My FT-950 lives, by no skill of my own. My buddy Jon fixed it. He’s a software engineer by day and [apparently] an electronics engineer by night. What a great friend!
Archive for the ‘FT-950’ Category
If my lack of amateur radio activity in the past five months isn’t sign enough that there must be more important things in life than ham radio, my FT-950 is now dead.
I hadn’t played radio for what seemed like ages. Yesterday I noticed there was a firmware update out for my FT-950. After reading what the firmware updates offered, I decided that a firmware update wouldn’t benefit me in the least. But, being the idiot I am, I downloaded the firmware and attempted to update anyway.
I checked my serial # (9M330040) and the current firmware version (11.541.12) and made note of the fact that the main / dsp firmware updates from 3/2012 were indeed applicable to my radio. So I attempted to follow the directions.
The instructions said to remove DC power from the radio, either by unplugging the power cable from the back or turning the power supply off and waiting a minute for the capacitors to discharge. For whatever reason I chose the latter option, when the former would have been better. Then the instructions said to slide the program switch dipswitch (PGM-SW) on the back to the right [program mode]. I did that. Then I was to provide DC power to the radio again, so I turned the power supply on.
At this point it was time to start the flashing procedure. However, when I fired up PEP app to write the update, I had a communications error. No problem I figured. I probably had the wrong comport settings. I knew the baud rate in the radio was set for 38400, or at least something higher than 9600, and that the instructions suggested that the baud rate should be 9600. Furthermore, I couldn’t remember what comport on the computer was connected to the radio. I figured that once I got the right information I’d be good to go.
Well, in an attempt to go into the radio and set the baud rate to 9600, I was supposed to remove DC power again [and wait for cap discharge] and then switch PGM-SW back to the left. Then fire up the radio. No joy. The radio didnt fire up. No matter what i do, I can’t get the radio to turn on.
Inline fuses are good. Voltage is good through the cable. I’ve heard stories of people bricking the radio by not doing the firmware updates correctly, and I’m familiar with bricking devices during updates. I’ve also heard other stories about diodes and other components blowing if one doesn’t remove DC power and allow for cap discharge prior to switching PGM-SW.
I can only guess that I failed to follow instructions and blew something out inside. I get absolutely no sign that the radio is receiving voltage to its internals. It’s as if it’s not even plugged in.
I’ll fiddle around with it a little more, but I’m not hopeful. I’ll probably have to send it out. Incidentally, I called Yaesu tech support, but the lady told me there were no techs around because they all went to Dayton and for me to call back on Monday. She apologized, and I said goodbye.
Looks like I’ll need to send it back. You know, just two or three months ago my niece was moving and was looking for some boxes, so I told her to take my double-box yaesu shipping box. What a dumb move. Now I don’t have a box to ship it out in. If I did, I’d package it up right now and send it to one of the repair centers who is on the AC0C list of repair centers that will perform his mode. I’d get the radio fixed and have the NS roofing filter installed at the same time.
But, my heart isn’t in it. Too much trouble for too little gain. I haven’t been playing radio. I don’t have any decent antennas up. In fact, I don’t have any HF antennas up. So what’s the use, right? I think I’m just going to the shelve the radio. It’ll probably sit there until I pass away one day, and then some schmuck will come by the house and offer my family 1/100th of what it is worth as the ultimate smack in the face rofl.
I don’t think anyone will hear me on HF for the rest of the year, at least. This must be a sign that there is something more important that I need to be doing.
Have fun folks!
If you own a Yaesu FT-950 you probably are familiar with PCC-950, which is the CAT control software that Yaesu provides to allow you to control your radio, manipulate menu settings. etc.
This software communicates over a standard RS-232 serial port. These are the 9-pin and 25-pin rectangular ports most common on the back of PCs. These days, many people do not have bonafide serial ports in their computers and instead have USB ports. For those people in this predicament, you need a USR-to-Serial converter. They are cheap, but some are not fully functional in every aspect and thus are not guaranteed to work in every application that a hardware serial port inside your computer does.
