Posts Tagged EchoLink

Using KF5INZ’s Easy-Digi with Baofeng UV-B5 or UV-B6 for PTT control

I wanted to interface my Baofeng UV-B6 using a K5INZ “Easy Digi” board from eBay for PTT control.

The K5INZ “Easy Digi” boards are very inexpensive interface boards, which are available on eBay. You can find them by searching here. The Baofeng UV-B5 and UV-B6 feature a Kenwood-style 2-pin 3.5mm and 2.5mm connector on the side of the radio. Although the radio supports PTT keying, you have to take care to wire it correctly.

I found the pinout on the Miklor site confusing. After a quick search, I found this better image of the pinout:

BMmRJ

Source: http://ham.stackexchange.com/questions/1891/whats-the-pinout-for-kenwood-2-5mm-trs-3-5-mm-trs-connector

Going off this, you can see that the 3.5mm shield is the PTT, which gets pulled to ground to enable. You can also see that the grounds are on the 2.5mm side (ring and shield) and are for the speaker, mic, and PTT.

This should work for all Baofeng 2-pin cable compatible radios, such as the UV-5R (and variants), the BF-F8+ (and variants), and UV-82 (and variants). This should also work for all 2-pin cable compatible radios from other manufacturers, as long as they use the same pin out.

Special Note for UV-82 series: The UV-82 series supports dual-PTT keying. As such, the pinout is slightly different. The rest of this article will give you a working setup, but will key PTT for the bottom display only. The top display is keyed using the tip of the 3.5mm jack instead of the shield. See this page on miklor.com for more details. 

I used a USB A-to-B cable and cut off the ends. This left me with 4 conductors, of which I only needed three. I wired the RTS, DTR, and digital ground to a DB-9 female connector, with a little bit of electrical tape to keep the cable shield from causing any problems.

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Pinout source: http://www.db9-pinout.com/

Then wire the connections to and from PC audio in the usual manner. On the Easy Digi the polarity is not marked, but if you follow the wiring diagrams included, you will see the two negatives are in the center, and the positives are on the outside. I marked them myself with a silver marker to help during assembly. For this I used two 3.5mm stereo cables, and wired tip (+), shield (-), and left the ring disconnected.

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Next I took a 3.5mm stereo cable and connected the ring to mic in, the shield to PTT high, and left the tip disconnected. (UV-82 series owners only, this is where you want to connect the tip instead of the shield if you want top display PTT instead of bottom display PTT)

Next, I took an Arduino jumper and cut it in half. Put one pin in mic ground, one pin in PTT ground, and twist the free ends together. Tin the twisted end, and solder and snip the excess pin leads. You could use any suitable wire for this jumper. It should end up as shown here:

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Next, solder on the audio in using the tip (+) and shield (-). The radio side of this cable needs to go down to 2.5mm, and can be mono or stereo, but if it’s stereo, be sure to leave the ring disconnected. You can use a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter, such as this one from Monoprice, but either wire your own plug or test the adapter before use.

Take the jumper lead you made previously and wrap it around and solder it to audio ground. If you’re using the Easy Digi case, don’t go around the long side of the board (as I did in this photo), go around the short side of the board. You won’t be able to fit the board back in the case if you go around the long side. you could have also made the connections from the bottom side of the board if you so desired.

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You should have your board fully assembled now.

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You can now control PTT with either DTR or RTS control over your serial port, and it works fine with USB-to-Serial adapters.

This works great for an EchoLink simplex repeater, or for APRS digipeating use.

UVB6withEasyDigi

Audio leveling: I found this to work best when the Baofeng volume is set between the 9 o’clock to the 10 o’clock position, and the PC mic input is set to 20 with +20db boost. I found that the PC volume level may have to be set anywhere between 20 and 50, depending on the particular PC and software. You will likely have to adjust to your own environment.

NOTE: If using this with DireWolf v1.2 for APRS, you will need to specify both DTR and RTS control in the DireWolf configuration file, or DireWolf will hold PTT down. All other programs seem to work normally. Example configuration line for DireWolf:

PTT COM4 DTR RTS

Comments are welcome.

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Running EchoLink on Windows as a standalone program

EchoLink is a VOIP program that allows licensed Amateur Radio operators to talk to other operators using the Internet as a link. Unfortunately, the current version on their website (version 2.0.908) uses an InstallShield installer that causes some serious harm to Windows installations when it is uninstalled — namely, it will remove the tiles from your Start screen and All Apps screen, as seen here.

It’s important to understand that this isn’t a flaw in the EchoLink operating software itself. Rather, it’s an issue with the version of the InstallShield installer that they are using to install the software, and that this only happens when you try to uninstall the software. Installing and running the EchoLink software poses no risk to your system until you try to uninstall it. The uninstaller does some (as yet unknown) mistake in removing the program which will cause the loss of your start screen after rebooting. See this post for how to fix the issue using System Restore. 

