SignaLink USB Frequently Asked Questions


This FAQ contains the most commonly asked non-technical questions about our SignaLink™ USB interface.  For technical or troubleshooting questions, please see our SignaLink™ USB Troubleshooting FAQ.

 

  1. Do I need to disable my computer's sound card to use the SignaLink USB?
  2. Can I use the SignaLink USB to control my radio, or will I need a separate CAT interface?
  3. Can I use the SignaLink USB with HRD and similar programs that offer radio control?
  4. Will the SignaLink USB work with the WinLink 2000 / Airmail system?
  5. What advantages does the SignaLink USB have over other sound card interfaces?
  6. Will the SignaLink USB work with my computer?
  7. Does the SignaLink USB work with Windows 8?
  8. Does the SignaLink USB require special drivers?
  9. Does the SignaLink USB require special communications software?
  10. Does the SignaLink USB support FSK?
  11. Can I use more than one SignaLink USB on my computer at the same time?
  12. Will the SignaLink USB work with my radio?
  13. Are the radio cables for the SignaLink SL-1 and SL-1+ compatible with the SignaLink USB?
  14. Do I need the SLASSY Cable Kit with the SignaLink USB?
  15. What software comes with the SignaLink USB?
  16. Does the SignaLink USB require a power supply?
  17. What modes can I operate with the SignaLink USB?
  18. Will the SignaLink USB work with my USB hub?
  19. Why do we use jumper wires and will I need to install them?

Do I need to disable my computer's sound card to use the SignaLink USB?

NO - Absolutely not!  One of the greatest benefits of using the SignaLink USB, is that it completely frees up your computer's sound card so that it can be used as it was intended.  With the SignaLink USB properly installed, your computer will play it's music, beeps and other sounds through your existing sound card and speakers, and only your communications program (Digipan, Mix-W, etc.) will "talk" to the SignaLink.  This is simply not possible with other interfaces that require a connection to your existing sound card.

NOTE:  One of our competitors is claiming that the great majority of Windows sound card programs do not let you directly select the sound card within the program, and this is simply NOT TRUE.  A quick check of virtually any modern Windows, MAC or Linux sound card program will clearly show that you can select which sound card you want to use within the program itself.  Some examples of this are Digipan, Hamscope, Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD), Mix-W, MMSSTV, MMTTY, MT63, EchoLink, AGW Packet Engine, Multimode, Cocoamodem,  and WSJT.  The ability to select the sound card that you want to use is built into the Windows, MAC and Linux operating system's programming interface, and is available to all standard sound card programs that run in those environments.  Only older DOS type programs (which won't work with the SignaLink USB anyway), and outdated/unsupported Windows programs (usually pre-Windows 98 era)  might require you to select the sound card in Windows rather than the program.      

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Can I use the SignaLink USB to control my radio, or will I need a separate CAT interface?

The SignaLink USB is a sound card interface that provides the necessary hardware to operate all sound card digital and voice modes, but it does NOT provide the "CAT" (Computer Assisted Tuning) hardware needed to control the radio.  If you want to control your radio (tuning, band/mode selection, etc.), then you will need a separate CAT interface.  We suggest checking your radio manual for the radio manufacturer's CAT interface part number (CI-V, CT-x, etc.).  If you do not want to purchase a CAT interface from the radio manufacturer (these are usually more expensive), then we suggest searching the internet for a compatible unit.  NOTE:  Please see the question below about using the SignaLink USB with programs that offer CAT control.

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Can I use the SignaLink USB with HRD and similar programs that offer radio control?

Yes, but only for digital operation (PSK31, SSTV, etc.).  If you want to use the program's radio control features, then (as noted above) you will need  a separate CAT interface.  

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Will the SignaLink USB work with the WinLink 2000 / Airmail system?

The SignaLink USB can be used with the AGW Packet Engine program to operate in the "Packet" mode, which can be used to connect to the WinLink 2000 system in some areas.  For details on this, please see the WinLink 2000 web site

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What advantages does the SignaLink USB have over other interfaces?

