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  1. #1
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    My trusty Kenwood died tonight

    Well, I went to go power up my trusty old Kenwood TS-930S HF Radio tonight and was surprised by a continuous tone from the speaker and no readout on the display. I could still hear some RF, but it seems none of the controls are working and the radio is not happy at all.

    I've done some digging already, and it seems it's something like a PLL unlock or something, but I won't know for sure until I dig into it further.

    So, now I have a dilemma. I am perfectly capable of fixing it. I already have all of the schematics, service manuals, and whatnot. But, doing so will be a tremendous investment in time and at high risk since some of the parts on this radio (such as the transistors used in the final amplifier) simply cannot be bought anymore.

    Also, I may end up putting 20-40 hours of time and a few hundred bucks into this radio and not having it work when all is said and done.

    So, I'm shopping for a new radio. I don't really like newer radios, however, because they are somewhat contrary to the spirit of Amateur Radio. See, we're supposed to be able to tinker with our radios, but in the modern age of complex processors, proprietary software, intellectual property secrecy and paranoia, and such, it is nearly impossible for people to work on their own radios, which leads to massive repair bills when things go wrong. I have the knowledge and ability, but not access to the custom software and firmware used in modern radios.

    One of the other unfortunate things about modern amateur radios is that the receivers aren't half as good as they used to be. They certainly don't make them like they used to and even a $15,000 modern contest rig needs serious receiver DSP horsepower to perform not quite as well as a 20 year old Kenwood of 930/940/950 class. Some of these older radios, like the 950SDX, still sell on ebay for more than their original price for this very reason.

    My choices are these: Either spend the 20-40 hours and up to $500 to fix this radio, or buy a new radio for about $1000 that has more features, but maybe not quite as good a receiver as this old radio has.

    So, what's a ham to do? Your thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Craigslist?
    The search for inner peace continues...

  3. #3
    CPM M4 BananaTugger's Avatar
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    The only thing I know about radios is that my Tivoli Model One freaking kicks ass.
    Ten tenths.

  4. #4
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Here are some pics:

    Top without cover:



    Digital Board w/ rat's nest of wires:



    This entire board can be replaced with a single microcontroller IC these days. That might be a fun project if I had the time.

    As you can see, working on these things can be time consuming.
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  5. #5
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Looking at the pictures, I can see the digital board has been repaired already (see the white wires?) and now I'm reading about a myriad of problems on the digital board that are caused by the plated through-holes failing open-circuit. Ugh. This is probably something that is fatal to the radio, but alas, I've also found a potential savior!

    Someone makes an aftermarket digital board specifically for this radio, and solely because of the laundry list of known problems with it. See, this radio was designed in the early 80s, before cheap microprocessors. Everything is done in discrete logic.

    They want $260 for the new digital board, and I can see it has about $20 in parts on it. Hah.

    Woe is me. I don't even know if this is the problem, but it is probably the PLL on that digital board that is coming unlocked. I'll post updates as I have them. In the meantime, here are the candidates for the title of "new radio"

    Yaesu 950.. $1400 or so.. has HF and 50MHz. It's a neat looking, compact radio.

    Kenwood 2000: Also about $1400, also has HF and 50MHz and adds 144MHz, and 440MHz, which is nice since I have antennas for all of those bands.. not really comparing features yet. I think at this point if it does HF-50Mhz, it's also going to surpass my current radio in features, while falling short in receiver performance.

    Kenwood 480SAT: About $1000. HF and 50Mhz, smaller, more compact, fewer features than the 2000. Neat detachable control face. PC interface, and control over Internet with audio streaming (2000 has it, too). THAT's cool.

    I am the ultimate dork.
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  6. #6
    Crushing souls Hickeydog's Avatar
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    I'd go with the Yaesu. I haven't had any complaints from my Yeasu radio.


    Edit: I suppose I should learn to spell Yaesu...
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post

    What's frightening is how coherent Hickey was in posting that.

  7. #7
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hickeydog View Post
    I'd go with the Yaesu. I haven't had any complaints from my Yeasu radio.


