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Sunday, 30 September 2018

TS-890 - RTTY Time!


This weekend is the CQ WW RTTY Contest - perhaps the grand daddy of all the RTTY tests.

The TS-890 has built in tuning and decode features that are really neat. You can have a number of different selections on the screen at any one time, but this is my preference:

I very much like the X-Y scope above, but you can also have the more traditional mark and space audio peak display:

Note the clear "dip" in between the mark and the space in the image above; that's the APF in RTTY mode creating a perfect notch between the two tones. The OPTIONAL 270Hz roofing filter will also help a little more in very strong signal rejection in RTTY mode.

Now, let's do a quick comparison with the IC-7610 in a similar configuration:

So I very much like the fact that only the spectrum scope is visible above; the TS-890 displays both the spectrum and waterfall - the spectrum is so small it's quite useless. You are going to use this visual indicator to hunt signals on the band; the TS-890 is a bit harder to see what's where.

I happen to use WriteLog for windows as my contest software, the TS-890 works perfectly with the software configured as "Kenwood" - note that I can't get the IC-7610 to talk to the software without changing it's Hex address to make it mimic another radio.

This is part of the WriteLog screen for RTTY contesting:

Above I am just running in search and pounce mode, but you will see there are 2 RTTY decoders (one is MMTTY and the second 2Tone) plus I have the monitor connected to the 890 as a 3rd screen of decoded text.

Unfortunately I've been at the Newark HamFest this weekend so not much time for the contest. But still, another tick in the box for the Kenwood.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

TS-890 - CW Decode


I've had my TS-890 a few days now and I am more than impressed.

I've used it as low in frequency as Top Band and made a few CW QSOs last night using this antenna. Nothing very special at all but its nice to work the band from time to time.

I'm trying very hard to improve my CW skills, but this radio does loads to help me with this.

It has a built in CW decoder which actually seems to work extremely well:

The other thing that the rig does, is that it also decodes my sending - so this is excellent for practice and also to check that my characters and more importantly spacing is correct when I send.

You can also ask the radio to log the decoded text in both send and receive and you end up with a text file that looks like this:

Once you are done with your log file, you can open it up on the radio or ask the radio to make the files available to the connected PC. The PC then alerts you to the fact that there is a new device connected and you can copy off whichever files you want.

In my case I am saving the radio config and copying it into my cloud storage for safe keeping - it couldn't be easier:

I've also bought a very cheap wireless USB dongle keyboard from Amazon (its this one) and it works perfectly with the radio with the dongle plugged into the front panel USB socket. I can use the keyboard for sending PSK, RTTY and even CW.

Simply fantastic!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

TS-890 - 5MHz Mod


My new shiny TS-890 didn't transmit on 5MHz out of the box. Kenwood have released a modification procedure to the dealers explaining how to rectify this - it is marked as not for public release so I don't have a copy. I do, however, know what needs to be done. You would imagine that the dealers will apply this mod to any they have before shipping or it will be performed by Kenwood themselves on the UK models. But mine is an early one, so here we go:

Step 1 - turn radio upside down and disconnect all DC supply:

Step 1 - remove bottom cover:

Step 3 - remove the smaller of the two cover plates:

Step 4 - for 5MHz coverage you need to snip the R57 link highlighted below before and after:

There are also clearly 4 chip type 0R resistors (or space for) on the board that determine the version of the radio:

Here are the different combinations these 0R resistors give:

Local conditions.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

TS-890 - really?


I'm one of the first in the UK to receive a new Kenwood TS-890.

Here it is:

Unbelievably (as was the case with the TS-990) there is NO microphone supplied with the radio (LAM have kindly given me one).

Here's a few screen shots of what I've done with it so far:

Now, it DOESN'T transmit on 5MHz out of the box - that's a shame.

It's going to be a good radio for Meteor Scatter on 4M (above) and 6M below:

I have connected a MicroKeyer II to mine, and in turn interfaced the CI-V output from the uHam device to the linear for automatic band switching. The linear covers all HF and 6M plus 4M so we are in good shape.

Initial impressions of the waterfall are that I think its a bit clunky compared to the IC-7610:

and I really can't figure out what the "Expand" button does, that seems to just make it more chunky. The averaging applies to both the panadapter and the waterfall - I would have expected that to work just on the band scope, you can see the difference in the waterfall here:

The CW Decode and Encode (from key/paddle or USB keyboard) seems spectacularly superb:

The ability to use "internal" memory for capture of config, screen shots et cetera is fabulous. You can then tell the rig that you want to copy the files to the connected PC and the radio becomes an external USB drive - now that's clever:

Anyhow, some time with the radio is needed before drawing any conclusions, but so far, so good.

I plan to keep a list below of fab and not-so fab stuff on this new rig.


  • Power output stored by band
  • 70MHz included
  • CW Sidetone in audio output
  • Ergonomics
  • Max Power Out configurable by band
  • CW decoder and CW keyboard
  • CW tune function far better than Icom
  • NB and NR superb
  • Copy files to PC functionality 
Not-so Fab:

  • No mic supplied with the rig
  • 270Hz roofing filter not supplied as standard
  • No TX on 5MHz without modification (perhaps because mine was an early version)
  • Waterfall seems very chunky compared to IC-7610
  • Bandscope too small when displayed with waterfall in both normal and expanded modes
  • Preferred frequency markers same colour as bandscope grid so hardly visible
  • No VBW or RBW controls on the bandscope (included on 7610)
  • No colour setting options for any of the waterfall or bandscope options
  • y-axis gain in bandscope seems low - no way to adjust - signals all at the bottom
Here's a video of 4M RX pm 23rd Sept 2018:

Here's Miss Luna Cat keeping one eye on me from high up in the shack:

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

FT-DX5000 ALC - issues?


I wanted to use the FT-DX5000 with the SPE Amplifier from here. And rather than constructing another attenuator; I thought I would try and use the ALC to reduce the power output.

I made this circuit:

and have powered it from the 13.8V RCA socket on the back of the radio.

Now, the output of the device is adjustable from about -0.2V to -4V but no matter what voltage I set it too, the output power of the radio doesn't change.

I'm beginning to think there is an issue with the rig, or alternatively I am doing something quite dumb.

Any ideas?