Ok, so you have amassed all the required bits and now you wanna set it up. Plugging it all in is pretty simple - just plug the interface into the computer, then plug the radio into the interface (I may go into that in more depth another time). Thats the easy bit, now you have to set up the PTT and audio levels.
The settings you need to adjust/set up will depend on the gateway software you are using. I'll be using FRN (free radio network) in this example simply because its what I use with my gateway, but a good idea for any gateway software is to start with all of the levels at mid position (radio volume, line in, line out on computer etc) and work from there.
The first thing to adjust is the interface settings:
These settings will vary depending on the type of interface you use. The settings in the picture are the actual settings used on my gateway.
PC to Radio determines what type of PTT interface you are using. The com port keyer interface can be made either active high or active low. Notice that my interface is set to active high, this is the ideal setting. If your interface is active low, then any fault on the computer can cause the radio to transmit. Once the interface has been bought or built, its not easy to change this so be sure to buy/build the correct one.
Radio to PC will -in most cases- 'use the VOX in the program'. This is perfectly adaquate for most purposes, though you will need to spend some time setting up the VOX levels and delay settings. You can copy my settings and they should give you a good place to start. All gateway software will have some form of test room, parrot or echo room, and its a good idea to stay in the test room until you have got your settings sorted to avoid annoying other users of the gateway program.
Next you need to adjust the audio:
Start by setting up the audio from the computer to the radio, which will be 'Output Device' in the FRN program. The best way to do this is to start with all levels at about half. Tune into a network where people are talking. While listening on your second radio, adjust the 'wave out', 'master volume' or both until the audio you hear on your second radio is clear and not too quiet.
Don't be too rushed, its good to listen to several different people as some will be loud and others will be quieter. Take your time and try to find a happy average. Once you are happy with the output levels, you can then start adjusting the input levels.
To adjust the input levels you need to be in the test, parrot or echo room. Select 'Recording Control' and then select either line in or mic in whichever you are using and set the level to about half. Talk into your second radio and (in FRN) watch the audio level bar on the side. You want to aim for it to peak at about 75% of a full bar, adjust the line in or mic control until you achieve something near to this. Then release the PTT on the second radio and listen to the test room echo your signal back to you. Then talk again and listen to yourself, it should now sound pretty good.
The reason we only peak it at 75% and not 100% is because if someone else uses your gateway and their radio is louder than yours, it won't over-deviate too much.
Now you are all set, and can tune into your prefered network.