Anyway, on to the point. The PCC-950 software requires hardware flow control / handshaking. If you are using an RS-232 cable between your PC and radio that is not fully wired end-to-end with all of the needed serial port lines/signals, then your setup is not going to be able to meet the hardware flow control requirements of PCC-950. You must have RTS ( pin 7 ) and CTS ( pin 8 ) signaling available from your RS-232 port (or USB-to-Serial adapter) all the way through to the RS-232 jack on the radio, along with various other RS-232 signaling on other pins. You also must have RTS turned ON in the menu settings of the FT-950 (Menu Item #028).
A lot of people roll their own serial cables and for various reasons choose not to have all of the signal lines from the RS-232 port wired through their homemade cable. And, in the case of devices that have built-in Serial-to-USB converters as part of their bigger package, they may not provide all of the signal lines out of their device. I’d venture to say that standalone Serial-to-USB cables all have the appropriate signals available at the RS-232 end of the converter, but whose to say. You never know.
So if you’re trying to use PCC-950 to communicate with your FT-950 and are unable to, but you are able to use other programs for CAT control that don’t use hardware handshaking, then you’ve probably got an issue where either you’ve got an RS-232 cable that isn’t wired correctly for hardware flow control or you have a USB-to-Serial adapter that isn’t providing all of the appropriate signals on the pins that mate with your RS-232 cable.
I don’t write software, and I’m not an electrical engineer, but I have to wonder why in the world PCC-950 wasn’t written with a configurable option to turn off hardware flow control / handshaking. If the option were supported in PCC-950, it’s work with a lot more cable / converter scenarios.
Now that I have received my Digimaster PRO+ and have connected it to the radio and PC and have the PC and interface communicating with each other, it is now time to set up N1MM.
In my previous post I mentioned that the first comport [used for FSK / CW / PTT keying] is COM6 and the second comport [used for CAT control] is COM7 and that my Yaesu FT-950 is configured with a 38400 baud rate on the RS-232 CAT interface.
In N1MM, my goal is to have CAT control available to me as well as to be able to automatically key CW. I’m also going to be configuring N1MM and MMTTY for FSK operation.
Config -> Configure Ports, Telnet Address, Other
– Hardware tab
SOV1 is selected (I have one radio, single VFO)
COM6 : None : checkmark Digital : checkmark CW
– click Set : DTR=CW, RTS=PTT, Radio Nr=1
– PTT Delay=30, Digital Wnd Nr=1, no checkmarks
– Two-Radio Protocol=None, Footswitch=None
– CW/PTT Port Address : left as what it had default, 3E0 for COM6
COM7 : FT-950
– click Set: Speed=38400, Parity=N, Databits=8, Stop Bits=1
– DTR=Always On, RTS=Always On, Radio Nr=1
– no checkmarks, no footswitch
Config -> Configure Ports, Telnet Address, Other
– Digital Modes tab
DI-1 MMTTY Setup
– Digital Interface 1 TU Type: Soundcard
– Digital Interface 2 TU Type: None
– MMTTY Mode: FSK
– MMTTY Path: C:\Program Files\MMTTY\mmtty.exe
(MMTTY was previously downloaded and installed in the default location of C:\Program Files\MMTTY\mmtty.exe)
DI-1 MMVARI Setup
– MMVari RTTY Mode: AFSK
Config -> Configure Ports, Telnet Address, Other
– Audio tab
1-Zero or Single Card, One Radio, No Sound Card SO2R is selected
Select Device: USB Audio (this is the USB Audio stick that came with the Digimaster PRO+)
Select Input Line: Microphone
Recording Bits: 24
Recording Sample Rate: 11025
Radio Input Port: Microphone
I don’t believe the above Audio section was even relevant for me since I don’t set/use SSB macros or process my transmit voice audio through the PC.
Config -> Configure Ports, Telnet Address, Other
– Mode Control tab
– Mode Recorded in the Log: Use Radio mode (default)
(if you are running AFSK RTTY, which you have to do if you want to run 75 baud since the EXTFSK driver in MMTTY won’t TX 75 baud, only 45.5 baud, then you’d want to set this to RTTY during RTTY contests to make sure that N1MM properly logs the contact as a RTTY contact. If you’re using FSK and have the radio already set in RTTY mode, then the option I have selected above works fine)
– Mode Sent to Radio
– RTTY to RTTY (sets radio to RTTY mode, LSB)
– PSK to AFSK-R (sets radio to PKT mode, USB)
With the above setup, N1MM controls the radio perfectly and keys CW without a hitch. Remember, I had previously set up DI-1 (digital interface 1) to operate FSK in N1MM. Now we have to go into the MMTTY setup (via N1MM) to set some additional parameters so MMTTY knows to do FSK. But, before we do this we have to install some additional software, EXTFSK. This is needed to allow MMTTY to do the FSK keying over the USB-to-Serial interface supplied by the Digimaster PRO+. If you don’t install / set up EXTFSK within MMTTY, you won’t get FSK RTTY to work.
