How do you interface your TS2000 with digital?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by N3DT, Dec 15, 2019.

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  1. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been using an old SignaLink plus for ages and recently with FT8. Wired to the ACC input, using the ppt derived from the SL to key the 2000 at the ACC. But lately I've been having trouble with my audio input. Several years ago I was having this issue, the audio from the program is clean, but feeding it into the ACC input produces a crap signal and the power level goes all over the place. I did a bunch of resets on it before and it cleared up, but now it's not. I dug into the SL and turned up the audio into the 2000. It made the signal clean, but at the expense of the ALC going about 3/4 scale. I need to get a local to listen/decode my signal to see if it's distorting. It sounds clean on my other rx but it's hard to decode your own signal while transmitting Unless I use another computer.

    In the past I would feed the audio into the mic input and it was clean there so I thought there was an issue with the ACC input and was about to send it in, but I reset it about 5x one after the other and it cleared up, but it's not now. I put the same audio signal into my old FT757GX and it sounds clean and steady PO.

    It may be time for a new transceiver, but this one does everything I want except with this digital issue. I was thinking about trying another type of interface. I could just drive it directly through some isolation transformers I have but where to derive the PTT? The CAT will not operate the PTT with the ACC input. I could revert to audio into the mic and use vox, but that's a pain when using other modes too.

    Wait. I just checked it out and now it's working fine. Something is erratic here. I've been noticing it's been going in and out lately and I thought maybe it was some sort of ground loop. Anyone with a better idea?

    Opps I forgot, the ALC is still up about 3/4 scale. So when I reduce the input level for no ALC the distortion comes back.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  2. KC8QVO

    KC8QVO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am not sure about the ALC issue and the use of the data/ACC port on the radio. I have never used an ACC port in my ~19 years as a ham. I experimented with the one on my FT-857D once, but didn't have it functioning.

    You can use RTS/DTR from serial/RS-232 to control PTT. If you do not have a serial port you can get a chip on a board for a couple bucks that will turn a USB port in to a serial port. Then you can use RTS/DTR to feed a PTT circuit.

    The Signalink is an OK device, but the drawback is it uses audio sensing, similar to VOX but inside the Signalink, to trip the PTT. There is no PTT command from the computer. By using the serial method above you can get a true PTT signal. That can be important if you start switching things in your RF line (anything between the rig and antenna - coax switches for preamps, amplifiers, rx/tx antenn switching, you name it).

    Here is an example RS232 converter board:

    Just a wild thought - about 10 years ago I had a problem with my TS-2000 with the keying circuit (CW keying). I traced it down to a choke that isolates key circuit ground from the radio ground. I could ground a key to the chassis and it worked. I ordered replacement chokes (SMT's - tiny buggers) so I could fix it and have a couple spares. It has worked since. The moral of the story is - if you are using that radio a lot (it sounds like it has been your main radio for years and years like mine is) there could be a component failure that is causing the issue. If not a bad component, maybe a trace or connection, or connector, is where your problem is. That could be tough to track down, though.
  3. VE3CGA

    VE3CGA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I bought 4 of these off amazon, cheap and had them working as PTT with all the usual digital software
    Have them on win7 & linux mint for CW keying with CWTYPE and PTT for the other programs for use on my FT757GX
    Just added a opto and series resistor off the DTR pin
    Theres many of these type of modules avaliable
  4. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not sure what's going on. I'm a bit suspect of the SignaLink+ at the moment. I've got the thing out on the bench so I can go through measuring levels into the ACC2 port. Mic is pin 11 Gnd is 4 and 8, I'm not sure if they are separated between mic and spkr gnd or even chassis gnd. I need to figure that out and then measure the level going into the ACC2 mic port. Thing is, nowhere in the TS2000 book can I find an appropriate level for that input. But it also begs the question of why it's been working since about 2011.

    The other thing is I found a cable from the RJ45 out of the SL+ that apparently I used at one point when I was having problems before that used the 'phones' and 'mic' connectors on the front of the 2000. Now the rx audio out works but not the mic input. I know it used to.

    It appears also that to use the 'mic' input of the ACC2 port the PTT has to be energized from the ACC2 pin 9 (gnd to tx). If I try to use the front panel mic input and use the ACC2 PTT, it disables the front panel mic. I remember using the front panel connections I had to use the internal TS2000 vox to key the radio.

