The Kenwood TS-590S... perhaps the best value in a HF transceiver!

Many hams thought that Kenwood had bowed out of the ham radio market.   I'm  certainly happy  that they haven't.  So much so, that I purchased a new  TS-590S in 2010.  I  couldn't be more pleased with the rig!

Perhaps your thinking you might go for a 590 yourself.  I've assembled considerable information, impressions, setup guides, etc. on this website for your review. 

In recent years HF transceivers have become a very important part of the Amateur Radio market, accounting for as much as one half of the markets total value. Among its many appealing features, the new TS-590S employs down conversion for the first IF, resulting in excellent dynamic range when adjacent unwanted signals are present. It is also equipped with a 32-bit Floating-point DSP featuring advanced technology that enables unique IF AGC.   In addition, the TS-590S offers superb operating ease thanks to such features as a simple menu for intuitive operation and a large display that ensures outstanding visibility. Equipped with a USB port, this transceiver can be connected to a computer using a standard USB cable.

Main Features

- Superb RX Performance: Excellent Dynamic Range Even with Powerful Off-frequency Interference

- Powerful 500Hz / 2.7kHz roofing filter

When receiving on one of the main Amateur bands under 21MHz, the TS-590S employs down conversion* for the first IF (11.374MHz). Having the 1st roofing filter (6kHz BW) directly after the Mixer enhances the noise blanker’s ability to deal with adjacent off-frequency signals. And the 2nd roofing filter — which comes after the post amplifier and really determines RX performance — is equipped as standard with a 500Hz / 2.7kHz BW 6-pole MCF. This results in superb dynamic range when adjacent signals are present, performance that was not previously possible using up conversion. So even when an interfering signal approaches the target frequency, a virtually flat dynamic range is maintained. Even in with strong adjacent interference, you can capture a clear signal.

* For 1.8/3.5/7/14/21MHz amateur bands, when receiving in CW/FSK/SSB modes down conversion is selected automatically if the final passband is 2.7kHz or less.

• DDS offers superb C/N (Carrier to Noise ratio) characteristics, significantly cutting noise generated by adjacent unwanted signals

For the 1st local oscillator frequency, instead of employing conventional PLL/VCO, the output of a DDS (Direct Digital Synthesizer) is supplied directly to the following mixer. When down conversion is active, the oscillator frequency is lower than it is with up conversion, so the output boasts even better C/N (Carrier to Noise ratio) characteristics and a desirable level of reciprocal mixing.

* Reciprocal Mixing measure the level of reciprocal mixing, an off-channel signal is mixed with the output of a signal generator, which is then varied until the unwanted signal can be detected as noise. The higher the figure, the less noise will be generated by adjacent interference, allowing undisturbed reception.

Note:  An updated variant, the TS-590SG, is currently available.   More about it at http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamhf/1590.html.

Setting up the 590 for phone operations:

Important note... New 590 owners are urged to first study the operator's manual.  Also, be sue to become a member of the 590's user group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KenwoodTS-590/.

Recommended TS-590S menu configuration:  Default settings as per pages 16 – 19 of the TS-590S Instruction Manual except as noted below:

Number Description Default Current
23 Auto mode Off On
25 TX filter ssb/am low cut 300 100
26 TX filter ssb/am high cut 2700 2800
* 30 TX EQ off U or off  (see below)
31 RX EQ off U
53 HF linear amp control relay off 3
** 63 Audio input line for data ACC2 USB
** 64 Audio level for USB input 4 2
87 Power on msg Kenwood K4QKY

PWR - Level 80 (to promote longer life to the 3-500 tube in the linear)

MIC -  Level 12 when routing outboard processed audio to the 590 as line level audio from outboard processing gear is typically “hotter” than microphone level audio coming directly from a microphone.   However, when routing audio directly from the microphone to the rig, a microphone level of 38 is about right.

*    Menu 30 is kept in the default position “off” when running outboard processed transmit audio to the rig.  Conversely, when not using outboard audio gear and the microphone plugged directly into the 590, set  menu 30 in the User position “U” .  This enables user definable internal transmit EQ settings programmed via the ARCP-590 software as discussed below.  

Setting up the USB  connection:

**  Download and install the ARCP-590 software.

  1. Use a type AB USB cable  for hookup to the 590.  ARCP-590 itself functions well although the program’s user interface is not nearly as well conceived as Ham Radio Deluxe.
  2. When you first connect with the 590 via USB type AB cable, Windows will prompt you to download and install a CP2102 USB to UART bridge controller virtual com port driver.   Follow the prompts and it should install  fine including the necessary audio codecs to transport audio/data tx and receive.  Check Windows Device manager to determine which port is designated for the UART and make certain that the the 590 and ARCP-590 software is setup to reflect the correct port, baud rate (preferably 115200).  Transporting tx and rx audio via the USB cable from the computer to the rig works well!  Moreover, no interface device (e.g. RigBlaster) is necessary.