This assumes that you already have MMTTY installed and that the installation directory for MMTTY was C:\Program Files\MMTTY .
Download EXTFSK from the MM HamSoft page, currently at http://mmhamsoft.amateur-radio.ca/pages/extras-add-on/extfsk.php. Unarchive this zip archive to some folder, and then copy EXTFSK.dll into the directory where MMTTY.EXE is. In my case, I copied EXTFSK.dll into C:\Program Files\MMTTY\ folder.
After you’ve installed EXTFSK, you should be ready to configure MMTTY (via N1MM).
In N1MM, click Window at the top and select Digital Inteface. You’ll notice that a few new MMTTY-related windows are now visible.
Now go to the DI1 RTTY Mode window that is open and select Setup from the top of that Window and choose Setup MMTTY.
Under the Soundcard tab:
Set USB AUDIO as the Transmission and Reception audio selections since USB AUDIO is the USB audio stick that was installed from the Digimaster PRO package and since this will be used when running MMTTY for AFSK RTTY.
Under the TX tab:
Set the PTT & FSK Port to EXTFSK
Under the Misc tab:
Set the TX Port to COM-TxD(FSK) and then click on USB Port and set the option C. Limiting speed and then press OK to close that USB Port window.
Then press OK in the Setup window.
You should now notice another new Window open, which is probably listed on your taskbar. It would be labeled EXTFSK 1.06 (your version may be different – 1.06 is the latest as of this writing). Click on this so that it brings up the window pane for configuration of EXTFSK.
Port: COM6 (because this is the Digimaster PRO+ comport that is used for FSK/PTT keying)
FSK Output: TXD
PTT Output: RTS
– no checkmarks
Status should show as OK. If it does, minimize the EXTFSK window. If it doesn’t show OK, you’ve got some troubleshooting to do.
Assuming you’ve set up everything else up properly thus far and the interface is communicating with the PC and the radio, you should be ready to test MMTTY. You can test it by clicking on TX (remember to keep your wattage low, preferably running into a dummy load while testing). When you click on TX, you should hear the diddles if you have the means to monitor the audio. On my FT-950, I have MONI turned on and the Moni level turned up high enough so that I am able to hear the FSK in action.
As mentioned earlier above, I have not been able to get FSK to work with the Digimaster PRO+ without the use of EXTFSK. And, EXTFSK only supports 45.5 baud FSK RTTY. So, if you are wanting to run 75 baud RTTY, such as in the BARTG 75 contest, you’re going to have to set up DI-1 in N1MM for AFSK instead of FSK, you’ll need to specifically tell N1MM that the logged mode needs to be RTTY instead of the default radio mode, and you’ll need to configure MMTTY for AFSK and get your audio levels adjusted properly.
I’m going to mention this to Neil, since I was thinking that since his USB-to-Serial interface is based upon the FTDI chipset and drivers it would probably do FSK without the need for EXTFSK. It may be that I just didn’t configure things right. I was in the hurry to set this up and test it. But so far, I could only get FSK RTTY to function with EXTFSK installed and configured in MMTTY.
Wanting to operate FSK RTTY to make better use of the available filtering in my radio as well as to eliminate the need for constantly adjusting my audio drive to keep the ALC meter happy, I had been searching for an FSK interface. I already own a CW keying interface from ZLP Electronics and have always had good dealings with Neil, G4ZLP, so I figured I’d check out his site for something new. Sure enough, he has thhe Digimaster PRO+. It claims to handle all digital modes including FSK RTTY and to provide CW keying / PTT and CAT control. This sounded great to me. I placed an order.
