A virtual impossibility

If you have been following my attempts to set up beacon monitoring using a software defined radio (SDR) then you may remember that I had found that Omni-Rig, the radio control software used by Faros, the beacon monitoring software, would not talk to the virtual serial port created using VSPE in order to control the SDR-Radio software. I thought there was a problem with SDR-Radio’s emulation of the Kenwood control protocol. In fact, that turned out not to be the case at all.

A reader asked if I had tried DDUtil, a.k.a. VSP_Manager, a program by K5FR so I got hold of a copy. The instructions made my hair stand on end as it seemed very complicated. But I managed to set up a virtual port pair between COM8, the control port that SDR-Radio was using, and COM9 which would be used by Faros. VSP_Manager threw up a few error boxes but it still seemed to have done what I asked. I then tried setting up Omni-Rig. The first attempt failed, but I decided to try again as the help files actually showed VSP Manager being used with Omni-Rig and sure enough I had Faros changing bands and frequencies of SDR-Radio.

My joy was boundless, but not for long. I fell at the next hurdle which was using a Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) to pipe the audio from SDR-Radio into Faros. VAC also looked complicated to set up, but what I was attempting to do was the simplest application of it. I created a virtual audio port and set the SDR-Radio output to use it. As soon as I connected this to Faros’ input Faros began spitting out “divide by zero” message boxes so fast that I couldn’t close them quick enough to get back to the Settings window to change it back again. Another brick wall.

A separate issue was that of creating a serial port splitter to allow two applications to connect to physical port COM3 used by my Elecraft K3. VSPE could do that easily, but yesterday I discovered that WSPR would not talk to the virtual port created by VSPE. However, VSP_Manager does not seem to enable you to split a real port into a pair of virtual ones anyway, so I did not pursue this avenue any further.

If you are confused trying to follow all this you are not the only one! I have abandoned the idea of using an SDR for beacon monitoring and am breathing a sigh of relief that I never decided to go down the road of buying a Flex or other software defined transceiver. SDR will never catch on until connecting the software defined radio to logging programs or digimode software becomes as simple as plugging in a real cable.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

E-mail 
Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.



Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.


Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

 
We never share your e-mail address.

Please support our generous sponsors who make AmateurRadio.com possible:

Ham Radio Deluxe

KB3IFH QSL Cards

Hip Ham Shirts
DMMCheck Plus
R&R SpecialTEES

morseDX

Ni4L Antennas
R&L Electronics
antennas.us


Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!


  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor




Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: