eCOM 101 August

26323966436_ec46c6c5c5_kLast month we did a high-level walk through of Winlink Express, culminating in having everyone send me a Winlink email message using Telnet. I believe I have responded to everyone but if I didn’t respond to your message, please send it again and I’ll check and respond prior to tonight’s net.

On Monday night (August 14), we’re going to step it up a notch. We’re going to talk about interfacing your computer to your radio. For some of you, this may be old news, but even so, you might learn something about how and why things work the way the do.

I’m hoping to relay some of my experience when I first became a ham and tried to get my computer connected to my ICOM IC-7000. Even with an extensive data background it did not make sense. What I finally realized was that “data” didn’t mean “data” when it came to radio manufacturers, except when it did, unless you were talking about it on an even numbered Thursday, which is when it didn’t.  Arrgh!

Interfacing to your radio can be relatively simple or – especially if it’s an older rig – a tiny bit more complicated. We’ll talk about how different programs use the radio. For example, fldigi non-packet modes versus packet-oriented modes. We’ll talk about the difference between a soundcard-type setup and TNC setup, and we’ll cover some of the issues with USB drivers to keep you from pulling all your hair out.

The picture at the top of the page shows an HF radio (and a little VHF/UHF) and a Tigertronics Signalink in the lower left corner. The Signalink is a USB-connected external sound card with radio-specific features and electrical isolation. It supports the Winmor mode and many fldigi modes, and most other similar types of ham programs. While it’s arguably the most popular, many other manufacturers make similar equipment including MFJ and West Mountain Radio, to name a few. Of course, it’s pretty simple to make one of your own if you are a builder/maker.

Other popular interfaces include the Terminal Node Controller or TNC, and various kinds of radio-oriented modems. We’ll talk about the all-important PTT control when it comes to controlling radios, and the most-important topic (how not to splatter!)

I look forward to seeing you on the air!


Kevin N5KRG


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