Up until I started digging into this issue I didn’t recommend for anyone to use the software, as the consequences of trying to uninstall the software leave your system in an almost unusable state. I can now confidently encourage people to use it, but only if you run it as a standalone program — not when installing it using the bundled installer.

Now, I’m going to show you a way to run the EchoLink program without using the InstallShield installer, which makes it perfectly safe to use, and there’s no need to run an installer or uninstaller.

First, obtain the EchoLink installer exe from the EchoLink website. It will be named EchoLinkSetup_2_0_908.exe.

Next, based on a tip from this site, open a command prompt, change to the directory containing the EchoLink installer, and run the following:

EchoLinkSetup_2_0_908.exe /s /x /b"." /v"/qn"

This should create an EchoLink.msi file in the same directory.

Now, download and install 7-Zip using the default options. With 7-Zip installed, you can right-click on the MSI and click 7-Zip -> Extract to “EchoLink”. This will create an EchoLink folder which contains the extracted files. The files you’re most interested in are the EXE and CHM files.

You can run the extracted EchoLink.exe file directly, and from anywhere, and the CHM file contains the help documents, and they should be kept in the same folder. I don’t know if the elkbhook.dll is needed at all. I was able to use EchoLink normally and carry on a QSO without it.

I have already brought this issue to the attention of the EchoLink.org team, and they confirmed at the time that it was an issue with the InstallShield installer. This is what brought me to look at working around InstallShield. However, I haven’t seen an updated release from EchoLink.org to address the issue.

Thank you for reading, and please share this post with any Amateur Radio operators you know that run the EchoLink software.

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Manually uninstalling EchoLink from Windows 8

If you are running Windows 8, and installed the Echolink software using it’s incompatible installer, and then subsequently uninstall it, you will break your start screen (as shown here). You will then have to do a System Restore to get your start screen restored, but that will re-install the software.

If you manually uninstall Echolink using the method below, you can then extract and run Echolink using the method described in my other post on EchoLink.

Here’s the steps to remove all traces of the Echolink software from your PC:

  1. You might want to create a system restore point from Control Panel > System > System Protection > Create... before proceeding, just in case.
  2. Delete the desktop icon.
  3. Done! (Just kidding)
  4. Right-click on the Start screen icon and select “Unpin from Start” (NOT uninstall. Seriously.)
  5. Run regedit.exe (Caution: Editing the registry is risky. Pay close attention and make a backup before making any changes if you aren’t confident in your changes.)
  6. (Optional) Delete the registry branch at [HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareK1RFD]. — It looks like Echolink stores some settings here and it is safe to leave this key in place if you plan to run it standalone.
  7. For a 32-bit system, I found the uninstall keys in the registry at [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionUninstall{DC33421C-0E1C-470A-BE37-7B7C82677812}]. Delete that branch of keys. Verify Echolink is no longer listed in Control Panel > Programs and Features for uninstallation.
  8. For a 32-bit system, delete the C:Program FilesK1RFD directory.
  9. For a 64-bit system, look under
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareWow6432NodeMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionUninstall]. Find the branch of keys under there that refers to Echolink and delete it. DON’T delete the entire Uninstall branch. (I didn’t run this on a 64-bit system, so I can’t give you the exact registry branch.) Verify Echolink is no longer listed in Control Panel > Programs and Features for uninstallation.
  10. For a 64-bit system, delete the C:Program Files (x86)K1RFD directory.
  11. (Optional) If you wish to delete your favorites, recorded QSOs, etc., delete C:Users<username>DocumentsEcholink. This directory is hard-coded into Echolink, so even if you run it standalone, it will still store data in this folder.

Please feel free to share your comments below. Thanks!

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Fixing Windows 8.1 blank start menu

Some older programs not updated to work correctly with Windows 8/8.1 will produce some very undesirable results when uninstalling them, such as clearing out your start and app screens.

Echolink is one program that affects Windows 8 in this way when using its bundled uninstaller. You can read about how to extract the exe to run it as a standalone program in this post.

You can see below a sample of an affected system, and that all the tiles have been removed from the start screen and all apps screen:

EL_UnInst_Start_1EL_UnInst_Start_2

In this situation, the search from the start screen is available, but will not produce any results. The only way to navigate is to right-click on the start button and make selections from that menu, or to use the charms bar.

Various sites offer various fixes for this issue, and I haven’t found one that works without either refreshing the PC or having to use a restore point. If you use a restore point to recover, the program will likely be reinstalled. If you refresh your PC, you will keep your data but you may lose some settings or customizations.

For either of these two methods, follow the link below:

How to refresh, reset, or restore your PC [microsoft.com]

I wish I could find a consistent fix without having to use the above, but they methods do work.

If you have a solution that works, please feel free to share it in the comments below. Thank you!

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