BestPractice5

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Setting up a Kenwood TS-850S with the microHAM microKeyer II

This article is a step by step approach describing how to set up an Kenwood TS-850S radio and a microHAM microKeyer II interface. The MKII is a complex device integrating a CW-Keyer, CW and FSK keying, PTT control (including a delayed PTT), radio control and a sound card, a digital voice keyer which allows to control up to ten audio memories and different audio switching scenarios. This article covers the set-up of CW, RTTY and SSB in several steps.

BestPractice1 article describes a slightly simpler set-up with the Microham USB Interface II. Please see there for background information about RTTY and MMTTY in general. BestPractice4 article describes a slightly simpler set-up with the microHAM microKeyer. Please see there for background information about RTTY and MMTTY in general.

Kenwood TS-850 settings

  • Press and hold the LSB/USB key while you turn the radio on.
  • Select menu item 11 (by turning the the M.CH/VFO.CH knob) and change the setting to ON (by pressing the arrow up/down buttons) if necessary. This will set the polarity of MARK and SPACE signals.
  • Select menu item 12 and change the setting to 170 if necessary - this is the typical shift used on the HF bands.
  • Select menu item 13 and change the setting to 1275 if necessary. This selects the LOW TONES pair.
  • Press the CLR button to leave the setup menu.

To test the settings, put the radio to FSK mode, push the MONI button and then switch the radio to transmit by pressing REC/SEND. You should now hear a 1275 Hz tone. If you short the RTTY jacket on the back of the radio you should hear the tone going up to 1445 Hz.

microHAM MKII

  • Connect the MKII to a 12V DC source.
  • Connect a footswitch to the FOOTSW connector of the MKII.
  • Connect your microphone or headset to the short RJ45 cable that goes into MIC on the MKII (this connector does also provide the 8V DC voltage on pin 5 for your electret microphone).
  • Connect the microHAM MKII to your radio and computer.
    • On the radio side there will be five connections: CW, RTTY, ACC1, ACC2 and microphone
    • On the computer side there will be only a single connection: USB. I had to use a ferrite core to get rid of RF noise.
  • Install the microHAM software if you haven't done so already. There are two steps to it:
    • Installing the device driver - if you have several microHAM devices you will have to do this once for each of them.
    • Installing the USB Device Router - this software only needs to be installed once. It is identical on all microHAM products.

Note: If you had previously installed the USB Device Router with another mircoHAM product, it will come up with a new tab for the new hardware connected.

Note: The cable stub labeled "13.8 VDC" coming out of the DB37 connector is not to be connected to the power source. Rather than that, you will need to prepare a cable that fits into the DC socket on the back of the MKII. In order to avoid ground loops, I had to make a cable that only connects to the plus side.

Note: To get rid of noise and RF feedback, I had to change VR18 on the IF board of my TS-850 to the 9 o'clock position. Additionally, I installed a capacitor as described in [1] and [2] Support

microHAM USB Device Router

  • Set up the Device Router
  • Go to the Ports Tab
    • Create three virtual COM ports: COM5, COM7, COM8 and COM9. Note: The absolute port numbers do not matter. The key is consistency - the same port number must be used for a specific function every time it is used.
    • Configure Radio on COM5
    • Press the Set button to the right of the radio port configuration and select TS-850. MKII will assign different Audio Routing and PTT scenarios if it knows what frequency and mode the radio is set. This is why we have to do it.
    • You should now see the current frequency of the radio display in the Ports tab
    • Configure Winkey COM7 using Winkey default settings
    • Configure FSK on COM8. Make sure you tick the PTT tag
    • Configure Control on COM9. This will allow controlling the MKII, especially the DVK from Win-Test.
microHAM MKII Ports setup. We use COM5,7,8 and 9 to control different properties of the MKII.
Make sure, the MKII knows about your radio so it can control Audio Switching and PTT depending on the selected mode.
  • Go to the Audio Switching Tab
    • Configure the Audio Switching as shown below.
      • Have the radio on LSB or USB. Select "Microphone jack, DVK control".
      • Now switch the radio to FSK mode. Select "line input (rear)".
microHAM MKII Audio Switching setup.
This is the digital band map which is used to decide which mode the radio is operating in. With Kenwood radios, MKII retrieves the mode directly from the communication protocol, so this map is not used.
  • Go to the Audio Mixing Tab
    • Select the microHAM CODEC sound device
Using the built-in sound card requires selecting it here.
  • Go to the PTT Tab
    • In the PTT selector, select "semi break in" for CW, "PTT1" for Voice and "PTT2" for Digital Modes. This will allow using QSK or VOX operation on CW (which I prefer over the microHAM doing all the switching - but mind hot switching PA relays!). Selecting PTT1 for voice operation will route audio input to the front Mic connector of the radio - avoiding audio level problems.
Different PTT settings depending on mode
  • Go to the CW/WinKey Tab
    • My preferred settings are Paddle Mode: Iambic A (Curtis), disable Paddle memory (actually, Dot-Dash-Memory off)
WinKey settings - this is very much depending on your personal preferences
  • Testing
    • Go to a CW frequency, switch the radio to CW and press the VOX button on the radio (you may even wish to additionally select the FULL button just right to the VOX button on the TS-850 to have full QSK)
    • Touch the paddle - the radio should switch to transmit without any relay clicking inside the MKII.
    • The CW/FSK LED on the MKII should flicker with a red light.
    • Press the Test button on the Winkey port (COM 7) in the Port Tab. The MKII should send Dah dit dit-dit-dit dah
    • Go to a SSB frequency and switch the radio to USB or LSB.
    • Press the microphone's PTT or the foot switch and say something. The PTT1 LED on the MKII should light up in red color. The radio should go to transmit and produce some output.
    • Go to the DVK tab, push the RECORD button and say something. Then push the PLAY button. The radio should activate the PTT1 (red light) and transmit your recorded message.
    • Press the MON button on the radio and listen to the audio. Some audio level adjustments may be required in the Audio Mixer tab.
    • Go to a RTTY frequency and switch the radio to FSK.
    • Press the Test button on the FSK port (COM8) in the Port Tab. The radio should switch to transmit, send TEST on RTTY and go back to received.
    • The CW/FSK LED should flicker with a green light and the PTT2 LED should turn green, while the radio is on transmit.

