TS850/DSP100 combo OR TS950SDX

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DV1TBX
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TS850/DSP100 combo OR TS950SDX

Post by DV1TBX » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:26 pm

Hi to all

Just wanted to hear some opinion here, not a debate .
Iam thinking which radio is best for dual use , Vodoo audio and a regular daily DX / QSO radio. Both radio has DSP and tx bandwidth is also adjustable.
Can some one make a comparisson for both radio? it could be advantage and disadvantage over each radio. Simple explaination / comparisson is ok.

Thank you,
Alex

BillPaul
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Post by BillPaul » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:19 pm

I happen to own both the TS-850SAT/DSP-100 combo and a TS-950SDX. Note however that I've only had the latter radio for a couple of weeks, so you might take what I say with a grain of salt.

In general, I much prefer the TS-950SDX. Both have great voodoo audio, but for my money the 950 just has a more comfortable feel. Some comparisson points:

- Both radios have the same, very quick internal tuner

- Both radios have an IF OUT interface for the SM-230 station monitor

- The TS-950SDX comes with the SO-2 TXCO built in. You can add the SO-2 to the TS-850 as an option (I did), but you have to track one down and it's extra work.

- The TS-850 uses an LCD display while the TS-950SDX uses a florescent tube display. The latter has the advantage that it's visible at all angles, but the display on the TS-850 is sharper, which I prefer.

- Out of the box, I think the TS-850's receiver has a little wider audio response compared to the TS-950SDX. You can of course perform dem voodoo modz on the TS-950SDX to vastly improve it, but the work is not for the timid.

- Out of the box, the monitor on the TS-850 has better response as well. Again, you can improve this if you do the full set of voodoo mods to the TS-950SDX.

- While the TS-850's monitor has better out of the box fidelity, it only works in SSB voice modes; the TS-950SDX's monitor works in AM and FM too.

- While I can get my computer to talk to the TS-850 using a direct connection to the ACC1 port on the back of the radio, I've never gotten it to work via the CONT OUT port on the DSP-100 (which you must use because the DSP unit takes over the ACC1 port when it's connected). I don't have any problems communicating with the TS-950SDX.

- Voodoo audio bandwidth on the TS-950SDX is a little wider on than on the TS-850SAT/DSP-100 (6.7Khz vs 6Khz)

- You can trick both radios into producing DSP-modulated voodoo audio on AM, but to my ear the TS-950SDX sounds much better than the TS-850SAT/DSP-100 when you do it. You can achieve excellent AM fidelity with the TS-850 by injecting audio directly into the balanced modulator, but this requires additional modification.

- Both radios allow you to turn the extended TX voodoo audio bandwidth on and off at will. However, with the TS-850SAT/DSP-100, you need to use dip switches on the back of the DSP-100 unit in order to set the low cut and high cut filters to the "off" position, whereas with the TS-950SDX you can configure everything using menu options. I find the latter much more convenient.

- With the TS-850SAT/DSP-100 combo, there's only one set of DSP bandwidth control knobs, which affect both RX and TX. With the TS-950SDX, you can set the RX DSP bandwidth separately (menu option 22) from the TX bandwidth (menu options 20 and 21).

- The TS-850 seems a little easier to operate at first compared to the TS-950SDX, largely due to the menu functions. However, most of the menu settings only need to be configured once and then you can pretty much forget about them. Both radios are fairly intuitive once you get the hang of them.

- For the TS-950SDX, you'll probably want the latest firmware. If you can only find an older radio, don't despair: you can still get the latest firmware into it. Although Kenwood no longer had replacement chips available, there's at least one source selling chips with the latest firmware release online. Or, if you're lucky enough to have access to an EPROM programmer, you can make your own. (See: http://people.freebsd.org/~wpaul/ts-950sdx/firmware for instructions and a copy of the firmware image.)

