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Kenwood TS850 CAT Interface

Yesterday I got a FTDI (UART to USB) CAT interface. Delivered from UK.

Cable 001

This is a USB operation utilising the common FTDI Chipset. Search ebay for sjgwfilliam or goto Kenwood Interface Shop.

Little bit to do to get the device to work on the Mac as Apple have a driver in 10.x which you need to disable and install the genuine FTDI drivers.

Disable the AppleUSBFTDI.kext extension;

  • sudo mv /System/Library/Extensions/IOUSBFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleUSBFTDI.kext AppleUSBFTDI.disabled

Then downloaded and installed the Mac OX 64 bit FTDI Drivers;

Follow the installation directions.

Finally reboot.

Verify the device is detected and driver loaded;

Config 003

Config 001

The Apple drive has been removed and the FTDI drives added,so now configure the application.

I’m using MacLoggerDX (5.59b4) on MacOS:10.10. One panel to setup. Verify the device name;

Config 002

The RS232 settings for the Kenwood are 4800 Baud, 1 Stop bit and no DTR or RTS. Here are working settings;


Companied with having SOTAWatch in the the DX Cluster list the radio will now autotune to the spots and have the activators details up. Not sure if that’s the activators pet dog or sheep.

MaxLoggerDX 001

Too easy….


I’ve added a ADIF to CSV tool to ParksnPeaks-


Another tool form the MAC OS is available from


Simply highlight the entries in MacLoggerDX, export as ADF then drag the file into the icon and a single file suitable for import into the SOTA Database process is created.

Kenwood TS120V

Picked up a second hand Kenwood TS120V.

I have a soft spot for these little radios. Previously owned one which I regret selling.

Was able to pick this one up for a $120. Full power output. Receiver great. She is a bit rough.

Need to address;

  • Cosmetic
    • front panel
    • surface rust
  • Logical
    • PLL Unlock, 15 meters only (Dots on display)
      • internal clean
      • Re solder joints
      • Realign
Taking the top off has revealed a straight but dirty radio.
Bit to do here…



Real QRP action !



Sensitivity:0.25 uV (10 dB S/N)

Type: Amateur HF transceiver
Frequency range: 10-80 m
Mode: SSB/CW
RF Power output: Max 10 W
Selectivity: SSB: 2.4 KHz (-6 dB), 4.4 KHz (-60 dB)
CW: 500 Hz (-6 dB), 1.8 KHz (-60 dB)
Image rejection: N/A
Voltage: 12-16 VDC
Current drain: RX: 2 A
TX: 5 A
Impedance: 50 ohms, SO-239
Dimensions (W*H*D): 241*94*235mm
Weight: 4.9Kg
Manufactured: Japan, 1978-19xx (Discontinued)
Other: Vox, NB, RIT, Digital readout

Preparing the Garmin for use

Garmin eTrex 30

eTrex® 30

Weight – 141.7g with 2 AA batteries for 25hrs use.

Replaced the Garmin eTrex Legend

IMG 0307

Weight – 150g with 2 AA batteries for 18hrs use.


Basic Configuration

  • Datum – GDA 94
  • Position UTM UPS
  • Units – Metric

To configure BaseCamp with summits download GPX file from ParksnPeaks then import. 

Tracks V’s Routes

I have had issues in the past where a route defined at home is shown as a straight line in the bush. This is despite keeping the device FW current and using licences Garmin maps. To prevent this happening have decided to define proposed routes then convert to tracks for use. This device has a 2G SD card in it so storage not a issue.

  • Routes are where you are planning to go
  • Tracks are about where you have been
  • Routes typically use straight-line, “as the crow flies” navigation; tracks more accurately reflect the shape of the trail, with all its twists and turns

A ROUTE follows the network of the activated map. A TRACK defines your path. Read more about Tracks V Routes here.

Tracks are recorded waypoints (coordinates) after a certain distance or time, usually distance. Depending on memory you can record an unlimited number of points. Tracks are not as efficient as routes for storage but they don’t require a map and roads to function. Routes can be as simple as a start and end point. BaseCamp and the GPS can use map information to calculate a route. When you convert a track to a route, BC inserts enough waypoints onto the track such that hopefully when the route is calculated through the inserted waypoints you get a route that follows the tracks. If there is no road or trail to follow on the map then you will get a straight line. Manually insert waypoints when no tracks are available.


  1. Create Track in Basecamp.
  2. Modify points as required
  3. Convert to Route
  4. Send to GPS

MTR v2 Completed

Finished the build of MTR but was not convinced the device is working optimally. I aligned manually by the manual without access to a real cro or frequency counter.

David VK3IL has these tools and has updated the firmware to addresses a minor bug with stepping through the band and expanded the bands to match Australian conditions.

Jumped at a opportunity to use the correct equipment to align the MTR and update the firmware.


David V3IL  with the super specs and Glen VK3YY supervising.

After a short period involving probing measuring and adjusting the conclusion was 4W out at for 12V 8W in so 50% efficient. Both David and Glens devices were able to get 5W out. This must come down to the winding of the toroids. Combined with the addition of the capacitor to increase the audio gain the MTR burst into activity. 

Very happy with the outcome. Finally got out 24th August 2014.See below for MTR in action in the Aussie bush,


Bothy Bag

Given the return of winter and desire to activate summits that qualify for the seasonal bonus whilst staying comfortable, the SOTA community is obtaining Bothy bags.

The intent is to provide quick shelter to keep equipment and activators out of the weather whilst operating. My SOTA activations in this weather are usually quick with the intent of more than one summit a day in order to get the points, so a bothy bag is ideal instead of the weight and time required for a small tent.

I purchased the Mountain Leaders 2-3 man Bothy Bag from eBay and it took 13 days for delivery to Lal Lal.  Turned up the Monday after VK3/VT-010 Talbot Peak walk.

Paul VK5PAS as the same unit and Andrew VK1NAM has the 2 person Bothy Bag from Summit Gear


It is high visibility orange It is really compact and lightweight

It has some PVC clear windows and a breathing hole with an integrated draw cord.

Packed size/weight – 340g and 10cm x 22cm in it’s stuff sack, so very small and light.

Deployment – pull it out of the stuff shack, shake it out and get in it from underneath. It will still be a challenge in a windy location however worked fine in my lounge room.

Accommodation – once inside, pull the draw strings to close up the base. A couple of small plastic windows. With one person in there, plenty of room for radios and pack.

Packing – release the draw strings and fold it back up whilst watching the windows. 

BothyBag VK3VE022

Bothy in use in VK3/VE022

Will be interested to see how the different units in use fare after a couple of activations. 

MTR Update – Increase audio

 G3CWI pointed out that that can solder a 10uF capacitor between pins 1 and 8 of the LM386 to increase the audio gain by 200%

Lm386 gain

The complete data sheet is here – Page 6 shows that adding the 10uF cap increases the gain from 20 to 200.

The sidetone gets added later in the audio chain, so this mod will not affect sidetone level.

MTR Bottom