We are now ready for the next step.

MMTTY

  • Download and Install MMTTY from here.
  • Start MMTTY
  • Activate the XY Scope by selecting the View(V) menu item and tagging XYScope
The XY Scope is a practical tuning aid and will help us to visualize the received signals.
  • Go to Option(O) | Setup MMTTY(O)...
  • Select the Demodulator tab and set it up like in the picture below.
MMTTY Demodulator settings
  • Select the AFC/ATC/PLL tab and make sure AFC is OFF.
MMTTY AFC/ATC/PLL settings. Make sure AFC is off as it will eventually introduce a deviation between TX and RX frequencies.
  • Select the TX tab and switch PTT port to COM8. The Radio Command button in this setup screen will allow you to control the radio from within MMTTY. This is not desired in this scenario so make sure it is not configured - otherwise Win-Test would not have access to the radio COM port later.
MMTTY Tx settings - PTT is generated by the MKII through COM8
  • Select the Misc tab. Since we now have two sound cards - one in the computer, one built into the MKII called microHAM CODEC - we must make sure we're listening on the latter. Switch to the USB router's Audio Mixer Tab and get the device ID by clicking on the button "Get ID" in the lower right corner. This ID must be entered into MMTTY's Device ID field. When listening on the correct device, the LINE LED on the MKII should be lit.
  • Also from the Misc tab, select COM-TxD(FSK).
MMTTY Misc settings - FSK is generated via COM8
.
  • Should you have problems generating the FSK signal (especially: keying does work, you hear the RTTY diddle, but no characters are being transmitted), you might have to limit the USB port speed in MMTTY. This setting depends very much on the computer hardware. To limit the USB port speed click on USB Port and configure option "C". You can find this setting also in the support documentation of the Microkeyer on the microHAM website.
MMTTY USB Port Option - Set only to option C if A does not work for you.
  • Exit the Setup screens by pressing the OK button.

We are now ready to do some tests with MMTTY.

  • Now take a look at the XY Scope display. It should look like the picture above.
  • If you only see a single white point in the middle of the display, this means, that MMTTY gets no audio to process.
    • Check your cabling. Is your cable connected to Line-in or Mic-in?
    • Did you select the correct audio device?
    • Check the level settings for the sound card from the USB Router's Audio Mixer tab. When you move the control up and down you should see an increase and decrease in noise level.
Setting the correct audio level on the microHAM CODEC sound card
  • Tune across the CW band and check if the XY scope changes when you hear signals. Once you tune across a carrier or CW signal, you should see a vertical ellipse and then a horizontal ellipse or vice versa depending on which direction you tune. The receive section of the screen will show all kinds of clutter.
  • Try to find a RTTY signal (not easy on a normal day). Both ellipses should now be perpendicular to each other. See if you can decode RTTY fine. You may have to select proper filters. I use 500 Hz at 8.8 MHz IF and 2.7 kHz at 455 kHz IF.
  • Next, press the TX button in the MMTTY application. You should hear the typical RTTY diddle in the monitor of the radio. The XY Scope will also display a clean RTTY signal.
  • Type a few characters (including your callsign) and see how they are transmitted.
  • Press the TX button one more time to shut off transmission.
  • Exit the MMTTY program now.

MMTTY now works perfectly as a stand-alone progam. We are now ready for Win-Test.

Win-Test

Final steps: Win-Test Interfaces configuration. Note that we only set up three COM ports, no PTT or CW settings are needed as they are all generated/controlled by the MKII.
  • Start up Win-Test, create a new Win-Test file for testing.
  • Select DXpedition and allow All Modes so you can test all three different modes.
  • in the Options | Configure Interfaces... menu
    • configure Radio on COM5
    • configure Winkey on COM7 using default settins
    • configure microHAM MK/MKII on COM9
    • untag Win-Test's internal Voice Keyer
  • Go to Configure MMTTY.EXE startup path as described in the RTTY section of this manual if you are planning for RTTY operation

We are now ready to operate the contest.