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Author Topic: SDR Pandapter with Yaesu FT-991 (as functional as Yaesu FD DX 3000)?  (Read 29530 times)
HAMSTUDY
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« on: February 12, 2016, 01:58:17 AM »

Hi, in the video below the Yaesu FD DX 3000 is shown working with a SDRPlay and SDR (SDR Console) software running on a computer.  At about 3:40 it shows that the SDRPlay is connected via the RX OUT on the back of the transceiver.  The next several minutes discuss various considerations in using the external SDR capability with the transceiver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCKDw48YZoA

Anyone know if the Yaesu FT-991 might provide the same ability to work with SDR on a computer, perhaps via USB?  (It doesn't look like the 991 has the RX OUT provided by the 3000).

Thanks, HS
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M0GVZ
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2016, 06:43:30 AM »

The FT991 only has a single receiver so can do almost realtime panadapters but you get no RX audio. The USB works pretty much the same as the Kenwood TS590 in so much it provides rig control and soundcard functionality for TX/RX audio to be used with things like fldigi or HRD's DM780.

Because there is no RF out of the FT991 you would have to use an ELAD automatic antenna switch box to switch the antenna input between the FT991 and the SDR so you wouldn't be able to use both to RX simultaneously but in regards to using the CAT control via USB on the radio and be able to tune the SDR software by spining the tune dial on the FT991 or have the SDR software tune the FT991 to transmit on the frequency you click on on the panadapter then yes that is perfectly feasible and would work pretty much the same way as he has set it up.
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HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2016, 01:26:04 PM »

The FT991 only has a single receiver so can do almost realtime panadapters but you get no RX audio. The USB works pretty much the same as the Kenwood TS590 in so much it provides rig control and soundcard functionality for TX/RX audio to be used with things like fldigi or HRD's DM780.

Because there is no RF out of the FT991 you would have to use an ELAD automatic antenna switch box to switch the antenna input between the FT991 and the SDR so you wouldn't be able to use both to RX simultaneously but in regards to using the CAT control via USB on the radio and be able to tune the SDR software by spining the tune dial on the FT991 or have the SDR software tune the FT991 to transmit on the frequency you click on on the panadapter then yes that is perfectly feasible and would work pretty much the same way as he has set it up.

Hi M0GVZ, Thanks for the reply – it is very helpful.

Just to confirm, the RX OUT on the 3000 is the signal from a second receiver within the 3000 so when it reaches the SDRPlay it is being tuned (and perhaps processed to some degree?) by the SDRPlay?

And with the 991 there is no RX OUT, so using the USB interface the signal from the (first and only) receiver is “monitored” by the SDRPlay in the sense that the frequency selection made by 991 dial is what will appear on the computer display?

If this is correct, it is potentially ok and maybe even preferable in some respects to the arrangement with the 3000.  The reason I say this is that I really want a Panadapter primarily for visual navigation rather than for audio signal processing.  In fact, in the ideal scenario, all the controls from the 991 (tuning, modes, filters, etc) would be done on the 991 and the resulting sound would come from the 991 (not the sound card, or if they did the sound card would have done as little as possible other than passing the signal to the speakers connected to the sound card).  In this manner we would have just stuck a big flat screen panel and mouse control on the 991.  

Having said that, a hybrid in which perhaps the 991 would pass a broad band to the SDRPlay and the mouse could be used to tune within that band wouldn’t be all bad.  For example, in SDRPlay you can set the IF from off/200KHz to 8 MHz.  If the 991 sent 8 MHz to the SDR Play and the SDRPlay tuned within that maybe that’s ok.  But what I’d really like is to watch the computer display while I change frequency and change the modes from FM to USB to LSB to CW, etc. using the 991 controls.  Or maybe under “CAT” (which is new to me) you can tap in to the signal via USB at some point in the signal chain such that you can have either local (991 front panel) control, or remote (computer) control – kind of like using a function generator hooked to a PC through USB.

The problem here is that I’m highly theorizing because I don’t understand CAT and I also don’t understand the block sections (frequency conversions and other signal processing) within a radio (and therefore the logical pickoff points in the signal chain) in much detail; and I’m pretty sure the blocks vary somewhat from radio to radio.

Long story short, your answer was very much in line with my question but if you can see where I’m going with this any more detail and education on how SDRPlay/HDSDR works with the 991 (and how it differs from the 3000) would really be great.  My focus initially is primarily on the receive side.  After I figure out the receive side maybe we could then discuss the transmit side.