The Digimaster PRO+ arrived yesterday [within seven days]. It was packaged very efficiently. There is nothing specular about the look of this interface. It is a small black box with an LED on it and adjustments for TX and RX audio levels. If you were looking for eye candy, you won’t find it here. [to be honest, I have a Signalink USB as well, and there is nothing spectacular about its look either].
The packages included all of the cabling I would need to hook this up immediately to my Yaesu FT-950. When you order the unit, you specify the radio you are using. There was the interface box, a cable with audio in/out jacks to plug into your audio card, a CAT cable that plugged directly into the RS-232 port on the back of my Yaesu, a CW interface cable with a 3.5 mm jack that plugged directly into the back of the radio [after using a 3.5mm to 1/4″ stereo adaptor], a data cable which plugged directly into the PKT/DATA/RTTY jack on the back of my radio, and a cheap and simple USB sound device. The USB sound device is similar to ones I had previously purchased on Ebay from China or Hong Kong for $1.99 a piece plus shipping. Of course, the only purpose for this sound device is to support the AFSK modes, and it has everything you need to do that.
Wiring up the interface to my radio/computer was a no-brainer. All cables that you would have any doubt about were labeled / color coded. Here is the process i used:
- make sure the radio / interface are off
- plug all cables into the interface
- With the PC on, plug the USB sound device and the interface USB cable into two available USB ports on my computer
- turn on the Digimaster PRO+ interface
A few seconds later the PC reported that it saw some new hardware, and it found the appropriate drivers for the USB sound device automatically. It did not find the drivers for the USB-to-Serial chipset in the Digimaster automatically. It did give the option to Search the Internet. I chose that option, and it went out and find appropriate drivers and installed them. The LED then blinked red/green a few times, indicating that the drivers were installed and the interface was talking to the computer fine.
I then went into the Device Manager on the computer to check what numbers were given to the comports. In my case, the first comport (the one used for CW / PTT / FSK keying) was COM6 and the second comport (the one used for CAT control) was COM7. [NOTE: On your PC the Digimaster PRO serial ports would likely be assigned different comports than 6/7. This is dependent upon many things, such as what other comports are already in use as well as what USB port on the computer you have the interface plugged into.]
So far so good. The interface is talking to the computer. It’s now time to get N1MM, MMTTY and Ham Radio Deluxe set up to work with this new interface.
A few things I needed to know before setting up software to use the Digimaster PRO:
a. what comport number was assigned to the first [CW/PTT/FSK] interface? COM6
b. what comport number was assigned to the second [CAT control] interface? COM7
c. what is the baud rate set to in my FT-950’s radio settings? 38400
I’ll leave the setup info to my next post.
I was eager to work this contest. The antenna situation was better than it had ever been for me, and the weather was beautiful all weekend. Now that I had the FT-950, I was really anxious to put it through its paces.
Most of the time there did not seem to be much of a difference between the 80m V and the DX-EE 10-40m dipole, but once in a while using one instead of the other helped me to pull out a contact. Just knowing how the DX-EE is oriented, I attempted to use it when the stations I was working were to the north or south of me. And it seemed to perform more reliably on 10/15 than the V. This is probably because the DX-EE is a parallel dipole and the high band elements/wires are 1/2w and provide a more consistent and focused pattern.
I was running AFSK RTTY in PKT mode. For a couple reasons this is not best.
- I don’t think the frequency displayed is the true mark frequency. Good thing I wasn’t spotting anybody. I would have no idea of the exact frequency I’m on. This can become very confusing if you were hoping to follow someone else’s spots. I wasn’t doing that, I did not take advantage of any spotting.
- Although the filtering in the FT-950 is very nice, the filtering setup when in PKT mode are intended for digital modes such as PSK. If you run AFSK RTTY, you have to use IF shift to move the filter passband so that the other stations tones are centered inside your passband even when you are using the narrowest of filters. In some cases, this was successful in keeping the wanted RTTY signal inside the narrow filter range (200-300 hz). But for some reason, this did not always work. I can’t tell if it was band dependent or what. But on some bands I just couldn’t narrow the filter without losing the station completely. And, of course, running a wide filter was useless all by itself since there were times [especially on 20m] when there were RTTY stations every 250 hz or so. Any decent signal up or down from the one I would try to copy woudl be totally silenced when the station on either side would transmit. When I was able to run the narrow filter, I could set it on 200 hz and copy the wanted signal just fine without the signals on either side obliterating it.
