SignaLink SignaLink Where Art Thou?

Posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 at 9:59 am in

SignaLink USB

SignaLink USB

A few days ago I was super-excited when Kobus Conradie ZS1K notified me that my newly purchased SignaLink USB was in the post. I built a few homebrew interfaces and they worked very well, so well in fact that I was ready to consider working mobile and QRP while on holiday. My research indicated the SignaLink to be a worth while device (note my careful choice of the word “device” – see later).

I rushed home from the Post Office and opened the box. It contained the unit and some cables and a CD and instructions – a very good package. In minutes I was on the air and working in a “workbench” mode with wires flying all over the desk. It is a very good and very easy to install Sound Card (notice I’m saying Sound Card, because that is what it is). Works as advertised.

Then my problems started. I started looking for the radio control interface – a CAT interface so to speak. The piece that you use to control the frequency on your radio, and reads the frequency back for your automatic logbook on your computer. I searched for COM ports, I scoured the internet, I even made a cookie of myself asking Jason at TigerTronics Support for help. Eventually I dawned on me (Yes, I’m blushing here) that this is a Sound Card interface only, and not a combo Sound+CAT interface. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

This is really not a big problem for most people, mind you. Once I plugged in a CAT cable into the second USB port on my laptop, everything sprang to life immediately and it works very well. I’m using HRD 5 (the last free version) and I was surprised at how easily the SignaLink integrated itself into my setup. Except for the fact that I needed two USB cables. On a two-USB laptop. That is the problem, I have to unplug the mouse to plug in the Sound Card or I have to lose the CAT cable, two out of three. Or I can get a 4-port USB hub, but that complicates matters again because I want to carry as little as possible with me in my bag when I go mobile or QRP.

For the moment the SignaLink can stay in my shack, it is a neat little device. But my search continues for a single-USB-cable-between-laptop-and-interface device. Any thoughts?