Correct Setup to Use a IC-9100 with WSJT-X

While I don’t generally use my IC-9100 on HF anymore (keeping it mostly for satellite work on VHF/UHF), I do follow the Yahoo IC-9100 Discussion Group, and a great number of people post seeking help using the IC-9100 with digital modes.

The most common misconception is “How do I hook my IC-9100 and SignalLink USB up?”  Well, the answer is you don’t.  The IC-9100 has everything it needs to run digital modes built into the radio (basically the equivalent of a SignaLink USB is built into the radio).  You use a single USB cable (less than 1 meter in length) to gain access to rig control, and soundcard radio audio in/out.

The second most common misconception is somehow becoming convinced that you need to use “USB” (as in Upper Side Band) as the RX/TX mode. That’s correct for a microphone, but very bad practice for digital modes.  You want to use “D-USB” (as in Digital Upper Side Band).  This will ensure that the compressor is turned off, along with the RX and TX tone adjustments that would wreck havoc with your signal quality.

And the most common issue is “I can decode signals fine, but nothing comes out on transmit” or “My rig doesn’t enter transmit”.  In the latter you need software that will send a CAT command to the radio that will enable/disable transmit, or you must use VOX (which can be difficult to get setup due to the restrictions on audio input level to avoid distortion).  In the former typically the modulation source has not been setup correctly.

The key to success is getting a bunch of settings inside the radio to match a bunch of settings in your digital mode software.  In this case, I’m describing WSJT-X (Version 1.6.0), the latest software from K1JT that supports JT65, JT9, and WSPR.

Begin by getting your IC-9100 Menu Settings set properly:

  • Menu 56 USB MOD Level “25%”
  • Menu 58 DATA OFF MOD “MIC”
  • Menu 59 DATA MOD “USB”
  • Menu 60 CI-V Baud Rate “19200”
  • Menu 61 CI-V Address “7Ch”

Often, older software doesn’t allow the correct default value of the CI-V Address (7Ch) to be used, but WSJT-X is expecting that address to be used when using the IC-9100.

Note that the USB MOD Level of 25% is going to be close, but your particular radio might need some adjusting.  The way you figure that out is to get the radio into transmit mode (perhaps using the “TUNE” button in WSJT-X) and adjusting the USB MOD Level until there is ZERO ALC on your meter.  If you are showing ALC action, then your transmit audio is going to be distorted.  It is a VERY sensitive adjustment.  27% causes mid-scale ALC in my case.

Likewise you are going to have to adjust the incoming level as well.  Usually I run with AGC turned off (this prevents stronger signals from blanking out the display).  If you are a “all knobs fully CW” sort of operator that will either blow out your speaker, or damage your hearing if you keep the RF gain at maximum.  Turn the RF gain all the way down, then turn off the AGC.  Slowly ramp the RF gain up until the WSJT-X incoming level meter is right around mid-scale when no signals are being received. (Note the blue slider control to the right of the meter should be at mid-scale.)  In my case, with the AGC turned OFF, a setting just beyond 9 O’clock will cause a mid-scale audio input level (I will see +40 to +50 during the active part of the JT65 minute).

The WSJT-X Radio Settings look like this for the IC-9100 (my lower COM port is COM5):

WSJTX Radio Settings

The WSJT-X Audio Settings look like this for the IC-9100

WSJTX Audio Settings

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23 Responses to Correct Setup to Use a IC-9100 with WSJT-X

  1. Rick says:

    I’m trying to get audio from 91oo into WSJT not WSJT-X and having no luck. Know any solutions?
    Rick, W2JAZ

    • robert says:

      Well the “audio” part is simple — when you plug in your IC-9100 to the computer via the USB cable, Windows will add two new CODECs, one for audio in and another for audio out. You should be able to select those in the WSJT program setup. By the way, that part of Windows seems to work 100% of the time, so you should have no problem. You still need to setup both the radio and WSJT properly for things to work.

      The actual challenge you will have is getting your IC-9100 to enter into transmit because WSJT (the original program) does NOT support CI-V commands to enter transmit. You will need to use a program that will simulate a com port PTT control. See my post on CAT7200 here: http://wb4son.com/wpblog/?p=2301 You can then enter that info into the WSJT setup for PTT.

      Hopefully one day soon WSJT-X will support everything that WSJT did and more and these problems will go away. WSJT-X is FAR easier to setup.

