Saturday, August 3, 2013

Connecting your radio to a computer

On Field Day, I had a wonderful logging system from my club, where we didn't even have to type in the frequency. We were simply allowed to concentrate on making the contact, the computer automatically knew what frequency we were on! This was really neat, and I wondered, how can I make this happen at my home?
So, my HF rig is an Icom 735. I noticed that one of the ports on it was a "CI-V" port. I did some research, and found that this port allows for controlling the frequency of the radio, as well as reporting the frequency. This seemed exactly like what I wanted! The standard device to connect involves a serial cable, and costs around $100. I don't have a serial port on my computer, and I wanted something a bit less expensive. So, after some research, I found a USB cable that cost $10. It included drivers required to make it work.

I then fired up my preferred logging program (N1MM), but I was having problems getting it to work right. Finally, I read the instructions, and learned that the IC-735 defaults to 1200 baud, 1 stop bit, transceiver on. I set up the port like that, as well as N1MM, and just like magic, it started working! The thing just started working. On their website, they discourage using 1200 baud, because it slows down things, but I don't notice much of a lag, and it's easier to just use that then opening up the radio case to switch the jumpers around.

Bottom line, I highly recommend doing this, as it makes it so you can concentrate on the fun part of Amateur Radio, talking to people, and save time with the not so fun part, of logging the contact. Good luck!

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