This document explains the process of connecting and configuring my station, K0YDS, for VHF packet digital communications using the Tigertronix SignaLink USB Soundcard TNC/modem and the Winlink Express software program from the Winlink organization. Configuration for HF Winmor digital communication will be described in a future page. The Winmor mode requires a TNC like the SignaLink USB, a stand-alone soundcard modem, a computer sound card hookup. Packet on 2m is FM-based; Winmor is usually a single-sideband-based mode.
Other sources of help on this:
- Transceiver: Yaesu FT897D;
- an interface adapter: SignaLink USB Soundcard modem;
- and a computer: a Dell laptop (dual boot with Windows 10 and Xubuntu) booted into Windows. (Winlink.org has a document for setting up Winlink Express on Linux.)
- UZ7HO Soundmodem (processes data into AX.25 protocol “packets”)
- Winlink Express (communicates with the Soundmodem program via TCP/IP on the local machine and with the SignaLink via USB, using a software TNC “Terminal Node Controller”)
- USB Cable from computer to SignaLink: USB Type A to USB Type B
- Cable for your radio and the SignaLink; it’s best to purchase the proper cable.
Sites I found helpful:
- UZ7HO Replaces AGWPE
- Announcement of change from RMS Express to Winlink Express
- Winlink Express
- Winlink Express Quick Start
- Installation of Winlink (Dekalb ARES) – PDF
- K4REF Video Series
Configuration of Computer:
For 2m packet, 2 pieces of software are needed: one to put the packets together per the AX.25 data protocol, and the other to drive the radio with the packetized data. In the case of the SignaLink USB interface between the computer and the radio, the connection to the computer is via USB cable carrying data and power, and the connection to the radio is audio. The PTT is generated within the SignaLink and sent on a wire to the data port on the radio.
Configuration of SoundModem Software
Download UZ7HO’s Soundmodem software. Unzip the file and copy the soundmodem.exe to a convenient folder. There is no installation required.
Run Soundmodem.exe (easiest if you make a shortcut on the desktop) You may get a message from your Anti-Virus program. Ignore it.
On the SoundModem screen, click Settings then Devices.
Output and Input devices:
- Select USB Audio CODEC for both Output and Input devices.
- Check TX rotation
- Check Single channel output
- Check Color waterfall (optional). This can use a lot of computer resources, so you may not want to check this. It will depend upon your computers CPU.
- Check Stop waterfall on minimize.
Check KISS Server Port “Enabled.” Do not check AGWPE Server Port.
For the SignaLink USB this should be NONE
Make sure neither box is checked.
On the main screen, Click Settings then Modems
- Check Default settings
- Check KISS Optimization
- Check non-AX25 filter
Under Modem type ch: A
Set Mode to AFSK AX.25 1200bd.
Leave the SoundModem running. It can be minimized if you don’t care about the waterfall.
A note about Windows sound: be sure that the “USB Audio CODEC” is NOT the default sound for speaker or microphone. See page 4 of the SignaLink “Installation and Operation” document that came with your SignaLink.
Configuration of Winlink Express Software
Start Winlink Express.
Click Settings under the window title. This screen will open. Fill it in with your information. You should register your copy of Winlink Express, if you don’t like to be nagged to do so. Fill in the registration code.
On right-hand drop-down menu, choose Packet Winlink.
Then click Open Session and then click Setup. This window opens:
- Set Packet TNC Type: to KISS
- Set Packet TNC Model: to ACKMODE
- Set Serial Port: to TCP
- Leave TCP Host / Port set to 127.0.0.1 / 8100
Under TNC Parameters, select 1200 Baud. Leave the rest as is.
Check Enable IPoll (Bottom of screen)
Configuration of the radio
In the metro Denver area, your radio should be set to 145.050 mHz, FM or “Dig” or “PKT” (the FT897 needs to be set to PKT mode).
At this point you should be able to click Start and connect with a gateway, provided your radio is on the right frequency and mode.
The normal sequence will be to
- boot the computer
- plug the SignaLink USB into your computer and turn it on.
- start the SoundModem program and leave it running.
- Start Winlink Express last.