Nibbling on the Timewave Navigator

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by WA6MHZ, Mar 9, 2014.

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  1. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    After work yesterday, I went to HRO and they had a Navigator in stock, and had a good price on it as well. I took measurements to see how I could incorporate it into my very tight shelf space in the shack. To squeeze it in, Will hafta remove some other components and shuffle things around. It is about 2 1/2 inches high and a good 5 or 6 inches wide. A very sizable and formidable unit. They didn't have a Rigblaster advantage in stock, but I talked to some other hams who had one and it looks like the Navigator is the unit to score. However, the Yaesu SCU-17 is sneaking up. The problem I am having with that one (and it is about HALF the price of the Navigator!!!) is the poor Yaesu support on it. In fact, I read on here somewhere Yaesu has pulled it from US sales! Not sure why!

    What I need is absolute MAXIMUM PERFORMANCE!!! It has to just BLOW the Signaling (which is working very well!) away! Some folks say it does. But for almost FOUR times the cost of a Signalink, it DARN WELL BETTER!!!

    Another problem I am having with the Navigator is the Radio cable. They want (OMG!!!) $55 for it!!! I have the schematic and I can BUILD that cable if I can get all the associated connectors. With our Junk Store closing, parts are hard to come by now. Some I should have around, but I should buy all new connectors to be sure it is 100% bulletproof.

    Also probably need a new COMPUTER to install for it too. The current one is an old Pentium XP computer and it is OK for internet surfing and garden variety ham programs, but I need to have a great computer for running the likes of HRD and the digital modes programs (and Logging software). I have a bunch of JUNK up on Shelf 3 above the monitor that is drawing dust, so that needs to be sent off to museum service and the computer put up there. One of those small little ones running Win 8.

    I didn't bite yet on the Navigator, but am close. I just want to be sure I will see a SIZABLE DIFFERENCE in performance over the Signalink!
  2. K8ERV

    K8ERV QRZ Member QRZ Page

    What does the Navigator do?

    Found some info, but still don't know what it does. Guess I don't need to know.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  3. KB1NXE

    KB1NXE Ham Member QRZ Page


    It's a USB interfaced to your computer - Soundcard/Digimodes and rig control interface to your rig. Allows use of FLDIGI, HRD, That software I swore never to mention again, etc. et al for rig control and digital modes.
  4. K8ERV

    K8ERV QRZ Member QRZ Page

    Thanks. Being only on VHF sure makes life simpler. My last low-band rig used a coherer. Worked well until
    that third station got on the air and messed up the airwaves with his BIG spark.

    I'm still trying to figure out what this waterfall thing is. Must have something to do with damp waves.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
    W2TB likes this.
  5. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Tom -

    Good Question !
    I have attached the functional diagram.

    Basically, it is an active 4-channel USB hub (USB bridge chip w/multiple ports); K1EL keyer;
    Icom CI-V interface/ Yaesu CAT support; USB Audio CODEC chip; and
    Sound Card Interface (audio amps & isolation transformers).

    The US Interface Navigator was designed in 2006 by Glenn Wetherell, W3GWW (SK, April 2009) and
    supported for the past 5 years by Clint Hurd, KK7UQ .

    Glenn's Navigator design is reported to have been derived from the earlier MixW RigExpert product (2003).
    Glenn was the former US Distributor of Rig Expert. In 2006, Rig Expert and Glenn parted ways.!...ty/zrMV7bj1XIw

    Rig Expert history touches on that period in 2006 (Usage of RigExpert domain name, business ethics, etc.)

    MixW / RigExpert is a Ukraine product. Founders / Authors: UT2UZ and UU9JDR

    RigExpert / MixW web page

    Timewave purchased the Navigator Sound Card Modem in November 2013.
    They now sell and support the Navigator product.

    The Yaesu SCU-17 seems to be a Japanese design, that has some similarities to both RigExpert and Navigator.
    Jim, AB1RW has started an examination of the Yaesu unit (QRZ thread).

    There are only a handful of USB chip manufacturers with EXCELLENT support.