    Edit: I suppose I should learn to spell Yaesu...
    I do like the VFD display much better than the backlit LCD display on the kenwoods.. that's for damn sure... The Yaesu does look a lot more polished. As we all know, though, looks aren't everything...

    I'm kinda leaning to the 2000 since HF is pretty worthless right now, it'd give me VHF to play with in a base rig so I don't have to keep breaking the TNC connector on my DJ-596 with the big RG8/U cable going to the attic

    edit: oh yeah I should probably add that I don't have any capability below 14MHz since my attic isn't big enough for a larger antenna. I could barely get the 20m dipole in there. I have that and a Diamond V2000 6m/2m/70cm vertical up there as well
    Last edited by ehidle; 09-27-08 at 08:48 PM.
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  8. #8
    Crushing souls Hickeydog's Avatar
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    "looks aren't everything"

    heh heh. When I bought my VX-5R, it was scratched all to heck. It worked, but boy did it look ugly. Looks worse now. It's been dropped, bounced, ran over by the minivan, and it still works. And it works well. I really like Yaesu.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post

    What's frightening is how coherent Hickey was in posting that.

  9. #9
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    I like Yaesu, too. When I was at W4AQL in college, we bought that FT-847 satellite radio and also had a couple of the big HF contest rigs. They were very nice.

    My first radio was a Kenwood 440. I got it when I was 13 about a year after I got my ticket. I've had a couple since then, but they seem to be falling by the wayside like all of the awesome radios of that era. It takes more and more to keep them going because of component obsolescence issues.

    I've had that 440, a 690, an 850, borrowed a 480 for a while once, and this 930. I've always loved the Kenwoods - especially from that era.
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  10. #10
    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BananaTugger View Post
    The only thing I know about radios is that my Tivoli Model One freaking kicks ass.
    Henry Kloss loved table top radios.

    I have two pairs of Advent Loudspeakers from the mid to late 70's.

  11. #11
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    who cares about ham radio anymore, we've got the internet now

  12. #12
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehidle View Post
    I am the ultimate dork.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

  13. #13
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    I wish I had a smidge of skill related to radio. I bought a used ft7800 when I got my ticket this year. A buddy says 10-meter's just blowing up now, so maybe I'll explore that soon. I'm gonna study for my general. Now you've got me all inspired. Thanks.

  14. #14
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    ^^ Go get that ticket!

    10m is actually kinda dead right now, though. There is very little solar activity to support daytime propagation of 10/15/20. Kinda blows, but it'll pick up once the next sunspot cycle gets started... any day now... hehe
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  15. #15
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
    Wonder Woman is actually pretty hot... I like long hair
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  16. #16
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    It's ALIVE! It's ALIVE!



    It turns out the digital board is indeed bad.. very very bad. There were several open vias on it, and I don't think any amount of soldering is going to save them. I was able to resurrect the radio by touching up the one of them that connected what I presume is a loop filter cap to the PLL. Whoever did the existing rework on the board left solder flux all over it, and the flux they used to attach one of the white wires was apparently organic core, which is acidic and ate away at the PCB around the via they soldered the wire to.

    Rather than solder more jumper wires to the already disintegrating PCB, I've decided I am going to do one of two things:

    1) Break down and buy the aftermarket digital board for $260 or
    2) Design my own! I have the schematic for the original board, and most of it is 7400 logic and some other things, but it shouldn't be too difficult to reproduce, or
    3) Do 1, then do 2 even though I'll have a working radio.

    It still puts out full power - 100 Watts into my single-band dipole up in the attic. So, the RF stuff is probably all good.

    I am a happy camper. I would have hated to lose this wonderful radio.
    Last edited by ehidle; 10-01-08 at 06:12 AM.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member ritepath's Avatar
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    Do you think it's just output transistors?

    nevermind no readout.....so you think it may be a powersupply problem?

    When I started working in electronics in 86 repairing PCB's was simple for the most part. But as surface mount and processor controlled everything has evolved I find myself more of a swapper these days. Used to be I could fix an X-ray room with a handful of transistors, now it's a 5000 buck board and then you have plug in all the calibration parameters with a laptop....What happened to the good ole days? Algore why hast thou forsaken me?