The state-of-the-art design of the SignaLink USB offers many advantages over other interfaces.  Some of these advantages include:

NOTE:  If you are connecting the SignaLink USB to your radio's Data, Accessory or Packet jack, then you will only have one connection to the radio.  If you are connecting the SignaLink USB to the Mic jack and your radio does not have Receive Audio available on the Mic connector (some radio's don't), then you will also need to connect the included audio cable to the radio.

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Will the SignaLink USB work with my computer?

The SignaLink USB will work with virtually any computer that has an available USB 1.1 or 2.0 port and is running one of the following supported Operating Systems:

Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
MAC OS 9.1 or later
MAC OS X 10.00 or later
Linux

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Does the SignaLink USB work with Windows 8?

Yes, the SignaLink USB works with all versions of Windows from Windows 98SE through Windows 8.  As with all other supported Operating Systems, the drivers for the SignaLink are always provided directly by the operating system itself.

Please note that setup instructions for Windows 8 are not yet available.  However, a number of customers have indicated that our Windows 7 setup instructions will work OK for Windows 8, so please refer to those instructions until our Windows 8 setup information is released.  Thank you!

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Does the SignaLink USB require special drivers?

No.  All required drivers are provided by the supported operating system (Windows, MAC and Linux).  Windows 98 users will need their Windows Installation CD, but other Windows versions do not require it.


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Does the SignaLink USB require special communications software?

No.  The SignaLink USB works with ALL sound card digital and voice communications programs.  The same programs that work with our older SL-1 and SL-1+, or any other sound card interface will work just fine with the SignaLink USB.


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Does the SignaLink USB support FSK?

None of our SignaLink products support FSK operation.  However, except among a small group of "FSK purists", this is not an issue because FSK is no longer the preferred method of operating RTTY.  FSK used to be preferred because radios we're not very linear in operation on Transmit, and the only way to access your "good" RTTY filter was with the radio set to the RTTY mode.  Today's modern radios provide excellent AFSK performance in both Transmit and Receive, and most provide complete control over all filtering, so you can still select the "good" RTTY filter while in a digital AFSK mode.  AFSK is also preferred over FSK because every other modern digital mode (PSK31, MT63, SSTV, etc.) uses AFSK, and on most radios, switching to FSK would require a completely different cable connection.  

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Can I use more than one SignaLink USB on my computer at the same time?

Yes.  If your computer is fast enough, you can have one SignaLink USB attached to each USB port, and be running all of them at the same time using different communications programs (or multiply instances of the same program).  We have successfully tested three SignaLink USB units running PSK31 at the same time on a 1.6Ghz PC.  A slower computer might also work fine, but a faster one might be required depending on the demands of your communication program(s).

When using multiple SignaLink USBs on one computer, each SignaLink will be given a sequential number in addition to the normal "USB Audio Codec", or "Microphone - USB Audio Codec" description.  To avoid complicating things any more than necessary, we suggest that you install and configure each SignaLink USB one at a time, and then confirm that each unit is working before plugging in additional units.  Note that the sound card numbering assignments, sound card selection in both Windows and the communication program(s), and the sound card volume levels may change if you unplug any of the USB cables.

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Will the SignaLink USB work with my radio?

The SignaLink USB will work with ANY transceiver that has a Data Port, Accessory Port, or Mic jack.  It will also work with any Receiver or Scanner that has an External Speaker, Headphone or fixed level output jack.  Specific radio requirements are dependent on the software you choose and the modes that you wish to operate.  Carefully review your software documentation to determine the suitability of your radio for a particular mode.


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Are the radio cables for the SignaLink SL-1 and SL-1+ compatible with the SignaLink USB?

Yes.  The radio cables for the SL-1, SL-1+ and SignaLink USB are exactly the same.  If you already have a cable for your SignaLink, then you can use that same cable with the SignaLink USB.  NOTE:  We do not sell the SignaLink USB without a radio cable.  If you already have a cable from a previous model, then we suggest ordering a SignaLink USB with an un-terminated radio cable.  This will let you build your own cable to suit any radio that you might own in the future.

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Do I need the SLASSY Cable Kit with the SignaLink USB?

No.  The SLASSY Cable Kit is used only with the SignaLink SL-1 and SL-1+.  


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What software comes with the SignaLink USB?

