October 2004 (some sections updated Feb 2011)
The SignaLink has been used with virtually every radio available, but the radio that we often hear about is the Yaesu FT-817. When combined with our SignaLink USB or SignaLink SL-1+, this wonderful little radio has proven to be very effective for portable digital QRP operation. Because of the great amount of interest that we have received in this particular equipment combination, we have decided to compile and make available all of our SignaLink / FT-817 related technical notes. The information provided on this page should answer just about any question you might have regarding the installation and operation of the SignaLink with the FT-817. If there is something that you feel we have left out (SignaLink related information only please!), let us know and we will consider adding it.
We recommend our SignaLink USB part number "SLUSB6PM", but our older SignaLink SL1+6PM can also be used. Both units comes supplied with a 6-pin mini-DIN radio cable for the FT-817's Data Port. The Data Port connection is the best way to attach the SignaLink to the FT-817, because it permits full use of all radio filters, and allows you to keep the microphone attached to the radio.
Nothing else is needed with the new SignaLink USB. If you order the SignaLink SL-1+, then you will need two stereo cables to connect the SignaLink SL-1+ to your computer's sound card. These cables should be shielded and must have male 3.5mm stereo connectors installed on both ends. If you don't already have these cables, then we suggest that you consider purchasing our optional Cable Accessory Kit (p/n: SLASSY).
Power is not available on the FT-817's Data port, so external power will be required for the SignaLink SL-1+. The power requirements of the SignaLink SL-1+ are very flexible (6.75 to 15V DC at 13ma nominal), so you can attach the supplied power plug to just about any commonly available power source. This includes the radio's 12V power supply, a 9-volt battery (use alkaline or lithium for best battery life), or a suitable wall transformer (see the SignaLink Installation Manual for details on selecting a proper wall transformer). Note that the SignaLink USB is always powered by the computer, so external power is never needed for it.
If you'd like to make your installation as easy as possible, then we'd suggest purchasing our optional Plug & Play Jumper Module p/n SLMOD6PM. It installs inside the SignaLink in place of the jumper wires that you would normally install (see below).
NOTE: Our optional Plug & Play Jumper Module p/n SLMOD6PM eliminates the need to install any jumper wires.
The jumper settings shown below are for use with our SignaLink USB (p/n: SLUSB6PM) and SignaLink SL-1+ (p/n: SL1+6PMD) with our 6-pin mini-DIN Data Port radio cable (p/n for cable only is SLCAB6PM). If you are using a home-built radio cable, your cable MUST be wired the same as ours, or these jumper settings will not work (see cable wiring diagram below).
For those customers that would like to build their own radio cable, we have
provided the wiring information that you will need below. Note that our
radio cable is wired "straight through" (pin #1 to pin #1, pin #2 to
pin #2, etc.). We suggest that you wire your cable the same way, so that
you will be able to use the same jumper settings that are shown in our support
documentation. Before you begin assembly of your cable, we also suggest that you carefully review
the pictures of the RJ-45 and 6-pin mini-DIN connectors that are shown below. Be sure that you
clearly understand where each pin is located, as it is very easy to get things
6-pin mini-DIN (FT-817)
|Pin #4||Orange||Pin #4|
|Pin #5||Yellow||Pin #5|
|Pin #6||Green||Pin #6|
|Pin #7||NC||Pin #7|
|Pin #8||NC||Pin #8|
Pin-out For FT-817 Data Port Connector
|NOTE: This drawing is looking into the JACK on the FT-817 (NOT the plug!).|
|Pin Numbering For SignaLink RJ-45|
|NOTE: This picture is looking into the back of the RJ-45 with the Release Tab on top.|
For PSK31 and other digital modes that use USB, you should set the FT-817 to “User-U” (see radio manual for menu setting) and select "Digi" mode to access it. This will allow you to operate without any unintentional frequency offset, or you can adjust for any offset desired using menu items 24 and 27. Note that the FT-817 has a number of menu items to control the input audio levels during transmit, and one very important setting to control the Receive Audio output. A brief description of each of these is listed below.
25 - DIG MIC - Adjust this to increase/decrease the radio's input sensitivity on Transmit while in the "Digital" mode. This will interact with the SignaLink USB's TX knob.
39 - PKT MIC - Adjust this to increase/decrease the radio's input sensitivity on Transmit while in the "Packet" Mode (normally used on VHF). This will interact with the SignaLink USB's TX knob.
40 - PKT RATE - This must be set to 1200 baud.
While there are many radio control programs available for download on the internet, the two programs listed below have proven to be the most popular with our customers.
FT-817 Commander - Written by Simon Brown (HB9DRV) of Laax, Switzerland, FT-817 Commander offers many features, including Memory management, DX Cluster integration, Scanning, Custom band layouts and Internet Explore like Favorites. This programs works with Windows 98 (or newer) or Windows NT 4.0 (or newer), and can be download for FREE from Simon's web site. After you've had a chance to use FT-817 Commander, be sure to send Simon a "Thank You" for all of his hard work.
Ham Radio Deluxe - This is Simon Brown's latest radio control program. It supports the FT-817, as well as many other Yaesu, ICOM, Kenwood, Elecraft, and Ten-Tec radios. Ham Radio Deluxe is a feature-rich program that include Integrated DX cluster, Customizable band layouts, Satellite tracking interface (requires a program like Satscape), Scanning, and Internet Explorer like "Favorites". Ham Radio Deluxe is available for FREE from Simon's web site.
There are several internet user groups where Hams gather to share information and ask questions about the FT-817, and related topics. If you are looking for more detailed information than we have provided here, then we suggest that you log into one of these groups. Be sure to search the archives before posting your question, because more than likely, it has already been asked!
FT-817 Group - As this group's introduction page says, this is "The first, largest and most comprehensive group discussing the cool little portable QRP HF VHF UHF AM FM SSB CW Digital FT-817 FT-817ND radio from Yaesu." This group has over 5000 members, and is a great place to ask a question, or share a tip on the FT-817.
FT-817 Commander Group - This group is dedicated to users of Simon Brown's (HB9DRV) ever-popular "FT-817 Commander" program. If you have questions or comments about FT-817 Commander, this is the place to go.
Ham Radio Deluxe Group: - This group is for users of Simon Brown's (HB9DRV) latest "Ham Radio Deluxe" software.