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Is there a cheap or freeware alternative to VAC (Virtual Audio Cable) program that can be used with

John M
John M Member
I am presently attempting to get my Flex 1500 running with WSPR as well as Digipan along with potentially several other third party programs.  In particular; my greatest interest is to get the Flex 1500 working with the WSPR program.

No problems at all have been encountered by me using WSPR, Digipan and MMTTY programs in conjunction with a West Mountain Radio Rigblaster Advantage interface box connected to an Icom 781 transceiver, but I would like to use the Flex 1500 with these programs as well.  Towards that end, I found this very good tutorial walk-through by GM4FVM at the following web link:

http://gm4fvm.blogspot.ca/2015/04/flex-1500-and-data-modes-psk-wspr-jt65.html

As per the instructions, I downloaded the free VSP Manager program, established the required virtual serial port pairs for PTT and CAT rig control and verified proper operation of PTT and CAT controls of the Flex 1500 by the WSPR program. The problem I came up against was the virtual audio cables.

The tutorial was a bit confusing with respect to implementation of the VAC's.  He indicates that the freeware program called "VB cable" can be downloaded at this link:

http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Cable/

but then the author additionally indicates that  he decided to donate some money and received a thank you letter.  Now here is where the confusion starts.  The only "free" program is listed under the description header of "VB Virtual Audio Cable" and a few lines further down their web page you see a clickable square orange "DOWNLOAD" button next to a file named "VBCABLEDriver_Pack42b.zip (1.01 MB - JUL 2013)".  So I downloaded and installed this onto my computer and followed through with configuring the VAC ports both in the WSPR program and the Flex 1500 setup menus.

So; assuming everything was set up properly, I fired up both the Flex 1500 and the WSPR programs. I was able to change bands in the WSPR program and the Flex followed accordingly. When my transmit window came up, the WSPR program fired up the transmitter on the Flex properly and performed its 2 minute TXMT sequence flawlessly; going back into receive mode as expected. Then I noticed a problem as the receive sequence started. The receive audio level indicator located at the bottom left corner of the WSPR program window was highlighted in red and indicating -30dBm, which meant that there was no audio being sent from the Flex to the WSPR program.  After a great deal of troubleshooting, I finally determined that the VBCABLEDriver program I had downloaded for free was only a single audio cable with only one IN port and one OUT port. 

I went back to the tutorial page and re-examined the author's wording more closely.  He indicated that the program he had downloaded had 3 audio cables included in his software package.  So I went back to the VB cable web page and sure enough; there is another clickable link further down the page from where I had downloaded the free  "VBCABLEDriver_Pack42b.zip (1.01 MB - JUL 2013)" file.  Actually there are two clickable orange "DOWNLOAD" links which force you to donate money in either US dollars or EU euros before you can download the program.  I wish the author had made it much clearer that payment was compulsory to get the 3 virtual audio cables. This would have saved me and many other readers a lot of time in terms of needless troubleshooting. 

I just hate buying anything online because I don't know if my personal information is safe from hackers or not.  So;  I was wondering if any other users know of true freeware program that can give me the functionality of 2 virtual audio cables so I can get things to work with the Flex 1500?  Any help would certainly be appreciated.

Best regards:  John  VE3INH


Answers

  • John
    John Member
    edited June 2018
    John, I have actually given up trying to set up these virtual audio cables on the flex155 and wont even go there with my flex3000. I guess I am too **** to figure it all out, but in my instance I put it down to a medical issue or old age, which ever comes first. I found the more I read, the more confused I become, so its off limits, a NO NO.
  • DH2ID
    DH2ID Dr.med. Member ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    VSPE http://www.eterlogic.com/Products.VSPE.html has been working here for years now
    without any problems.
    It's easy to install and setup, free for 32bit systems and shareware for 64bit systems (25$)
    73, Alex DH2ID
  • Jeff Gray
    Jeff Gray Member
    edited December 2015
    VBCable is donationware. You decide what it is worth. The guy that wrote the software is prompt whould you have an issue. % dollars is what i donated to him and he sent a link to download 2 more cables. BUT BUT BUT... VBCables DO NOT currently work in WIN 10. He is working with Microsoft to get the authorizations it needs to run. If running Win 7 or 8 it will work fine. 
    That same software author has an ASIO hifi program that does work and works wreally well. Just have to remember to match sample rate to Powersdr sample rate. 
      Jeff KR3EP
  • John M
    John M Member
    edited March 2017
    Hello there John and Alex.  Thank you for replying to my question.

