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Author Topic: AEA PK-232MBX Questions - Baudot light on, how to connect to computer and radio  (Read 459 times)

Posts: 11

« on: May 03, 2019, 12:59:25 PM »

I bought a used AEA PK-232MBX digital interface box. The BAUDOT lights is continuously lit with just the power cable connected. Does this indicate that the PK-232MBX is bad?

It's unclear how to connected to the PK-232MBX from the manual. Very little is covered in the manual how to connect the PK-232 to the computer and HF radio.

Is the PK-232MBX connected to the computer using the 5 pin "EXT MODEM" or 25 pin RS-232 I/O jack on the PK-232MBX? How is the PK-232MBX connected to the computer? Is the 9 pin DIN serial connector used on the computer, or is a 25 pin RS-232 I/O connector needed on the computer?

The PK-232MBX manual only states the following for the minimum serial port connections required by the PK-232:

Pin      Signal Name      Description
Pin 2   Transmit Data    Serial data from computer to PK-232
Pin 3   Receive Data      Serial data from PK-232 to computer
Pin 7   Signal Ground    Common ground for both data lines

The manual also states: If the full RS-232 cable set is used, DO NOT CONNECT any pins other than pin 1 through pin 8, and pin 20! The remaining pins 17 through 19 and 21 through 25 have been reserved for future use. Connection of a full RS-232 wire set will cause improper operation of your PK-232. The minimum serial port connections described above do not permit hardware flow control.

The PK-232 to the HF radio connections are described as follows:
Pin       Signal Name          Description
Pin 1    Receive audio         AFSK from receiver to PK-232
Pin 2    Microphone audio    AFSK from PK-232 to transmitter
Pin 3    Squelch input          Allows PK-232 to detect activity on a shared mode channel (optional)
Pin 4    Ground                   Audio and PTT common return
Pin 5    Push-To-Talk            PK-232 keys transmitter

The PK-232 to HF radio connections are easier to understand. They are from the 5 pin molex connector labled "Radio 1" or "Radio 2" to the appropriate connections on my Icom IC-7610 HF radio.

Can someone please let me know if the fact that the BAUDOT light is continuously lit, with only the 13.8 VDC power connected, indicates that the PK-232MBX is bad, or is it "normal" for the BAUDOT light to be continuously lit?

Can someone tell me how the PK-232 is connected to the computer? How is the PK-232MBX connected to the Icom IC-7610 HF radio?

What software needs to be run on the Windows computer to communicate with the PK-232MBX?

Dave KY0L


Posts: 4788

« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2019, 01:47:25 PM »

Well, It has been several decades since I owned a PK232, BUT I will give it a go.  I suspect the unit is in the Baudot mode and that is what the light is trying to tell you.  So I don't see a problem there.  It has to be in "some " mode so Baudot  (RTTY) is as good as any.

So You will need a serial port on your computer. I assume you have one?  9 pin? Not many computers have 25 pins serial ports, although they were the norm during this units heyday.  No problem if you have a 9 pin port or a 9 pin to USB converter.  You will need a soldering iron, some suitable cable, I would use CAT5 or CAT6 and an old decrepit ham like me that understands RS232 interfacing. Smiley  Just kidding, you can figure out this ancient neolithic data protocol. The internet is full of diagrams of how to make an RS232 25 pin to 9 pin interface cable.  Just remember that a pin like RX data (receive data) would need to be connected to a TXD (transmit data) on the other end.  You can get away without the handshaking control lines as long as everything can keep on on each end. If I remember the PK232 was a piece of DCE (Data Communications Equipment) and the PC would be considered a piece of DTE (Data Terminal Equipment),  so keep that in mind.  You MAY be able to buy a 9 pin DTE to 25 pin DCE cable on the internet premade. Think of the PK232 as a modem so it would be DCE.  So whether you build or try to buy, that is how the unit is hooked to your PC.  You use simple terminal emulator software to "talk" to your newfound artifact.  Hyperterminal was common in Windows installations. but may be missing now.  You can use Putty (you will have to find and download it.  Back in the day I uses a terminal emulator calle YAPP (Yet Another Packet Program).  Yes they were that prolific back in the day, that the designers named this one YAPP.  You can learn more about RS232 interfacing on Wikipedia and other locations on the net. The advantage of YAPP was that it had many Macros built in for kinds of a "shell" around a simple terminal emulator where you have to enter commands manually instead of pushing a "button" on the screen.

So enough for now, let us know how you progress and specific questions in getting this unit going.

73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist

Posts: 1422

« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2019, 02:49:58 AM »

Regarding software to run a ‘232, the legacy program “XPWare” will drive your hardware under Windows XP and is free. If you haven’t an old XP computer, it runs fine under Oracle Virtual Box. My web page has details, although the page needs an update, the basic info should help a little.

73 Dave
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