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Setting up an Kenwood TS-850S with the microHAM microKeyer

This article is a step by step approach describing how to set up an Kenwood TS-850S radio and a microHAM microKeyer interface. The microKeyer is a complex device integrating a CW-Keyer, CW and FSK keying, PTT control (including a delayed PTT), radio control and a sound interface which allows to control up to seven 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.

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 micro Keyer

  • Make sure you have configured the microHAM Interface for Kenwood using the internal jumpers (see microHAM manual).
  • Connect the microHAM micro Keyer 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 three connections: USB, Line-out and Line-in (or microphone). For FSK operation only we can actually leave out the Line-out connection.
    • On my computer, once you connect something to the combined Mic/Line-in jack, a pop-up will ask, if this is a microphone or Line-in (see image below). Select Line-in.
This pop-up comes up on my system every time I connect a cable to the "IN" port
  • 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 hardware connected.

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. microKeyer 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 microKeyer from Win-Test.
microHAM microKeyer Ports setup. We use COM5,7,8 and 9 to control different properties of the microKeyer.
Make sure, the mircoKeyer 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.
      • The top picture is for receive mode and VOX controlled operation.
      • The middle pictures shows the scenario when PTT is activated via one of the COM ports for digital modes or voice recorder play.
      • The bottom picture finally shows the situation for foot switch or manually activated PTT.
      • In each of the thee scenarios you wish to select a different audio switching, depending on the mode selected. So in all, you can select nine different settings. The most sensible for me is AAA/CBA/BBB, which means: don't care on CW; on SSB route microphone to sound card for recording (no PTT), mute microphone when playing a recorded voice message and route microphone directly to radio when PTT or foot switch is pressed; on digi modes, always mute microphone.
microHAM microKeyer Audio Switching setup.
This is the digital band map which is used to decide which mode the radio is operating in. With Kenwood radios, microKeyer retrieves the mode directily from the communication protocol, so this map is not used.
  • Go to the PTT Tab
    • In the PTT selector, select QSK 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!)
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 in the microKeyer
    • The CW/FSK LED on the microKeyer should flicker with a red light
    • Press the Test button on the Winkey port (COM 7) in the Port Tab. The microKeyer 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 and say something. The PTT1/PTT2 LED on the microKeyer 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/PTT2 (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 PTT1/PTT2 LED should turn green, while the radio is on transmit

We are now ready for the next step.


  • 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 microKeyer through COM8
  • Select the Misc tab and select COM-TxD(FSK).
MMTTY Misc settings - FSK is generated via COM8
  • If you see problems the FSK signal (especially: keying does work, you hear the RTTY diddle, but chars won't be sent), 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?
    • Check the level setting for your sound card. Open the Sound control (click on the loudspeaker symbol in your task bar), switch to the Recording section and adjust the level for Line-in. When you move the control up and down you should see an increase and decrease in noise level.
Sound card dialog - select Recording here
Sound card dialog - adjust the level of Line-in
  • 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.


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 from the microKeyer.
  • 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.