Friday, December 10, 2010

Lost memory

I am a strong believer that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I also find that, particularly if it is anything to do with computers, the law "if something can go wrong, it will" operates with near 100% certainty. As a consequence, I an extremely reluctant to upgrade or update anything unless it fixes a problem I've experienced or am likely to experience, or provides new functionality that I actually need. I get anxious whenever the "Windows has new updates" balloon pops up, worrying about whether my computer is going to get screwed fixing some obscure vulnerability I don't understand in some bit of Windows I may not even use.

One of the problems of getting old is that you tend to forget things and sometimes I do something having forgotten that the day before I had decided there was no point in doing it. And so, this morning, I decided to update the firmware in my Kenwood TH-D710 in order that it could identify from APRS packets newer radios like the VX-8G and TH-D72, regardless of the fact that I hardly ever use the radio's own APRS display and the update would not affect the ability of APRSIS32 to identify these radios on my PC.

I downloaded the update software, browsed the help file that came with it and then ran the program and followed the instructions it displayed. The update went without a hitch. I was a bit concerned when the concluding instruction was to perform a full reset, which I thought would erase all my settings, but I had not seen any dire warnings about this so I went ahead. Sure enough, on completion the Kenwood was now in factory default mode, with all my settings and laboriously entered memory channels lost forever! Arrghh! If only there was a System Restore for real life!

Kenwood does provide a free memory management program for the TM-D710, MCP-2A, which can be used to edit, back up and restore memories and settings. However it needs a second serial cable attached to a different port to the one used for the built-in TNC. I had never got around to making up another cable as I don't need computer control of the radio and storing channels in memory manually isn't that hard so I don't usually bother with programming software. Besides, all four serial ports on the shack PC were already used. So I had never tried it.

In the hope that it would save me time re-entering the settings and memories, which I could then back up, I installed MCP-2A and moved my serial cable from the radio's control head (the TNC port) to the PC port at the back. But no matter what I tried, the program could not communicate with the radio.

Now I'm completely stumped. I'm using the same PC serial port and cable as I used to perform the upgrade and access the TNC, so the port and serial cable work. I tried the "Auto" baud rate setting and several manual selections and it made no difference. As this is the first time I have used it, I'm wondering if the rear PC port is actually broken. Have I overlooked something stupid? Is there anything else I could try to test if it works?

5 comments:

skids said...

Hi Julian,

I have found this on the Kenwood site.

"When the transceiver's EchoLink Sysop mode is ON, it cannot communicate with the MCP-2A"

Chris....G0BHX

Scott Hedberg said...

I just did basically the same thing you did and initially had problems using the Kenwood software. You probably have already done this - check the speed setting of the COM port in Windows. Mine was set too low.

73 Scott HL2/AD7MI

Julian said...

I'm not sure what fixed it, but after I disconnected everything and hauled the Kenwood off the shelf and on to the bench and plugged the cable in the back it started communicating. Guess it was in some mode it shouldn't have been.

HDR said...

Julian,
The socket on the back of the main unit is very deeply buried, with a narrow "tunnel" to get the plug into.
If the plug you have is a typical "spare" such as supplied by Maplin, its shroud is too big to fit properly into the "tunnel". This may have been your problem. I bought an "Apple Printer" cable which has a mini-DIN plug on each end, cut it in half and put a D9 socket on each cut end, so for a small outlay (vastly less than Kenwood want!) and half an hour's work, I have two cables that work in either position.
And as you've found, you don't actually need two cables, you can just shift one between the two positions, providing the plug's shroud isn't too big.
Cheers,
Howard G1BYY

Julian said...

Howard,

That may have been it. It wasn't easy getting the plug in by groping round the back while the rig was on the shelf. After I disconnected everything and took it off I was able to ram it in. The cable I made up myself using one of those discrete plugs. I'm fairly used to soldering to them but I wish I'd known about the Apple Printer cables - it could have saved me a lot of time.