PC sound card for FT8?

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by VE3KIU, Aug 12, 2020.

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  1. AA4PB

    AA4PB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree that a SignaLink is not *needed*, but it sure is a quick and easy way to get FT8 and other digital modes working. Most people use isolation transformers between the sound card and the radio. If you simply wire a sound card to the radio audio input and output you run the risk of introducing hum and noise from grounding issues. The SignaLink has those transformers built in to provide the isolation. I've been building digital interfaces since the early days of PSK31 (before the waterfall) so I understand that it is possible to make a good interface yourself. I even had one published in QST. However, I have also used a SignaLink-USB with several radios, including my IC-756PRO. It's all a matter of how much effort, you want to put into it. Whatever you do, make sure that your Tx signal is clean with no hum or noise.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
    VE3KIU likes this.
  2. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Also, for audio from the radio to the computer, there is a fixed level audio out connection on the Yaesu packet jack. You can use that, or the headphone jack like you mentioned, or the speaker out jack on the radio. The connections on the packet jack are labeled "data in" and "data out". Between data in and ground is audio from the soundcard to the radio. Data out and ground goes to soundcard input (mic or aux).

    These connections are shown as PSK setup on pg 112 of the instruction manual. If you don't have the manual, it can be downloaded from Yaesu.
    VE3KIU likes this.
  3. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, but not all radios need the isolation. I would try it without, and if no problems, then run it that way.

    I have run various radios without sound card isolation just fine.

    If isolation is needed, 1 to 1 transformers can be purchased very cheaply from an electronics supplier. https://www.amazon.com/HiLetgo-EI-14-Coupling-Isolation-Transformer/dp/B073PXK2RX

    I agree that signal link is an easy solution, but I don't like that they use vox to switch the transmitter.

    A better purchased solution is this:

    Rigblaster plug and play.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  4. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think he means Sabrent USB soundcard.
  5. AA4PB

    AA4PB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I never had any issue with VOX as long as you keep the delay control set fully CCW (minimum).
  6. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am not saying there is an issue using vox. I know a lot of people use Signal link. I just think that is a poor implementation. For $125, what are you getting? A box with a couple $2 isolation transformers and cables. Although they do work, you have to get the correct model for your radio, and mess around setting jumpers. If you switch the radio with VOX for digital, then want to use voice modes, you have to fiddle around with VOX settings every time.

    The West Mountain Radio Rigblaster Plug and Play does hardware switching of the transmitter, provides audio isolation, and multiple ports for PTT and CW keying and digital keying. It also contains Icom CIV and CAT circuitry. You just need to purchase the correct cables for your brand of radio.

    It's a personal thing. I much prefer the Rigblaster, and think Signal Link is a waste of money, although they do work.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
  7. AA4PB

    AA4PB Ham Member QRZ Page

    The SignaLink-USB has a lot more than a couple of transformers and cables. It contains a USB sound card, vox ptt circuit, power circuits, Tx and Rx gain controls, and two isolation transformers. I don't see any problem with the Rigblaster either. It all depends on what features you need or want. I actually retired my SignaLink-USB a while back for a RigExpert TI-8 because I wanted the FSK and built-in rig control features - but that's a lot more expensive unit than the SignaLink-USB or the RigBlaster and much more than you need for FT8.
    W9FL likes this.
  8. W9FL

    W9FL Ham Member QRZ Page

    The RigBlaster Plug and play is in the same price range as the Signal Link.

    The RigBlaster has CAT and CIV built in, but no sound card. The Signal Link does not have CIV and CAT I believe?
  9. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Use single point grounding for your equipment and forget the interface. I run my TS2000 right into and out of my Xonar PCie soundcard. Worth a try.
    W9FL likes this.


    Xonar PCie soundcard is a good soundcard, I have used them before.

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