Tag Archives: SDRPlay

Late Adopter Panadapter

After great delay I finally got around to setting up my SDRPlay RSP1A as a panadapter for my Kenwood TS-590SG. It’s been on my list of things to do but that list has been severely derailed due to on-going health issues. Today I felt almost normal and up to the task. It’s actually not difficult at all but I ran into some odd USB driver issues that impeded progress for a wee bit.

I know that everybody and their mother has a panadapter and I’m way late to the party. There’s probably someone that has a panadapter for their Hallicrafters HT-30 with an Arduino based servo control providing CAT. I’m typically a late adopter.

KA9EAK: Late Adopter

Some representations of this adoption curve label the “Late Adopter” portion of the curve “Laggards.” That seems a bit harsh.

My understanding is that you can use any of a number of SDR receivers for this purpose. I purchased an SDRPlay RSP1A late last fall and so it was available for panadapter duty.

As I said, the configuration isn’t difficult at all. Assuming that you have already installed the Kenwood USB drivers (more on that in a minute) and have successfully configured the Kenwood ARCP-590G Radio Control Program to work with your radio, you are well on your way. The only other piece of hardware you need is an SMA to RCA cable. I found one on eBay.

As for software, my understanding is that there are a number of different applications that you can use for this purpose. I chose to use HDSDR, in my case HDSDR with RSP1A. I ended up having to use OmniRig as well. More on that later.

My approach was a follows:

1) Given that the Kenwood ARCP is working with your radio, note the configuration (Tool\Setup) for COM port and Baud rate.

2) Attach the SMA connector to the RSP1A antenna connector and the RCA connector to the DRV connector on the rear panel of your TS-590SG.

RSP1A and TS-590SG

3) Go into the menu for your TS-590SG and set menu 85, DRV Connector to ANT (see page 52 in the TS-590SG manual.)

TS-590SG Menu 85

4) If you haven’t already done so, install the HDSDR software.

5) In the lower left section of HDSDR you will see some buttons, one will be Options (F7).

HDSDR Options

You will notice a selection for “CAT to HDSDR.” Initially I attempted to get this to work with no success. I ended up installing OmniRig and while it appeared to work it was intermittent. It would indicate that the radio was on-line for a few seconds and then indicate “rig is not responding.” After a fair amount of troubleshooting (verifying config and connection with the Kenwood software, restarts, etc.) with no success I searched the Internet for the problem and found this thread in the SDRPlay forum:

https://www.sdrplay.com/community/viewtopic.php?t=2730

It was from December 2017 and exactly described the problem. Thankfully it was a complete thread in that it contained a solution as well. I had version 6.7.4 of the Kenwood (actually Silicon Labs) USB driver and it appears that the fix was to go back to version 6.7.3. I changed the driver to the older version and the problem was solved. Is this actually “the fix,” who knows but it worked for me and that’s good enough. The Kenwood ARCP software worked fine after the change.

It may be important to note that you will see a decrease in sensitivity.

Signal Change

So now I have a fully functional panadapter for my 590. As with all SDR’s, it is interesting to “see” radio as opposed to only hearing it. Prior to the wide spread adoption of panadapters, interaction with a radio was sort of the audio equivalent of peering through a narrow keyhole. Now one can see an entire band at once. While I find this relatively new practice of seeing radio interesting, there’s a part of me that likes the notion of the unknown inherent in the turn of the VFO knob.

Panadapter

I’m sure I’ll use the panadapter at times but it’s more likely I’ll simply spin the big knob to hear what’s just out of sight. Out of curiosity, I checked Kenwood’s site for USB drivers for my TS-830S. Oddly they didn’t have any. Maybe there’s a message in that.

 

PS: If you’re not sure which end of a soldering iron to grasp it might be best to ask for help with this configuration. As with all of this, YMMV. This is what worked for me. If you blow up your RSP1A and your 590SG while simultaneously causing a tear in the space-time continuum you probably should have stayed in bed.

