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Author Topic: Sound Card Software Advice / Help  (Read 741 times)
N4CQR
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Posts: 593




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« on: November 28, 2017, 11:59:28 AM »

Returning to amateur radio after a near 18-year hiatus.
I use to work a lot of PSK, RTTY etc. back in the early 90's and I am now getting back on the air. These days I find many new modes and I am needing some leadership on what software is out there and perhaps what I should begin with. I have no preconceived notion of what I want to do other than simply communicate with other hams in a digital format. The last "digital" mode I worked was PSK31 years ago.

Considering the equipment below, could I get some suggestions on what software would be a good choice to begin with?

HARDWARE: FT-897D
INTERFACE:  Signalink
COMPUTER: MAC O/S Sierra 10.12.6 (and / or) Windows 8 under VMWare.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments.

My best,
Craig N4CQR 73
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ND6M
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Posts: 568




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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 12:11:38 PM »

Well, you have all the hardware you need to do any digital mode.

you may want to add an external soundcard after you get back into the different modes. it helps to keep the computer generated noises from being transmitted. Grin

if you are going to do any of the WSJT type stuff, then I would add a program to keep your computer clock updated and synchronized to a good time server...  I use Dimension 4 on my windoze box, don't know what to use on a Mac.

BTW: there is still a lot of PSK31 on the bands.

take a look at the 30 meter digital group 's website for ideas

Good luck
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W5DXP
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 12:32:02 PM »

BTW: there is still a lot of PSK31 on the bands.

I came back to digital after a 20 year absence. Got me a $10 EasyDigi board, a $12 sound card dongle, and installed DigiPan for PSK31. There's a lot of PSK31 activity on 40m and 20m. No need for my $800 SCS PCTIIe Pactor modem anymore.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 12:43:46 PM »

Make sure you get a SignaLink-USB. It's got a built-in sound card.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
AA2UK
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Posts: 372




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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2017, 07:27:11 AM »

Make sure you get a SignaLink-USB. It's got a built-in sound card.

A word about using the computer's internal sound card make sure you give the digital program exclusive control of the sound card when in use and all other sounds are disabled. 6 meters opened last night there were no less then 3 stations playing a combination of Windoz sounds, a You Tube video, shack audio and beeps. It's the worst I've ever heard using FT8 on 6 meters.
It can be done it requires very basic computer skills to do so.
Bill, AA2UK
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VA3VF
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Posts: 932




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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2017, 08:40:35 AM »

Considering the affordable options available, not to say improved performance in some cases, using the computer internal card should be avoided at all costs.
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W6UV
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2017, 10:45:33 AM »

If you haven't bought the hardware yet, you may want to reconsider the Signalink. It's got a mediocre built-in sound card. You can get a better sound card for less than what the Signalink costs. A good card is the Asus Xonar U5. It's about $69 and is much better than the Signalink. You'll be able to dig out signals deeper into the noise with it.
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VA3VF
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2017, 11:01:49 AM »

I see this repeated over and over again. I have a Signalink USB, two SYBA dongles, and had the Xonar U5.

The Xonar U5 was the best of the 3, no question about it, but the difference between it and the US$8 SYBA was so small, that I no longer have the Xonar U5. If you want to go the Xonar route, look also at the Xonar U7 mkll, a couple of dBs better than the U5, as per specs.

The Signalink USB came in third, but far from being mediocre. It makes for a 'cleaner' installation and level adjustments.

Lastly, and unless things changed, the same TI chip used by the Signalink USB is built into the IC-7200, IC-7300, TS-590S, TS-590SG.

Curious to see if the IC-7610 uses the same chip as well.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 11:16:46 AM by VA3VF » Logged
VA3VF
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Posts: 932




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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 11:23:42 AM »


you may want to add an external soundcard after you get back into the different modes. it helps to keep the computer generated noises from being transmitted. Grin


The Signalink has a built-in soundcard. The same TI chip used in the IC-7200, IC-7300, TS-590S, TS-590SG, and maybe others.
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VA3VF
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2017, 11:30:31 AM »

...could I get some suggestions on what software would be a good choice to begin with?

FLDIGI and WSJT-X should keep you busy for years to come.  Grin

If you don't care about all the other modes covered by FLDIGI, aside from PSK31 and RTTY, Airlink Express is great.
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N4CQR
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Posts: 593




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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2017, 11:35:29 AM »

Thank you all!

I think I am just going to start out simple on a mode (PSK31) that I am use to and work my way into newer ventures as time permits and as I become more comfortable with the setup. [Relearn one thing, get proficient at it and then venture into new territory.]

I appreciate you folks!

Craig 73
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W6UV
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Posts: 822




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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2017, 06:53:28 PM »

Lastly, and unless things changed, the same TI chip used by the Signalink USB is built into the IC-7200, IC-7300, TS-590S, TS-590SG.

Icom and Kenwood are using that crappy chip (TI PCM2904) too? Too bad...
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VA3VF
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Posts: 932




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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2017, 07:26:13 PM »

Lastly, and unless things changed, the same TI chip used by the Signalink USB is built into the IC-7200, IC-7300, TS-590S, TS-590SG.

Icom and Kenwood are using that crappy chip (TI PCM2904) too? Too bad...

I don't know what you mean by crappy. There is a problem with the way the chip is identified by Windows. I don't know who is at fault, but Windows think it's a microphone, and adds 30 db gain.

The way to rectify this, is to open the recording device, select Microphone USB Audio CODEC, click properties, click Level tab, right click on the Microphone level scale, select decibels, and move the cursor as close as possible to 0 db. In most versions of Windows, the closest you will get is +0.1 dB. This is good enough. What you just did was to remove the 30 dB gain Windows added to the misidentified 'microphone'.

Don't ever touch this setting again. Make any future adjustments elsewhere.
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