Posts Tagged ‘USB’

LHS Episode #159: Digital Mode Interfaces

slusbHello, dear listeners! Thank you for tuning into another episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this week's episode, your hosts discuss a variety of topics from 600-meter operation to Linux in cars to Star Wars. Our featured segment tonight is a look at PC-to-radio interfaces for digital mode communication. Thanks for tuning into, and hope to see you next time.

73 de The LHS Team

Where is The USB on Modern Rigs?

I don’t know if anyone has ever asked this question before, so I will ask. And if someone did and there is an answer, could you direct me to it. And if there isn’t, maybe someone from one of the modern Amateur Radio manufactures can answer it. Why isn’t there USB on modern rigs? What’s the catch to getting it added?

A standard USB port on a computer

A standard USB port on a computer

I mean, with USB, you could make it much easier to setup the frequencies in the memory or the radio. It’s faster through put then serial, so you could get a lot more data from the rig. It would be a simpler setup for interfacing it by just plugging it in and making APIs available for software developers to write code that will talk to it. Apple revolutionized the MP3 and smart phone markets by making it easier to interface your devices with your computer. They’ve moved on from USB to WiFi and cloud based service now. While a modern rig is still using serial ports.

When I talked about a “Smart Rig” back when Google bought Motorola, I was hoping someone may seize in that and go to the next step. But I also understand, many companies don’t share plans for upcoming products with the public. But could you give us a hint? A small clue that something, anything is going to be available at some point? I love my FT-847, but it if used a USB interface that I could hook up to my Mac, I would be in heaven. And a USB accessible rig, makes for much less clutter. Radios are getting smaller and smaller, and adding a USB based interface or even a soundcard capable to allowing you to do APRS, PSK31, etc… is that too much to ask for?

I know there will be folks that say, “West Mountain Radio” makes interfaces, why do you need USB? Simple, I like clutter to be kept a minimum myself, and the ease of one connection to troubleshoot is also nicer. Not to say West Mountain doesn’t make great products, because they do, sans the Mac support. But think of how easy you could explain how to do a digital mode if all you said was, “Yep! I just plug it in the USB port and put in all my favorite frequencies in the radio. Then I start up the software for the mode I want to run and I’m off!” compared to, “Well, you’ll need a serial to USB interface, and drivers have to be installed, then a serial cable and make sure it’s a null modem cable too…” Have I lost anyone yet? Because I need a compass right now.

Hopefully you see where I am going with this. I would have thought after the 15+ years that USB has been around, someone would have came up with a rig with USB to interface it to your computer, giving you the tools to write your own code for your computer. Windows, Linux and Mac, not to maybe mention, Amiga or MorphOS or AROS. So I ask, why don’t modern rigs have USB ports? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Rich also writes a Tech blog and posts stories every Tuesday and Thursday on Q103, Albany’s #1 Rock Station website, as well as Amateur Radio stories every Monday thru Friday on AmiZed Studios and hosts a podcast called The Kim & Rich Show with his fiance’ Kim Dunne.

Where’s the Love West Mountain Radio?

So again, I am looking in the QST, and I found that West Mountain Radio is offering a new RigBlaster. Sweet! I love their products. So I read on and notice something is missing from the info on the website and in the QST ad. Does it support Mac?

RigBlaster Advantage

Photo Courtesy of West Mountain Radio

Now I have been a convert from PC for about 4 years now. My very first computer was a Commodore 64, which I then upgraded to an Amiga 500. I have been and will always be an Amiga user at heart. For me, Macs are the closest thing to a main stream Amiga, other than an Amiga which are pretty expensive nowadays. But you can read more about that as well as listen to that on the Amiga Roundtable podcast that is produced here at AmiZed Studios.  So now that I am a Mac user, I want the full experience. Ham Radio included.

I have an older Macbook Pro in the shack for my main machine. I do have a small PC, but it’s slow and I built it for an entirely different use. So it wouldn’t be practical to use that. But with the release of the RigBlaster Advantage, which looks to be an awesome product I would use in a heart beat on my Mac, I don’t know if it’s Mac compatable. Yes, Macs 90% of the time work with everything, but it would be nice to have that little bit of info to know that it will, without having to go hunt for a driver, like I did for my USB to serial interface I got. It works perfectly, but it would have been nice if I knew I had to go download them from the chip maker since they weren’t included on the disc I was given with it.

I was going to buy a RigBlaster Data Jack Plug and Play for my Mac, when i was told by the gentleman from Quicksilver, that it wasn’t supported on Mac. So I got a NoMic. When I got home and did some checking, I discovered it can work with Macs. I admit, this is more a pet peeve then anything, but still. It would be nice to know. I mean, there has to be more than one person at West Mountain with a Mac. OK, so I shall finish my rant here and just say that it would be nice to have that info from the manufacturer directly, instead of getting anecdotal evidence from a Google search.

But in case you’re wondering, here’s a link to the specs on West Mountain’s website.


Rich also writes a Tech blog and posts stories every Tuesday and Thursday on Q103, Albany’s #1 Rock Station website, as well as Amateur Radio stories every Monday thru Friday on AmiZed Studios and hosts a podcast called The Kim & Rich Show with his fiance’ Kim Dunne.


LHS Episode #043: My Own Private Ohio

The Dayton Hamvention was a little while ago and we’ve just now been able to get around to talking about it. In this episode, we bring in Bill, KA9WKA, our right-hand man, to help us out with discussion of the event and a number of other topics as well.

Don’t be alarmed, however. We keep the dated material to a minimum and move directly into things that are much more current and much more interesting, including questions about the “lightness” of distributions, how to install Ubuntu on a USB stick, a super geeky radio question and much more. Not only that, this may have been the most fun episode we’ve recorded so far. For those who want to brave the unedited version of this one, there are belly laughs aplenty. Check out the stream feed in the right column for that. Just remember, unedited means just what it says.

We haven’t been pushing donations lately so here’s a small tug on your subconscious: If you have a spare few dollars, please consider helping us with our hosting expenses so we can continue to bring you the show long into the future.

73 de The LHS Guys and Bill

LHS Episode #009

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Linux in the HAM Shack, Episode #009. I am enjoying my time in sunny and warm Orlando, Florida as this episode is published. Richard and I would like to thank everyone for downloading and listening to the podcast. We’ve been getting encouraging pingbacks from other bloggers and amateurs and much good feedback as well. We’d like to encourage everyone who listens to the show to spread the word about us. The more amateur radio folks we can help with Linux and Open Source the happier we’ll be.

In this episode, we start out with listener feedback, answering questions and responding to feedback that has come in since the last episode. We also give a shoutout to some guys, because we’re some guys too. We then jump into a thorough examination and review of F0FAK’s promising new amateur radio Linux distribution called Shackbox. And in the final segment, we talk about serial bus communication and USB-to-serial adapters for fun and profit–and rig control.

Please send us your comments, feedback, questions and remember to spread the word to everyone you know. We can’t take over the world without your help. Show notes will follow soon. All hate mail should be directed to Richard.

73 de Russ, K5TUX

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