How to Configure CAT to Communicate with Third-Party Programs

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How to Configure CAT to Communicate with Third-Party Programs

How to Configure CAT to Communicate with Third-Party Programs - Introduction

  System Dependencies
  Minimum PowerSDR Version:     1.X.0  
  Applicable Hardware:     N/A 

Content provided by: FlexRadio Systems Engineering

Setting up CAT control in order to communicate with third-party programs such as loggers and digital mode programs is a bit different with a software defined radio as compared to a traditional radio.  With a software defined radio, there is no physical serial (RS-232 or "comm" port) on the radio hardware like there is what a traditional radio.  Rather than communicating with the radio hardware, you will communicate directly the SDR software , which in this case is PowerSDR 1.x.  This is a significant distinction with software defined radios; the hardware is not really the radio, but it is just the external physical interface for connecting peripherals such as microphones and keys to the SDR software.

Since the radio is software defined, a software based solution is preferred for various reasons. This is accomplished using a virtual com port pair that emulates a null modem serial cable.  A virtual com port pair defines two separate comports that pass data back and forth between the "radio" and third-party software.  The "radio" side of the connection is the PowerSDR 1.x software and the third-party software side is the other software program that is CAT enabled.

Below is a representation of a virtual comport pair with com port 14 and com port 4 defined as the two ports of the pair.  PowerSDR will have it's comport assigned as com14 where MixW will have it's comport assigned as com4.

So when you are setting up CAT to communicate with a third party program, there are three basic steps you have to complete.  These steps are applicable to any third-party program you want to use to communicate with PowerSDR 1.x
  1. Create a virtual com port pair
  2. Configure the PowerSDR side of the connection (aka "the radio")
  3. Configure the CAT enabled side of the connection.

Create a Virtual Com Port Pair

Being able to create a virtual com port pair requires specialized software.  Fortunately there are several open source (free) solutions available.  The original virtual com port program was vCom .  vCom works well, but recently a new program, Com0Com has been used with much better success.  This KC article will tell you where to get the Com0Com (Virtual Serial Port Driver)  and the article Com0Com Installation and Configuration Guide describes in detail how to configure virtual com port pairs.

Only one virtual com port pair is required to enable CAT communication. You can set up additional virtual com port pairs for asserting PTT for ham radio programs that are not CAT enabled such as WSJT.

Configure the PowerSDR Side of the Connection (aka "the radio")
Now you have to set up the CAT configuration in PowerSDR which is one side of the CAT connection. This is the "radio" side of the connection if you were using a traditional radio. The different CAT parameters explained in the FLEX-5000 Owner's Manual in Chapter 4 in the CAT Control tab section.

To access the CAT Control tab, open the PowerSDR Setup applet from the menu bar and left click on the CAT Control tab.

In CAT Control tab we have to define the com port parameters.  The critical parameters are:
  • Whether or not CAT Control is enabled
  • Com port assigned to PowerSDR
  • The com port baud rate
  • The the parity configuration in a frame of information
  • The number of data bits in a frame of information
  • The number of stop bits in a frame of data
It is beyond the scope of this article to explain what these parameters mean in the context of serial communication, what is important is that whatever you configure the port parameters for PowerSDR 1.x that the exact same parameters are configured for the third-party CAT enabled program you are connecting to .

Below is a commonly used set of parameter for configuring the com port parameters for CAT operation:
  • Enable CAT is checked
  • Port - select one end of the virtual com port pair defined in the step above.
  • Baud - 9600
  • Parity - None
  • Data - 8
  • Stop -1
This is commonly referred to as a "N-8-1 @ 9600 baud" configuration

There is one more parameter that needs to be configured.  Most ham radio programs that are CAT enabled do not list FlexRadio Systems' transceivers (or more appropriately PowerSDR since the transceiver does not have a com port).  There are few exceptions such as PC-ALE and Ham Radio Deluxe.  In order to ensure the greatest compatibility, PowerSDR has the ability to emulate a Kenwood radio. Set the "ID as" parameter to TS-2000 .  Your CAT enabled third-party program will "think" it is communicating with a Kenwood TS-2000.

Configure the CAT Enabled Side of the Connection.

 Now all that is left to do is to configure your CAT enabled software program to connect to the other end of the virtual com port pair.  This is where you will need to use the directions that came with the CAT enabled software to configure the CAT port.  You will configure the CAT port exactly like PowerSDR 1.x is configured with one exception.  You *must* use the other comport defined in the com port pair rather than the com port used for PowerSDR 1.x.

In the example above a com port pair was defined with ports 4 and 14.  PowerSDR 1.x is using com port 14.  For the CAT enabled program, you would use com port 4.

One last thing to remember.  Make sure you configure your CAT enabled program to communicate with a Kenwood TS-2000 transceiver (or just plain Kenwood).

NOTE:  Some CAT enabled programs will use serial or com port parameters different that the N-8-1 @ 9600 baud.  That is OK.  Just make sure PowerSDR's com port parameters are configured the same as the CAT enabled program and it should work without any problems. 

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Last Modified:Thursday, March 5, 2009
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