    ON EDIT: should have read your last post...LOL It always amazes the condition some companies will leave a board in after the solder process.
    Last edited by ritepath; 09-28-08 at 07:02 AM.
    Harmony, Spirit, Way

  18. #18
    Banned Indy_Rider's Avatar
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    I got a Yaesu mobile that has been abused for years, the back light on it is a little flaky, but other than that it has been a really solid radio.

    Always debate about getting into something bigger, but money and time have always keep me from doing so. That and the Dayton Ham fest this year kind of actually helped kill the desire too.

  19. #19
    Crushing souls Hickeydog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    who cares about ham radio anymore, we've got the internet now
    Uh-hu. And what happens when the internet goes down? (hint: think major disaster). No phone. No Internet. No nothing. EXCEPT for ham radio.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post

    What's frightening is how coherent Hickey was in posting that.

  20. #20
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ritepath View Post

    ON EDIT: should have read your last post...LOL It always amazes the condition some companies will leave a board in after the solder process.
    I think this was a previous-owner solder job. The rework is very sloppy, and there's both resin and acid core flux all over the board. I think the previous owner downloaded the rework suggestion list from mods.dk regarding the open via problem and tried to touch them all up, and ran the jumper wires where the vias could not be closed. It's definitely an amateur job.

    I am probably going to remove the board from the radio and bring it to my office tomorrow and have one of my technicians do a really good job replacing those jumper wires, jumpering the remainder of the vias that are known to fail open, and clean the board off thoroughly.

    I'm not 100% sure Kenwood would have done a much better job at it, though. They have indeed been known for doing sloppy rework. I'll post photos as things progress
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  21. #21
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indy_Rider View Post
    Always debate about getting into something bigger, but money and time have always keep me from doing so. That and the Dayton Ham fest this year kind of actually helped kill the desire too.
    I am too afraid to go to Dayton. I went to Shelbyville one year and came home absolutely broke. Dayton would put me in a homeless shelter for sure..
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  22. #22
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Update: I got the logic board out and boy, what a mess! The bottom of the board is pretty much trashed with flux, dead-bug connections, wires, solder blobs, and more flux (yes, I know I said it twice)



    And the top of the board



    I know what I need to do, though. I can see all the vias on the bottom that just look NASTY. A lot of them don't have enough solder, and others have too much. Flux everywhere. Ugh... didn't this guy ever hear of washing a board?

    Some more extremely poor rework:





    I know there are a couple of EE students floating around in here. This is how NOT to do rework. Trust me
    Last edited by ehidle; 10-01-08 at 06:14 AM.
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  23. #23
    Banned Indy_Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehidle View Post
    I am too afraid to go to Dayton. I went to Shelbyville one year and came home absolutely broke. Dayton would put me in a homeless shelter for sure..
    It used to be awesome, but this year is the first year I have went in years. The manufacturers had some nice boths, but it is has turned into more of a computer show than anything and the swap meet was about half the size it used to be and pretty much all computer stuff and miscellaneous junk. I was looking for a decent used handheld HT but had no luck.

  24. #24
    T-Shirt Guy ehidle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indy_Rider View Post
    It used to be awesome, but this year is the first year I have went in years. The manufacturers had some nice boths, but it is has turned into more of a computer show than anything and the swap meet was about half the size it used to be and pretty much all computer stuff and miscellaneous junk. I was looking for a decent used handheld HT but had no luck.
    I guess that is to be expected with the death of "work on your own radio."

    I sent emails to both Yaesu and Kenwood to ask if they would provide me with the source code to all of their firmware and programmable devices in case I wanted to tweak my radio. I bet you dollars to donuts they tell me to get lost.
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  25. #25
    Banned Indy_Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehidle View Post
    I guess that is to be expected with the death of "work on your own radio."

    I sent emails to both Yaesu and Kenwood to ask if they would provide me with the source code to all of their firmware and programmable devices in case I wanted to tweak my radio. I bet you dollars to donuts they tell me to get lost.
    No idea, but I am surprised some one hasn't posted the information some where on the internet.

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