Kenwood V71a to Computer Cable

After seeing how much Kenwood wants for their EchoLink cable SET (that’s right, two cables), I did some investigation. Are you kidding me Kenwood? Anywhere from $50 to $80! It does come with two cables (one for audio IN/OUT, and one for the RST, PTT and all the other data – which I don’t need). Since I’m using EchoLink in VOX mode, I have no reason to use the RST. OK, down to ONE cable? Can I purchase this one cable separately? No, I can not. Is the audio IN/OUT/PTT available at the 6-pin (essentially a PS/2) back-of-radio connector? Yes it is! So, now down to ONE cable. Does the Kenwood cable containing the audio have a PTT line? NO! It’s in the other cable! Oh Kenwood. Now I’m back to TWO cables. Confused? So was I.

Then I came across this website: Finally, I now know which pin is which. Kenwood doesn’t make this crystal clear do they? Just buy the cables! HAH!

Oh ya. THAT’S what I need alright. Audio IN/OUT and a PTT line – all with one cable. Also, there’s a COS line (SQC – pretty sure – I’ll bring it out anyway) that could also be utilized. So, off to the eBay. I bought some of these parts in quantity (like, 5 or 10 of each) so your mileage may vary but, here is the price breakdown:

  • $4.17 UART (serial to USB) (btw, you’d need something like this for the Kenwood cables anyway as they use a standard DB9 serial connection and unless you’re using a 10 year old computer, you probably only have USB ports – yet another Kenwood oversight)
  • $2.12 for two 1/8″ stereo plugs (only if you don’t have adapters and stuff for the audio cables – I didn’t)
  • $2.60 PS/2 plug (you can hack a PS/2 keyboard connector apart but for $2.60, phhtt, new ones)
  • $2.00 audio cable (from Goodwill)

Total, $10.89 (and a month of waiting for China). Now that’s more like it. I also had a couple of USB audio cards that I bought on eBay earlier for $2 each. I got a 4-port USB hub at the Dollarama for $3. This way, I can use just one USB port on my computer for the whole shooting match. Pretty slick eh? You can use 2 USB ports if you desire though to reduce costs.

Hopefully I can get the soldering iron out today and wire this up. I might even take pictures!


CKARC Net – Nov-20-2013

Another Wednesday night net came and went. Don, VE3DNA, our usual net controller, was having some technical difficulties and Adam, VE3MUN took over the net until Don got sorted out. All in all, a pretty good net with 8 total check-ins. I was going to link in the VE3TOM repeater in Leamington but it was connected to an IRLP reflector that was unusually busy. Later, I did link in to the VE3EOW repeater in Windsor – which I found out later is owned by the Corporation of the City of Windsor – dunno how that works. The link worked out but we didn’t get any takers from there 🙁



A new wrinkle in the EchoLink saga. During a recent net on the SPARC repeaters, I noticed several people logging in via EchoLink – even though this shouldn’t happen due to the fact VE3TOM was already linked to an IRLP reflector. It turns out there are several “gateways” available to do this. Who knew? So, armed with this information, I linked our VE3COZ-UHF machine to the VA3KCR-VHF machine using one of these special nodes. Cool. Now we can link these two repeaters during emergencies, nets, etc. I’m not sure if this is what the IRLP developers had in mind but, it sure is handy.

2013.11.07 Grrr…

Ok. I got my other computer working once more. It’s actually a very good computer. Dual core, 4 gigs ram, 1Tb HD, yadda. I purchased it from a friend when I was still working (gosh, that seems so long ago now). Anyway, I want to put EchoLink on it to free up my main computer.

EchoLink: installed. That was the easy part.

Setting up the SignaLink with Echolink: #&(!*&!&*! Are you kidding me? WHY IS IT SO HARD?!?! I had the EXACT SAME issues when setting it up on the other computer. Keying up over and over. And now, It won’t take connections from the internet. I even turned the firewall OFF. Nuthin’. Well, maybe I’ll try again in a day or three (like the other computer) and maybe THIS one will “magically fix itself” too! I could get lucky right? Sure.

In the meantime, I’m re-installing Ubuntu 12.04 via wubi as it looks like this computer doesn’t see the CD drive. Rats! Maybe Linux can figure out my firewall issues. Maybe not. I’m told EchoLink *will* run under WINE so it’s time to find out!


Computer Use

Some of this article may sound harsh but… It always astounds me when someone tells me (especially hams) “they know nothing about computers” – and have no interest. I’m sorry, it is NOT a badge of honour. It’s a badge of  “I’m too lazy or stupid” and hams aren’t generally stupid (although, like me, many are lazy). Don’t tell me you are too old to learn how to use a computer. Just ask your grandchild to show you some simple stuff.  Heck, my 80+ yo mother has a facebook account and regularly uses email. I also know senior members of the ham community that know how to use EchoLink and enjoy it. I don’t know exactly how to milk a cow but that doesn’t make me disinterested in dairy farming. And if milking a cow was necessary in today’s world, I’d certainly learn how!

I get that not everyone can write C++ programs or don’t know how to make an Excel spreadsheet. But everyone should make an effort to be able to Google something simple or at least be able to turn the damn thing to the ON position and click a mouse. My typing skills aren’t exactly razor sharp but I get by so typing isn’t an excuse. I remember an era where computers WERE hard to use and understand but those days are FAR in the past. Punch cards haven’t been used in decades.

Please people, make an effort to use a computer. You might just find you’ve been missing out on an enjoyable pastime. Just think when you make your next DX contact. Wouldn’t it be nice to look that ham up on QRZ? Wouldn’t it be nice to show other hams the station that has taken you years to put together that you’re so proud of? Remember encyclopedias? Now, just think of that but with a million times more information – and a lot more up to date – and a thousand times easier to find things. Get a grandchild to set up a Stumble account and enter some of your interests. I guarantee you will be hooked.

So, what’s YOUR excuse for knowing nothing about computers? I’d like to hear it. Oh right, you won’t be able to comment. LOL!

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