TS-590 firmwareThis page triggered me to check if my TS-590 needs a firmware update. In the olden days they use to say: if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. But nowadays new firmware does not only fix problems/bugs but it also adds new features that was not possible before.
I checked and saw my TS-590 firmware was version 1.07 and the new one is 2.02! Whoops, missed a few releases!
Quickly update it.

According to Kenwood these are the new features:

“TS-590S Ver.2 firmware update” will be released at the end of January 2015.
October 2, 2014
We are to offer some of the new TS-590SG’s functions* to owners of our current TS-590S models via a free firmware download as “TS-590S Ver.2 update”. The updated firmware will be available at the end of January 2015.

The “TS-590S Firmware Updating Program Ver.2.00” can be downloaded from KENWOOD website as well as other current firmware updates. The ARCP-590 and ARHP-590 control programs will also be updated to “Ver.2.00” at the same time.

* The “TS-590S Ver.2 update” revises the functions which can be achieved by updating the TS-590S main CPU firmware. The “TS-590S Ver.2 update” does not include functions involving hardware updates, nor functions involving menu / display items which are controlled by un-updateable front panel CPU.

Main items of the “TS-590S Ver.2 update”.

Frequency setting and display functions.
1) Enables use of the new Split function (TS-990S-style) for quick split operations.
Hold down the [SPLIT] key, and the “SPLIT” indicator blinks. When the [5] key is pressed for instance, the split setting will be completed as “5kHz Up”.
2) Enables the XIT frequency to be set while pressing [TF-SET] key when RIT is OFF in simplex mode.
3) Enables FINE function to be set to ON/OFF in each mode. It may also assist in CW or DATA mode operation.
4) Enables display of the 1Hz frequency digit when the FINE function is turned on below 1MHz (except in transverter mode). It may also assist in 135kHz band opeartion.

RX functions.
1) Enables the status of FIL A/B to be set separately for VFO A/B. This is useful when switching VFO A/B (TX/RX) frequencies for monitoring in split operation.
2) Enables use of the RX ANT in 50MHz band. The status can be set separately in HF and 50MHz band.

TX functions.
1) Enables the setting of RF output power independently in DATA mode. (RF output power in HF SSB-DATA/ FM-DATA, 50M SSB-DATA/ FM-DATA, HF AM-DATA, and 50M AM-DATA can be set independently).
2) Enables setting of the voice message’s PROC level and MIC gain separately from the setting of usual microphone input’s PROC level and MIC gain.
(The optional VGS-1 is required)

General functions
1) Enables setting the RX equalizer / TX equalizer in each mode.
2) Enables deleting CW message memories by each memory channel.

Voice guide functions (The optional VGS-1 is required)
1) Enables announcement of the type of the transmission meter.
2) Enables announcement of the DRV OUT function ON / OFF status.
3) Enables announcement of the RIT/XIT frequency.

PC commands
1) Enables reading the status of the VGS-1 (if installed in the TS-590S).
2) Enables back up of the status of the AI function ON/OFF.
3) Enables deleting Voice messages from a PC.
(Details of the above-mentioned PC commands are described in the revised “PC command list”)

475kHz band*
1) Revises the band memory [GENE] 2nd setting to 472kHz / CW.
2) Enables output of the 475kHz band (472~479kHz) signal from the rear panel DRV (drive output) connector as well as 135kHz band.(1mW approx.)

* Regarding the TS-990S and the TS-590SG, the 475kHz band drive output will be also available from the next firmware updates which are released at the same time with the TS-590S Ver.2 update.

ICOM IC-7300I follow the news about Icom’s new rig: the IC-7300 closely. Actually I’m more a Kenwood lover but there is something with the IC-7300 that I love. It’s predecessor (IC-7200) also is a interesting radio, especially for portable use (holidays etc.). My friend PH4M bought an IC-7200 a few years ago and loves it. I got the change to play with it from time to time and I start to grow a little love for Icom. But I didn’t see much use for an IC-7200 in my current shack.
Back to the IC-7300. In a certain way it’s a revolutionary radio, it’s the first of the big three (Icom, Kenwood & Yaesu) which comes with a complete digital sampled RF-path (aka SDR). Sure, it’s not the first amateur SDR-rig. We know FlexRadio has SDR’s for years now and even Elecraft has it’s KX3. But Icom is the first of the big three to come out with a fully SDR-capable rig.

I kinda like the idea of SDR. It makes the device very flexible because future updates can be feed in as software and you don’t need to do much upgrades of the hardware. And if the software (and processor) is fast enough, it will beat good old hardware in performance. Downside of most SDR’s in my opinion is the “new” look & feel of the rig itself. I don’t want a button-less box on my desk and do all the operating from my PC. I don’t like the thin display from Elecraft either. I still want my SDR-rig to be a good old box with button’s on it, but a little smaller then regular rigs. It’s cool to be able to operate the rig via PC if I want to, but not necessarily.
ICOM seems to understands this completely and build the IC-7300! I’m very curious how the rig will operate. From the various reports I found on You-tube, I got a first impression. At a price of around a 1000 euro’s it is a very interesting rig to expand my shack with. I don’t want to get rid of my beloved Kenwood TS-590 for it, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a IC-7300 next to it… According to some sources, the IC-7300 will be available in The Netherlands in January 2016 (it’s already available in Japan).
So I created a money-box to put in savings. I already have saved 100 euro’s. I figured it will take me a year to get the money for this rig. In the meantime I will follow the news closely and if someone buys a IC-7300 I hope I will be able to spend some time operate one.

A71AE QatarFirst week of September I left for a little one week holiday with the family to Belgium near Froidchapelle. We rented a little cottage and I was able to get QRV as ON/PA1JIM. I packed an extendable antenna mast, a 1:10 MTFT balun from WiMo, my Kenwood TS-590 and forgot the antenna wire. When we arrived in Belgium I inspected the garden behind the cottage, it wasn’t big but big enough to put up a vertical. Just before this holiday I bought 30 meters of Aircell 7 coax, so I could put the vertical as much as 30 meters away from the cottage if needed. After a visit to the local supermarket I got 30m of clothing line which could serve as antenna wire.
First try was just a few meters from the cottage. It worked, but there was a loud QRM on 40m. Probably from the cottage. So after two days I decided to put the vertical a little further away, behind the fence of the park. It worked just okay, the loud rattle on 40m was down to S0. Unfortunately there was really bad propagation which let me to PSK31 for some QSO’s. Best one I worked was PR7BCP, Brasil. Other interesting stations I worked were SQ9UM/1, Sovjet Militairy Order of Malta and Roger Moore (!) M0AUI. At the end of the week I logged 50 QSO’s. Not a lot but I only put in a few hours of time and really enjoyed everyone of them.
I really enjoyed working PSK again. Sometimes this mode is a little lost between all the CW and RTTY I’m working normally.