The DSP-100 has two knobs on the front that control TX audio bandwidth, and normally the widest you can set it is for 3Khz (100hz low cut and 3100hz high cut). To get voodoo audio out of the TS-850SAT/DSP-100 combo, you need to turn off switches 1, 6 and 7 on the back of the DSP-100, and set service menu option 1 to 'on' to allow you to operate the 8.83Mhz and 455Khz filter selection controls during transmit as well as receive. Once you set the 8.83Mhz analog filter setting to bypass (all filters off), you'll get 6Khz wide audio. After you change the switch settings, the bandwidth control knobs on the DSP-100 are disabled. You can control the TX bandwidth using the 8.83Mhz analog filter control. However you only get 3 settings: 6Khz, 4.5Khz and 2.7Khz.

With the TS-950SDX, you can control the low and high cut TX bandwidth using menu options 20 and 21. Our of the box, the low cut option can be set to "off" but the high cut can't. To get voodoo audio, you need to use the power-on menu to enable selection of the analog filters during transmit (same as the TS-850), and then you also have to hold the FINE button on the front panel down in order to enable the "off" selection of the high cut menu option. Set both the low and high cut menu options to "off" and then set the 8.83Mhz TX analog filter to the bypass position, and you'll be transmitting with 6.7Kc bandwidth.

Note: if you turn the TS-950SDX's speech processor on, the high cut setting is forced to a fixed setting regardless of how you've got things configured. The LPF menu option display indicates "Proc on" and the audio response is limited to 3Khz. The low cut filter setting is unaffected.

In both cases, the recommended course of action to achieve the best possible TX fidelity is to inject audio directly into the DSP from the audio rack using a Jensen transformer. In the case of the TS-850SAT/DSP-100 combo, the mod is done to the DSP unit. In both cases, you have to drill a hole to mount a jack for the external audio input. This avoids any high or low frequency roll-off or distortion that might be induced by the mic preamp circuits. In my opinion, this mod is for serious voodoo fanatics: you can still get excellent audio from both radios if you just use the front panel mic jack. For the TS-950SDX, there's a middle ground where you can supply the audio via the ACC2 port to bypass the mic preamp, if you're willing to change out a couple of capacitors.

The nice thing about the TS-950SDX though is that if you want to turn off the voodoo sound, all you have to do is change the TX bandwidth menu options to something less wide. Most of the time I leave the radio set to 3Khz on SSB. For some extra punch for DX, you can set the low cut filter to 200Hz and turn on the speech processor.

I wasn't very happy with the speech processor on the TS-850, and like I said, you need to flip the switches on the back of the DSP-100 in order to switch out of voodoo mode and re-enable the high/low cut controls.

On the whole, I would say the TS-950SDX is a better all around radio. It's a little more flexible, has better voodoo potential, and added bells and whistles. Also, I think the TS-950SDX may be a little easier to acquire. I see TS-850SATs come up for sale fairly frequently, but the DSP-100 unit is another matter. Those are pretty rare, and the prices are often high. If you can find a TS-950SDX from late in the production cycle, I would jump on it.

-Bill

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TS850 / DSP100 Combo OR TS950SDX

Post by DV1TBX » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:27 pm

Bill

Thank you for your very detail comparisson on both radio. I was impressed with your explanation. So there are some plus and minus points on both radio but over all the 950 has more plus points than the combo.

Iam not much familiar with both radio but i have done some repairs on both them. On the tech side both radio have issues to be corrected or repaired. The 850 has known problem on leaking capacitors and 950 has TRX board issue. Both are repairable anyway.

Again thank you Bill

73
Alex DV1TBX

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Post by Voodoo Guru » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:05 am

Howdy,

Excellent and very detailed comparison BillPaul,

AND Spot-ON!

We would have to agree on everything you said except for your statement about the TS-850s Display being an LCD type. It is in fact a Florescent Tube Display just like the TS-950sdx.

Everything else is exact.

