AA8IA Amateur Radio

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FT-950 Dead

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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!

Written by Mike

May 18th, 2012 at 10:42 am

Posted in FT-950,Posts

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PCC-950 CAT Software requires Hardware Flow Control / Handshaking

10 comments

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.

Written by Mike

October 6th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Posted in FT-950,Posts

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