As soon as I got first two ham radio rigs, I needed to connect them both to PC, to program memories or use CAT control from logging software. I realized that it is impractical to have as many USB to RS323 adapters as rigs.

As serial connection for radio requires just RX, TX and GND lines, and it is the same for most of modern radio stations. It is actually only radio connector that is different – signaling is the same.

It showed up quite easy to build simple multirig adapter. All you need to do is to use existing USB to serial interface adapter, cut it’s cable in two and insert male and female three pin 3.5 mm jack (commonly used as stereo audio connectors).

Female jack, as less common, should be set on USB interface side and male for various cable adapters set for each rig.

Here is schematics of an interface with adapters:

Universal CAT USB RS232 TTL interface (Yaesu, Kenwood, Baofeng, Wouxun, Zonton)

- 8 pin mini din male for Yaesu radios

- combined 6 pin connector I used for Kenwood, Baofeng, Zonton, Wouxun and other compatible radios

This allowed me not just to easily connect my radios to PC, but also radios of my friends. So far I used this for Yaesu FT857, Yaesu FT-857D, Yaesu FT-897, Yaesu FT-817, Kenwood TK-250, Baofeng UV-B5, UV-B6, Zonton 999, Wouxun KG-UV6D and others.

And yet, if new rig shows up all I have to do is to create adapter for it – interface stays the same. I have collected pinout info abut number of other radios but I will post here updates only as I try them out.

What USB to serial interface to use

Almost any will do. The most important point is to use interface with TTL levels for RS232 as most modern rigs use TTL not RS232C levels. These are actually cheaper as they lack additional TTL to RS232C conversion. You may buy such adapter for few bucks. If you get one with RS232C levels then you have to make additional interface to convert that to TTL (by using MAX232 chip or transistors).

Avoid Prolific chipset adapters. They actually work fine, but usually not straightforward to use. Reason is that market is overwhelmed with Prolific clones (which are very cheap). Those clones work fine, but Prolific decided to protect itself by issuing drivers that do recognize clone chips and do not work with them. That means, you have to play a bit with older drivers to make them work. Although I understand Prolific point I think they shot themselves in the foot. As the only way for ordinary buyer to recognize clone from original chip is to buy and check if the newest drivers work, people simply avoid hassle and turn to other brands.

  •  KJ6WWM: 

    Great writeup! I was wondering if the Wouxun programming cable (USB) is sufficient for CAT control without modification? And what CAT program would you suggest? I have used the programming cable only to program the handheld, but not for CAT control.


     13.11.20141 replies1 replies 
    0 points
    •  YT9TP: 

      Yes that cabel is good enough. For some radios you have to pay attention on signal levels. USB adapters usaly use 5V signals, and some radios require RS232C levels (+/-12V). It should work but also USB adapter may be damaged by higher voltage. It is easy to correct levels using plan resistor dividers or MAX232 chip.


      0 points
  •  OE8APR: 

    Nice tutorial!

    0 points
Related Tutorials
There was a time when transceivers only had buttons to control their functioning. Radio amateurs have given the term Computer Aided Transceiver (CAT) to a very specific device. With that CAT interface, the time has changed. You may need a USB to RS232 adapter to connect your PC to a CAT device.
Categories: Beginners 
03.06.2016 · From OE8APR
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11.11.2014 (11.11.2014)
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