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FT-950 with a Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Ham Radio on macOS & iOS' started by W9DJD, Oct 28, 2020.

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  1. W9DJD

    W9DJD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Greetings. This is my first QRZ forum post. :). New ham here. Tech in June, General in July. Been using a TS-140s as my HF radio and I'm ready to step (baby step) into something a little bigger and I've been looking at an RT-950.

    I've tried watching vids and reading up on this and it's all confusing for me so far so I thought I might ask the experts here for a little guidance.

    I'd like to use MacLoggerDX and I notice that the software IS compatible with the radio but I'm a little lost as to how the two connect. The radio itself has no mods to it. It's in its natural state.

    Then beyond that, I'd eventually like to get a waterfall display connected to it through my Mac as well. Trying to figure out what would be required beyond the connection to the mac referenced above.

    Then, I wonder, if I'm going to go through all of this for a waterfall and if I have to spend $$ to modify the radio or on software (I'm going to buy MacLogger either way so that doesn't factor in), maybe instead of spending $600 on the FT-950, maybe I should save a few more pennies and just get the 991a which I've had my eyes on.

    Any advice/tips you could offer would be appreciated.

    Thanks. :)
     
  2. K7GQ

    K7GQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Connecting a FT-950 to your Mac computer is not particularly difficult and the easiest way of doing so is to acquire a SignaLink USB interface with the cable for that radio which would attach to the RTTY/PKT port at the rear.

    The waterfall will be as a result of using one of several digital-mode Mac programs, namely: WSJT-X, fldigi, and possibly cocoaModem - all free. The waterfall provides you with ability to choose where you would transmit as well as view that segment of the band activity.

    FT-950 vs FT-991a? My opinion is - spend as little as you can on the radio as 1) you're too new to the hobby to have a strong interest in one or more aspects of it (ragchew, nets, DX, contests, SSB, CW, RTTY, FT8, etc) and 2) your developed interests will "determine" which features will be wanted/needed in a new radio. For example, I primarily enjoy chasing DX and "require" that any transceiver must have two independent receivers - most radios don't have two receivers.

    Welcome to the hobby!
     
    W9DJD likes this.
  3. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    The FT-950 was my first rig as well and it works nicely with MLDX. To get back rig control, frequency tracking, and the like, you'll need a USB-RS232 adapter. There are may available out there, but the best I've seen for Mac is the Keyspan USA-19HS. Keyspan provides drivers for the Mac and they just work, reliably. If you don't want to spend that much money (about $30), then go with a FTDI-based device as macOS includes the FTDI driver.


    As far as the waterfall goes, there is the type of waterfall that is used for digital modes using software packages such as WSJT-X, Fldigi, and others (CocoaModem won't run on the newest versions of macOS). This is a narrow waterfall, covering up to about 3kHz of spectrum which is more than enough for operating using digital modes such as PSK31, FT8, RTTY, and others. For this, the SignaLink USB mentioned by K7GQ will provide both the audio path and a PTT trigger to allow you do your digital modes flawlessly and easily.

    Now, if you want a wideband waterfall, there used to be a add-on product that you could install into the FT-950 to provide a wideband waterfall output. I can't remember who made it or what it was called, but it was a small board that you connected inside the FT-950 and then fed the cable output into your rig using an SDR or something similar. This worked well, but is far surpassed today by the waterfall capability built into most modern rigs.


    Unless you're sold on the notion of Yaesu, then I'd consider the IC-7300 as an ideal entry-rig. For around $1100 (less used, if you can find one), you get one-cable connection that provides both rig control and audio for digital modes, support by just about every software package out there, and a built-in waterfall display on the 4.3" touch screen. Yes, it is a bit more, but by the time you add in the other equipment to do what you want with the 950, you'll be closer to the price of a new 7300 than you'd think, and it is a whole generation newer than the 950.

    Welcome to the hobby. It is a blast!
     
  4. WA6FX

    WA6FX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'll second the notion of considering an Icom IC 7300 instead of an FT-950. I've had both, and really enjoy the 7300's feature set and touch screen/waterfall. One USB cable connection gets you on the digital
    modes really easily. They can be had from most retailers for under $1000 (including rebates).
     
    W9DJD likes this.
  5. W9DJD

    W9DJD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you for the information.

    I'm only stuck on the idea of the 991a because I have both the FD3 and the FT300. I love them both. The only other slight advantage to me is that the 991a can also do 2/70, so one less radio on my desk...but who I kidding. I love having multiple radios on the desk. :)

    Every time I get to thinking that I'm set on the 991a, I see the big beautiful pics of the 7300 and that beautiful display... and I'm right back to this point. :)
     

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