    John; we are never too old to learn.  I just hate being stumped by by a box....chuckle!  The tutorial which I found and referred to in my original post went a long way in clearing up many of the interfacing questions I had initially encountered with the 1500.  I just need to find a freeware Virtual Audio Cable program and things should be fine.


    Alex;  thank you also for responding.  At this stage Virtual Serial Port programs are not the problem.  What I need is a freeware Virtual Audio Cable program.  Although, thank you for pointing out another alternative program.

    Best regards John  VE3INH


  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    Thank you Jeff for the heads up warning about Windows 10.  Fortunately I am running Windows XP (32 bit) on the laptop computer in my ham shack.  Still hope there might be a freeware program that has 2 virtual cables out there.  The cost of a donation is really not an issue with me; its more about not feeling comfortable with any kind of on-line purchases and security of personal info.  That is why I am hoping someone might point me to a freeware program.

    Best regards:  John  VE3INH
  • DH2ID
    DH2ID Dr.med. Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Sorry, VAC http://software.muzychenko.net/eng/vac.htm by Eugene
    Muzychenko, is also a great program...I must have been a bit
    distracted, hi... ;-)


  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    Thank you again Alex for your reply.  I simply have a fear of buying anything on-line due to security concerns.  I do appreciate your efforts of attempting to help me though.

    Best regards:  John  VE3INH
  • DH2ID
    DH2ID Dr.med. Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    John, I don't know it you have prepaid VISA cards in Canada.
    If you pay online with it, there would be no risk. I use it all the time.
  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    That is an interesting and more secure method Alex.  Thank you.  I will look into that possibility.

    Regards:  John VE3INH

  • Doug
    Doug Member
    edited October 2015
    John,
    I currently use the VBcable software that you referenced ( On XP32bit, sp4) and it required downloading BOTH the VBcable A and VBcable B .zip files, then un-zipping them and installing each with the setup routine in each.  After that you will then have 2 virtual audio cables the both softwares should see with no problem.  I am running a 3000 on firewire cable, I am not familiar with how the USB and the VBCables will perform, but they should work together.
    regards
    Doug  K4DMH  

  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    Hello there Doug and thank you for responding.

    Well; I managed to install both VBcable A and  VBcable B programs; unzipped and installed them on my computer and configured them properly for inputs and outputs both in the Flex 1500 VAC1 setup window as well as in the WSPR 2.0 (r1714) station parameters window.

      I now see a receive level in the bottom left corner of the WSPR program window of -14dB, but have absolutely no control over the receive level when attempting to manipulate the VAC1 RXGain slider in Power SDR while in DIGU mode.  The only effect I can impose on the received audio gain as seen on the WSPR program window is when I turn the preamp off (0dB) in PowerSDR which causes a receive audio reading of -30dB.  If I switch the preamp back on to +30dB in PowerSDR then the WSPR receive reading jumps back to -14dB.  On the other hand, there is no problem at all adjust the VAC1TXGain slider and seeing a corresponding rise or fall in ALC levels and transmitter power output.

    The problem appears to be only with the VAC1 RXGain having no effect on the received audio from the Flex to the WSPR program.  Am scratching my head about this.  I would certainly welcome any suggestions as to what might fix this problem.

    Regards:  John  VE3INH


  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    I just wanted to add a bit of follow-up information to my original post after doing a bit more experimentation.

    Although I still have not had any luck getting things working with the VBcable (virtual audio cable) software, it appears that everything does work if I change the audio routing parameters both in WSPR and the Flex 1500 to utilize my computer's on-board sound card in conjunction with the analog audio I/O jacks to which a microphone and headphones are connected.  The RX gain an TX gain audio sliders within PSDR work perfectly then allowing for proper transmission and reception adjustments.

    One other vital piece of information I should have included in my earlier post was the type of computer an OS being used.  It is a 12 year old Toshiba 17 inch desktop replacement laptop; a Satellite P25-s607 with an Intel Pentium single core 2.8Ghz hyper-threading socket 478 cpu, 2Gb of ram and an Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 64MB video subsystem, all running on a Windows XP MCE operating system.  Surprisingly; it runs the Flex 1500 fairly well; albeit with relatively high cpu utilization of about 60% to 80% in full screen mode.  Mind you; if I reduce the screen size of PSDR and simultaneously run WSPR, the utilization drops to about 40%.  The screen size of PSDR definitely has a large effect on the cpu utilization of my old computer with its limited video subsystem.

