Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Computer control of the Kenwood TS 440S

My station currently consists of an ICOM 706MKIIG driven by an Dell laptop with a Rigblaster Pro interface for all my digital modes, and a Kenwood TS 440S rig for phone communications. Tying it all together is Ham Radio Deluxe for digital modes, logging and ICOM rig control. My desire, however, has been to tie in the Kenwood for rig control and logging as well.

Two issues have prevented me from doing this:

  • The Rigblaster Pro can only drive one rig at a time without reconfiguring the jumper cables and reconnecting the cables

  • The TS 440S does not natively support rig control
Yes, I could upgrade my Rigblaster, but I just couldn’t justify the extra expense. Now, fortunately, I don’t need to.
I was perusing eBay last week and ran across the items I needed. First, I found the IC10 computer chip set (, $22.95) that need to be installed in the TS 440S for computer control. Second, I found a 6’ USB CAT cable (Affordable Radio, $34.00) that would work with the existing Rigblaster serial cable attached to my laptop.

The first step was to remove the top and bottom covers from the TS 440S, slide out the front control panel and install the chips. It’s a pretty tight space where the chips plug in, but it took me only about 30 minutes from start to finish.

The big question was whether the USB cable would work. It calls for the COM Port to be set to 1, which HRD reserves for the Rigblaster connection. Disregarding the cable driver installation instructions I selected COM Port 4 and started HRD. Within the HRD setup for rig control, I selected:

  • 4800 Baud
  • RTS checkbox checked 'on'
The result? It works quite well for a radio that is 20 years old. HRD both sets and reads frequency and mode, and selects the VFO (A or B) and sets frequency splits. Switching between rigs and modes is now simply a matter of changing selections in HRD. Very cool, and I recommend both of these vendors.

-Steve KB3IHX

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