Configuring internal tx eq:

Some microphones, including many Heil microphone models tend to be somewhat heavy on the low end.    Initially, you may want  to try setting menu 30 set to “Hb1” which usually works well  in cleaning up the low end.  Also, set menu 25 to “100” and menu 26 to “2800”.   Listen to yourself in the 590's monitor to evaluate the results.

Want to fine tune your transmit audio?  Then, try creating your own personalized user “U” defined tx EQ settings with the Kenwood ARCP-590 software.  Again, listen to yourself on the monitor as you tweak your settings.   K4QKY's settings are listed below to serve as a starting point.    Your settings will most likely vary as your voice and microphone characteristics differ.

Lastly, get comparison “on air “reports between the  foregoing “Hb1” and “U” settings to see which setting is preferred and why.  

Although others will disagree, K4QKY always recommends keeping the rig's internal speech processor off (except in weak signal conditions).  Adjust microphone gain for only a slight ALC meter deflection showing on voice peaks.    Using the tx  EQ (when properly adjusted) is a far better technique to increase ssb duty cycle ( linear talk power) than using the processor.    This includes breaking a pileup without causing needless IMD.

Above is a screen shot of K4QKY's user programmable TX  EQ settings created with ARCP-590 software.  This scheme is used when routing transmit audio directly from the microphone to the 590.  Menu 30 on the 590 is set to the “U” (user) position.   Notice that these settings consist of cuts on the low end, an especially severe cut at 600 Hz, generally flat across the midrange and some boosting on the high end.    

note:  Although not all that useful, you can also establish custom user RX EQ settings in much the same way.

Setting up the 590 for digital operations

When setting up the TS-590 to function with Ham Radio Deluxe and companion Digital Master 780 (DM780), you should only use the USB connection between the rig and a PC.  It works very well for PSK-31!  Here are K4QKY's settings:  (yours may vary)

alt

For Windows Sound manager… (Your levels will vary)

> Recording tab – Microphone 3-USB Audio Codec set to Default device at level 18

> Playback tab – Speakers 3-USB Audio Codec set as Default Communications device at level 12

 For the TS-590S…

>  Menu 61 – 115200

>  Menu 62 – 115200

>  Menu 63 –  USB

>  Menu 64 – 2

>  Menu 65 – 1

>  Menu 69 – on

>  Front panel power – 25

>  Front panel TX mon – 2

> DATA – Turn it “on” (push button on front panel at left of tuning knob)

> Speach Processor –  Turn it “off” (push button on front panel at left of the display

For Ham Radio Deluxe…

> Establish a preset Kenwood TS-590 on Port COM5 (your USB virtual com port number may vary) at speed 115,200 with CTS. 

For Digital Master 780…> Program options,  PTT – set PTT via serial com port.  I selected COM5  and checked Set DTR and RTS .> Program options, Sound card - set input and output devices.  I selected input device “microphone (3-USB Audio Codec)” and output device as “Speakers (3-USB Audio CODEC” at 0db output.……………………………………………………………

Note: Setup tips for remote operations with the 590 and using a usb microphone together  with software tx processing are provided elsewhere on this website.

Links to other useful Kenwood 590 websites & documentation:

►  G3SJK review  of the TS-590 -  Perhaps the most in-depth and well written review I’ve found.

►  Kenwood TS-590S Yahoo Users Group - Great place for hams to share their experiences with the 590

►  TS-590 resources page  -  A collection of useful resources courtesy of G3NRW

►  Kenwood TS-590S Review  -  What ham’s are saying about the new 590 on eham.net

►  Instruction manual  -  Download the Kenwood TS-590S Instruction manual in .pdf format

►  Kenwood USA TS-590S download site  -   Go here to download documents, software and firmware

►  RFSpace Utube video  -  Nicely done  demo of the 590 interfaced with SDR-IQ spectrum display

► Utube video courtesy of K2DER  -  K4QKY and AD4C in QSO 10/13/2010

► KG9OM TS-590S sound bite - recorded on 20 meters with a Flex 3000 10/23/2010 courtesy of K5MRM “Mike”

► in the USA, contact Customer Service by clicking  http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Support/Amateur_Radio/

► Download the 590′s service manual by clicking  http://files.radioscanner.ru/files/download/file11292/ts-590s_service_manual.pdf