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?
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.