Interfacing a Kenwood TS-140S to Computer for New Digital Modes (FT8 etc)

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by KA2IRQ, Dec 31, 2018.

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  1. KA2IRQ

    KA2IRQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    So I'm trying to understand the best way to interface my older Kenwood TS-140S to a computer for use with the newer digital modes. I understand that full radio control may not be available with the older radio, but I'm not clear on what those limitations are in reference to the software being used.

    I have a new computer coming for my shack (Lenovo mini tower that will have both USB and a serial port, running Win10Pro).

    Is something like a RigBlaster sufficient? Or do I need to also install the IF-10C converter in the radio (an after market version is still available) and make a second connection back to the computer serial port? I'm assuming the RigBlaster would connect to the ACC2 jack on the back of the radio with the correct cable.

    I'm OK with not having the computer change frequency/mode of the radio (although I guess it would be nice) and handling that manually- as long as the software/computer can handle PTT.

    Thoughts from someone who has done this or is at least familiar with the older radios and newer modes?
  2. AA5CT

    AA5CT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just bought radio interface cables and the plug "jumper" from Tigertronics for the Signalink to use on my TS-680, which is like the 140 exc this one has 6 meters.

    Pretty straight forward once the cables and plug are in place!

    DId you need more info than that?

    For frequency control, PIEXX makes a board that goes into the TS-140.

    I have never bought one of these, but I have thought about it:
    KK4NSF likes this.
  3. KA2IRQ

    KA2IRQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    So the Signalink, in your case, is the interface from the software/computer for handling PTT and all the audio, correct? And the serial port would interface via the Piexx unit for handling actual frequency and mode control?
  4. AA5CT

    AA5CT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Signalink does audio interfacing, the PIEXX board does freq control.

    The Signalink needs just a USB port.

    The PIEXX board has a serial RS-232 interface, so you need serial port on computer. Not sure if mode control is computer controllable on TS-140 via PIEXX board. Have to think about that, or go read about it.

    Since I don't let the computer control the rig freq (yet!) I just dial in the freq or call it up from rig memory.
  5. KA2IRQ

    KA2IRQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perfect- thanks for the info and confirming what I thought. I know exactly what I need to purchase.

    73!! de Marlo, KA2IRQ
  6. G7UKK

    G7UKK Ham Member QRZ Page

    How did it work out with the Kenwood? I have the TS680 so basically same as the 140.
    Wanting to venture into data modes.
    Have the SignLink USB and just ordered the Piexx module.
    Other than HRD can anyone recommend software to use ?
  7. KA2IRQ

    KA2IRQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It worked out perfectly. My TS-140S is a superstar as far as I'm concerned.

    I purchased the Piexx board ( to go inside the radio and acts as both the CAT interface and the RS-232 level converter. This is all you need to plug into a DB9 serial connector on a computer. The SignaLink USB works perfectly as the sound card interface with the correct cable (available when you purchase the SignaLink). What was confusing to me originally is that you need both boxes... there are two connections- the serial port and the sound port (via the SignaLink).

    The TS-140S (and your TS-680S) are very basic radios when it comes to CAT and sound interfaces. However, they work seamlessly... the trick is the correct settings in the software...

    Baud Rate: 4800
    Data Bits: 8
    Stop Bits: Two
    Handshake: Hardware
    PTT Method: VOX

    At least that's what I use and everything seems to work well. For you and your computer, you'll have to set the correct COM port, of course, and the correct "speakers" and "mic" for the SignaLink- yours will vary from mine depending on your computer hardware, OS and version, etc.

    To get software like FLDigi to work you will need to download the correct radio template- dig through their web page and you will find all the correct files, along with FLRig.

    WSJT-X should work out of the box.

    Logging programs (I use ACLog) should also work out of the box.

    NOTE: if you are running something like WSJT-X (FT8) AND a logging program, the logger's CAT control needs to be disabled as only one piece of software can control the serial port at a time. You need to get the FT8 software to stuff the logging program's database with each contact. I use JTAlert, but there are other ways to do it either directly from WSJT-X or with other software.

    As far as setting the audio levels- that may depend on how the internal adjustments of your TS-680S are set. My 140S is pretty "hot" in that I need to keep the SignaLink levels low or I overdrive the radio on transmit and overdrive the software on receive. I believe there are internal adjustments along with the MIC gain control. It's a little dance of level setting, so your mileage may vary in this respect.

    Remember to keep your power low- I run mine around 40 watts output. The radio and power supply could get quite warm running 50% duty cycle on digital modes. I purchased an external computer fan that is in my shelving unit and blows additional air across the equipment for extra cooling.

    One more minor warning: if you ALSO have a microphone connected to the front panel of the radio for doing SSB, when you transmit via digital, THAT MIC CONNECTOR IS LIVE!!! If you are talking near it, playing music, etc. THAT AUDIO WILL GO OUT OVER THE AIR!!! Many older radios have a single audio input with multiple connectors- they're basically all in "parallel." I'm using a Kenwood MC-85, so I simply power it off. But if you have another mic or a hand mic, it will be a simple matter to unscrew the connector from the front panel when doing digital.

    In short, I found the TS-140S to be an excellent little radio for the digital modes. I've pretty much done WAS and worked about 30 countries in the last year of casual operating. She hears well and transmits a clean signal when not overdriven. Just be wary of a few little gotcha's and you'll get lots of enjoyment from your TS-680S - plus you get to operate FT8 on 6 meters which is a pretty active place to be.

    Good luck- any other questions feel free to post them, and let me know how you made out with your setup. I'll be glad to help any way I can.

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