Windows 7 / 8.x / 10 Setup Instructions
for the SignaLink USB


This page contains instructions for configuring the SignaLink USB in the Windows 7, Windows 8.x, and Windows 10 operating systems.  For earlier versions of Windows, please see the SignaLink USB printed manual (98SE/ME/2000 and XP), or our Windows Vista instructions.

Please be sure to follow all instructions in the order shown.  Do not skip any steps or you will likely run into a problem and need to start over!

 


Installing the SignaLink USB

BEFORE plugging in the SignaLink USB, your computer should be fully updated with all important updates (including any available ".NET" updates) and sitting idle.  If you are using a desktop computer, then you should plug the SignaLink USB directly into a rear panel (not front panel) USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 port.  USB 3.0 ports should work fine, but we have had a couple odd compatibility issues reported with them so we recommend using USB 1.1/2.0 ports when possible.  External USB hubs should not be used unless they are specifically for "high power" USB devices and powered externally.

As with previous versions of Windows, the installation of the SignaLink USB on the computer is as simple as plugging the SignaLink into your computer's USB port.  Windows will recognize the SignaLink USB's hardware and after approximately 30 seconds (depending on the speed of your computer), the drivers will be automatically installed by the Operating System.  No installation CD, or proprietary software is needed.

Please note that a "New Hardware Found" or "Your hardware is ready to use" type message may not be displayed when the SignaLink drivers are installed.  There is generally no need to worry if you do not see this message.  Simply move on to the steps below and you should find that the SignaLink's "USB Audio Codec" sound card is available for selection, indicating that the device was successfully installed.


Program Compatibility & Sample Rate Error

Based on our own limited testing and customer feedback, we have determined that most communication programs that work in Windows XP and Vista, also work just fine in Windows 7, 8.x, and Windows 10.  However, for older programs, we do not recommend using your communication program's "Set Receive Level", "Waterfall Drive", "Set Transmit Level", "Transmitter Drive" (etc.) menus to adjust the Windows recording and playback levels as they do not always work correctly.  These level adjustments can be made through the standard Windows software volume controls as described in detail below.

The standard 11025 Hz sample rate used by most communication programs works just fine in Windows 7, 8.x, and Windows 10.  It does not appear to show any abnormal offset error as it sometimes did in Windows XP.  All other standard sample rates also appear to work fine in Windows 7, 8.x, and Windows 10.


ATTENTION WINDOWS 8.x USERS:   If your computer is set to display the "charm" or "tile" view, then you will need to first select the "Desktop" charm/tile before proceeding.

 

Setting the Default Sound Device in Windows

  1. As shown in the figure below, right-click the white colored speaker icon located on the Windows Task Bar and select "Sounds".



  2. In the "Sound" window that opens, select the "Playback" tab as shown below.



  3. In the list of displayed sound devices, select your computer's sound card by clicking on it one time.  Note that your list of sound devices will likely look different from the sample list shown, so be sure that you select your computer's sound card - NOT  the SignaLink's USB Audio Codec sound card!

  4. With your computer's sound card selected, click the "Set Default" button to set your computer's sound card as the default sound device for playback.  Your computer's sound card should now have a green check mark next to it as shown in the figure above.

    IMPORTANT:  This step determines which sound device will be used for all system sounds, music, videos, etc.  If you select the SignaLink's sound card as the default by mistake, then you will no longer be able to hear sound from your computer's speakers, and you may have unwanted and potentially illegal transmissions.  Please pay careful attention to this step so that you set it correctly.

    NOTE:  If the SignaLink's sound card is listed as the "Default Communication Device" (indicated by a green colored telephone handset icon), that is OK.  You can set another device (such as a modem) as the Default Communication Device if you'd like, but we have not noticed any negative affects from having the SignaLink's sound card set as the "Default Communication Device".

     

  5. In the "Sound" window, select the "Recording" tab as shown below.



  6. In the list of displayed sound cards, select your computer's microphone by clicking on it one time.

  7. Click the "Set Default" button to set your computer's microphone as the default sound card for recording.  Your computer's microphone should now have a green check mark next to it as shown in the figure above.  Click OK to keep the changes and close the Window.