Thanks again, HS


PS, I didn’t know anything about fidigi or HRD’s DM780 until your mentioned them, so I’m in the dark on those but based on your reply I found this article that is filling in some blank spots:  http://www.eham.net/articles/23794; Thx for the heads-up. This looks like a vista that needs to be surveyed.

Some context that might help you or others point me in the right direction…

I’m new to Amateur radio (just passed the Technician test and preparing for the General).  My plan is not to eat the entire grocery store in one sitting but to develop a meal plan.  First step is to get familiar with VHF and UHF, then HF with a lot of listening and some transmitting.  I reasonably understand the principles of AM, FM, SSB and I’m working on learning Morse Code for CW (more a fun challenge than a modern necessity, of course).  So my primary initial interests are in figuring out how to do all the same stuff that could have been done 30 years ago with almost pure analog technology.  I realize that in the meantime computers and digital transmissions have become popular Smiley, so I hear Smiley.  And I understand that people have been using TNCs and increasingly more integrated and sophisticated ways of managing signals with DSPs and transmitting/receiving digital information (inherently digital bits and bytes plus digitized voice, images, video, etc.)  But for “Phase I” I am primarily interested in being able to use the super duper receiver and transmitter sections of something like a 991 while adding an external Panadapter to have better visibility into the bands (UHF/VHF, HF) and modes of interest (AM, FM, SSB, CW).  

One of the things I am really enjoying about the SDRPlay with HDSDR, simple as it is, is the block diagram that comes up when you adjust the IF frequency bandwidth and the gain (with or without the LNA).  This view into the “system architecture” combined with the real-time (or near real-time) waterfall view of the signal (and how the waveforms change in relationship to the noise floor and the impact of the modes and filters applied) is helping to make the basics of RF much more visible and tangible. And I’m really looking forward to learning the theory, practice, and art of antenna technology – and measuring and visualizing and hearing the impacts of various antenna types, adjustments, etc.  So, I’m approaching Ham as a way to gain further insight (including visual) into the realm of RF.  The point here is that I don’t want to use a computer primarily for data send/receive integration and I don’t want the computer’s SDR to overly “take over” – but rather, I mostly want a Panadapter to help better “see in” (along with other tools like maybe an antenna analyzer).  I’m betting this entire arena of the “User Interface” including the questions of monitor vs. control and the impact of SDR has more than a few business strategists, product managers, and engineers at Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom, and other places spending a few late nights debating the future of radio architectures – so it’s a moving target, I realize.  

Net, net: my interest in tapping into a good transceiver with a Panadapter is more to “see” the signals (and the characteristics of the various modes) than it is to operate digital modes.  (FWIW, I like the SDRPlay a lot, but I’m betting a guy could fall in love with a Yaesu transceiver Smiley.)  So the first order of business is to understand analog, then A/D and D/A, and finally D (in some respects digital might be the easiest part for a generation that was raised on Information Technology).  What I’m hoping to head toward is a multi-band, multi-mode transceiver with a great radio section that works in a highly synergistic manner with a SDR Panadapter.  I think I see the goal, I’m just trying to figure out the path.  And I think eHam.net is a great place to learn the path.  

Thanks again and thanks in advance for any other info, questions and suggestions, especially regarding computer/Panadapter/transceiver integration.
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M0GVZ
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2016, 09:06:26 PM »

I've not gone into it but if its like the TS590SG the RX out is just a pass through from the main antenna sockets which is disconnected during TX so the SDRPlay is working as it would as a standalone receiver but "sharing" the antenna the FTDX3000 is using.

Effectively what happens with whatever software you use is either it tells both the FT991 and SDRPlay what to tune to when you click on a signal or the FT991 tells the software what to tune to when you change frequency on the FT991 and the software then also tells the SDRPlay what to tune to.

I've not really looked into it other than cursory at the moment as I'm planning on doing something similar with a Kenwood TS480 and a SDR radio as there is a test point you can tap off with a 70MHz IF that can be fed straight to something like a Funcube Dongle.

But yes what you want to do is possible because people are doing it with the TS480 to give it a panadapter display.

Also good plan not to eat the whole grocery store. I did a fair bit of gorging in the first few years and now I'm fairly fed up with the hobby. I've gone from having several thousand QSOs in a year to having some in October then none to December where I had a few then a couple in January a month later and then one yesterday. Decided I'm bored with operating so time to start building.  Grin
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WE1X
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 06:40:08 AM »

I don't know much about the FT-991, but willing to provide some insight in general. I've used various SDRs (SDR-IQ, Afedri SDR-Net, FunCube Pro Plus, several RTL dongles and SDRplay) for external panadapters with Icom IC-7600, TS-590S, and TS-990. I've also used a FlexRadio 5000A that was my first introduction to SDR. By no means am I an expert as I spend more times tinkering than anything else.

