I wanted to take a break away from my usual PowerShell/IT related posting and talk about an older technology, radios. I wanted to talk about radios as it's really quite difficult to find information on the web to the point where it almost seems deliberately obscured. This post is aimed at people who want to program the Simoco SRM9000 series radio, but also people who are looking for information about programming radios with RS232 interfaces in general.
I had a real hard time trying to get my radio to talk to my computer. I jumped onto eBay and bought myself a USB to RS323 Simoco programming lead along with my radio. When it all arrived and I had installed the radio into my ute, I was miffed but also not that surprised that my Win10 laptop couldn't communicate with the radio. After all, the FPP software was originally written in 1998! I dug through my crap and located my old Windows XP laptop with the dodgy battery and installed the FPP and USB drivers; then plugged into the radio expecting that it would just work. Alas, it did not! I tried rebooting, upgrading the drivers, I tried every trick I could remember from my days working as a radio tech, nothing worked! I googled the hell out of it and still come up with no working solutions. Perhaps the lead was broken? I contacted the seller and he was very nice, but not much help either. Bugger it, I'll buy a different brand cable! I thought. When it finally arrived I plugged it back into my Win10 laptop and tried it out, thinking to myself, this won't work, it's windows 10, and I've seen blog posts saying that this FPP software doesn't work in Windows 10... WHAM! it worked!
Enough of the back story, here's what you need to know:
Simoco Yahoo Group Simoco Groups.io is the place to go get the latest FPP software. It's a private group, but you should be able to get in after you create an account. If not, hit me up. At the time of writing, that seems to be 5.80.
The cable that doesn't work is based on a Prolific chipset. From memory, I've never had the Prolific chips work with this application (memory from like 10 years ago).
The USB to serial programming lead that does work for me is based on the SiLabs CP2102. There doesn't seem to be anything special about it. It looks like it's just terminated straight into an RJ45. I will put the wiring diagram up soon so you can make your own if you need to.
This is where I bought my cable:
Something I want to be absolutley clear on: The FPP works on Windows 10. I didn't have to do anything special to make it work, I just installed v5.80 and it worked fine. The big issue is getting a USB cable that communicates with the radio the way that computers with RS232 used to communicate with radios back in the old days.
Big shout out to Jacob Davis for writing this blog post and putting me onto the right track. Thanks to the countless old blog posts stating that the FPP only worked on Windows 98/95 etc, I had wasted a lot of time believing it was funkyness with the OS and the FPP up until I read this post which explains some of the finer details of getting RS232 to work over USB.