  2. Gonzo says:

    Thank you Robert, your posting was very helpful. I have been able to do JT-65 with and without the Signalink. The good news is that I can use the Signalink box for another rig!

    In using the Signalink box, when it goes into USB “D” mode it narrows down the reception to about 1.5KHz (I lose the JT-9 segment). However, when I deactivate the “D” it does not transmit (it does PTT with no signal). Do you have any thoughts about this? Thnx

    • robert says:

      To the best of my knowledge there are separate memories for the USB D mode and USB mode. In other words you can set a separate filter width on each mode. I suspect that you have a wide filter setting for SSB and are seeing it reduce on SSB-D because that was the last setting for that mode. However I don’t think you can set it wider than 3 Khz in any event, but that is still enough to fit part of the JT9 band.

      Speaking of JT9, I wish there was more activity. More sensitive and less bandwidth.

      73, Bob

  3. Bob Apida KU4QG says:

    Great information. Followed the instructions and it worked as advertised with one exception. ALC I could not get the ALC to display when adjusting menu 56 USB mod, any ideas? Other than that everything else works. I have a Signaling USB for sale. LOL

    • robert says:

      Hey Bob,

      Assuming you have the ALC meter showing (a long-press of the Ant/Meter button to step through the choices), you have selected D-USB (press and hold that SSB button until the “D” shows up), and you aren’t seeing any ALC indication at all even with high settings of menu 56 USB Mod, then you need to adjust the output control of your SignaLink USB until you start seeing some indication. You might also have to mess with an internal jumper setting to boost the output level, which is set to very low values for microphone inputs by default.

      Good luck & 73, Bob, WB4SON

  4. Anthony Warunek says:

    Hi Robert. Thanks for the information-it worked! I do have a problem and was hoping you may have the answer. After I exit the program and return my IC-9100 menu 58 to “MIC, ACC” and 59 to “ACC” I cannot xmit voice. CW is fine. Do you have any clue why this is happening?

    Thanks and 73s
    Tony
    W2ASX

    • robert says:

      Hey Tony,

      With the settings I recommend, you don’t have to change anything. When you are doing the data modes, you are in “D USB” (Digital USB) and the audio to/from the USB connector on the rear is used for transmit/receive. When you are in normal USB or LSB, then the audio comes from MIC (the front panel microphone). No menu setting should be “ACC” which is the rear panel accessory connection. Menu 58 is “Data Off Mode” in other words, it is what you use to get audio from while in USB or LSB mode. That should be “MIC” which means use the signals from the MIC. Menu 59 is the “Data MOD” the audio source for D-USB or D-LSB (Data mode). That should be set to USB.

  5. rich says:

    great information, thanks!

    how does one turn off the AGC … seems I have only three settings (F, M, and S)?

    73, Rich

    • robert says:

      Hi Rich,

      The 9100 provides three presets; Fast, Mid, Slow. You push the button briefly to pick one of those settings. However, if you press and hold the button for about a second, you can change it. Then you rotate the main knob to select the time constant. OFF is one of the choices. I just changed one of the presets to be OFF. I think that is covered in the manual, page 72 or something close to that.

  6. rich says:

    Hi Robert,

    OK, got it now! thanks a lot – your site is very nice. 73, Rich, K3VAT

  7. robert says:

    Hi Rich,

    Glad it worked for you. Many thanks for your kind comments.

    73, Bob, WB4SON

  8. Alex says:

    Thank you! You’re the Man!

  9. James Darrough says:

    Hello Bob.
    Thanks for the great advice. Now that you have figured it out, have you ever managed to get MMSSTV working with the 9100? My friend has WSJT-X working just fine, but he’s having a problem getting mmsstv to key the 9100. It does receive well, but no transmit. Maybe he needs to install cat7200?

    I run Ubuntu and have flrig controlling the radio for fldigi, which also works with qsstv (linux based SSTV program).

    Keep up the good work!

    73 Jim Darrough, KI7AY
    EM25pd

    • robert says:

      Hi Jim,
      Yes I suspect your friend will need to install CAT7200. While the 9100 does have a command to enter/exit transmit via the computer interface, very few programs use it. The other programs then require a hardware solution or something else that mimics it via software, like CAT7200.

      Always something new to learn in this hobby!