The CD that is supplied with the SignaLink contains the most popular FREEWARE and SHAREWARE programs for all of the most popular modes including PSK-31, SSTV, MT-63, CW, RTTY, AMTOR, & Packet.  Software for other modes can be downloaded from our SignaLink Software Page.  The complete Tigertronics web site, which includes extensive support information for the SignaLink, is also included on the CD.

It should be noted that the SignaLink software CD does NOT contain any drivers for the SignaLink, and it NOT required to install or operate the unit.  As noted above, the drivers for the SignaLink USB are always provided by the supported Operating System.


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Does the SignaLink USB require a power supply?

No.  The SignaLink USB never requires external power.  It is always powered by the computer's USB jack.

NOTE:  If you are plugging the SignaLink USB into a USB hub, then the hub needs to be a powered hub that supports "high-power" USB devices.  See question "Will the SignaLink USB work with my USB hub?" below for more details.


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What modes can I operate with the SignaLink USB?

The SignaLink USB supports ALL Digital modes that are available for sound card interfaces, including, PSK31, MT-63, WSJT FSK441, SSTV, APRS®, and Packet (300 and 1200 baud).  The SignaLink USB also supports ALL Voice modes (VOIP), such as EchoLink®.  About the only modes that you can't operate with the SignaLink USB, or any other sound card interface, are Pactor, G-TOR and Clover.  These modes are within the capabilities of the SignaLink USB, but the software is not yet available due to licensing issues**.

**NOTE:   Pactor RECEIVE ONLY software is available for Windows-based computers, and Pactor 1 software (transmit and receive) is available for Linux.


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Will the SignaLink USB work with my USB hub?

The SignaLink USB will work fine with most powered USB hubs that are designed specifically for "high power" USB devices (current draw of 100-500ma).  Non-powered hubs, and those that are designed for "low power" USB devices most likely will NOT work.  To avoid any problems, we suggest that you plug the SignaLink into a powered, "high power" USB hub, or (preferably) directly into the computer's USB jack.

NOTE:  A few of our customers have found that some USB hubs that are advertised as being suitable for "high power" USB devices simply are not.  If you are using a USB hub and cannot get the SignaLink to function properly, then you most likely need to plug the SignaLink USB directly into the computer.


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Why do we use jumper wires and will I need to install them?

NOTE:  Plug & Play Jumper Modules are now available for most configurations so you do not usually have to use jumper wires.

We designed the SignaLink USB to work with ALL radios, regardless of the connector type or pin-out used by the radio manufacturer.  In a perfect world, all manufacturers would standardize on a single connector type and  pin-out, but in the not so perfect world that we live in, there are at least a dozen different connector types and many dozens of different pin-outs!

To allow the SignaLink to work with all of these different configurations, we use detachable radio cables (available for all common connector types) and a reconfigurable jumper block that lets you easily route each of the required radio signals (PTT, Ground, etc.) to the correct place on the SignaLink.  Each jumper wire simply presses into the socket on the SignaLink board (see picture left) and can easily be removed and reused if needed.  Without these detachable cables and jumper wires, you would most likely be stuck using the SignaLink with only one radio, and you'd have to purchase an entirely new unit if you bought a new radio or simply wanted to use a different one.

Unless you are planning on "Receive Only" operation using External Speaker or Headphone audio, you will need to install the jumpers inside your SignaLink. Jumper settings for most radios are provided on our SignaLink Software CD and the SignaLink Support page of our web site.  Jumper settings are also provided with some specific radio cables.  For any "unknown" radio, you can always follow the step by step jumper installation procedure in the SignaLink manual, or contact our Technical Support Staff and they'll tell you how to install them.

If you plan on switching radios frequently, we have programming headers available (p/n SLHEAD) that you can use in place of the jumper wires.  These header modules can be configured for a specific radio, so when switching radios, you simply unplug one module and plug in a new one.  One header module is needed for each radio.


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Tigertronics - All Rights Reserved  |  BayPac, SignaLink, Auto-PTT, and TigerTrak are trademarks of Tigertronics
APRS is a trademark of Bob Bruninga  |  EchoLink is a trademark of Synergenics, LLC
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