Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wanted: Kenwood TR-9500

As you may have surmised from an earlier post where I added an SS-64 CTCSS encoder to a 2m radio, I already own a Kenwood TR-9000.  In fact, I have the complete station which includes the radio itself, as well as the matching SP-120 speaker, PS-20 power supply, and BO-9 base "shelf".  Here is a stock picture of this setup:

This is an absolutely awesome all-mode 2m VHF radio.  It can do Wide-Band FM, Narrow-Band, USB, LSB, and CW.  With the addition of the SS-64, it can also generate CTCSS tones to access repeaters.  The radio that I'm looking for is almost identical to this one, except it has a green display and uses UHF (70cm) frequencies.  Here is a closeup that I found online of that radio:

Ideally,  I would like to get the same complete station as above.  I think that it would be awesome to have a matched set of these radios.

The reason that I'm trying to acquire the aforementioned UHF radio is that I want to get into working other stations via Amateur Radio satellites.  Operating via this mode requires you to transmit on one frequency (called the uplink frequency) and receive on a different frequency (call downlink).  So you can see why I either need two radios, or one radio that is dual-band.  I could go the dual-band route, but I have to be honest, I have fallen in love with this awesome little TR-9000 and would love to use it for this purpose as well as 2m DX and chit-chatting on local repeaters.

There are several ham radio satellites in orbit, which always serves to amaze non-hams, as well as a ham radio installation on the International Space Station.  The station on the ISS sometimes acts like the other satellites, allowing you to talk to other Earth-based operators, and sometime operates as a normal ham station, allowing you to talk to the astronauts on the station itself.  How cool is that?!

Here is a diagram of one of the amateur radio satellites currently in orbit.  It is called Delfi-C3 (DO-64).  It was launched a few years ago by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands as a student research project:

So, if you have one of these radios that you would like to part with at an even close to reasonable price, please let me know and maybe we can work something out!


Richard, KK4JDO

Friday, August 10, 2012

Installing an IC-10 kit into a Kenwood TS-440S/AT HF Radio

I use Ham Radio Deluxe, or more specifically, Digital Master 780, for most of the digital mode communications that I do (usually just PSK31).  This software is great and does a lot of awesome stuff.  One of those cool things that you can do with HRD is rig control.  This makes it easy to jump from frequency to frequency (QSY in ham-speak) from within the software, instead of having to tune the radio and adjust the software accordingly.  It also keep your PC up-to-date on what frequency your radio is on for automated logging (really help for lazy guys like me).

Anyway, since I have an older radio, I had to modify it with an add-on kit, originally called the Kenwood IC-10 kit.  Kenwood no longer sell this kit since they made the TS-440 over 20 years ago.  However, since this kit is just basically two ICs (an 8251A and a TC4040BP), they can still be obtained.  I got mine off of eBay for $20.  This will allow 4800 baud serial communications via the ACC-1 interface on the back of the radio.

You can then use a round 6-pin DIN connector and a DB9 connector to make a serial interface cable.  Be careful as the TS-440 ACC-1 interface uses TTL voltages (5V) and serial wants to use 12V, you will either need to use Kenwood's IF-232 kit to match the voltages, or use a USB-to-serial converter with normally operates at TTL voltage levels (beware Prolific chipsets).

The install process is fairly simple, it took me around 20 minutes to complete the installation, including the time it took to take the pictures.

This is a picture of the kit itself, basically a serial UART and a CMOS timer chip.  Be sure to take static precautions, it would be a shame to do this install and have it not work due to fried ICs.  Basically, just stay at the same electrical potential as the radio and you'll be fine.  Never touch the chip without touching the radio first.  You could also use a static strap, although I generally find this to be overly cautious unless you are working with extremely sensitive parts (or extremely expensive ones).

Below is a picture of the radio that we are about to perform surgery one, to wit, a Kenwood TS-440S/AT:

Step one is to remove the top cover, which consists of eight screws (four on top, two on each side):

Be sure when you remove the top that you keep track of where the speaker cable goes so that you can put it back together when you are finished.  It is the yellow cable in this picture:

Next, flip it over and repeat the process with the bottom cover (nine screws this time, five on bottom, two on each side):

After that, remove the three screws on the bottom of the heat shield (silver part to the right with the three holes).  Also remove the four screws (two on each side) that hold the front panel in place:

Then remove the two screws that hold the top of the heat shield on:

Finally, you will be able to see the two sockets for the two ICs.  The part of the IC with the half-circle indicates the location of pin one.  This view is from the top of the radio, and pin one goes to the left:

I forgot to take a picture before I put the heat shield back on, but this is what it looks like with the IC installed.  I had to compress the pins on the ICs a bit to get them installed, which is common.  Just be careful not to bend them too much, else they may break.

Put the radio back together in the reverse order of above, and you will be off to the races!

 This is the rig control interface for HRD, you can see where I have set the frequency to the 20m PSK calling frequency:

And this is the radio after reassembly and being controlled by the PC.  The downside to this is that you cannot control the volume, nor can you get current S-level readings from the radio back into the software like you can with newer rigs.  But being able to control a 20 year old radio via the PC at all is awesome!!

Put this project together with the soundcard interface that I build in an earlier post, and you have a fully functional rig for digital modes on the ham bands!  This was a really easy and fun project and I gained a lot of useful functionality from my rig!


Richard, KK4JDO

Signs of the times!

So I ordered this awesome LED lit sign for my ham shack!  It cost $28 from ProjectGM.  I liked it so much that I ordered several for my co-workers that have been laboring away with me trying to get our new hospital up and running!

You can get all different designs and all different colors of LED and wood bases.  Give them a holler and tell them that I sent you!  The business is run by a couple of hams in Ohio, my home state.  I get nothing from advertising for them, but they have an awesome product at a great price.

Anyhow, I thought that this was pretty awesome, so I wanted to share!


Richard, KK4JDO