If I would have been running FSK instead, the radio would be in RTTY mode, the filtering would be dead-on to begin with, the proper mark frequency would display, and everything would have been much smoother. I spent a significant amount of time narrowing and widening the filter and playing with the IF shift, and at odd times things would not work as expected. All in all, I wasted a considerable amount of time with filtering issues. This also tired me out more, especially at times when I should have been the most productive.
There was absolutely no shortage of RTTY stations to be worked. I worked many countries on RTTY that had I never expected to hear/be able to work. It was a real thrill. I worked stations who weren’t bumping the S-meter but were audible. I think I even worked one station on all five bands! To the average contester that may not be a big deal, but to me it is.
In total I worked nearly 21 hours of the contest, according to N1MM. It was 100% search and pounce. I really wanted to CQ, but I was not confident in my ability to handle the people who may transmit off frequency. I read up on the use of AFC and NET in MTTY, but the one time I turned on AFC and started calling CQ, the first station that replied was far from centered and the AFC didn’t tune to teh station fast enough. In light of me not understanding how to account for this phenomenon, I thought it best to not bother CQing. As laid back and patient as the RTTY ops were, I knew they really wouldn’t want to waste time being my guinea pig during the biggest RTTY contest in the world.
Before any future RTTY contests I have a lot of things I need to read up on. I need to make a ‘short’ exchange and a ‘long’ exchange, and know when to use which one based upon the quality of the signal coming in. Many times I knew that sending an exchange like “K7DX 599 04 OH 04 OH AA8IA” was overkill, and at other times I knew that duplicating data in an exchange would actually shorten the contact if I felt the other station was not going to hear me well… such as “K7DX 599 04 04 04 OH OH OH AA8IA”. I’ve yet to figure out the fine line / happy medium, but I’m sure many of my exchanges were longer than they needed to be.
It’s all a blur now. I wish I could give you an hourly or four-hourly play-by-play, but I really don’t remember what bands I was on or when I was on them.
I had a great time. The RTTY ops were great, especially the DX ops. I’ll definitely do it again, but I have to make some signfiicant changes in my efficiency as well as in what bands I operate and when I operate on them. Even though a 100′ tower and a bunch of monobanders would yield better results, I know that modifying my operating practices during a contest can yield me double the score. So I’ll work on improving myself until I reach the point of diminishing returns. I’ve got a lot of room for improvement.
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY
Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 20
Band QSOs Pts State/Prov DX Zones
80: 83 105 35 7 6
40: 108 200 29 31 13
20: 120 252 21 41 18
15: 86 169 8 30 14
10: 16 47 0 7 5
Total: 413 773 93 116 56 Total Score = 204,845
Club: Mad River Radio Club
I don’t operate RTTY much. When I do, I use AFSK with my Signalink USB. Seems to work alright. However, there are two problems with AFSK.
- When you change frequency/tuning and/or power levels, you end up having to adjust audio levels to ensure that your audio device is not overdriving the radio with audio. This is a real pain in the ass.
- When using AFSK, you have to use an SSB mode on your radio. On radios that have a RTTY mode, the filtering is usually better if you use the RTTY mode. In order to use the RTTY mode you must run FSK. I use a Yaesu FT-950. I’ve read where people claim you can get the same filtering in PKT mode and running AFSK on the FT-950, but this hasn’t been my experience. The filtering seems better, but it definitely isn’t the same filtering that you get if you put the radio into RTTY mode.
So, now I am on a quest to get FSK operational on my FT-950. I’ve got one serial port tied up with the CAT control on the radio. I’ve got four USB ports. One of the USB ports has a wireless-N dongle in it. Another USB port has has a Serial-to-USB adapter in it for my CW keying interface. Another USB port has a mouse plugged into it. And the last USB port has my Signalink plugged into it.
In order to use FSK, I would need to create an FSK circuit that uses Pin 3 (TXD) on a DB-9 of a serial port. Output would be fed to Pin 4 on the RTTY/PKT jack on the back of the FT-950. The problem with this is that the RTTY/PKT jack is already in use — my Signalink USB is plugged into it. (the Signalink USB is not using Pin 4 though).
