Yaesu FT-857D and Digital Modes

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by N1RKW, Feb 11, 2010.

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  1. N1RKW

    N1RKW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am planning on purchasing a Yaesu FT-857D in the near future, and I'd like to be able to use it for digital modes. I plan on picking up the standard CAT cable so I can interface it with my computer, but I need to know if I need any other devices/cables/etc. (Signalink interface for example) in addition, or will the CAT cable alone do what I need?
    - Adam N1RKW
  2. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    CAT cable is just for rig control via your computer and associated software like Ham Radio Deluxe. For digital modes you need some sort of soundcard interface.
    The Signalink would be one of several kinds available.
  3. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use one of these: RigBlaster Plug-n-Play

    The cable that comes with it works with the FT-857. The computer connections are audio in, audio out and a USB cable for the push-to-talk function. No other cables are needed unless you want to use direct-keyed CW via the computer, then you can pick up standard audio cable for that.

    I've used it with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OSX 10.4. This interface uses the sound card in the computer.

    The Signalink USB interface has its own sound card built in.

    There are other commercial interfaces, and it's easy to build your own if you want.

    The CAT cable is not necessary if all you want to do is sound-card data mode operations. The CAT jack is used for controlling the radio via computer. The DATA jack is used for the audio and PTT signals for sound-card data mode operations.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  4. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If he's going to use HR Deluxe, he wants the CAT cable, too. HRD lets you control the radio from the computer, which can be much nicer than using the menus. I don't know how well it works with the 857, but it turns my little IC-7000 into a great desktop radio!
  5. N1RKW

    N1RKW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the replies! I appreciate the help, it is exactly what I needed.

    I'm taking a long, hard look at a Signalink USB, and will probably get the CAT cable as well.
    Thanks again,
    - Adam N1RKW
  6. KB3LIX

    KB3LIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can spend (ok, make that WASTE) $120.00 if you want.
    Maybe you are independantly wealthy, and if you are...Good for you !!!

    A digital input interface for an FT-857/897 can be built for about $2.00

    It requires an old keyboard cable (with a mini-din connector) on the end
    and 2 mini-plugs to plug into your soundcard.\

    You can usually find an old keyboard cable for free,
    and the mini-plugs are around 89 cents each.

    $ 120.00 (plus shipping) vs $ 2.00

    You decide !!!

    (Whatever happened to using a bit of technical savvy to solve a minor
    problem and substituting a wallet ?????)
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  7. WE6Z

    WE6Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree. I bought the Yaesu Cat cable, but I built all my other cables. The wiring is pretty simple. The pin out diagrams should be in the 857d manual. You also may need to make a custom amp keying cable for for your amplifier because the keying pins are on the same connector as the cat cable. The Yaesu ft-857 group is a great resource.
  8. N1RKW

    N1RKW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I love to tinker, and I love to homebrew electronics stuff.

    However, when it comes to hooking up a brand new $750 radio to a $1500 computer, I'm willing to spend an additional $99.95 (current HRO price) to insure that the connection is made properly. I'm just not willing to risk $2k+ just to save a hundred bucks. Besides, the Signalink unit has features that I want that would be impossible for me to incorporate into a homebrewed interface.

    To me, it's a worthwhile investment. Thanks for your input.

    - Adam N1RKW
    M0NTC and K5CCG like this.
  9. 2E0RPS

    2E0RPS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use the Signalink USB with an IC 746 (No CAT). Also use Digital Master 780 from RHD for data modes only (no rig control) > you can just click on the digital master 780 icon to launch this program only and forget about HRD CAT functions and cable.
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The CAT cable is not a function of operating digital modes.

    The CAT cable is a function of remotely controlling your radio using your PC.

    It is possible to interface your radio to operate digital modes using your PC with nothing but a few audio patch cords.

    Similar thread discussing this subject here:


    Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
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