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Spice up your FT-991A by using VoiceMeeter Banana to process your audio and macro buttons to control your radio via CAT commands!
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Rodrigo Freire
Rodrigo Freire CQ Mode: Stop audio playback when leaving CQ mode
Now stops the audio playback from CQ messages when leaving CQ mode
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README.md

Voicemeeter Banana and FT-991/A

Video

Wanting to spice up your shinny FT-991/A? What about connecting your computer to your 991/A and using your computer to process your audio without extra hardware or even cost?

What about you controlling your FT-991/A like this:

Screenshot, PY2RAF's VoiceMeeter and FT-991/A integration

Click to enlarge - Screenshot, PY2RAF's VoiceMeeter and FT-991/A integration

And without rocket science and no solder iron or complex software programming?

Like a boss, right? Let's get started.

Connecting stuff together

This is the high-level diagram of the connections in my setup. Obviously you don't need all of them - Only the USB CAT & Audio cable is required.

Connection diagram - FT-991/A and VoiceMeeter Banana

In my setup I don't use the PTT mic - matter of fact I have removed/boxed it. I use a Sennheiser SC-60 USB headset plugged to the laptop. I like this headset because it is lightweight, super comfortable for wearing in long periods and the foam cushion instead of those plastic or faux leather that covers the ear - I feel those very uncomfortable as they heats up my ears (and I live in a tropical country).

The audio is then sent to the VoiceMeeter, which undergoes a light transformation and compression, and is then fed to the FT-991A.

The VoiceMeeter channel, setup and configuration is described at this QRZ thread - So this should be your stop number one. There are a number of Radio's Setup configuration clauses that should be checked too, so please visit the above article. If you have any questions, please do ask in the QRZ thread.

To signal the TX mode I use either the footswitch (99% of time) or if I'm real lazy, VOX mode.

After you got the ball rolling in your Voice Meeter and FT-991-A, then it is time to setup your macros.

In the QRZ thread I also gave a glimpse on how to configure the macro buttons.

Creating your macros

Ensure to take a look at the Youtube video to learn how to create your macro buttons.

tl;dr:

  1. Open the Macro Buttons app

  2. Right-click the desired button

  3. This is how you configure a pushbutton:

    VoiceMeeter Pushbutton configuration

  4. This is how you configure a two-state (on/off) button:

    VoiceMeeter Two Position Button configuration

I have provided my batch macro files in in /auto folder. These are used for sending the CAT commands to the radio. Ensure to store the auto folder in your Home directory (c:\users\your-username\auto), so you can take advantage of the existing automation.

The initial setup

You need know what's your radio's CAT COM port number. In my case, it is COM4.

Your radio COM port and speed is defined in setup.cmd file. In the below example:

REM ### CONFIGURE YOUR COM PORT HERE
set COMPORT=COM4

REM ### THE BELOW BAUD RATE MUST MATCH
REM ### YOUR TRANSCEIVER BAUD RATE!
mode %COMPORT% BAUD=38400 PARITY=n DATA=8 > NUL

We have the configuration for a transceiver in the COM4 port, and using 38400 bps speed. It is crucial to match these values to your transceiver settings!

A look into the macros.

Let's dissect one of them. For example, modo-cq-on.cmd. This macro is triggered when you push the button and engage the CQ mode - In this button I want to:

  • Engage VOX mode
  • Reduce the TX power to 50W
  • Mute my headset.

The macro button has the following VoiceMeeter commands:

System.Execute("%USERPROFILE%\auto\modo-cq-on.cmd");
Strip[1].Mute=1;

So, it will invoke the batch file c:\users\your-username\auto\modo-cq-on.cmd and then mute the headset's microphone - which is in VoiceMeeter's Strip 1.

Now, checking the content of the batch file:

@echo off
call %USERPROFILE%\auto\setup.cmd
SET CAT=PC050;VX1;
echo| set /p="%CAT%"> %COMPORT%
  • The line call %USERPROFILE%\auto\setup.cmd calls the setup batch file and configures your COM port, preparing for it for the communication.

