Posts Tagged ‘TS-480’

The Kenwood TS-480SAT HF/6m radio

June 5th, 2009

My Kenwood TS-480SAT HF/6m transceiver is the primary radio in my ’shack’, used for all CW and RTTY operating. It also gets used for HF/6m SSB although this is shared with the Yaesu FT-897 (which also handles 2m & 70cm SSB/FM).

The TS-480 remote head unit

The TS-480 remote head unit

The TS-480 was purchased used about 2 years ago as a dedicated digital/data mode radio and is paired with a Rigblaster Plug & Play radio interface unit which provides FSK keying for RTTY as well as CW keying (used for sending contest exchanges). The Rigblaster also provides audio drive to the radio for other soundcard based digital modes like PSK31, PSK63, Olivia and many more.

I’ll explain why I chose the TS-480 when there are more capable radios out there.

To be perfectly honest, cost was a prime consideration - if I’d had the money I would have gone for an Icom 756 ProII or ProIII, widely considered to be the best RTTY radios ever made. But, even second hand, these radios cost between two and three times more than the TS-480. So, within my budget, I looked around for a radio that had three important properties - 1. good basic RF performance on the HF bands, 2. DSP noise reduction and audio bandwidth filtering and 3. was designed with digital modes in mind. The Kenwood TS-480 was an obvious candidate and following a period of researching the alternatives, the TS-480 was chosen.

I will be posting a more thorough review of this radio at a later date when I hope to expand this blog site by adding a number of additional pages detailing all of my amateur radio equipment and activities.

Dean Amateur Radio , , ,

RTTY activity on 20m…

June 4th, 2009

The past few nights I’ve turned on the TS-480 and as I often do, tuned up and down the 20m RTTY sub-band. For the first time in a long while I found a good spread of stations across the band on both evenings.

As usual European signals were very loud, north and south America were well represented and there were a number of Asian stations in there too (mostly Japanese). I can’t remember when I last found this level of activity on quiet weekday evenings. But, mine is not to reason why so I got stuck in and worked a few, logging SV5/DL3DRN, E78CB, IK4JQS, S57UX, EA8AJO, CX6DAP, IY3GM, EA3DUM, S52R, N7GLR, EA9CF and CT1EEK amongst others. The highlight of the two nights though was a really long chat with HA5UY (Gyuri) near Budapest - I will certainly look forward to meeting him on the air again and chatting some more.

I do now wonder to what extent the new (or should I say ‘reconfigured’) antenna is making a difference, or is it just that conditions were favourable? Who knows. I will just hope that there are more nights like these in the future because it’s a lot more fun than tuning across a dead band!

Dean Amateur Radio ,

SignaLink USB - QRV PSK31.

May 28th, 2009

A few days ago I finally got around to getting my SignaLink USB interface hooked up to my Yaesu FT-897 for the primary purpose of using that setup for PSK31 operating (and other similar ’soundcard’ based digimodes). I will continue to use my Kenwood TS-480 for RTTY where a Rigblaster Plug & Play interface is wired up for FSK operating.

FT-897 with SignaLink USB

FT-897 with SignaLink USB

I have previously used the SignaLink SL-1+ for PSK31 and other digimodes with great success. Both devices really are very easy to setup and I was particularly impressed with just how straightforward it was to get going with the USB version.

I connected the interface box to the radio with the supplied USB cable, connected to the radio via a mini 6 pin data connector, turned on the radio and tuned to 14.070, fired up Digipan (which I have been using for approaching 4 years now) and was rewarded with a waterfall display full of nice clear signal traces.

The built in sound card certainly seems to be less prone to noise than the original which relied on the PC internal soundcard. This is certainly something I’ll investigate further by comparing noise levels between the SignaLink and the Rigblaster (which uses the PC soundcard).

Having got receive working to my satisfaction I set about trying to reply to some of the CQ callers in the waterfall display - this was where I found one of the two minor niggles I encountered.

The PTT wasn’t being triggered by the audio output from the PC. It turns out this was just a matter of insufficient audio output from the built in USB soundcard - a quick tweak in the Windows audio settings for that device to set to max audio out seemed to resolve the issue. Fine tune for RF drive is then by the TX level on the SignaLink.

waterfall with PSK31 signals

waterfall with PSK31 signals

Having resolved this little niggle the device switches to transmit reliably whenever the software enters ‘Send’ mode. Initial reports from stations contacted confirm that all is working well.

