Setting up as a Panadapter for TS590SG (HDSDR, VSPE, TRX-Manager and Logic9)
I bought this from HRO to become a Panadapter for my Kenwood TS-590SG. The SG model has an antenna splitting connection on the back of the radio, so you can share whatever antenna you are using on the main rig with the SDRPlay. The perfect combo.
How To Integrate All the Pieces: Synchronicity
I have combined this radio with several pieces of software which allow complete interoperability of SDRplay.
1. Virtual Serial Port Emulator by ertlogic
Since the 590sg has one serial port, which I have connected to COM3, and I want other software to be able to interact with the Radio, I installed VSPE, which allows me to split COM3 into two COM7's, so that two different programs can use COM3 at the same time via these virtual ports. Very easy to set up and works perfectly.
2. TRX-Manager for Rig Control.
3. Logic 9 (logging and dx spotting) > TRX-Manager > VSPE COM7 > COM3 (REAL) > TS590SG
Any change on the Rig VFO shows up on TRX Manager.Any Change in Logic 9 changes TRX, which changes the radio. At this point only 1 of two COM7's is in use.
Also have HDSDR sofware to run the SDRplay. It does rig control via Omni-Rig, which I have set to the "other" COM7.
At this point if I hit a DX Spot in Logic 9, it communicates that to TRX, which tells the radio what freq, mode, split, etc to go to.
Because HDSDR is also connected to the 590 simultaneously, these changes in freq show up in the Panadapter.
If, on the other hand, I click on the HDSDR (Panadapter Control Software for the SDRplay) waterfall or spectrum, the radio immediately goes to that freq.
In essence, everything talks to everything and it stays synchronized.
The same thing in digital mode with fldigi replacing Logic9, otherwise everything else works the same:
fldigi > trx > Virtual COM7 > COM3 (real) ts590
hdsdr > omni-rig > Virtual COM7 ts590 > COM3 "
Both Logic9 and fldigi communicate with "hooks" to TRX Manager, not a serial port. The serial port call is in TRX, just as it is in Omni-Rig for HDSDR.
Lastly, when I want to run WSJT-X for JT-65/JT9, because of the limitations of WSJT (it won't talk to TRX internally, and it won't use Omni-rig at the same time that HDSDR is using it), I have to shut down VSPE, Logic9 and TRX, and revert to COM3 by itself (which is directly connected to the TS590sg.
In this last case, I can still use the Panadapter function of SDRplay, but I no longer have frequency control of the TS590sg...the SDR continues to work fine, I just have to manually change bands, freq, modes inside SDRplay and it has no effect on the TS-590sg.
OK, the practical utility of SDRplay is fantastic, as the above descriptions establish. How well does it work as a "Radio".
Well I wasn't expecting much. The 590SG is a superior receiver. I was very surprised how well the SDRplay held up. I did not find it overloading on Field Day. It mutes when I transmit (a setting for that). The audio quality is fine. The selectivity is much better than I expected. Sensitivity is quite good...always sees the real noise floor.
Things I don't like:
AGC doesn't work as AGC should.
S-Meter constantly has to be recalibrated (easy)
Scaling of the Spectrum Display has to repeatedly be reset, as does the lower value of the scale (two different adjustments) Also easy, but annoying.
The Noise Blanker does hardly anything, but the Noise Reduction does work.
Overall as a Panadapter it works GREAT! The ability to see up to 8 Mhz of spectrum and also zoom it down to a ham band or even a portion of a ham band is just what I needed. It is such an advantage to be able to "see" an entire band, especially a quiet one like 6/10/15 these days. Signals jump off the Panadapter (HDSDR) screen.
Just today I was looking for 6m stuff, and I looked at the screen and saw 3 cw beacons and one cw station...all well away from where I was listening with the TS-590sg. I would have missed them.
I like the SDRplay so much, that I now do my "hunting" for signals with the Panadapter and then listen to them on the 590sg. I can have audio coming out from both SDRplay and the 590sg, but of course they are out of sync. There are times where I just "look/listen" with HDSDR running the SDRplay and don't even turn the audio up on the TS-590sg.
SDRplay is an outstanding value and a surprisingly good receiver in its own right, but it is as a Panadapter that it really shines.