N2MH APRS Activities

UI-View32, Mixw, and vCOM

Introduction

One day, I had an interest in seeing the APRS activity on 30 meters and needed a quick and easy way to get QRV on 10.149. Looking around the shack, I had UI-View32 installed and running on my pc and I had MixW installed and running as well. I then recalled several articles I had read. One was about using MixW in tnc emulation mode (as an hf modem with a KISS interface) for BBS usage on hf. The other related the availablility of a software com: port bridge for the Flex-Radio SDR-1000 software defined radio. This bridge would allow existing data comms applications such as MixW to communicate with the SDR-1000 rig control port without needing physical RS-232 ports. This would eliminate the need for separate com: ports to be physically cross-connected to each other.

After downloading the N8VB vCOM package, I tried putting everything together to see if it would play. Well, it did play and very nicely, thank you!

How It Works

In normal operation, UI-View32 can be configured to connect to a tnc with a KISS interface. And, UI-View can do this on com: ports 1 through 8. On the other hand, MixW can be configured so that a com: port on the back of a PC can appear to be a RS-232 connection from a TNC running KISS. If MixW is configured this way, then one could cross connect two com: ports on the back of a pc and have UI-View32 access hf through MixW. (In fact, UI-View32 can access ANY of the packet modes supported by MixW this way.)

The folks working with the SDR-1000 had the same arrangement when trying to have an external software package do rig control on the SDR-1000. Being that everything (including the radio) is just software, it didn't make too much sense to have a physical connection bridge the two pieces of software. Recognizing this need, Phil Covington, N8VB, wrote some code that would do this bridge in software rather than in hardware. It can be looked upon as a virtual black box that has two RS-232 connectors running KISS with a cross-connect cable in between. In communications parlance, it emulates two KISS DCE interfaces that are cross-connected together.

Setting It Up

Step 1: Get all 3 pieces of software. They can be downloaded using the Web Links below.

Step 2: Install the N8VB vCOM software on your pc. Detailed installation instructions can be found on the SDR-1000 web site. Make sure that one of the virtual ports is within the range of ports supported by UI-View32 (ie, com: ports 1 through 8). You may need to reboot your pc for this installation to be completed. Once vCOM is installed, it should automatically come up every time you boot your pc.

Step 3: Bring up UI-View32 and configure the Comms Setup to use one of the vCOM ports in KISS Host Mode. Select any speed you like - it makes no differece to vCOM which speed you select.

Step 4: Bring up MixW in another window and configure the TNC Emulation to run on the other vCOM port. (KISS mode appears to be the only host mode supported by this configuration.) Make sure the device is not disabled (no check in the check box). Again, the other settings can be whatever you like - vCOM doesn't care.

Step 5: In the MixW Mode Settings window, configure all entries and tabs as appropriate for your desired mode of operation.

Step 6: You should now be in operation. When your signal is tuned in exactly in MixW, the display should show the contents of the frame. If you switch back to UI-View, you should see the same frame in the monitor box. At this point, you should be fully up and running.

Web Links


This page last revised on September 1, 2006.
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