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write your own review of the FTBVR5K.
Dec 28, 2007 17:28
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Great program and worth its nominal cost
Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a memory management program for the Yaesu VR-5000 wideband receiver. The full version (V2) costs US$18.50 and can be ordered and downloaded from http://www.g4hfq.co.uk/ftbvr5k.html. G4HFQ also has a free version (V1) available, but it is not covered here.
I was ready to toss my new VR-5000 because of its laborious and unintuitive memory programming procedures and poor operating manual. The receiver also has a very poor front-end design with little selectivity and interference rejection. However, I spotted FTBVR5K on eHam.net and decided to give it a try to at least help with the memory management problem. I was not disappointed. I later mostly solved the selectivity problem by installing an FM trap (bandstop) filter, but that's another story.
As for FTBVR5K, it works quite well and saved my receiver from going through the window. Since my PC has only USB ports and no serial port for direct connection to the VR-5000 receiver, I used an IOGear GUC232A USB-serial port adapter and a Manhattan 7-port USB Hub (I need the hub because I have several other receivers and USB devices connected to my dedicated PC). By the way, the GUC232A is the only USB adapter I have found that works reliably with all serial port devices and Windows XP Professional.
When running, FTBVR5K looks like a spreadsheet with tabs. The first tab is for the memory locations (Memories) and has 2000 rows, one for each of the 2000 memory locations in the VR-5000 receiver. The Memories tab has columns for the parameters required to populate each memory location, including frequency, mode and step for both VFOA and VFOB, bank, name, attenuation, channel number, scan status, noise blanker status, protection status and RF tune setting.
The other tabs are used to define Banks, Programmable Memory Scan (PMS), Receiver configuration and Shortwave Broadcast Stations (S.Call). Program operations are straight-forward and require very little getting used to.
You can upload or download receiver settings and also save everything to a file on your hard drive, and also open that file later. This allows you to have several operating setups that you can manipulate and download to the receiver at your convenience. When uploading or downloading, the entire receiver setup is transmitted, not just a particular setting change. The program also imports and exports Comma Separated Value (CSV) file format, but I have not used this function so far.
At the receiver's default serial port speed of 4800 b/s, the download or upload operations take a few minutes. The program and receiver both allow higher speeds but be warned: First, the receiver defaults to 4800 b/s when it is reset, and if you forget this and have the program set to a different speed, the program will not communicate properly with the receiver; Second, the receiver does not appear to support either hardware or software flow control (RCS/CTS, DTR/DSR or XON/XOFF) and therefore will not work reliably at speeds above 9600 b/s.
I would give this program a '5' rating except for a few minor complaints: First, it does not presently support advancing the active cell by hitting the Enter key, which is my personal preference. You can advance horizontally in a column with the Tab or Cursor key, but if you are changing a column setting in a number of rows, you have to use the Cursor (arrow) keys to move up or down in the column. This may be less inconvenient to people who are used to using only the Cursor keys in a spreadsheet;
Second, I have occasional problems downloading to the receiver. This may be a problem in the receiver itself and may not have anything to do with the program. When ready to download to the receiver, you click a button to 'Write VR5000.' You will see a dialog box telling you to turn the receiver OFF, click OK and then turn the receiver back ON to start the download. In my case, I sometimes have to repeat this procedure once or twice to get the download operation going. Most of the time it works fine.
This program is well worth its nominal cost. It will save you a lot of time initially setting up and managing memories.
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