I used to have a RIGblaster Plus and a Pro but used the simple/cheap
transistor/resistor serial interface on AA5AU's web site for several years
instead since it worked, was simple, and was cheap.
In April, I suffered a big lightning strike to my antennas and tower, which
also had a Motorola Canopy wireless internet unit on it. The Canopy module
was connected with CAT5 cable through an arrestor on my grounding panel and
then to my wired router. Being lazy, I didn't disconnect because I thought
the storm wasn't very close.
The Canopy unit and the router were destroyed, as were the motherboard NIC
and a ByteRunner 4-port serial PCI board in the computer. The lightning got
into the shack via other control lines (rotator, remote antenna switch, and
SteppIR) too, despite arrestors, and they were connected to the serial card.
My K3 was damaged (now totally repaired and perfect), and yesterday I
realized that the transistors in the RTTY/PTT interface were damaged too. I
don't know if the current continued through the interface to the K3 or not.
I also don't know if the optoisolators in a RIGblaster or a MicroHAM would
have prevented that or not, but I'm wondering.
I repaired the computer with a new, 4-port SIIG serial card and an Ethernet
card, but ended up using a new, very fast, Dell Studio XPS 8100 i7 PC with
Windows 7/64 and 8M of RAM in the shack instead. (My wife got the old
Pentium 4 XP computer.) I added a 2-port PCIe serial card in the new PC,
which I will use for firmware updates to the K3, but I'm again thinking
about a USB MKII instead of repairing the transistor/serial interface.
> Maybe it would be a good
>time to ditch the serial port and get a "modern" USB interface like the
>microHAM or West Mountain Radio units.
MicroHam, Rigblaster, etc. = $$$
Homebrew serial cable = $
I homebrewed my serial port cables in the mid-90s and have been using
them ever since. Several Kenwoods, several Icoms, one Yaesu, countless
computers, but always the same serial port cables. Full details and
schematics in the MMTTY help files.
And you don't need that little audio isolation transformer either. If
you are getting hum, you have a ground differential of several
millivolts AC between your radio and computer. Bond the two chassis
together with a heavy strap and plug both of the AC power cords into
the same outlet and the hum will go away.
73, Bill W6WRT
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