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Communication between the computer and the connected hardware uses the bench standard RS-232 protocol for serial communication of transmission data.
Many Ham radio applications can control the operation of transceivers which allows for greater control of the many layered menu controls often found in modern equipment. This can be particularly useful for part sighted operators allowing control by simply using a mouse click to change frequency, RF gain, notch filters etc. Programs which are commonly used can be divided into two broad categories – logging programs to allow the call sign, frequency signal strength of contacts made to be listed and control programs which when used with a DX cluster allow quick frequency changes to the station we wish to contact.
The transceiver is connected either directly to a computer using a RS-232 cable or if not available as part of the hardware configuration (eg modern laptops do not have a designated hardware COM port) then USB-serial converters can be used which create a hardware COM Port. The USB cable can be ordered to allow correct pin-out combinations for different makes of transceiver.
I have been using LOG4OM as my station log book which has many great features (uses the Omni-rig software which allows integration of the main station transceiver with SDR software) and HAM RADIO DELUXE as my station control software. Both require the same serial port to allow communication with the software but cannot be used concurrently. The only way to get around this problem is to shut down one software program before opening the other.
Some serial port splitting software has been available for 32 bit operating systems but as I use Windows 10 which is a 64 bit system I had not been able to find a simple seamless solution for linking up the software programs to allow sharing of the transceivers serial port without port clashes causing software hang-ups.
I downloaded the trial version of FabulaTech Serial Port Splitter and this allowed simple, effective and reliable software communication between the hardware and software programs. FabulaTech Serial Port Splitter is very versatile in that it allows reliable handshaking of the RTS-CTS flow control lines and Com port speed to be selected for each virtual serial port created. This is a real advantage as logging and control programs often require different setting for each of the Virtual Serial Ports (VSP) selected.
The serial port settings for each of the configured VSP can be altered ‘on the fly’ without having to reboot the computer which is very useful for quickly evaluating the different control setting required. The program can sit in the system tray allowing immediate access.
I have opened three VSP together with FabulaTech port splitter and the software overheads of the programs used (HRD, LOG4OM and Simon Browns SDR-Radio) have been easily managed by a Dual core AMD Althlon Pentium (8 GB memory)with no lag in the transceiver switching to DX spots when required.
Please find a quick Run Through in setting up the Serial Port Splitter – this assumes that the transceiver has been correctly set up and tested with the correct connecting cables and Bit rates.
The USB-Port driver is assigned to Physical port 3 in this example – check using system Tools and Device Manager for your own Com Port Number. If you are using a USB/Serial device reassign the Com port number between 1 and 10
Set up the FabulaTech software to enable Port Sharing (not port Splitting) right click to select shared port settings.
If using a USB/Serial device go into trouble shooting and tick to select
Select a Virtual Serial port to be used by the Ham Radio Software Package (in this case HRD)
Here we have Ham Radio Deluxe interogating my Kenwood transceiver showing frerquency control
Open up a second Virtual Shared Com Port and the second ham radio software in this case LOG4OM – we can see here that the transceiver frequency is being interrogated and duplicated using port sharing to both software programs.
The final screen shot shows FabulaTech settings with two shared serial com Ports (3) and both software packages responding seamlessly.
The top window shows HRD with control setting for the transceiver and the lower window showing LOG4OM cluster window. Clicking on the cluster spot switches the frequency / Mode of the transceiver and the changes are reflected in the HRD window. A quick change of frequency band (QSY) can be achieved by selecting the band tabs in HRD
After spending many days trying to achieve the simultaneous control of several software programs with numerous Serial Port errors I am delighted to find that FabulaTech meets all these expectations.Mark Holmes M6JFY
Best wishes 73’s