I need to get TXD off of a serial port to feed the FSK circuit, and then I need to take the output and feed it into Pin 4 of the RTTY/PKT jack on my FT-950. I don’t want to use another serial port just for this. So I’m going to attempt to get TXD off of Pin 3 of the serial port that is handling my CW keying, since the CW keying interface is not using Pin 3.
My plan is to tap Pin 3 (TXD) and Pin 5 (GND) inside the DB9 enclosure of the CW keying interface, run that wire pair out of the DB-9 enclosure and attach the FSK circuit (very small, will use shrink tubing to button it up). The single wire out of the FSK circuit will be routed into a hole (with grommet) inside the Signalink USB to Pin 4 on the jumper block inside the Signalink USB which currently is not in use and supposedly is routed down the RTTY/PKT cable to pin 4 on the RTTY/PKT jack. In the graphic to your left (taken from the Tigertronics website) you can see that Pin 4 on the right side of the jumper block is not jumpered to anything. This goes to the 9600-baud data / FSK-In pin on the RTTY/PKT jack of the Yaesu FT-950. This is where the output of an FSK circuit should be piped in.
In case you all are wondering why the Signalink doesn’t handle FSK by default, it is because the Signalink USB is a USB-only device. It has no connections to a serial port. And you need to have access to a serial port signal (in this case TXD) for FSK keying. If Tigertronics wanted to support FSK with the Signalink USB, it would require that the Signalink USB also attach to your PC via a serial port as well as the USB port. I can certainly understand why Tigertronics didn’t want to do this. For one, most new PCs do not come with a serial port, but all come with multiple USB ports.
I was reading QRZ and saw an FT-950 for sale, $1000. Better yet, it was for sale by a local ham (from PGH area). Even better, he would actually deliver the radio. Ok, how could I not bite on that? The radio is still under warranty [was purchased in new in January].
I called Gary up, arranged a time, and collected the necessary funds. Gary K3WOW and Jerry K3FKI showed up with the FT-950 in tow. Wow, what a beautiful rig. I hadn’t seen one close up and personal before. Much larger than the tiny FT-100 that I have been used to for the past 10+ years.
Gary offered to stick around and hook it up so that he could demonstrate that it would work. Well, I was in a hurry to play so I declined and told them I’m confident it would work just fine. They left. I proceeded to re-arrange my desk and hook up the FT-950.
Except for the fact that I couldn’t hook up headphones or keyers [because the FT-950 takes 1/4″ jacks and my headphones/keyers were using 1/4″ and I didn’t have adapters] and I couldn’t hook up the CAT interface (didn’t have a straight-thru serial cable, only a few null modem cables), I got everything else hooked up.
I fired this sucker up and the first thing I noticed is how quiet the bands were. This thing has a lot of buttons and a ton of menu options, very few which I knew what to do with. But after messing around a while and realizing the signals were strong when I tuned around, I came to the realization that the receiver on this radio is a magnitude quieter in my location.
Today I got the needed 3.5mm-to-1/4″ adapters and a serial cable, and now the FT-950 is completely controllable via HRD and also is working just fine with N1MM [for contesting].
Last night, with the QRN from the storms coming through, the SSB signals on 20/40/80/160 were amazingly copyable. On my FT-100 I never bothered to listen to SSB on 160m or even 80m because I just couldn’t pull out a voice from the noise. On the FT-950, using the same antenna, I had absolutely no trouble hearing beautiful SSB audio from stations on 160/80/40m. My antenna is a shortened 40m antenna and is extremely poor for 160 reception and not very good for 80 either. But with this radio there were stations all over the place, easily copied on SSB. I love it. I may actually want to work SSB now, whereas before I had no desire because of the poor performance on the FT-100.
I’m sure that comparing the FT-100 to the FT-950 is apples to oranges, and I’m sure that those of you owning $3000+ radios will say that an FT-950 can’t compare to one of them. You may very well be right. But I have only worked with two radios to make a comparison, and this FT-950 opens up a whole new world for me.
Between the multiple IPO and ATT settings, it seems to be very easy to limit the typical band noise, leaving just the signals popping out. I haven’t even delved into the notch, contour, and width functions, or anything else in the menus. I’m just using it as it was configured when I received it and am extremely happy with it thus far.
I’ll try to give a proper review after a few weeks.