    FTDI at top of list, followed by SiLabs in Austin, TX.
    Prolific (Taiwan) is at bottom of list -- for many reasons.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  6. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    What we need is someone (no,not me) to pit each of these Soundcard adapters against each other and find which
    has the best PERFORMANCE under HIGH QRM conditions. That is the only reason I am considering the Navigator is that I am NOT decoding the RTTY in pileups well enough. My Signalink works great for casual high signal level QSOs, but I need to be able to decode down in the noise weak signals in the presence of HEAVY QRM! That was a primary reason I got the FTdx5000MP. For SSB, just about any old rig will work. But CW and RTTY take a really GREAT radio and the best Sound card unit money can buy.

    What I am so WORRIED about is that I would score this VERY VERY EXPENSIVE unit and find it doesn't decode a darn bit better than the SIGNALINK!

    That happened on an ANTENNA yesterday!!!
    I was at HRO and decided I didn't like the SWR on my 6 meter antenna, so we tried it on a MAGMOUNT. It worked GREAT, with a 1:1 SWR right where it should be! So I decided the MOUNT was no good and bought a whole new antenna trunklip mount. (Yes, the set screws dug into the paint into the metal!). SWR didn't improve, so I bought a hunk of BRAID so I can run that part of the antenna RIGHT TO CHassis ground on the car. The SWR WENT UP!!!!! So lotsa money thrown at a problem with no improvement in the conditions!!!!
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  7. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Pat -

    Understood. Actually for RTTY, good analog filter design is often as good as DSP solutions.

    Here is PC board view of the Yaesu SCU-17.
    Notice the copper/brass tab on left side, attached to PCB ground to serve as connection to aluminum case of SCU-17 ?
    Likely for shielding and RFI issues (FCC Part 15) for device.

    Main parts inside the Yaesu SCU-17.

    Microchip USB2512B Dual-Port USB 2.0 Hub acts as the front-end to everything else in the box.

    2 devices are internally connected to that Microchip USB2512B Dual-Port Hub:

    Texas Instruments PCM2903B USB 1.1 Audio CODEC -
    which provides a stereo A/D and D/A Converter capable of maximum 16-bit, 48 kHz sample rate.

    Silicon Labs CP2105 USB to UART bridge occupies the second USB internal hub port (from Microchip). Documents/TechnicalDocs/CP2105.pdf

    It provides two RS-232 Serial ports - one which drives the Yaesu CAT Interface, and
    the second RS-232 port which drives the PTT (Push To Talk) Relay.
    The device presents itself as a device with a USB Sound Card and two COM ports!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  8. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Pat -

    Here is the PC Board photo of the US Interface / Timewave Navigator.
    ​You will notice on silk-screen, how the various operational areas are segregated.
    UARTs (A through F), USB Hub, CODEC, Winkey, FSK / Config PIC processor (positive attribute for RTTY).
    Timewave states that USB interface (Hub?) is FTDI.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  9. KE5MC

    KE5MC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not sure if it will help? On the 'net' there are a couple of mods to the SignaLink USB. One increases/adds capacitance to the +5 input and the other does the same for a reference voltage. Seems like there is one to replace the reference with a better one that has less noise. Previous comments from memory, but the information is easily found. Author of webpage information include noise plots of before and after with noticeable difference.

    Mods. seem easy to do, but can't say if it will help. I can decode JT65 and JT9 with my Signalink (stock) to within 1 or 2 db of the minimum limits. I really should give it a try and see if it helps.

  10. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Pat -

    I enlarged the photo of the US Interface / Timewave Navigator PC board.

    The Audio CODEC used in that Navigator sound card modem is: Texas Instruments PCM2906DB

    The Yaesu SCU-17 uses the Texas Instruments PCM2903B CODEC

    The 2903 is a 3.3 V part, while the 2906 is a 5 V part.
    There is a slight difference in SNR specifications between these parts. See TI CODEC product page.

    SO, for the Audio CODEC inside these devices, they use the same TI product family.
    BOTH if these TI parts (used above) have a NRND advisory - Not Recommended for New Designs.
    Assignment of NRND is first step for a mature product toward End-of-Life (EOL) of that part.
    It could be many years before a EOL is actually assigned.

    The newer replacement parts have the same PINOUT and Functionality, BUT are not exact replacement.

    PCM2903C (SCU-17)
    (ACTIVE) Stereo Audio CODEC with USB interface, Single Ended Analog In/Out, and S/PDIF I/O.

    PCM2906BDB (Navigator)
    (ACTIVE) Stereo Audio CODEC with USB interface, Single Ended Analog In/Out, and S/PDIF I/O.

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
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