    There's no way to use RS232 to key the radio as I have to use that port on the back of the radio for the CAT control from WSJT. I'm not sure what happens between the front panel mic and ACC2 mic inputs when I enable PTT with WSJT. But if the VOX works who cares.

    With my FT757, I had to make a 30dB attenuator from the output of the soundcard and the 'patch' input on the rear of the radio. On the 757, there's no switching of the 'patch' and front panel mic input, they both work together. I used the VOX in the 757 for PTT.

    I'm a bit fearful that I've been overdriving the ACC2 input and maybe it has some sort of ALC that's been damaged by socking it with a lot of AF. But I just don't know. I'm thinking about trying driving the ACC2 mic input and the front panel mic input directly through that 30dB attenuator to see what happens. I could just get rid of the SL+ and use some RS AF isolation transformers I have and use either the CAT PTT or internal VOX.

    The RX end works fine. But it's strange that when I got this new w10 computer, I have to use the microphone input. On my old w7 computer I used the line input and had plenty of AF signal, the microphone input would overdrive it. The output of the TS2000 to the SL+ sure hasn't changed because of the different computers.

    I think I'm confusing myself but I'm also willing to try a different interface if someone will tell me what they are using. I'd like to keep using the ACC2 input as it's just more convenient.
  5. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looks like there's something wrong with my SL+ that I bought in 2007. I fed the sound card out into my 30dB attenuator and directly into my mic input on the front panel and it works fine using the internal vox. I even have to turn down the mic gain from 50 to 22 or so with 15mVac Next I need to try feeding it into my ACC2 and see if that works. Not sure I even need all these isolation transformers or even an interface device. I've single point grounded my 2000 and computer with a nice piece of coax braid. I thought maybe I had a ground loop or similar, but doesn't seem so. If need be I can go back to using my RS isolation transformer, it's even stereo, so I've got 2 in 1. Maybe I'll be back in operation tonight or at least tomorrow.

    Now what could go wrong in that SL+? Far as I know it's pretty much a passive device except for the PTT circuit.
  6. KC8QVO

    KC8QVO Ham Member QRZ Page

    You are misunderstanding the RS-232 idea.

    Yes, there is a serial/RS-232 port on the back of the radio for control. That isn't what I am referring to.

    You can use the RTS/DTR connections on a USB to serial converter to key PTT (or RTS/DTR line of a traditional serial port - but if you have one you likely already have it taken up by the rig control - which is fine, you just need a USB-> serial adapter for this to work then). The way you do it is use the signal from either to drive a transistor. The transistor is your PTT switch. The drive for it is RTS/DTR.

    See the schematic attached as an example. There are many different types of transistors you can use 2n2222 perhaps as well.

    You could use the same theory to key the acc port as well if you are shorting a pin to ground there for PTT as well.

    So combine this circuit with a similar type of converter board as I posted before and you have a USB powered method of keying PTT.

    Note that most digital mode programs allow you to set up keying for RTS or DTC (you have to tell the software what COM port this is done on - a usb to serial converter will show up as a COM device and this is what you select, or if you can't find the number of the port you can force the port number in advanced settings). If you don't have this option (RTS/DTR keying in the software) then I am not sure how else you would get PTT from serial. You would have to have some way to command that type of signal. I'm sure there are other programs you could download and configure to work... chances are your digital mode software can do it, however.

    I am running WSJT-X with the same set up - my interface is a RigBlaster Plus and I am commanding PTT with RTS through a usb-> serial converter box. The RigBlaster has the equivalent of the attached schematic functionality built in. All the connections to my computer are USB, there is no traditional serial port on the computer. Both the sound card (external) and USB->Serial converter are running through USB ports.

    Attached Files:

  7. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks, I see what you're getting at, I thought you were getting at the RS232 on the radio. I do like the fact that using the ACC2 port, the front panel of the 2000 is clean and I can still use the AF if wanted. But it requires some sort of mechanical or transistorized PTT like you suggest. Also, the ACC2 audio in only works with the ACC2 PTT input as far as I can tell. I don't think the ACC2 audio in will work with the TS2000 vox nor the CAT control with WSJT-X. I'll have to decide what I want to do, but it seems plenty easy to drive the 2000 without an interface box, even if it's just from the mic input where also I can control the input level with the 'mic' level.