    NOTE:  You will be unable to select your computer's microphone as the default if it is disconnected (unplugged).  If this is the case with your computer, then you can simply leave the SignaLink's "Microphone - USB Audio Codec" sound card as the default Recording Device.  It is not at all critical and it will have no affect on the operation of the SignaLink.

Setting the Windows software Playback Levels

  1. Your communication program must be properly configured to Transmit and Receive through the SignaLink before proceeding to the next step.  If you're not sure how to configure your communication program, then please click here for general setup information.
  2. Turn the SignaLink's TX knob fully counter-clockwise (off) so you'll have no RF power and then put your communication program in Transmit.  Note that a PSK31 program (Digipan, etc.) that stays in Transmit until you manually switch it back to Receive is best for this step because the SignaLink's sound card must be in use when you open the volume controls or Windows may not display them properly.  Digital/voice modes that automatically switch back and forth between Transmit and Receive (Packet, EchoLink, WINMOR, etc.) are not recommended for this step.
      
  3. As shown below, with your communication program in Transmit, right-click the white colored speaker icon located on the Windows Task Bar and select "Open Volume Mixer".



  4. In the Volume Mixer window that opens, click the drop-down menu below the speaker icon and select "Speakers (USB Audio Codec)" as shown below.



  5. You should now see a volume control window similar to the one shown below.  Note that the Applications volume control will display the name of your communication program or something similar (we've used the DigiPan program for our example).  If you do not see the Applications volume control, then you will need to close this window, put your program in Transmit and then re-open the window.  If you still do not see the Applications volume control, then double-check that your communication program is properly configured (see step 1 above) and actually in Transmit.



  6. The Speakers and Applications controls need to be adjusted as shown above.  Note that the Speakers control MUST be set to 100%, and the Applications control MUST be set to 50%.  If these are not set correctly, then the SignaLink USB's PTT LED will NOT turn on, and you will not be able to Transmit.  Once you have adjusted these controls as shown above, you can close the Volume Mixer window and switch your communication program back to Receive.  Don't forget that you have turned the SignaLink's TX knob all the way off in the previous steps.  You will need to turn it back up later when it comes time to adjust your transmit power (see the SignaLink USB printed manual for more information on this).

Setting the Windows software Recording Level

  1. As shown in the figure below, right-click the white colored speaker icon located on the Windows Task Bar and select "Recording Devices".




  2. In the Sound window that opens (see figure below), select the "Recording" tab.  Click one time on the SignaLink's "Microphone - USB Audio Codec" sound card to select it and then click the "Properties" button.




  3. In the "Microphone Properties" window that opens, select the "Levels" tab as shown below.

     



  4.  Right-click the numerical display to the right of the slider and select "decibels".   Note that you MUST select decibels before adjusting the slider or you'll have no Receive Audio!
  5. Adjust the slider for a setting of "0.0db" or as close as the operating system permits (this setting varies with the version of Windows you are using).  Note that you may find it easier to use the left and right arrow keys to adjust the slider (you'll have to click on the slider first and then press the left or right arrow key).
  6. When you are done adjusting the slider, click the OK button to close the Microphone Properties window, and then click OK again to close the Sound window.

 

AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE SLIDER SETTING:  For most installations a slider setting of approximately "0.0db" will provide a good signal level to the communication program when the SignaLink's RX knob is set around mid range (40-60%).  However, due to many variables, this may not work for all installations.  If your Receive Audio level isn't sufficient for the mode or program that you are using (consult your communication program's documentation to see how to check this), or if you need to adjust the SignaLink's RX knob nearly all of the way off or near maximum to get a good signal level, then you may need to adjust the level slider to something other than 0.0db.  However, BEFORE making any adjustment to the slider you should check the following:


If you have checked the above items and you still find that the Receive Audio level is either too low or too high with the SignaLink's RX knob set around mid range (40-60%), then you can proceed to the applicable section below.  Be sure to go through all steps in the order shown.  After each step, you should check to see if the SignaLink's RX knob is providing sufficient audio before proceeding to the next step.  If the audio level is "good" with the SignaLink's RX knob set around 40-60%, then you can stop.