We might add that since Alex is wanting a dual purpose Voodoo Audio/DX-QSO radio, The TS-950sdx shines in this respect in that it has allot more slots for optional Analog Filters in both the 8.83mc & 455hz filter banks . This fact and the ones that BillPaul gave about the "on-the fly" DSP Menu setting/bandwidth adjustment changeability for TX and RX make the TS-950sdx a far more versatile radio.
You have the ability to switch from 6kc+ for eSSB Voodoo Audio fun to less then 500hz for contesting on CW and everything else in between.

The TS-950sdx is a fabulous radio in its stock form, but after the mods to it, there is nothing else that can touch it.

But, were biased of course... :twisted:
hehehehe

Take Care,
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DV1TBX
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Post by DV1TBX » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:54 am

Mike

Thanks for the additional info, you both have points on the 950 being dsp bandwidth is adjustable on the radio menu, what i want to clear out is the functionality of the radio ( 950sdx ) after the mods, since mike already explained it clearly. Yes i would love to have a radio that can do both world, vodoo and normal DX-QSO radio. Since some hams cant get on, on what we want in our audio, so comes an option to adjust with their settings. After i mods the SDX here, the radio still works fine like nothing was done with it, and i have an option on how i would receive the person i was talking to also. good thing i join this forum, theres a lot to learn after all.

73
Alex

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Post by YO3IBW » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:44 am

BillPaul wrote: - The TS-850 uses an LCD display while the TS-950SDX uses a florescent tube display. The latter has the advantage that it's visible at all angles, but the display on the TS-850 is sharper, which I prefer.
Sorry for intervention, I'm a proud owner of the Kenwood TS850s AT and I know quite well this rig inside/out/. TS850s does not have LCD display, on the time this transceiver was build the LCD was near SF area. The display is also an VFD type, like the TS950s and other one in the area. :wink:
73 de Dan YO3IBW
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Post by BillPaul » Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:16 am

YO3IBW wrote:
BillPaul wrote: - The TS-850 uses an LCD display while the TS-950SDX uses a florescent tube display. The latter has the advantage that it's visible at all angles, but the display on the TS-850 is sharper, which I prefer.
Sorry for intervention, I'm a proud owner of the Kenwood TS850s AT and I know quite well this rig inside/out/. TS850s does not have LCD display, on the time this transceiver was build the LCD was near SF area. The display is also an VFD type, like the TS950s and other one in the area. :wink:
I guess I stand corrected. :) However, at least with the two units that I own, the segments in the TS-850's display seem much sharper than those on the TS-950SDX, and while I can see a tell-tale 'honeycomb' pattern on the segments in the TS-950SDX if I look closely, I don't see that on the segments on the TS-850's display. The display on my TS-950SDX also seems a little faded; I don't know if there's any internal adjustments that affect the brightness.

As for repair issues, unless the TS-850's serial number is, say, 60 million or so, you'll almost certainly need to replace the electrolytic caps on the carrier board. And radios with 20 million serial numbers are liable to have the old YM6631 DDS chips, which are prone to failure. Avoid those: the replacement YM66312 chips are made out of highly refined unobtanium. (My rig has a 31 million serial number and the new DDS chips.) I suspect though that the reason the older chips fail is due to the caps degrading and not filtering the supply voltages properly, so if you find a rig with the older chips that still works, I would just make sure it has good caps in it.

For the TS-950SDX, a common problem seems to be cold solder joints on the resistor blocks on the PLL unit. I noticed a problem with my radio where the transmitted audio on SSB would sometimes sound distorted/raspy. At the same time, when I listened to the monitor on AM, I could hear a rushing air sound, kind of like driving with the window rolled down. The resistor blocks have been re-soldered and the problem doesn't seem to happen as often now, but I don't think it's entirely cured. It seems the issue is heat related: the last time it happened, I turned on the radio when it was fairly cold in my apartment, and could hear the raspy audio, but after letting the rig sit for about 15 minutes, it went away. Unfortunately, the fact that the problem is intermittent makes it very hard to narrow down.

-Bill

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Post by YO3IBW » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:22 pm

BillPaul, perhaps the display tube on TS950 is more used than the one on the 850s.
About the electrolytic capacitors on the carrier board is a well known bug as long as many others including the ALC problem, the display problem, etc.

