Apr 9, 2009

Linking K2 to TS570SG in a master-slave configuration

New goals for 2009 6m season
The 6m season will start in a few weeks. There are a few enhancements on my wish list.
One of them is to link my Elecraft K2+XV50 transverter to the Kenwood TS570SG.

Why would I want that?

Make use of the best ergonomics
On 6m it is usually a matter of seconds to find the dx and make the contact. Better rig ergonomics do help a lot. The Elecraft K2 has a great analogue receiver but ergonomically for me it is very annoying. The TS570SG has superb ergonomics, and a quick& friendly user interface.

Better TX signal from the TS570SG
It has a much better mic compressor, high-boost equalizer and 100W output on 6m.
The K2 +XV50 has none of that.

Make use of a second RX
- For monitoring a different frequency.
- Because I want to try some semi-diversity (pseudo-stereo) in the audio chain. That requires some more work; like a second switch able antenna and switch able audio routing.
- Finally because the RX quality of the K2+XV50 transverter might offer better performance. Well this one has to be proven yet, since I have already modified the TS570SG again to make it a dedicated 6m rig only.

Remote operating
It will serve any remote operating experiments too.

I want to operate the TS570SG, but be able to co-use the K2 on the fly.

A programm to master-slave the K2 to the TS570SG
Since the K2 uses the Kenwood protocol, it is possible to create a program which enables to make the K2 follow the TS570. I'm fortunate that Arnold wrote a small program which just does that. It reads the current VFO-A frequency and writes this to the K2's VFO.
After just two evening sessions we have a raw but working program. I can now turn the Kenwood's VFO and the K2 follows quick enough to avoid any latency and such. We still need to work out some minor bugs and make it more operator friendly, but for now it already does what I wanted. Great job done Arnold !

There a some minor frequency difference on the readouts of both rigs, but that is due to the offset of the K2's 6m transverter. It is key to zero-beat both receivers. I have to do a lot of testing to see if both behave well and do not suffer too much from thermal drift and such. A quick user offset setting will probabely be the next added option in the software program.

Buy another rig?
Now you might ask why don't I buy a new, better rig with dual receivers (or dual watch) and everything else I need? Well there's the financial aspect, and more important, I'm not ready to give up on the 570 yet :)

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