Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Radio Programming Notes

Reference notes to self and anybody else who is befuddled about using chirp to program channels into various radios, from a Macintosh USB port.  (not a full chirp manual here!  just a few reference notes around some of the gotchas)

(For the non-hams out there: Why the heck do you have to program a radio?
In this case, it means pre-setting a bunch of frequencies and other items for handy use in the future.  Conceptually it's no different than "programming" the push-buttons on your car's AM/FM radio, but as you might imagine, there's a lot more going on in a multi-mode multi-band two-way radio.  Hence the convenience of using a spreadsheet-like program to download, edit, and upload the myriad settings.  Anyway, back to the main topic; if you needed this paragraph, you can probably safely skip the rest of this post.)

The cable you want for Baofengs:
Currently slightly north of $20, which is more than some of the radios it can program.  Still, for time saved, well worth the money.  Also, no dodgy drivers to download from Chinese web sites.  I mean, can you really trust that stuff?  I'll take the Apple pre-loaded ones, thankyouverymuch.

Next up, the cable you want for a Yaesu FT-817ND:
Similarly, it's plug-and-play, drivers pre-loaded by Apple.  About $25, and money damn well spent, because again, there's no downloading drivers from some who-knows-where web site.  There's still a little guessing about which USB port to point chirp towards, but here's a hint to narrow it down: it ain't either of the two with "bluetooth" in the character-salad name.

Finally, some guiding advice on getting programming images up from and back down to your FT-817ND, courtesy of VK3BQ:
Just in case the web site ever goes away, here's the key part:
A trap for young players with the 817 and chirp. You need to do two steps to get the radio to talk to the computer
Power on the radio while holding down both MODE < > buttons, The radio will beep three times and show “CLONE MODE” on the display.
Set CHIRP up to download the radio image form the menu, then on the radio, press button “A” and the radio will start TX’ing data, and you have a copy of the radio memories. Program up the radio in chirp with your repeaters and other parameter settings and save a copy. To load the new memories/file into the radio, power on the radio as per above and enter “CLONE MODE” again, Set CHIRP to upload to radio and then press the “C” button on the Radio, the device will change to RX mode and receive the new configuration. The instructions are on page 69 of the 817nd (2011) manual under Cloning.
Alright!  Made it easy, and it even worked the first time.  Got all of the customary PSK31 frequencies, the local repeaters, and the common 2 meter simplex frequencies programmed in right, and all without having to perform a selfie root canal as part of the process.  Tested out on the W5SGL repeater, and all is right with the world.

Next up ("next" as in somewhere between "this weekend" and "real soon now"): Do the same on the FT-857D.  The same cable allegedly works for that radio too, so I'd say there's a high chance of success.  Will update this post after the attempt is made.  (Edit: did so, worked fine; see postscript below.)

OK, that was a deep-dive into high geekery; mostly it's notes to myself.  Maybe have some mountain biking report after this weekend.  The weather's taking a slight turn for the better.

ps: It all works exactly the same on an FT-857D, except that to upload data from the radio to the computer, press "C".  On the other end of things, once you've gotten all the channels entered into chirp, to download to the radio press "A".  It's just like the 817, only opposite.  Why?  Because Yaesu, that's why.

Whatever the radio, remember to download an image from it and save that before starting editing.  One nice thing is that, even though it's bad form to swap images between an 857 and an 817, you can copy and paste rows or even blocks of rows from one image file to the other.  Handy.

pps: One more note-to-self: programming an FT-60 with chirp.  Haven't tried yet, will get to it eventually.

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