I have a feeling this is going  to be a long blog post.  But hey, sometimes I have a lot to say.  Occasionally, it’s even interesting.  If you like older Kenwoods or just playing around with different rigs, then this will be for you.  It’s not really a product review, just some general observations.

TS-450Over the weekend I hooked up a nice, old Kenwood TS-450SAT.  This is one of the radios I got from Mark Quebe N9EKG over the summer.  Some readers of this blog will remember my previous post on this adventure.  Sure was glad to have Dad and my sidekick Nick N9SJA there for the long day of work.  Initially, I’d hooked the radio up just to try it out and didn’t have spectacular results.  I could hardly make it work at all.  With disappointment I’d packed it away for another day.  Having  nothing better to do, I hooked it all back up again.  I think the cabin fever is setting in.  What I found out is that it seems to receive quite well, but has very little AF output.  This is likely something easily fixed.  Even better, it was now showing full power output into the dummy load.  I don’t remember it working at all last time so maybe it’s had some group therapy sessions in the shack with the other gear I’ve banished to the shelves.  Either that or reading the operator’s manual has paid off.  I don’t know which?

I attached an MC-60 mic and hooked it up to the hexbeam for some real testing.  This proved to be successful as I made several contacts on 17m, including DX.  For a smaller radio it has a good, solid feel to it.  Kenwood built some quality into these back in the day.  In spite or converting to a Flex-5000A as my main shack radio, I still love to spin the dial and push buttons.  But what to do about rig control?  I’ve gotten used to having all my gear interfaced to the computer with the Flex.  I had to keep reminding myself to manually input band, freq, mode, etc into the HRD logbook.  Then I remembered USB interfacethis USB rig interface kit I built years ago for an original Icom IC-756.  It was designed by N0XAS HamGadgets.  Sadly, it’s no longer produced, but it worked quite well on the 756 and also a Yaesu Ft-736R.  After I dug it out I found that it even had the correct 6-pin DIN plug on it for the TS-450, and it was wired correctly!  When you’re hot, you’re hot.  After a little bit if research I found that Kenwood used inverted TTL for their serial rig control.  I can’t even guess why they would do that other than to be different.  This normally requires buying their interface box or a homebrew lashup with opto-isolators and such to deal with the inverted logic.  Fortunately, the rig interface had a utility program on the software disk called MProg.  It allows you to change the settings and configuration for the FTDI chip and then flash them to it.  It worked quite well and I’m pleased to report that the radio is now communicating happily with the HRD suite.

Other than having to run the AF gain all the way up I’m pretty pleased with this radio’s performance.  The antenna tuner seems to be jammed up so I don’t use it.  Maybe when I dig into the low audio issue I can check out the tuner, too.  As I’ve researched it on the web there are very few known issues requiring mods.  That says a lot about the radio’s design.  It’s not fair to compare it with the Flex but it does perform solid.  I could improve it a little by adding better filters and maybe a Heil mic.  International Radio has an excellent assortment of them available.  Unfortunately, I could spend more than the radio’s worth on filters!  It’s still going to be an early ’90s compact HF transceiver, though.  I don’t want to try and make it more than what it is.  I think I’ll just enjoy it for now…and then on the the next project!

Categories: Activities, Amateur Radio, Computers/Software, Projects | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “TS-450SAT

  1. Nick

    Nice post OM. Yeah I kinda ran into the issue of putting more money into a rig than it is worth by buying filters and such. But if you want to keep it, it would be a worthy investment as the early Kenwoods did not have DSP, so filters do help. You can try an external AF DSP filter from Timewave. I have a few of them and like to use those, because I can move those from old radio to old radio and not have to invest in filters. They work pretty well, although not as good as a quality crystal filter. As for the AF problem, I would guess AF amplifier IC might be bad. That shouldn’t be that difficult to install (depending on where it is in there I guess). The TS-450 certainly is a good looking, well built radio. I have the old TS-440 and it is just OK. I wouldn’t mind picking up a 450 if I found one that was a good deal somewhere. The TS-440 has wonderful receive, but no DSP and the stock notch filter totally blows, so I use the Timewave DSP to help me when folks are tuning up over DX (OMG I HATE THOSE GUYS WHEN THEY DO THAT). Love the USB rig interface kit. Very nice!!!! Ill have to take a look at that next time I come down or something. Maybe go to Triton again for a brew and then play radios??? Sounds like an ideal afternoon to me! 🙂 73! de Nick N9SJA

  2. Pat Conway

    Look at C-120 on the IF board, mine had the same issue. That capacitor has a history of failing, be prepared to remove the SSB filter and the AM monolithic filter so you can clean all the goo that C-120 emits when it fails. If you don’t the electrolyte will eat the foil traces on the board. Its a bugger to remove the filters but can be done, take you time.


  3. Pat Conway

    Sorry, the capacitor is C-104 not C-120, this is part of the AGC circuit

    • That’s what I ended up replacing. Audio worked fine after that. Ended up selling before Dayton for some spending money.

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