About the DDS chips on the older versions, I also guess that the malfunction of those came from the electrolytic capacitors and some soldering problem, not the DDS chips themselves.
73 de Dan YO3IBW
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Post by DV1TBX » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi to all

Just to add more about DDS chips and capacitor, yes the failure of the old YM6631 maybe ralated to leaking caps and the chip design it self. But in my case if have seen a 60mill TS850 with still leaking caps and have to replace it. I have done capacitor overhaul on 3 TS850's around 100pcs+ each radio.
So far what i have seen leaking even on the 60mill is the audio caps, display caps, and DDS caps. These are the 3 points to check for leaks other else its ok and also the backup battery must be checked and replaced.

So the 850's has this issue to watch out, its a fine radio. I recommend leaking capacitor check on all 850's if you like/plan to keep your good radio for ever. It will serve you well ang longer after the checking.

Hope this helps also.

73
Alex

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Post by DV1TBX » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:28 pm

Bill

For your problem on the 950, pls check the TRX board in the control unit board. It is also mentioned by mike WZ5Q on the other forum / site. I had a garbled audio in RX after leting it 15min more its ok, then one time it wont get ok, so i decided to trace at first i was thinking ALC because of garbled RX audio. I found out the the RX control volatge is only 13.5v or less from the supposed to be 15V. Cause is loose or cold resistor solder from the TRX board. Have it check, mike's picture is clear you wont miss it.

73
Alex

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Post by BillPaul » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:00 pm

YO3IBW wrote:
BillPaul wrote: - The TS-850 uses an LCD display while the TS-950SDX uses a florescent tube display. The latter has the advantage that it's visible at all angles, but the display on the TS-850 is sharper, which I prefer.
Sorry for intervention, I'm a proud owner of the Kenwood TS850s AT and I know quite well this rig inside/out/. TS850s does not have LCD display, on the time this transceiver was build the LCD was near SF area. The display is also an VFD type, like the TS950s and other one in the area. :wink:
I realize this is dredging up the past, but I happened to be looking through the Kenwood TS-850 service manual again recently for an unrelated reason, and was reminded that it too claims the display is an LCD:

- The display unit B38-0350-15 is clearly labeled as "LCD ASSY"
- The parts list for the above LCD assembly unit describes part B38-0362-08 as "LCD ELEMENT"
- The board contains LC7582 and MSM5265 LCD driver chips.

There is a cold cathode tube on the board, but that's just the backlight for the display, not the display itself. The parts list gives the part number/description as B30-2015-08 LAMP(COLD CATHODE TUBE).

So I'm sorry, but if I have to choose between your testimony and the Kenwood service manual, the manual wins.

If you ever have a chance to see both the TS-850 and the TS-950SDX side by side, you'll see why I mentioned the difference in the first place: the display on the TS-850 is much sharper. But being an LCD, it also tends to be harder to see when you look at it at an angle instead of straight on. If you still have your TS-850, you can see this effect for yourself: turn the radio on and then look at the display while moving your head off to the left or right of the radio. The segments in the display should become harder to make out compared to when you're eyes are directly in front of the radio. The display on the TS-950SDX does not behave like this. Also, as I noted before, if you look closely at the digits in a florescent display, there is a telltale honeycomb pattern visible over the segments when they're lit up. The segments in the TS-850's display are clear and consistent with no visible pattern over them, and they're also more sharply defined.

From the photos I've seen of the TS-450 and TS-690, they use an LCD style display too. I'm not sure about the TS-870 (it looks more like a florescent display to me -- one day I'll have to dig up the manual and confirm).

Not that any of this really matters. :)

-Bill
Last edited by BillPaul on Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Voodoo Guru » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:20 pm

Hmmm....
Ya know.... We thinks Bill Paul is correct.
We retract our previous statement about the display and offer Bill Paul an apology.
Sorry Bill!
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