Radio Control
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Rig Setup - This configuration page allows the user to configure their CAT controlled radio for use with this software.  The CAT Controlled PTT Switching check box will allow this program to software control the PTT line in the radio if that function is supported.  Most Icom radios DO NOT support this feature so you will have to use a COM port selection to key the radio.

Configuring the serial port for Radio Control will depend largely on how the serial port in your radio is setup.  You will need to reference the radios user manual to make sure you set the computer up to match the requirements of the radio. Unfortunately, most radio manuals are not very clear on what their requirements are so you may need to do some experimentation.

CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) is a method radio manufactures have provided to allow a personal computer to control the radio via some type of interface.  In most cases this will be the standard RS-232 serial port.  Matching the serial port setting of the radio to the computer correctly is essential.

COM Port:  This is the port number assigned to the serial port on the back of the computer you will be using to interface the computer to the radio.  In the case of computers that do not have the standard serial port, you will need to purchase a USB to Serial converter.  The software provide with those devices will create a pseudo serial port and assign it a number.

Baud Rate:  This is the speed at which data will be transferred between the computer and the radio. In layman terms it means bits per second – the number of bits that are transferred between the computer and the device it is communicating with every second.  Consult the radios user manual to determine what baud rates are supported by your radio.  Common baud rates are 4800, 9600, 19200, and 38400.  The higher the baud rate the faster the communications, but this can bring some unreliability depending on the speed of the computer and how data is processed in the computer.

Number of Bits:  This is the number of individual bits that make up a character. Normally this will be 8, but some early Yaesu and Kenwood models used 7 bits.

Parity: In serial communications, parity checking refers to the use of parity bits to check that data has been transmitted accurately. The parity bit is added to every data unit (typically seven or eight bits) that is transmitted. The parity bit for each unit is set so that all bytes have either an odd number or an even number of set bits. Refer to the user manual to determine what type of parity is used.  In most cases it will be none.

Stop Bits: Stop bits are a way for a computer to "catch its breath" while sending or receiving data, while still letting the other end know that the connection is still there and is still valid; they're also used in error detection.  Stop bits are rather like parity bits.  They are sent with the data, but they are not part of the data.  Unlike parity bits, they are not turned on and off by the number of bits in the data; instead, they are always on.  If one or more of the stop bits are missing, it constitutes a framing error.  The radios user manual will tell you how many stop bits to use.  In most cases it will be 1 or 2.

Handshake Type: This defines the type of “flow control” that is used between the computer and the radio.  It allows each of the communicators to signal the other when it has completed an operation and/or ready for more data.  If you radio supports flow control, it will be identified in the user manual (Maybe??).  If you are unsure about the type of flow control that is used, select NONE.  If you are having some difficulty with communications, you might try to use Hardware.  Only use the XON/XOFF protocol if the user manual specifically calls for that type of flow control.

Timeout: The time in milliseconds that the radio should respond back to the computer that it has received data and acknowledged that fact that it was received correctly.  This value should be set to a value of 1200 milliseconds or less.  The software polls the radio every 2000 (2 sec) milliseconds. If the radio has not respond an acknowledgement within 1200 ms there is something wrong. The default for this value is 750, but might need to be increased for some older radios.

Pacing:  This is a value in milliseconds.  It is a small time delay that is inserted between each character (or byte) that is sent to the radio.  Normally this value is 0, but some older Yaesu radios did require this value and should be something less than 12 ms.  Yaesu did indicate that a normal value for some of their older radios as 3 – 4 milliseconds.

Write Delay:  Some radios (TS-2000 specifically) have trouble with back to back commands that are sent from the computer.  The write delay is a small delay that is inserted between commands.  A Nominal value will be between 25 – 50 milliseconds.

Retries:  When the computer sends data to the radio, it is looking for a return acknowledgement from the radio that the data was acceptable.  If the computer does not get that acknowledgement it will retry the data again or error out.  The retires value will tell the computer how many times to retry the data before it traps an error.  Settings greater than 4 are not really productive.

If you are going to use radios control, make sure the serial cable you use is a good quality cable with good shielding.  You are operating this in a RF environment and RF leakage into a serial cable will cause all kinds of problems with the serial data transfer to such an extent that it could not only lockup the radios computer, but your PC as well.

If you are transmitting and notice the frequency, mode or other data coming back from the radio getting jumbled, suspect RFI first before faulting the software.  If you do not have any problem with the communications while in the receive mode, then you serial settings are probably set correctly.

Radio Interfacing:  Icom radios use a protocol called CI-V,which is an interface that converts the standard 3 wire serial interface to a 2 wire system.  Icom provides such an interface until at a price, but there are third party units that will also fit the bill that are cheaper.  Building an interface with a few parts is quite simple.  Other radios may require an interface unit that will convert the standard RS-232 signals of +/- 12 volts to TTL levels of 0 - 5 volts.  Manufactures costs for these units vary, but there are third party units that are considerably less.  Rolling your own is also an option.

Anchor Frequencies:  Each band has a user selectable frequency for PSK, RTTY and MFSK.  The default frequencies are those that are recommended. The user can edit these as they see fit.  When using Radio control, these are the frequencies that will be set when one of the band buttons is pressed on the radio control panel on the main screen

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