PK-232 Upgrade Guide

Timewave has seven different upgrades and a number of accessories for the PK-232, PK-232MBX, PK-23/DSP, PK-232/PSK, and PK-232/USB. This guide will help you optimize the upgrades for your particular PK-232 model and your operating requirements. We will start with a short history of the PK-232 followed by a short description of the features and benefits of each upgrade.

Details for the upgrades follow this history.


History of the PK-232


Few products in the history of amateur radio have endured the test of time as well as the PK-232. Even fewer products in the digital age have survived more than one decade. There are about 100,000 PK-232s in amateur, commercial and military communications systems around the world!

The remarkable PK-232 germinated in the labs of AEA (Advanced Electronic Applications, Inc.) in 1985 and was introduced in 1986. Combining fast-growing packet radio with RTTY, AMTOR and CW made the PK-232 an immediate success. The orders rolled in and AEA even licensed the design to the Heath Company to produce the HK-232, a kit version of the PK-232. Over the next few years, several firmware upgrades added modes and increased the reliability of the PK-232.

In 1989, AEA introduced the "PakMail" upgrade, a mailbox daughterboard with battery-backed memory. Later in 1989, the mailbox daughterboard was integrated into the PK-232 main board to make the PK-232MBX. The new PK-232MBX had a number of other hardware changes, including changing the front panel leds from all red to a combination of red, yellow and green and adding a hole in the bottom of the housing to allow removal the battery jumper without removing the housing.

In 1993 AEA added Pactor and Gateway modes to to the PK-232. The final AEA upgrade, GPS compatibility, came in 1995. AEA sold their last PK-232MBX units in early 1996, intending to replace the PK-232 with the new DSP-232. Unfortunately, AEA closed its doors in 1996. They sold the data products line to Timewave and the antenna products line to Tempo Research of Vista, CA. In late 1997, Timewave finished the last of the remaining AEA units.

In the fall of 1998, Timewave introduced the DSP upgrade for the PK-232MBX. The market demand created by the substantially improved performance of the PK-232MBX with DSP filtering led Timewave to reincarnate PK-232MBX as the PK-232/DSP. In addition to its precision DSP filters, the PK-232/DSP featured lower power consumption, a reset switch and an overload led.

In 2001 the advent of the sound card modes, especially PSK-31, brought yet another upgrade to the PK-232. Timewave engineers created the PSK sound card interface board, a testament to the amazing flexibility of the original PK-232 design.

In 2005 Timewave added the USB upgrade to support the new generation of PCs that lack a RS-232 serial port. 

In 2011 Timewave added the SC upgrade featuring USB audio, rig control, and full USB connectivity.

PK-232 Upgrades

MBX Upgrade - This is the upgrade for the original PK-232 that opens the door for later upgrades and modern software. It adds the mailbox daughterboard, lithium backup battery and the latest firmware EPROMs to PK-232(non-MBX). New modes are Pactor, GPS, and Gateway. Current firmware version is 7.2.

MBX Firmware only. This is the firmware EPROM upgrade that adds Pactor, GPS, and Gateway modes to existing PK-232MBX models. Current firmware version is 7.2

DSP upgrade - Adds DSP optimized filters for improved QRM rejection and weak signal operation. (Includes MBX upgrade, if necessary.)

PSK upgrade - Adds computer sound card interface for operation with sound card programs such as PSK-31 and SSTV.  (For existing PK-232MBX models with version 7.0 or later firmware.)

USB upgrade - Changes the RS-232 serial port connector to a USB interface for PCs that lack the RS-232 serial port.

Low Power upgrade - Reduces PK-232 power consumption by about 30% for lower operating temperature and better reliability.

SC upgrade - Adds single USB cable PC-to-PK-232SC connection.  Added features include USB PK-232SC operation, USB Audio Card inside the PK-232SC, Rig Control interface for logic level Icom C-IV, Yaesu CAT and Kenwood transceivers, RS-232 rig control, 2 USB ports, new top housing, Sound card/TNC switch and LED, instant reset switch, and external  adjustment of audio levels.  


Radio Cable Assembly for PK-232 5 pin IDC to open end, 5 ft. long

Custom Cable Assembly for PK-232- Contact Timewave for info

Operator's Manual + Technical Manual - CD for PK-232/MBX/DSP/PSK/USB/SC

PK-232 Complete cable kit - Includes all PK-232 cables except PSK/Sound Card Interface Cable Assembly

AC-8 Wall mount power supply - 117 VAC to 13.8 VDC, 1.0A for ANC-4 PK-12, PK-96, PK-232/MBX/DSP/PSK/USB/SC


Please check our website for more details and latest prices -



See W4PC Software at for Radio Operations Center (ROC) software for Windows XP/VISTA/WIN7/WIN8. You may need the PK-232MBX firmware version 7.0 or later to work with ROC or other recent vintage PK-232 control programs.


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