The Virtual Serial Cable

Cut the Cable!

Almost all radio transceivers these days are capable of being programmed by computer. In fact, with hundreds or thousands of memories it's tedious if not impossible to program them without a computer.

But what if your radio is installed in your car and your computer is in the house? Do you take the radio to the computer or take the computer to the radio?

VSC-X consists of two modules. The USB module (above left) plugs into your computer. The serial module (above right) plugs into your radio.

Now you don't have to do either. Just plug a VSC-X module into your radio and another into the USB port on your computer and you're ready to program. It's as if you ran an extra long serial cable from your computer out of the house and into the car to your radio.

Only there's no cable.... and you don't need a serial port on your computer either!

VSC-X works with all mobile radios that can be programmed by computer. You plug the USB module into your computer using a standard mini-USB cable (like the one that came with your digital camera). Then plug the serial module into your radio. If your radio has a 9 pin serial port (like the Kenwood D700) you can plug the module directly into the radio. If it doesn't you can either wire an adapter cable or purchase one pre-made.

But there's more. Anywhere you need a serial connection, you can use VSC-X instead!

VSC-X does more than allow you to program your radio from your house. Anywhere you previously had used a serial cable to transmit data, you can use VSC-X instead (provided the required data rate is not more than 9600 baud). People are using VSC-X in a wide range of applications including remote control of radios, remote mounting of GPS receivers, remote connections to weather stations, and remote control of antenna tuners, among others.

VSC-X uses 50 mw XBee Pro Modules to provide plenty of signal over a fair distance. The company that manufactures them advertises a 1 mile range, but this is, frankly, unrealistic in the type of environment that most people will use. You probably have your radio installed in your automobile, which provides substantial shielding. However, 50 mw should provide plenty of power to get from your driveway to your house. I placed one module in the trunk of my car and closed it and found I could still get a reliable data connection from inside my house. I connected a module to my laptop and walked 3 houses down the street and found I still had solid connectivity. The truth is most of the "radio modules" available out there have a power output of 1 to 2 mw. XBee Pro's 50 mw provides substantially better coverage.

Use an adapter cable to connect VSC-X to a Kenwood D710.

VSC-X plugs directly into the serial port on a Kenwood D700.

If you thought you needed an expensive level converter to program your radio because it uses TTL level signals (like the Yaesu FT817, FT857, FT100, the ICOM IC706MK2G, etc.) now you don't. The VSC-X serial module works with both RS-232 level radios and TTL level radios. No level converter is required. To find out more about the VSC-X, check out the manual, available on-line. The assembly manual for the kit version is also available on line.

Any questions concerning VSC-X can be directed to the developer, John Hansen W2FS

VSC-X Module pair (one USB, one serial) PC Boards + all parts (without XBee Radios): $40 (note: while this is a kit, all surface mount components come pre-installed)

VSC-X Module pair kit(one USB, one serial) All Parts including XBee Radios: $110 (note: while this is a kit, all surface mount components come pre-installed)

VSC-X Module pair (one USB, one serial). Including XBee, Wired and Tested: $135

VSC-X cable for the Kenwood D710 (wired the same as a PG-5G) $18

VSC-X cable for ICOM CI-V interface $10

VSC-X cable for Yaesu FT817, FT857, FT897, etc. $10