ad: Morse-1

Ham Radio + computer + google Gmail = free digital phone patch!

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by WD5ACP, Sep 28, 2017.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Left-2
ad: L-MFJ
ad: abrind-2
ad: MessiPaoloni-1
ad: HRDLLC-2
ad: Left-3
ad: L-Geochron
  1. WD5ACP

    WD5ACP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ham Radio + computer + google Gmail = free digital phone patch!

    I’ve found a no-cost way to add free phone patch functionality to almost any ham station using just a radio with accessory audio in and out (that’s common these days), a connected computer, and Google’s Gmail. No analog phone line nor separate phone patch is necessary!

    I use a Kenwood TS-590. The TS-590 is a modern radio and includes a digital serial USB connection option that carries both audio and data. I’ve been using this USB radio<>computer link for both radio control software and for linking to software for using digital modes like PSK31, so getting audio in and out of the radio to the computer for me is easy as I have it already configured.

    Alternatively, for radios that lack a digital USB audio option, using a computers’ analog microphone and headphone connects wired to a radio’s analog audio outputs and inputs can also work. You’ll need the appropriate patch cords.

    The key for phone patch links is to take advantage of Google’s Gmail service, which includes a free telephone link that can be used to call just about any phone number from your computer. To access this free service you’ll need a (free) Gmail account. Connect the computer to the internet, log into your Gmail account using a browser, and simply click on the small telephone icon that appears near the lower-left hand side of the screen (I had never noticed this little icon until recently).

    A single click on the icon brings up a dialog right above the phone icon with “Make a call” showing. Now click on “Make a call” and a NEW small dialing window will pop up. Enter the phone number, click on the “Call…xxx-xxx-xxxx ”and you’re connected!

    If your radio is enabled to use an accessory audio input and output (Kenwood TS-590 data mode with USB in my case) and VOX is enabled, the phone link will automatically transmit when the dialed party speaks (or the phone rings), and the phoned party will of course hear everything the radio is receiving once they pick up! FREE PHONE PATCH!

    I’ve tested this and it worked very well with just a little bit of tweaking of the audio input and output levels to match the computer/Gmail/radio. In my case, I had to lower the sensitivity of the USB input level, and lower the computer’s output level since the Gmail phone audio is pretty hot and tended to over-drive the radio’s excellent speech processor (which I normally never use operating USB digital modes, but I enabled it for use with a phone patch).

    I also found that although signals in and out sound quite good with my radio configured with flat audio response, using the TS-590s transmit and receive equalizers configured for high-boost (HB1) improved the experience. In addition, as with any radio communication, you’ll need to adjust the radio’s RF gain, bandwidth and noise reduction features as band conditions warrant for best receive.
    I hope others will find this useful. I work full time so I won’t be on the air as much as I like, but for those that have radios + computers + internet this may provide an easy path for making radio<> phone connections, especially to locations with limited phone and internet (as we see now in Puerto Rico) and during emergencies.
    N1BCG, W7JZE, AE8W and 4 others like this.
  2. WD5ACP

    WD5ACP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Another quick note or two...

    You also need enable your radio's MONITOR function so you can hear the transmitted audio in your shack when operating a phone patch (once again, it's pretty easy on a TS-590).

    You also have to configure your computer so it used the correct audio in and out - by default it will probably want to use the mic/headphone jack even if you are using a USB connection. It's usually pretty easy to change the default audio "recording (in from radio)" and 'playback (out to radio)" connection.
    AE8W and KL7KN like this.
  3. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow - pretty slick. Few operators these days have a phone patch in the shack.

    Does the operator switch between tx/rx so as to stay 'in control'?

    Thanks for sharing, I love to see these kinds of 'hacks'.
    W7JZE likes this.
  4. WD5ACP

    WD5ACP Ham Member QRZ Page

    You're welcome - and thanks. I got inspired wondering about the communication issues with the hurricane-effected areas, and hadn't seen an analog phone patch in years.

    I used VOX to let the phone user transmit automatically, and monitored the transmission via the monitor mode on the radio. There's ways to abort the call if you need to, but the easiest is to just "hang up" via the gmail phone connection.
    AE8W likes this.
  5. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a landline and a phone patch....just in case.
    Been a long time since I've had a case, however. :)
  6. W7JZE

    W7JZE QRZ Lifetime Member #84 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Even fewer have two :p.

    Phone Patch x2 Swan - IMG_0695-QRZ.jpg

    The few... The proud... The "haven't been hooked up"... Well, EVER!

    But, one day :rolleyes:.

    On topic: Great hack on getting your rig to phone patch thru via Google phone! Well documented in your post. Thanks for that. I didn't even know about google phone!
  7. WD5ACP

    WD5ACP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very Nice - next ham-fest I may look for as I still have an analog phone line in the "shack" - though google phone calls seem to work well, and calls don't cost anything (other than the internet connection costs you already have)
  8. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Eric - I was forced by our provider (GCI) to switch to their stupid lousy 'DLPS' service (phone over cable TV line)

    I don't think a conventional patch would even work.
  9. AG0NY

    AG0NY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Great write up but just to clarify... The service your using is Google voice, not Gmail itself, Google bought grand Central a number of years ago, and you can either use a native Google number (when i did mine, you could search for something meaningful in the number like perhaps your call sign, mine is 213 5dr ag0n, because Dragon is something I've been called most of my life, something about princess and not nice knights probably) anyway Google. Com/voice if i remember correctly, or go through Gmail or any of the Google applications like calendar, click on the 9 for icon and find out in the even more section... 73's

    WD5ACP likes this.
  10. WD5ACP

    WD5ACP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the clarification. I don't recall ever using Google "Voice" - I guess that's all part of the google/gmail package, and why the phone icon appears in my Gmail screen.

Share This Page

ad: M2Ant-1