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Sound Card for Digital Modes

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by KC9FSH, Jan 9, 2016.

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  1. KC9FSH

    KC9FSH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I mostly operate digital modes but decided that it was finally time to upgrade my 10 year old shack computer to something a little better. I came across a refurbished slim HP computer on Woot a few weeks ago so I picked it up.

    With my old computer I used the on board sound for music and system sounds etc. and used an additional sound card for all the ham radio digital modes. This helps me ensure that nothing other than what I want to transmit is going to be transmitted. I can't swap the sound card into the new computer since it is a slim computer and it requires add on cards to have a not as wide metal bracket as my old computer.

    So with that I am wondering what sound cards the rest of you are running for digital modes? If you know that they are small enough to fit into a slim computer that would be great but if you aren't sure feel free to post your sound card model and I can look into it.

  2. KT1F

    KT1F Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a SignaLink USB device and it seems to work pretty good.
  3. KW4EK

    KW4EK Ham Member QRZ Page

    The best options if you want proper galvanic isolation between the PC and radio (to both reduce hum in the audio as well as keep Arafat out of each) would be something along the lines of either the SignaLink USB or the Yaesu SCU-17 (which is brand agnostic and includes a serial port interface if needed). Either of these will provide for properly isolated audio interfacing between radio and computer and include a USB-to-Soundcard interface internally (the SCU-17 also includes a USB-to-Serial Port adapter as well, if needed).

    You can get low profile PCI and PCIe sound cards if you wish to install such into your new low profile PC (some will include both full height and low profile brackets, but you have to do a bit of research to verify such is included). or you may opt for a USB-to-Soundcard interface if you would rather go that route (it is nice to choose one with that includes a volume knob and it must have an audio out, likely headphone) and a mic or line in connection). But it really is best to use isolated audio and digital signaling between the PC and radio -- for audio this is as simple as using audio transformers for isolation and for digital lines optoisolators are used -- as this reduces hum from unintended ground loops and ensures that you do not pass RF into the computer (nor RFI from the computer) in the event that your radio ever becomes RF hot (such as from antenna or coax damage) and sparing your audio card and/or PC from possible damage by the RF. This isolation is particularly desirable if you ever operate your radio at anything above QRP levels since reflected RF at higher powers is much more likely to cause damage.
  4. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    Another vote for the SignalLink USB. An external sound card optimized for digital modes (isolation, adjustment knobs, vox ptt, etc.) that is reasonably priced.

  5. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Simply use a USB stick based sound card for digi. They are dirt cheap and lets you use other devices for digi. Signal Link lacks positive PTT control and is strictly a VOX keyed device and not compatible with digi modes that require fast positive T/R. I use a USB stick based sound card and a Rig Blaster PnP.
  6. W8GAB

    W8GAB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Asus Xonar U7 USB
    See note 11.
    -131 / -126 dBm
    118 dB
    In production
    Driver support for all modern Windows OS.
    Check out read note 11 73
    W4RAV likes this.
  7. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is a bunch of USB stick sound cards under 10 bucks on amazon. Many under 5. No big science here technology is cheap.
  8. KE3FG

    KE3FG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am surprised to hear that you can get a USB stick based sound card for less than $10. Would it work for a program like CW-Get? Some of the newer laptops don't have sound inputs, so a USB stick might be a possibility.
  9. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    digimodes do not require a top end sound card. presently running a $9 USB thingy. I liked it so much I bought 4 more, to make interface assemblies for different radios. I think they have "CM 119" chips inside.

    there are other reasons to get a top end sound card, both bandwidth and bits of resolution become important, but not when looking at 3kHz of SSB.
  10. W8JX

    W8JX Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is only so much you can do with sound and sound card chip-sets are dirt cheap and easily fit on a USB stick. It takes more room for jacks in stick than sound hardware. Nothing gained over spending here.
    K6CLS likes this.

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