, if you are using the HRD "Alarm" function to give voice announcements of PSK31 activity, this can still happen without it going over the air.
Having a second soundcard also gives scope for some interesting experiments using the PC as an audio DSP device for the incoming signals.
I have tried this, and it works very well.
It is of course no substitute for I.F. DSP - but interesting nevertheless, especially for using it with CW as an extremely narrow peaking filter.

Good luck es 73 - Rob

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KC9TNH
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Posts: 304




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« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2012, 02:48:58 AM »

Just re-iterating what Gene has said - you will need to use AFSK with RTTY for certain on the FT897D.

Good luck es 73 - Rob
 (and rest of post)
Thanks for the insight Rob. Investigating this very situation & have been following. FT450D and 817ND when portable. After reading the manuals of the SL-USB & both radios, ordering the Signalink version with the 6-pin mini-DIN is almost like pressing the easy button.
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2012, 03:25:01 AM »

Your right there Wes.

Easy and works well too.
Just one other thing when you plug it into a windows PC.
Like any external soundcard, Windows will try to make it your default soundcard.
So, you will find all of your sounds, music etc going to it by default.
If you just right click on the windows volume control, and change the default playback/record device back to your onboard soundcard, all will be well.

Not a big problem, but may save you some *%#? moments.

73 - Rob
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AK4SK
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Posts: 146




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« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2012, 06:41:27 AM »

Thanks again to everybody. I went with the RIGblaster mainly for CW and because I was able to find one used. Thank you all for the help and info.

73,
Chris
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W5DQ
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« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2012, 07:52:56 AM »

FB, Chris. Hope to catch you on sometime. I homebrewed my entire interface lineup for CW, AFSK (plus other soundcard modes like JT65-HF, etc) and FSK on my TS-940S but I went commercial with the RB Plug-N-Pray for my TS-2000/X.

73

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
N4CR
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Posts: 1649




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« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2012, 12:39:51 PM »

Thanks for the insight Rob. Investigating this very situation & have been following. FT450D and 817ND when portable. After reading the manuals of the SL-USB & both radios, ordering the Signalink version with the 6-pin mini-DIN is almost like pressing the easy button.

I originally bought my SignaLink USB for my Yaesu FT-857. When I purchased my IC-746PRO, I found that the same cable plugged right in and I didn't have to change anything for it to work on my new Icom.

I suspect that the 6 pin Mini-Din format is universal on a lot of radios.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
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