What is RIG Control?

We recently announced a new product called RIGtalk. It is best described as the USB version of the Icom CT-17 Serial Interface.

However, we have had several inqueries to our help desk about the function provided by RIGtalk compared to RIGblaster. It is true both are "Radio to Computer Interfaces" but there are major differences in the functon they provide to a ham station. Simply stated, a RIGtalk enables the Amateur Radio function of "Rig Control" and a RIGblaster enables "Sound card applications" and (depending on model) "Rig Control" also. Rig Control sends frequency, band, mode and other operational data between the radio and the computer. Soundcard Applications are modes like PSK, SSTV and RTTY which require, (1) an interface for audio between the radio and the computer soundcard and (2) a serial interface to provide PTT, CW and FSK keying. The rig control interface between radio and computer is always a serial data path between a serial port on a computer and a jack on a radio labeled with various tags depending on the manufacturer. For example most Icom radios label the jack "REMOTE", Yaesu calls it "CAT", and Kenwood calls it "COM" for RS-232 or "ACC" for TTL.

RIGtalk emulates a serial port to the computer software while connecting to a USB port of the computer. As with many USB devices, drivers are first installed, then RIGtalk is plugged in and Windows completes the installation. This is especially beneficial for newer computers that do not have real serial ports.

RIGtalk is a natural for Icom and TenTec transcievers. And because RIGtalk is a TTL level interface, it also works well with many Yaesu radios that make use of a TTL CAT Interface.

The difference between the Icom and the Yaesu implementation is that Icom ties transmit and receive lines together onto a single conductor. Yaesu uses two conductors, one for transmit and one for receive. We accomodate that difference by simply using different cables which basically define different models of RIGtalk. Unfortunately very few Kenwood radios have a TTL level rig control interface and those that do use Negative TTL Logic. RIGtalk uses Positive TTL Logic. Thus we do not have RIGtalk models for Kenwood radios.

For Icom & TenTec, we use:


Note on the end that goes to the radio Transmit and Receive are tied together at the tip of the mini plug.

For Yaesu FT-100,100D,817,857,897, we use:


And for Yaesu FT-736/747/767/1000 we use:


As for software, when we think of "Rig Control" programs we think of programs in the following catagories:

Logging Software

Local & Remote Control Software

DX Beacon Software

Much of this software is supplied on the DVD that ships with every RIGtalk and most has been tested with RIGtalk. As always however for the latest version of any Amateur Radio Software we suggest visiting the web site of the author. Most of these web sites have links from the Links Page of our Web Site.