Just purchased an Icom R-71A and looking at all options for upgrades, etc. Can someone tell if it is possible to convert the R-71A for computer control? If so, what equipment and software would be needed.
I seem to recall that you would need the CI-V interface and something else installed to enable the R71A to be addressed by a PC. I'm sure others can come up with the precise needs, but either way, you're going to find that kinda hard to find, given that radio is so old. There are some after-market replacements though - a good Google search should turn them up.
There aren't that many packages that I know of that would work with a radio that old...Mike
Agreed. While it is possible, it's a fairly difficult challenge with such an old radio. There's no software that can do this (that I know of, anyway) And the SDR route is certainly less expensive than getting a really good quality external spectrum scope, which can run in the kilobuck range or better....Mike
The R71A has the computer interface built in but Icom always had options for a price. The first interface was the EX-309 parallel computer interface, version 4 (IC-IV); good luck finding any software to run that mode. Icom launched a newer computer interface, version 5 that most radios have now (IC-V) called the UX-14. If you can find that one then you can run it with most controller software. Although I don't have my R71A on a computer, I have a R7000 that has the IC-V interface and I'm controlling it with DXLab Commander and FLDIGI software so it should work with the R71A with the UX-14 installed.
If you really want a scope then get the RTL SDR dongle and get started with Software Defined Radio. I have several and this one works well. I use SDRSharp and it's really amazing what this little dongle can do. Once you get it setup plug the "SCOPE" output to the antenna jack of the dongle, start SDRSharp and tune it to 70.4515 MHz (the first IF) and you will see 2 MHz of bandwidth of signal around the frequency the R71A is tuned to. I've never used a Panadapter or Panascope but I believe this is what they do only a lot cheaper with SDR. Live signals will show up as peaks on the spectrum and you can actually click on the peaks to listen to the signal. Experiment with WWV signals first to get the hang of it. Don't change the dongle frequency, just tune the R71A and you will always see a 2 MHz bandwidth of the tuned frequency. As I said, I'm using this setup on my R7000 but it should work as well with the R71A so long as you use the CI-V interface. On a related topic, you can use the USB 2 Serial cable from Radio Shack to control the radio (i.e. you don't need the ICom CT-14 interface). I use this cable to program my Pro-163 and it works well with the CI-V radios using the mono adapter (not the stereo plug). All this will be a steep learning curve but I believe you will have a lot of fun exploring the capabilities of your gear.
Problem with the R-71 and R-7000 was slow scan speed and search with all data on the CI-V buss some software used scan stop indication by using record relay and one of the RS-232 status pins. AR-3000 was good for searching and spectrum sweeps but is slow compared to the newer SDR radios or Black Box Icom PCR radios.
The thing is ancient. 30 years old. Even if you got that mod running, don't expect the radio to last
very much longer. I've had the UNFORTUNATE and UNPLEASANT experience of having to work on a few of those radios, and while they may have been considered very good radios in their day, when it
comes to working on them, you will have to forgive me but I call them DOGS. I'd rather work on ANY radio that is substantially more modern. In fact, I won't invest much effort in an R71 these days,
because they're such a pain to work on. Plus any serious rework is several hours of work and I charge 75 dollars an hour so I charge more to work on them than they're worth.
My advice is to just use it until it dies and then get something new with the features you want today.