    I also have a more modern tablet computer with an I-5 processor.  Perhaps the VBcable software might actually work on it with the Flex and WSPR?  I was just wondering what experiences other users might have had trying to get a Flex 1500 working on WSPR with older computers such as the one I have described and if matters improved when they upgraded to more modern units?

    Regards:  John  VE3INH


  • Walt - KZ1F
    Walt - KZ1F Member ✭✭
    edited November 2016
    For those squeamish about online security, most, if not all, donate buttons allow PayPal. The end vendor never sees you credit card and PayPal keeps your info secure as that IS their core business.
  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    Thank you for posting your comment Walt.  I finally did manage to obtain a disposable Visa credit card and downloaded the software for VBcableA and VBcableB.  Unfortunately I have had a devil of a time trying to configure these virtual audio cables to work properly both on my older pentium laptop running Windows XP and on a newer I-5 tablet running Windows 7 Home Premium. 

    Basically the PTT and CAT software (using VSP manager's virtual serial ports) are working fine, but there is something wrong with the virtual audio cables, such that my transmitted audio on WSPR sounds ok, but I simply cannot get the WSPR program to hear any audio from the Flex 1500 when it is in receive mode (the lower left audio level indicator within the WSPR  main page indicates -30dbm).  My suspicion is that the virtual audio cables are somehow improperly connected of their configuration in the operating system is incorrect.

    I was wondering if there is any step-by-step tutorials about how to connect and configure VBcable software in Windows XP or Windows 7?  Any help would certainly be appreciated.

    Regards:  John  VE3INH


  • John
    John Member
    edited June 2018
    Hi John, I have ben following your adventure with VAC software and am amazed at how you are able to keep at it. There must a a quicker and fool proof way to set virtual cables up, but I dont have the patience to sit for hours trying to get some working which should be down to a few clicks and its working. For those who can write good articles, the challenge would be to write an idiots guide to setting up VAC on the f1500/f3k.

  • John M
    John M Member
    edited March 2017
    Hello there John.

    I totally agree with you.  There should be a walk-through step-by-step article on how to set up a Flex  radio running Power SDR to a 3rd party program for digital modes because PSDR has been around for a long time now. 

    Having read through much of the discussions on this site, there seems to be a general consensus that both VSP manager is the go-to required software needed for CAT and PTT control and I found that relatively easy to set up and get working.  Also; there seems to be agreement that either VAC 4.10 or VBcable are the preferred programs to use for virtual audio cables; with VBcable software winning out due to it being more user friendly.  Given how difficult I have personally found VBcable software to get running; I would hate to think about trying to use VAC. 

    In any case;  I hope there is someone out there that can point me in the right direction to find a tutorial on how to set up and configure VBcable.

    Best regards:  John  VE3INH


  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    Thank you Alex for replying with those two links.  I will check them out.

    Regards:  John  VE3INH


  • DH2ID
    DH2ID Dr.med. Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    John, look in YouTube and Google for "vb cable configuration".
    You'll get lots of useful hits.

    I'll stay with Eugene's VAC cable 4.12.0.4974 because that version is very
    stable, although not the newest one.
    http://software.muzychenko.net/eng/
    I especially like the VAC repeater software which comes with the VAC bundle.

    A bit OT:

    A free software which is great for audio recording is Audacity.
    You can get the newest builds here: http://gaclrecords.org.uk/win-nightly/
    I just connect Audacity to my VAC and have it record and send audio files.

    For those who want just a wee prog to record and play back audio
    I found WD6CNF's web site http://hotamateurprograms.com/downloads.htm
    and a small but good VOX recorder... don't get put off by his site name ;-)

    Best regards, Alex DH2ID
  • John M
    John M Member
    edited October 2015
    Hello there again Alex. 

    I looked at the links you provided and tried a few more things, but unfortunately without any more progress.  Also tried to get some advice from the local Flex retailer here in Toronto, but the staff there were also stumped by the problems I described.  They suggested that I open a help request with Tim Ellison at Flex support, which is what I will do after exhausting all other possibilities.

    Thank you Alex and everyone else who attempted to assist me in trying to get my Flex 1500 to work with VBcable software.  I hope that perhaps Tim Ellison or some of his colleagues might come up with a solution to my problem.