The first consideration is how to connect an SDR receiver to a transceiver. Depending on the rig there are several ways to do this. The easiest is using the rig's IF output port if the rig comes with one. This method simply requires (a) the connection of an SDR to the port and (b) ensuring the SDR is capable of supporting the rig's IF frequency. Some rigs have an IF in the HF range while others in VHF/UHF.  You will need the appropriate SDR.  The FTDX-3000 does have an IF port with an IF frequency of 9MHz.  A second method is to tap the rig's IF frequency from inside the transceiver. In general, (a) this requires some surgery to the rig, (b) is not for the faint of heart or technically challenged, and (c) not reversible. With that said, some rigs offer either access to the IF or access to the receive path via test points, attenuator jumpers, etc. that simply require the building of a cable for the SDR.  I've done this with the TS-590S by building a simple cable to attach to the rig's CN101 attenuator jumper that is directly in the radio's receive path. Finally, one can connect the SDR to a rig's RX IN /RX OUT ports if available. However, there are a couple of considerations. First you want to be sure there is sufficient isolation when transmitting so as not to overload and possibly trash the rig's receiver and/or the SDR. Second, if the rig has an RX ANT switch that's great. If not, you will need to invest in a switch box from a vendor like DXengineering or Elad. This adds cost, cabling and clutter. However, using the RX ports is easy and non-invasive.

The second consideration is what SDR to use. RTL dongles are relatively cheap and easy and a good initial introduction to SDR. Their major drawback, however, is very poor dynamic range and easy overload.  Higher-end SDRs such as the QS1R and new CloudIQ are wonderful, but pricey in the neighborhood of $600+. Personally, while I would love to use these SDRs I think they are overkill for a panadapter application. For the most part I found mid-range SDRs acceptable. These include the now discontinued SDR-IQ, Afedri SDR-Net and SDRplay. These are very decent units, although I will say the SDRplay gain settings require some fiddling depending on antenna, band and conditions. 

Third. you should select an SDR that is supported by the software. Avoid esoteric hardware. My suggestion would be to use something like HDSDR and SDR-Radio Console to get your feet wet.

If you operate mostly HF and the choice is between the FTDX-3000 and the FT-991 I would go with the FTDX-3000. The rig has been on the market, well received, and provides two methods for easy SDR connection.

Hope this helps,

Harry
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HAMSTUDY
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Posts: 511




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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2016, 10:45:03 PM »

I don't know much about the FT-991, but willing to provide some insight in general. I've used various SDRs (SDR-IQ, Afedri SDR-Net, FunCube Pro Plus, several RTL dongles and SDRplay) for external panadapters with Icom IC-7600, TS-590S, and TS-990. I've also used a FlexRadio 5000A that was my first introduction to SDR. By no means am I an expert as I spend more times tinkering than anything else.

The first consideration is how to connect an SDR receiver to a transceiver. Depending on the rig there are several ways to do this. The easiest is using the rig's IF output port if the rig comes with one. This method simply requires (a) the connection of an SDR to the port and (b) ensuring the SDR is capable of supporting the rig's IF frequency. Some rigs have an IF in the HF range while others in VHF/UHF.  You will need the appropriate SDR.  The FTDX-3000 does have an IF port with an IF frequency of 9MHz.  A second method is to tap the rig's IF frequency from inside the transceiver. In general, (a) this requires some surgery to the rig, (b) is not for the faint of heart or technically challenged, and (c) not reversible. With that said, some rigs offer either access to the IF or access to the receive path via test points, attenuator jumpers, etc. that simply require the building of a cable for the SDR.  I've done this with the TS-590S by building a simple cable to attach to the rig's CN101 attenuator jumper that is directly in the radio's receive path. Finally, one can connect the SDR to a rig's RX IN /RX OUT ports if available. However, there are a couple of considerations. First you want to be sure there is sufficient isolation when transmitting so as not to overload and possibly trash the rig's receiver and/or the SDR. Second, if the rig has an RX ANT switch that's great. If not, you will need to invest in a switch box from a vendor like DXengineering or Elad. This adds cost, cabling and clutter. However, using the RX ports is easy and non-invasive.

