Thursday, 9 June 2011

USB, Soundcards, and connectivity.

Just thought I would document the problems I have had recently with my data connection between my interface unit (ZLP USBMiniPro) and the PC through external soundcards.

USB 6 channel audio external soundcard
After reading an article somewhere on the web about a decent external soundcard to use instead of the cheapo USB plug-in dongle I was using I purchased an External Sound Card USB 6 Channel 5.1 Audio from Amazon. It arrived a day or so later and as described in the article performed well, installation being straightforward, DM-780 recognising it easily and connection being 100%. Also there was far less added noise on the audio from the rig (TS-570D), as expected.

One morning however, weeks later after booting up the digimode software refused to recognise the microphone input, so I went about the usual steps of rebooting, reinstalling etc, all to no avail. I assumed therefore that the unit had developed a fault so returned it via Amazon's very efficient returns service. As it was sourced outside of Amazon I was unable to obtain a replacement, so a refund was made.

I temporarily connected with the dongle - no problems there.
Maplins 5.1 Multimedia Soundcard
Next stage was to obtain another external sound card (I wanted external so I could use my laptop if out portable). I went to the local Maplins and purchased a 5.1 Multimedia sound card. This as with the 1st unit connected easily and gave solid connections.

After a few days I decided to move the USB connection from the front of the machine to a rear panel input. On starting the DM780 software I was advised that the connection to the microphone had failed.(deja-vu) Went into the soundcard options and reselected the microphone without success. Next stage was to look at the recording devices available from right-clicking the icon in the notifications area of my toolbar (Windows 7). This shows activity against each connected device, and in my case showed that the Line-in was active although audio input was plugged into the microphone jack!  I selected this in the soundcard options dropdown and all was well, signals on the waterfall. Went to transmit and NOTHING.

To cut this long story short, after reloading drivers etc. the only way I could get both TX and RX to work was by connecting via different USB ports and reloading the disk based drivers. Currently working off line-in, audio plugged into this socket now.

I have a decent spec PC with a 750W PSU and am wondering if the voltage to the USB ports is marginal thus the intermittent connectivity. Also wondering if the latest W7 updates have fouled things up!

Working at the moment, so will keep fingers crossed.

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