  • The line SET CAT=PC050;VX1; defines the CAT command to be sent to the radio. In this example, it is actually sending two commands to the radio: PC050; sets the TX power to 50 Watts and VX1; instructs the radio to enable the VOX mode.

    Every CAT command in the FT-991/A line are terminated by the semicolon. No need to send enter, newline or something like that. If you do, it will fail the CAT command

  • And finally, the line echo| set /p="%CAT%"> %COMPORT% sends the CAT command to your radio.

Conversely, when leaving the CQ mode we have the following macro:

Strip[1].Mute=0;
System.Execute("%USERPROFILE%\auto\modo-cq-off.cmd");

Which will unmute the microphone and execute modo-cq-off.cmd. Which we have:

call %USERPROFILE%\auto\setup.cmd
SET CAT=PC100;VX0;
echo| set /p="%CAT%"> %COMPORT%
  • The first line was already explained;
  • The CAT commands PC100;VX0; traslates to PC100; restoring the power back to 100W and VX0; disabling the VOX mode and;
  • Finally sending the command to the radio.

Reset my radio to my preferred settings!

This is an example of the possibilities that the CAT command set provides you. I have configured a Macro button to tune to my favourite QRG with my favourite settings. So let's take a look. I have depicted the functionality and its respective CAT command:

Freq. 7.130     FA007130000;
Mode LSB        MD01;
NB on           NB01;
DNF off         BC00;
DNR off         NR00;
Contour off     CO000000;
BW 3200         SH021;
AGC slow        GT03;
Att off         RA00;
Preamp IPO      PA00;
Proc on         PR01;
TX power 100    PC100;
Meter PO        MS2;
VOX off         VX0;

Which resulted in this batch file:

@ECHO off
call %USERPROFILE%\auto\setup.cmd
SET CAT=FA007130000;MD01;NB01;BC00;NR00;CO000000;SH021;GT03;RA00;SH021;GT03;RA00;PA00;PR01;PC100;MS2;VX0;
echo| set /p="%CAT%"> %COMPORT%

Can you share your VoiceMeeter button config?

For sure! Check the macro-buttons.xml in the auto folder - This is my current button set and it also makes use of environment variables, so you skip the hassle to edit the buttons and specify your path.

All you have to do is open Macro Buttons, click the top-right icon, select Load Button Map and then load the macro-buttons.xml file.

A NICE Feature: Different button maps!

This expands enormously VoiceMeeter functionality, without having to keep an enormous Button Map opened - Now VoiceMeeter (as of version 2.0.5.1) can load button maps. So if you need a specific subset of functions, just create a new button map (remember to save your current!) and load it using the command:

Load("c:\directory\new-button-map.xml");

Works perfectly. For example, I removed the CQ buttons that I had in the main button map and moved them to a map of its own:

Screenshot, VoiceMeeter Main Button Map

Main Button Map

Screenshot, VoiceMeeter Main Button Map

CQ Button Map

Note: As of VoiceMeeter version 2.0.5.3, the Load() function does not expand %USERPROFILE% env setting, so be sure to specify the explicit file path. Reported in VoiceMeeter forum.

Reference material

For more information on the CAT command set check the Yaesu FT-991A CAT command set manual.

VoiceMeeter's Macro Command set - There's a number ot tricks over there. One of the nicest that I did was notching power line hum and its harmonics up to the 4th one.

Enjoy! Explore! Be adventurous!

Bonus points - Wiring, etc.

Here is how I have wired the FT-991A for my silly footswitch and the TX timer (more details on timer here):

Wiring Diagram

Wiring diagram - click to enlarge

How does the real deal looks like:

Actual FT-991A Wiring

PY2RAF and his abused FT-991A

73s de PY2RAF

That's it! Happy Hacking! 73s de PY2RAF.

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