The second consideration is what SDR to use. RTL dongles are relatively cheap and easy and a good initial introduction to SDR. Their major drawback, however, is very poor dynamic range and easy overload.  Higher-end SDRs such as the QS1R and new CloudIQ are wonderful, but pricey in the neighborhood of $600+. Personally, while I would love to use these SDRs I think they are overkill for a panadapter application. For the most part I found mid-range SDRs acceptable. These include the now discontinued SDR-IQ, Afedri SDR-Net and SDRplay. These are very decent units, although I will say the SDRplay gain settings require some fiddling depending on antenna, band and conditions. 

Third. you should select an SDR that is supported by the software. Avoid esoteric hardware. My suggestion would be to use something like HDSDR and SDR-Radio Console to get your feet wet.

If you operate mostly HF and the choice is between the FTDX-3000 and the FT-991 I would go with the FTDX-3000. The rig has been on the market, well received, and provides two methods for easy SDR connection.

Hope this helps,

Harry

Thanks.  I'm inclined to use the SDRPlay to create a Panadapter for a transceiver.  I know the 3000 is a great unit but it's also somewhat pricey.  Any chance a CAT interface on a 991 might be a way to get the signal between the 991 and the SDRPlay to make a Panadapter?  Thx
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WE1X
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Posts: 555




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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2016, 08:45:40 AM »


[/quote]

Thanks.  I'm inclined to use the SDRPlay to create a Panadapter for a transceiver.  I know the 3000 is a great unit but it's also somewhat pricey.  Any chance a CAT interface on a 991 might be a way to get the signal between the 991 and the SDRPlay to make a Panadapter?  Thx
[/quote]

No. The CAT is really for rig control. You need to tap the signal either where the IF is accessible or insert the SDRplay somewhere in the receive path as I have done with my TS-590S.

If you have not done so already, join the FT-991 Yahoo Group (there should be one). Some of the users there may have figured a way of doing this.
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HAMSTUDY
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Posts: 511




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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2016, 08:16:56 PM »



Thanks.  I'm inclined to use the SDRPlay to create a Panadapter for a transceiver.  I know the 3000 is a great unit but it's also somewhat pricey.  Any chance a CAT interface on a 991 might be a way to get the signal between the 991 and the SDRPlay to make a Panadapter?  Thx
[/quote]

No. The CAT is really for rig control. You need to tap the signal either where the IF is accessible or insert the SDRplay somewhere in the receive path as I have done with my TS-590S.

If you have not done so already, join the FT-991 Yahoo Group (there should be one). Some of the users there may have figured a way of doing this.
[/quote]


Thanks

Any idea as to whether a Yaesu 1200 might be easily interfaced to the SDRPlay, or does it require going all the way to the 3000?
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WE1X
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2016, 09:26:00 AM »

Like the FT-991 the FTDX-1200 has neither an IF port nor RX OUT/RX IN antenna ports. This is not to say there is no way to interface an SDR to these rigs. However, it is likely some modification would be necessary. Again, I would ping users on the Yahoo Groups for their advice.
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KH2BR
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2017, 09:15:02 AM »

I know this thread is old, but I have been using my sdrplay hooked up to my ft-991.
I was brave enough to go inside and splice into the receiver rf input cable and feed a thin rf cable
out the back and placed a rf connector on the end. The radio is still working fine and did not
notice any decrease in receive performance. Using sdr radio software, works great all together.
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KH2BR
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2017, 09:23:09 AM »

on the ftdx1200 you can simply connect a rca Y adapter to the U-tune input / output and use the bottom of the y cable as your connection point to a sdrplay device. Just to simple. !! works the same with a ft-950 which I use that way.
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KX2T
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2017, 12:10:20 PM »

The FTDX3000's IF out is right before the 9Mhz roofing filters but what is nice is it is after the bandpass filters, IPO/pre amp stages of the radio so your SDR RX makes use of some far better filtering before its own in most cases wide as a barn door front end, this is why some many will go inside the other radio's to pick up the signal after the band pass filter, going thru the Mu tune section is before the bandpass filter stage and it will overload.
The IF out of the older designed Yaesu's or Kenwood's were after the crystal filters for use with a very narrow display on there monitor scopes, nothing like what we use today. If some of these manufactures would get smart they would install for a very small amount to add to the cost of the bill of materials and IF out similar to the likes of the FTDX3K&5K radio's, unless the rigs are SDR's these two radio's can easily be set up with a display spectrum which rivals the flex using HDSDR and HRD software plus all the point and click features of sdr rigs. I don't know why Kenwood and Yaesu do not include this feature with SDR radio's barking on there heals.
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