DIY USB CAT control cable for TS-850

My recently newly acquired TS-850 is a great radio. But what’s even more,
it comes with the proper serial ICs built in to hook it up to a PC for CAT
control. There are various ready made cables available on eBay to accomplish
this, but I really can’t get myself to spend $40 on a cable which can be built
for a lot less.
The serial connection on the back of the TS-850 (ACC2) provides inverted
TTL level signals. So all that is needed is a inverter and then a TTL to RS-232
conversion. At first I built the following circuit which I found here:

image

This is a straight forward circuit using the 74LS04 to invert the TTL signals
and then the good old MAX232 for TTL to RS-232. One could leave it at that
and use a USB-serial dongle to connect to the PC.
I went a step further and simply feeding the signals from the hex gate (74LS04)
into a FTDI USB interface. Total cost in parts ~ $15 and the satisfaction of
having built it yourself Smile. Adafruit has a USB to TTL cable for just $9.95 which
would also work. I just had the other interface already on hand.
This is what my fancy design looks like:

IMG_1652

One thing to note is that I did not use RTS/CTS which for some reason did not work.

Fun with CQRlog and MySQL

Once again, I needed to find something out about my QSO count with certain criteria.
The last time I had to determine how many QSOs I had with SKCC members to see if I
reached Centurion status.
This time it was similar but with a twist. The next step up from Centurion status is
Tribune which is awarded when a member who is already a Centurion completed 50
QSOs with other Centurion or Tribune members. In the previous post I was able to simply
query the database by contacts with just any SKCC member number, this time it has to be
more specific as only those ending with C or T count.

The following query does the trick to see how many Tribune members I worked already:

select distinct qsodate, callsign, club_nr2 from cqrlog_main where club_nr2 like “%T” and qsodate > “2013-04-28″ order by qsodate;

club_nr2 is the column in which CQRlog stores the membership information for SKCC in my case.
qsodate needs to be on or after 4/28/2013 as this was the date I got Centurion status.
%T is simply a expression to show every value that ends with T

Turns out, I have about 20 more to go which should be doable since it’s SKCC Weekend
sprint today and tomorrow.

TS-2000 display mod

I recently acquired a TS-2000 again to be more active on VHF/UHF (Satellite, EME and other weak signal fun). One thing I never liked about the TS-2000 was the display. Especially after seeing the various images on the web with modified displays to have a nice light blue color. Searching for more info, I came across a few folks who are selling “kits” for $24+. We are talking about 6 LEDs and 3 resistors. Since I was not going to pay that much for parts worth $4 max. I moved ahead in the true spirit of amateur radio/ hardware hacking: If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. So let’s go and break stuff Smile.

Note: If you are not comfortable opening your radio, looking inside and find out how things work, please stop reading. I will not be responsible if you damage or destroy anything beyond repair! For the rest: let’s get some solder melted, shall we?

The LEDs are 3mm in diameter and I used cool blue LEDs from this eBay seller. Note they are flat headed instead of round which gives a more even light distribution. The resistors are standard 150 Ohm 1/4W.

ts2000-1

I for the first time in my many years of playing with electronics played it safe and used a anti-static mat. It appears I’m getting old and risk the danger of growing up Smile.

You can pull off all the knobs from the radio and also remove the rubber ring from the VFO knob.

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Next, remove the top and bottom cover. Start with removing all screws and then gently lift off both covers. The front panel is held by 4 screws on the sides. Only remove the top ones and loosen the lower screws. This allows you to tilt the front panel forward. I put the radio next to the edge of the desk and let the panel hang down.

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Next unplug those two cables on the left side of the panel. Be gentle, take your time!

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The flat ribbon cable that connects the front panel control board to the main board can slowly and gently be pulled out. BE CAREFUL!
Now you can remove the remaining two screws and remove the entire front panel assembly. Set the radio aside on a safe spot making sure nothing is underneath it that could damage the main board!

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Use a hex wrench to loosen the VFO knob and pull it off.

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Once the VFO knob is removed, you’ll have access to the rotary encoder for the VFO. Remove the nut and lift off the resistance mechanism. Remove the screw that attaches the front panel cover to the board. Once those two are removed, you can loosen the plastic latches on top and bottom of the panel cover and carefully remove it. Be careful not to break them. Slow and steady wins the race.

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Now you should have the front panel board lying in front of you. This is also a good time to clean the knobs depending on the age of your radio some dust may have accumulated. Loosen the 4 screws marked in the image to remove the display. DO NOT LIFT IT OFF FAST!

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Carefully lifting the display up will reveal the flat ribbon cable that attaches the display. Unlike me, you were smarter and unplugged it before loosening the 4 screws. But this is now the second chance to do so. Again, very carefully pull it out. Make sure not to bend it as you want to get it back in once we’re done.

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Place the display board in front of you and you’ll see the 6 lamps and three resistors. Do not use solder wick to remove them! This is the one time in this job where you can really suck! Use a solder suction pump and remove the solder. Be careful not to overheat the traces. Take multiple steps. The resistors can be tricky so take your time.

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Place the LED into the hole. The anode goes towards the side facing the resistor. Double check before soldering! I cut the legs about 4mm short and bent them over.

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Once done, this (or better) is what it should look like. Make sure you don’t have cold solder joints. If in doubt, quickly re-heat and make sure your solder joints are nice and shiny. Repeat the steps for all 6 LEDs and the 3 resistors making sure everything lines up, no solder bridges and polarity of the LEDs is correct. Then it’s time to assemble everything in reverse as you took it apart. Be careful when pushing the flat band cables back into the sockets. Slow and steady! You have to make sure they are in the right angle. Also make sure you push them all the way in to have proper contact. I did not do it with the one connecting the front panel to the main chassis and subsequently the radio wouldn’t turn on. Also make sure that no wires are touching the fan (which I should’ve replaced at the same time with a less noisy one).

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If you’ve done everything right, this is what your first smoke test should look like. A nice cool blue display greeting you and NO smoke coming out anywhere. Congratulations. Now put the rest back together and enjoy your new much more pleasing IMHO display.

CQ CQ de KX3

… and 2.5 hours later it was all done and ready to go. First QSO was with K6EEE (nice call)
running 1w into a OCF dipole. Lot’s of features and functions but it’s a nice radio with great

receiver. Of course will run it tonight in the NAQCC sprint.