      Happy New Year
      73, Bob, WB4SON

  10. Jeff Wilaby says:

    Hello all,
    I have just set up my 9100 to try to operate FT-8. I set up the radio via menu settings listed above as well as the radio and audio settings. It all looks good and I can decode QSOs just fine but my 9100 will not transmit. I have down loaded the latest version of WSJT-X ( wsjtx-1.8.0-win32) Do I still have to download CAT7200? for a virtual com port? My 9100 has all the latest firmware upgrades FYI.
    73s and thanks in advance, Jeff KA0JW

    • robert says:

      Hey Jeff, Happy New Year!

      Well I can tell you that the settings in the article above work for my IC-9100 and for many others too. But what you are experiencing is the most common user issue for the IC-9100: They hear/decode just fine, but can’t get into transmit. The settings listed are critical to accomplish that. Especially the “PTT Method” setting, which must be set to CAT. WSJT-X will then control TX/RX via the CAT port. And make sure that the CAT port is working (will correctly set your rig frequency if you change bands).

      73, Bob, WB4SON

  11. Jeff Wilaby says:

    Thanks for the reply Bob,
    I have the “PTT Method” is set to CAT and as far as I can tell everything is set to the way you show it on the website. I looked on device manger and I have the two comports labeled Silicon labs CP210X USB to UART bridge. One is COM Port 3 and the other is COM 4. The port settings are set to default 9600 baud, data bits: 8, parity None, Stop bits: 2, Flow control: None. Should these settings be set to 19200 baud?
    Thanks, Jeff , KA0JW

    • robert says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I am copying a post from the IC-9100 user group that was made just this morning. The poster is commenting that his IC-9100 is working just fine on FT-8. I think you will find his settings are similar to what I recommended:

      Ari Þórólfur ari@ice.is [ic9100]
      6:06 AM (4 hours ago)
      to ic9100
      My IC-9100 works 100% on FT8 WSJT-X

      My settings WSJT-X

      Under Radio Tab
      Baud rade 19200
      Data bit 8
      Stop one
      Handshake None
      PTT Method CAT
      Split oper None
      MODE Data/PKT (important)

      IC-9100 settings
      55 open
      56 USB MOD 35%
      57 OFF
      59 Radio setting under MENU
      60 CI-V 19200
      61 Address 7Ch
      62 CI-V transceiver ON
      DATA MOD USB

      73, Bob, WB4SON

  12. jeff Wilaby says:

    Thanks Bob,
    I have everything working. I was using older CODEC drivers for the 9100. Anyway, I made a couple of contacts and I was wondering what power level to run on FT-8. I’m running about 25 – 30 watts.

    73 and thanks for the advice! Jeff KA0JW

  13. Dick says:

    Hi Bob-

    Thanks for all the information you have posted! I did follow the set up information, but I seem to be having a problem receiving. I backed off the RF gain control so I have green bar on the far left bottom. I had one posting in the left screen showing two callsigns. I do go into transmit and I hear my signal on another radio in the shack which has the antenna disconnected. I show no ALC when I go into transmit. I have the input and output CODEC selected. Any suggestions? Thanks and 73! Dick, K1HC

    • Dick says:

      Turns out I had not opened up the size of the waterfall! Once I did that I had a number of stations appear on the left screen.

      73,

      Dick, K1HC

  14. Bernie Lavezza says:

    Bob,

    The settings for USB CODEC in the IC-9100 work for me.

    I’ve been using these settings for 5 years. I run flrig, and WSJT-X successfully with my IC-9100. Additionally, I use MacLoggerDX and D-Rats successfully.

    In Windows 7 mode, I use TimeWave Navigator with the IC-9100 to take advantage of the CW and RTTY filters in my IC-9100. Once the signed Apple drivers for High Sierra MacOS are available, I’ll use the Navigator in MacOS too.

    Off topic, I recently connected LZ2RR GPS receiver to my IC-9100. The GPS information is used in Digital Voice mode. It works very well showing my position and the position of other DV users with GPS, and latitude, longitude, distance and bearing to the other station. The only difficulty is the shipping time from Bulgaria can take 6 to 8 weeks. Figuring out the IC-9100 menu settings except for one was left up to me. The GPS receiver operates at 9600 bps instead of the default of 4800 bps. It took me a few hours to figure out the rest. I’ve been happy with it since.

    Your web page for the IC-9100 is very much appreciated!

    Regards,
    Bernie
    AF9US/W6

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