Receive Audio level too low 

  1. If the SignaLink is connected to your radio's Data or Accy Port ("Packet", "RTTY" jack, etc.), then if applicable, your radio's menu setting for the Receive Audio output level on this port should be adjusted as needed to increase the output level from the radio.  A level of 60-80% should provide clean undistorted audio on most radios.  If you need to set the level higher than this, then we would first suggest installing jumper JP2 inside the SignaLink as described in step 3 below.  This may resolve the issue and allow you to adjust the level on the radio back down to a mid range setting.  If you find that you still need to set the radio's level to 90% or more, then you may want to check with your radio manufacturer's Tech Support Department to make sure that distortion isn't a concern. 
  2. If the SignaLink is connected to your radio's Mic jack then the radio's volume knob can be turned up as needed.  The exact setting will vary from radio to radio (it's not critical) but it should generally be below 75% of full volume.
  3. Special jumper JP2 can be installed inside the SignaLink to increase the Receive Audio level (refer to the SignaLink manual for the location of this jumper).  Note that if you increased the Receive Audio output level in step 1 or 2 above, then you may be able to set it back to a mid-level setting after installing this jumper.
  4. If the Receive Audio level is still not high enough, then you can adjust the level slider up as needed. Note that the use of the slider is generally not critical as long as you don't over-drive.  However, it should be used sparingly as it technically reduces the resolution of the signal.

 

Receive Audio level too high

  1. Special jumper JP2 should not be installed inside the SignaLink.  Please confirm that this jumper is not enabled (refer to the SignaLink manual for the location of this jumper).
  2. If the SignaLink is connected to your radio's Data or Accy Port ("Packet", "RTTY" jack, etc.), then if applicable, your radio's menu setting for the Receive Audio output level on this port should be adjusted to decrease the output from the radio.  A level of 30-40% should be OK for most radios, but we generally do not suggest going any lower or you may negatively affect the signal to noise ratio.
  3. If the SignaLink is connected to your radio's Mic jack then the radio's volume knob can be turned down as needed.  The exact setting will vary from radio to radio (it's not critical) but it should generally be kept above 25% of full volume.  Volume levels lower than this should generally be avoided so as not to negatively affect the signal to noise ratio.
  4. If the Receive Audio level is still too high, then we would suggest double-checking everything again before decreasing the slider.  Most customers will not need to adjust the slider below (approximately) 0.0db.  If you are certain that you need to adjust the slider below 0.0db, then we suggest lowering it no more than needed (use the left and right arrow keys to make adjustment easier) .

To summarize the above steps, you want to provide a "good" Receive Audio level to the communication program while keeping both the radio output level adjustment (if applicable) and the SignaLink's RX knob close to mid-range.  This is because a low radio output level setting or a low SignaLink RX knob setting can negatively affect the signal to noise ratio.  The Window's software level slider should be kept as close to "0.0db" as possible although it is not generally critical as long as you don't over-drive.  If any adjustments need to be made to achieve a good signal level, then they should be made to the radio and SignaLink first, and then the slider only if necessary.

Please note that it is difficult to write a single set of instructions that address all possibly equipment combinations and operating modes, so you may run into a situation where you need to adjust things differently from what we have described here.  For example, some radio's have very low Receive Audio (the FT-857 is often reported as having this issue) so you may need to set the level slider to +30db, install JP2 inside the SignaLink, and still set the SignaLink's RX knob to 75% (or more) to provide an optimum level.  In general, most digital modes work very well over a wide range of input levels and the Receive Audio level isn't too critical as long as you don't over-drive, or set it so low as to affect the s/n ratio.  If you have checked all of the above items carefully and you find that you need to adjust things outside of the "normal" range that we have described here, then please feel free to experiment and see what works best for you.


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