View Full Version : What do I need to control/program the FT897?
11-18-2010, 08:17 PM
got my firts HF rtx, a tiny Yaesu FT897, I still have the "old" TS790 I was using by the time fo have fun with 2m/70cm contests but to revitalize the passion I decided to give it a try on the HF bands and got this little rig.
Now I would like to control the operating parameters through a computer other than to have to do it via the menu structure, you know, setting memories content, step for each band etc etc
I don't know if a cable is enough (obviously with a software) or if it needs the CAT interface.
If the latter is the case then which are the differences between the many I see advertised on many websites?
Does anybody have some website to suggest where I can find out the differences and to, eventually, get one as well as the cable?
thanks for reading
11-18-2010, 11:36 PM
Well, page 63 of the manual covers the CAT operation. You need a cord, you probably also need a serial to USB adaptor, and then you need operating software.
Per the manual, the CAT cable has a line level converter built in, etc. Given how tiny those mini-din plugs are, I would buy one premade.
As to software, Yaesu does not have software available. I believe most of the programs that do radio control functions use the same code as the 897 so it should be a matter of choosing the one you like best.
11-19-2010, 12:20 AM
Consider gearing up to do digital modes at the same time. Several of the popular interfaces like USB Plug n Play from RigBlaster also have the CAT interface built in - all you need is the correct cables for the radio to do rig control and also handle the soundcard interface chores.
Ham Radio Deluxe is a great package for free, and even if it wasn't free.
11-19-2010, 04:21 AM
G4HFQ makes a memory management application for the FT 857/897. Google FTBasic.
Note that controlling the radio is done through the CAT port, but programming the memories is done through the DATA port. So you will need two different cables.
11-19-2010, 04:32 AM
Also note that there will still be functions that you simply cannot control with the CAT port.
For example, you can change mode to digital mode, but you cannot change from PSK-U to PSK-L to USER-L to USER-U to RTTY, etc...
11-19-2010, 07:46 AM
Thank you guys,
things start to get a bit clearer, so I need a cable and that's fine, I need a USB one as I have Apple computers and they have no serial port (legacy stuff gone from Macs a while ago), also, should I use a PC (should still have an old one somewhere) I rather prefer to have the usb.
What I look forward to is to write the memory banks of the rig at this moment so I need a data cable but am wondering then which is the difference between the "simple" CAT cable and a CAT interface, I don't want the little radio to become like a nuclear plant, I would like to keep the less stuff attached if possible so a single interface would be very welcome even though the data cable will only be used once in a while to access the memory banks.
If you can suggest me where to find, online, both the data cable and the CAT cable/interface I will appreciate.
11-21-2010, 01:48 AM
The CAT cable is simply a serial port set up for the radio. With the older PC serial ports the voltage used was +/- 12V for the signals. Most of the radios use 5V/0V so the CAT cable has a small voltage change setup - often just a resistor network.
USB uses 5V, but doesn't do serial data in the same way the radio does, so most of the USB/CAT cables have a chip to do the conversion, and then also the voltage converters to go back to 5V/0V data.
The various CAT interfaces vary. The things you need for digital modes are:
Radio to sound card
Sound card to radio
Transmit enable (key)
You do not have to have digital control of the radio to do digital modes. Without the PC control, it simply means you have to tune the radio and control the setups from the radio front panel. Some kind of ground loop isolation is desirable between the radio and PC sound card, but not necessary in all cases.
Some of the interfaces have a sound card built in, like the Signalink, but do not have the radio control (serial port) built in, so that means two cables from the PC to the radio - one USB for the serial port, one for the soundcard.
Others have the radio control for keying, but no soundcard, so you need three cables from the PC to the interface - one for control, and two from the mic/headset connections.
Lastly the more expensive ones do have a soundcard and radio control built in, but it still requires two cable from the interface to the radio - one for control, one for the audio in/out.
Old PC's such as Win98 or XP machines are perfectly capable of working digital modes, with something like FLDIGI. If you want to use the latest version of Ham Radio Deluxe and DM780, I would recommend something faster with more memory.
Likewise, any Mac can run FLDIGI or some other Mac specific digital mode program. I don't know of any programs quite as elaborate as Ham Radio Deluxe for the Mac. HRD handles the radio control, with a lot of options and not going through menus, but as I said above, you don't need fancy radio control to do digital modes.
I usually run an older Intel MacBook Pro under XP for digital modes, with Ham Radio Deluxe or FLDIGI depending on what I'm trying to do.
Lastly, memory management. Ham Radio Deluxe does not do memory management. But it does use memory in the PC to set up the radio - so you can have stations in the PC setup without working with the FT-857s memories. And I don't know of any Mac specific memory managers for the FT 857/897. As I mentioned above, I use the FTBasic memory manager, again in a MacBook Pro running Windows XP.
11-24-2010, 01:03 PM
That's very clear KI6HLD, I think that to begin with I'll look to find a CAT/USB cable then the digital modes to come, at this present time I only have a home made dipole that's not even high enough out of the ground so forget digi modes now, maybe in the future, what I would like now is the ability to store memories in the FT897 banks and, maybe, to control the rig via some software (by using a Mac - and not wishing to install windows - I have not too many choices).
11-25-2010, 04:25 AM
Don't rule out the digital modes too quickly because of a marginal antenna. In some ways they work better with weak signals than SSB voice.
FLDIGI on Mac OSX can control the mode of the radio and the frequency, using the CAT control cable.
Just remember that the memories are controlled by the DATA port and will require a different cable. I have no idea why they did it that way, it's just what we have to work with.
Here's a place that will sell CAT cables:
The G4HFQ site has links to other sellers for the DATA port cables, but seems to be down for me at the moment.
11-25-2010, 04:38 AM
for $37 + shipping you can get the factory approved USB programming cable and programming software from Ham City -- part # ADMS-4B. It will work out of the box on a Windows machine with no hassles, no driver issues, etc... and their support is great. This will let you set up all the memories, etc... With this cable and Ham Radio Deluxe, you can control the radio tuning, modes, etc... via the programming cable.
For the digital modes, you still need an interface cable of some sort to pass the audio from the radio to the PC and vice-versa.
11-25-2010, 11:32 AM
FLdigi is a nice program for digital modes and you can use a simple logger for rig control or if you don't mind bloat HRD the Swiss army knife if you want to buy there are better options.
Check into the JT modes you will be surprised what you can do with a barefoot rig and a marginal antenna on HF as well as VHF. Digital is much better than SSB for weak signal work on any band and then there is whisper :)