    Best regards:  John  VE3INH


  • John M
    John M Member
    edited June 2018
    Well; I'm happy to say that after 3 weeks of experimentation and pulling out what little hair I have left on my head; that a final successful solution has been obtained!  Yahoo!!!!

    The Flex 1500 is now operating flawlessly in WSPR digital mode using VBcable software for digital routing of audio and VSPmanager is handling the virtual serial ports thus enabling CAT  and PTT control of the Flex 1500 from the WSPR control window.

    My biggest mistake in all of this was assuming that I needed to enable the "Output to VAC" check-box for the Direct IQ section of the VAC1 setup screen. Once I unchecked that box to disable it and fiddled with different Driver options in the Virtual Audio Cable Setup section of the VAC1 audio options screen everything slowly started to work.  After some further fine tuning, all my problems disappeared and the system is fully operational now.

    For anyone else who has struggled with such a configuration on an older 32 bit computer using Windows XP MCE, here is what you need to do if you choose to use VBcable software:

    1) After you start Power SDR 2.7.2 software, click on the "Setup" tab.

    2) Now click on the "Audio" tab.

    3) Now click on the " VAC 1" tab.  You now are in the VAC 1 setup screen and will need to adjust the following parameters:

    4)  Within the Virtual Audio Cable Setup section:

    For the "Driver" option, select Windows WDM-KS

    For the "Input" option, select VB-Audio CABLE-A

    For the "Output" option, select VB-Audio CABLE-B

    5)  Within the "Auto Enable" section:

    Check the check-box next to the sentence "Enable for Digital modes on Mode Change. Disable for all other mode".

     6)  Within the "Buffer Size" section:

    Select 2048.

    7)  Within the "Sample Rate" section:

    Select 48000.

    8)  Within the "Mono/Stereo" section:

    Leave the check-box unchecked.

    9)  In the check-box next to the statement "Allow PTT to override/bypass VAC for Phone"

     Check the check-box.

    10)  In the "Gain (db)" section:

    Set RX to -22
    Set TX to 0

    11)  In the "Direct IQ" section:

    In the Check-box next to the statement "Output to VAC"

    Do NOT check the check-box.

    12)  in the "Buffer Latency (ms)" section:

    Leave it at its default setting of 120 milliseconds.

    13)  In the top left portion of the VAC 1 setup screen:

    Check the check-box next to the statement "Enable VAC 1".

    14)  In the bottom right portion of the VAC 1 setup screen:

    Click on the "Apply" button.

    15)  Dismiss the PowerSDR Setup screen and Start the radio.  This initializes the virtual audio ports.  Note that the Flex should always be started first (before firing up the WSPR or any other 3rd party software) to initialize the virtual audio ports; otherwise it may not work properly.

    With respect to pertinent "Station Parameter" settings within the WSPR software; mine are as follows:

    1)   Audio In:  VB-Audio CABLE-B

    2)  Audio Out:  VB-Audio CABLE-A

    3)  Power Gain: This is set by you depending upon what the output power of your transmitter is.  In my case; I set it for 37dBm which corresponds to 5 watts.

    4)  PTT method:  RTS

    5)  PTT port:  COM6  however it could be any number depending how you set it up in VSPManager.

    6)  Check the check-box next to the statement "Enable CAT" after and ONLY after selecting a CAT port further down the list.  Note that this check-box will be greyed out and non-checkable until you enter a number in the CAT Port section further down the page.

    7)  CAT port:  COM8  however it could be any number depending how you set it up in VSPManager.

    8)  Rig number:  214  Kenwood  TS-2000  Note that the Flex 1500 emulates a Kenwood TS-2000 so far as this parameter is concerned.

    9)  Serial rate:  4800  Note that this must be set to the same rate in the CAT setup section in PowerSDR software.

    10)  Data bits:  8   Note that this must be set to the setting as in the CAT setup section in PowerSDR software.

    11)  Stop bits:   1   Note that this must be set to the setting as in the CAT setup section in PowerSDR software.

    12)  Handshake:  None

    Well; that is it.  Hopefully this saves someone from having the same 3 week long headache I had in terms of experimentation in order to get everything working.

    Regards:  John  VE3INH
  • Robert Woodruff
    edited February 2016
    You probably wanted Voicemeeter Banana made by the same people that make VB-Audio.  Does pretty much the same thing and a LOT more.

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