    Just as a side note, I find it best to drive the wsjt-x at full output, and either pad or turn down the mic control to adjust the power level (from the mic input of course). I also use the pwr button to adjust the PO level instead of the slider. I find on my LP100A that way gives a better steady output that running the slider down to adjust the PO which results in a 'bouncy' PO level.

    Steve, you must be using the new SL+ with usb. Mine just connects to the ACC2 port and I have 2 cables from the sound card for AF in and out. It's a pretty old SL+.
  8. KC8QVO

    KC8QVO Ham Member QRZ Page

    The highlighted statement scares me.

    Do you have a way to see your received signal? Or would you mind setting up sked with me so I can see it?

    I'm sure you've seen mile-wide traces on the waterfall screen on FT8 before. That usually happens from over-driven audio, RF getting in the audio line, etc. You DO NOT need a whole lot of drive with digital modes! If you do you run the risk of the mile-wide traces and that isn't good for the rest of the people trying to use the band.

    As far as power output goes - I tune my drive (audio level out of the sound card pushing in to the mic connector - ALC meter reads it) to tickle the peak power, no more, then drop the power off to 50 watts or less, no more. This should produce the "bouncy" power meter - it is showing proper modulation. The "bounce" is your RF envelope. If the meter is not bouncing then the low spots in the modulation are high which means your high spots are way high.

    I will see if I can model this later and get some scope traces to illustrate. That might help you see what I'm talking about.

    I don't have a SignaLink. I have a West Mountain Radio RigBlaster Plus. This one:

    It is the Serial version from about 2002, I am pretty sure that was years before they came out with a USB version. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if all they did for USB was to add one of the boards I mentioned earlier. They are cheap solutions.
  9. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's somewhat difficult to look at my own signal while transmitting. I can run 2 instances of WSJT, but I've never been confident about doing that, I seem to get erratic operation. My wife is about to get rid of her laptop and I could put my 757 into that as a totally different 'system'. What I can say is when I use my TS2000 with the PO at 100W and run down the drive level with the slider in WSJT and the PO on the LP100A gets 'bouncy', the signal sounds like crap on the 757 with no antenna connected to it. It sounds fine when I run the slider all the way up and turn down the PO on the 2000 to the desired PO. When I say 'bouncy', I mean the PO indicated on the LP100A is really just all over the place. I can't imaging there's a lot of modulation on a correct signal, it's mostly a narrow audio shifted CW note in my understanding which may be faulty. I have looked at the output of the sound card in WSJT mode with a scope and it looks clean at full output.

    I wish there were an easy way to see my own signal in WSJT. No one has complained about my signal and I don't have any problems getting contacts. When it does start sounding like crap in the 757 and the shifting PO level on the LP100A, that's when I start wondering which is what brought this on. I keep a pretty good eye on it. I also keep the ALC indication of the TS2000 at 0. There's a couple local hams near me that come in at around +20 or better sometimes, they know me and I'm sure they would tell me, but it wouldn't hurt asking. I hear them on FT8 regularly.
  10. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Later. Actually with my new method of feeding the TS2000, which involves directly feeding the sound card out into a RS AF isolation transformer, through a 30dB attenuator and right into the mic port, there's there's actually no difference that I can tell between running the 2000 PO at 100W and decreasing the AF out with the JT slider vs running the JT at full output and turning down the PO on the 2000. It looks the same on the LP100A and sounds the same in the FT757. It's just easier to adjust the PO with the knob on the 2000 than playing with that slider.

    I'm thinking what I was getting before was some sub-performance level by running things through the old SL+. I am also now using the CAT for PTT. I still need to try feeding the AF into the ACC2 port, but then comes the issue of producing a PTT line for the ACC2 port also since the ACC2 audio only works in conjunction with that. That's where the old SL+ came into operation and I would use "hardware and vox" for the PTT.

    I'm kind of liking this simpler version without the SL+. I may just stick with it. I always ran my 757 without an interface too, but there I had to use either the mic level or the slider to adjust the PO. I'll take a harder look at this when I have access to another computer.

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