 

PPS: The picture above was a few minutes before the start of Field Day. This is  a few minutes after. Apologies for the difference in detail. There is A LOT more activity indicated on the panadapter.

40M at the start of Field Day

Advertisements

First SDR!

SDRPlay RSP1A

After a number of years of hemming and hawing I finally purchased my first SDR! Yesterday morning I was up at my usual 4:00 AM CST thanks to the recent daylight savings time change. The clock may say that it is 4:00 AM but my body still thinks that it is 5:00 AM. In any event, as I was nibbling on some breakfast and sipping a cup of coffee I was making a pass through some blog updates and noticed a post earlier in the week on The SWLing Post blog about the recent release of the SDRPlay RSP1A. It was apparently just released on Wednesday, 11/15. In addition to the announcement regarding the release there was also a very nice first review of the device which I read with great interest.

After reading the review and watching this video interview with Jon Hudson of SDRPlay and this video that presents a nice comparison of the various SDRPlay SDR receivers I decided that it was time to wade into the world of the SDR.

As I began the order process on the SDRPlay site the first selection is the country to which the radio will be delivered. Upon choosing “United States” I was immediately informed that SDRPlay products are available from Ham Radio Outlet. Given that I live about 13 miles as the crow flies from the nearest HRO (much too close in some regards,) I checked their site to see if they even listed the new RSP1A, much less had them in stock. Given that they were just released less than 48 hours previously, my expectations were calibrated to the fact that they likely wouldn’t have them listed yet. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the RSP1A listed but they also indicated stock in two locations, unfortunately neither of which was the Milwaukee store. Oh well, I placed the order and chose to have it shipped to the store expecting that I’d get it early next week. At 12:48 PM CST I received a call from Mark, KD9EEE at the Milwaukee HRO store informing me that my RSP1A was ready for pick up! Perhaps HRO is using drones to rapidly move product (don’t tell the FAA) or quite possibly, SDRPlay and HRO did a great job of filling the supply chain prior to announcing the release. In any event I had the RSP1A in my hands late in the afternoon, well less than 12 hours after I first learned of its existence.

After some jiggering around with the USB driver (Microsoft’s problem, not SDRPlay’s, more on that later) the device was working and SDRuno was running.

SDRPlay SDRuno

This thing is fantastic! The notion of receiving an entire band at once as opposed to peering through a keyhole at one thin slice at a time is fascinating. Yes, I know, I’m late to the SDR party. I’m usually a late adopter. And yes, I’ve seen and fiddled with SDR-in-a-box radios like the IC-7300, but owning an SDR and being able to sit and play with it for awhile is very interesting.

I’m not giving up my knobs and buttons anytime soon. In fact, I’ve only been using this thing for several hours and I’m already missing a VFO knob. Thankfully SDRPlay has a suggested solution, the Griffin Powemate USB Multimedia controller. Amazon will have it here tomorrow.

My intention for today was to finish the installation of my new antenna however as I was writing this post this began to appear outside:

First snow

The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow, with Monday even nicer. The antenna will need to wait a day (or two.)

Weather forecast

I guess I’ll have to declare this SDRplay day and have fun with my new SDR!

 

USB driver: Regarding the USB driver. The driver would install but would not start due to a Windows error, “Windows cannot verify the digital signature for the drivers required for this device. A recent hardware or software change might have installed a file that is signed incorrectly or damaged, or that might be malicious software from an unknown source. (Code 52).” Argh. It was already  late on Friday so I called it a night and planned to start fresh (at my usual 4:00 AM CST) on Saturday morning. I was able to get the driver to load after disabling the driver signature enforcement on boot however this was not a good long term solution. I opened a support ticket with  SDRplay via the support page on their site and had a response in less than 40 minutes (this is Saturday morning at my QTH in Wisconsin and they are in the UK.) They said to install a Windows patch, Microsoft security advisory: Availability of SHA-2 code signing support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: March 10, 2015.

After the installation of the patch all was well. The driver starts and functions correctly. My OS is Windows 7 SP1.