One other minor niggle (the second of two) was an issue I’d seen reported elsewhere, that of the sample rate for the soundcard resulting in slightly offset RX/TX frequencies. This manifests itself in the waterfall display with the received signal being slightly offset from the last received frequency after transmitting. The default sample rate was 11,025Hz but by changing this to 10,000Hz the problem goes away. I have seen others have said they set the sample rate to 8,000Hz but 10,000 worked fine for me.

I’m really pleased with this combination for PSK31 work and I’ll look forward to using this mode a lot more over the coming months. Having used PSK31 for most of my operating a few years ago and having worked lots of ‘new ones’ in that period, I have more recently concentrated on RTTY and CW so it’ll be good to see if I can get any more new ones now I’m QRV PSK31 again.

Dean Amateur Radio, Pictures , , , , ,

Yaesu FT-897 - first impressions…

March 30th, 2009

My FT-897 (purchased second hand) arrived about a week ago but was only used on receive for the first few days while I got the hang of the menu system and sorted out a new power supply. Out of the box I have to say that the pictures don’t do this radio justice.

Granted it’s what’s on the inside that really matters but it doesn’t hurt if a radio looks good on the desk. To that end the FT-897 is a good looking radio!

The Yaesu FT-897D

…Hello Yaesu FT-897D

In use I have found the menu system simple enough but if you’re used to a more sophisticated user interface you may find some of the key presses required to effect a change in the radio’s setup to be a little bit long winded. My other radio is a Kenwood TS-480SAT and that radio has a very nice user interface - by comparison I am finding the Yaesu FT-897 to be a bit cumbersome.

Receive performance on HF is good and the radio does benefit from audio DSP noise reduction. This does significantly quieten what is otherwise a pretty noisy receiver. There is also DSP bandwidth filtering which is effective in reducing adjacent channel interference to allow the desired signal to be better heard. This was put to particular use in the CQWW WPX SSB contest this past weekend. The receiver seems to cope quite well with crowded band conditions, although it should be noted I do have the W4RT 2.3KHz Collins SSB filter installed which no doubt helps in that regard.

By way of comparison I would say that the FT-897 is not as good as the TS-480 on HF receive but that should come as no real surprise as the TS-480 is HF+6m only and is designed for optimal HF performance. The FT-897 on the other hand covers HF+6m plus 2m and 70cm. The difference is hard to quantify and I couldn’t hear anything on the Kenwood that I couldn’t on the Yaesu - it’s just that the Kenwood seems more in control of the received signal and has better recovered audio that the FT-897.

I can’t say much yet about the transmit performance - I need a few on-air reports to compare a few settings before passing judgement. I hope to be able to conduct those tests in the next few weeks - I’ll report my findings then.

Overall, given it’s design intent, the FT-897 is in my opinion a very good radio. It seems to have ticked all the right boxes and arrived at a good compromise in terms of size, frequency coverage, operator convenience and performance.

I am now looking forward to taking the radio out into the field for some portable operations and antenna experimentation. Until then I’m enjoying using the radio in the shack where it is used for HF SSB, 2m and 70cm work while the TS-480 handles all other HF modes like CW, PSK31 and RTTY (and other digimodes).

In summary then, given what it sets out to achieve, I have to rate the Yaesu FT-897 a very good radio and one I look forward to owning and using for many years.

Dean Amateur Radio , , , , , ,

Out with the old…

March 12th, 2009
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Goodbye JRC JST-245…

In with the new. This weekend I will be selling my faithful old JRC JST-245 and replacing it with a Yaesu FT-897. The FT-897 is a much smaller radio ideal for portable and holiday type operating. Its coverage of VHF and UHF bands will allow me to operate there too, something I have not done previously as I had no radio covering those bands.

The JRC is a magnificent radio and it has served me well the past 3 and a half years but I can’t justify

keeping it while it isn’t being used as often as it once was. The lack of tight filtering and the fact that filters for this radio are very difficult to come by mean that it is really not suitable for the narrow bandwidth data nodes I enjoy, like RTTY and PSK31, for which I use a Kenwood TS-480SAT with a 500Hz crystal filter (and thinking of getting the 270Hz filter one day).

Dean Amateur Radio , , , ,