How to Configure CAT to Interact with Third-Party Programs

Posted by SpencerKrit on January 30th, 2020

CAT which is a computer-aided transceiver is hardware which is utilized by the radio amateur for regulating radio transceiver receiver operating with a computer. To set up CAT in a way to interact with external programs such as digital mode programs and loggers is dissimilar if compared with software-based radio and traditional radio. A software-based radio does not have a physical serial (comm port or RS-232) on the radio device which a traditional radio has. Instead of interacting with radio device, one will interact straight through an SDR software which is commonly known as PowerSDR 1.x

This is the main difference that a software-based radio as that is the device is not a radio but the exterior device which is connected to the peripherals like microphones and buttons are through SDR software.

As the radio is software-based, this kind of solution is favored for many reasons. A software-based radio has a virtual com port pair that matches a null modem serial cable. Virtual com port pair has basic functions that is it has two discrete comports that allow data to be processed in and out between the third-party software and radio. The third-party software is CAT permitted while the radio component is PowerSDR 1x software.

There is a depiction of a virtual comport pair to a com port 14 and com port 4 demarcated as the 2 ports couple. PowerSDR may have its performance defined as com 13 where MixW may have its performance defined as com 4.

Therefore, while fixing up a CAT to interact with third-party programs, the basic three steps that need to be executed are as followed. It is to be noted that these fundamental three steps are companionable to every third party program one wants to utilize while establishing communication with PowerSDR 1.x

  • Creating a virtual com port pair

  • Setting up the PowerSDR part of the connection that is also known as the radio

  • Setting up the CAT support part of the connection

Creating a Virtual Com Port Pair

It requires compatible software to establish virtual com port pair. Luckily, there are various solutions known. One can use Virtual Serial Port Driver that is software Eltima that has great results and positive output.

To function CAT interaction only a single virtual com port pair is essential. One can configure a supplementary virtual com port pair for emphasizing PTT for ham radio programs which are not CAT operated for example WSJT.

Setting up the PowerSDR part of the connection that is also known as the radio


After the first step is executed properly one has to configure the CAT outline in PowerSDR that is another side of the CAT assembly. This side is known as the radio part of the interaction if one is utilizing a traditional radio. The diverse CAT constraints defined in the FLEX-5000 Setup Manual in Part 4 in the CAT control label segment. 

To optimize the CAT control label, run the PowerSDR setup application through the menu tab and left click at the CAT Control label

Inside the CAT Control label, one has to configure the com port constraints. The important constraints are:  

  • Check if the CAT control is functional

  • Assigning com port to the PowerSDR

  • Baud rate of the com port

  • The alignment of configuration in a frame of info

  • The count of data bits in a frame of info

  • The count of stops bits in a frame of data

One thing that has to be noted is that this article can’t be used to fully utilized to explain the restrictions and parameters mean in the background of serial interaction, the cardinal information is that what one can setup the port parameter for PowerSDR 1x. which is equivalent to the parameters set up for the third-party CAT operated program the software-based radio is connected to.


Here are some frequently used bunch of parameters for setting up the com port parameter for CAT functionality: 

  • Check if the CAT is enabled

  • Port - chose one part of the virtual com port couple demarcated in the phase above

  • Baud rate is 9600

  • Parity is set as none

  • Data bits is 8

  • Stop bits is one

This type of configuration is known as “N-8-1 @ 9600 baud” generally.

Another parameter that requires setting up which is essential is mostly ham radio programs which are CAT operated does not mention FlexRadio system’s transceivers or known as the PowerSDR as the transceiver com port does not exist. 

Some of the exemptions are like Ham Radio Deluxe and PC-ALE. To ensure a perfect match, PowerSDR has the capability to match a Kenwood radio. Configure the “ID as” parameter to TS-2000. The CAT operated third party program will “operate” as it is interacting with a Kenwood TS-2000.

Setting up the CAT support part of the connection 

Once all the above steps are done, the last step is to set CAT operated software program to interact to the distinct end of the virtual com port pair. Here one has to utilize the directions that basically are delivered with the CAT operated software to set up the CAT Port. One has to set up the CAT port matching 100% like PowerSDR 1.x is setup except that one “must” utilize the other comport demarcated in the com port pair other than the com port used for PowerSDR 1.x

In this specimen above a com port pair was demarcated with port 4 and 13. PowerSDR 1.x is utilizing com port 14 and as for the CAT operated program one will utilize port 4

Last but not the least that one must remember is that to ensure that one must set up CAT operated program to interact with a Kenwood TS-2000 transceiver or simply a Kenwood.

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