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Old 02-21-2017, 10:26 AM
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Default Do you remember the Yaesu FRG-9600?

Do you remember the Yaesu FRG-9600 (Also known as the Yaesu FRG-965 & Sommerkamp SRG-8600DX)?

Just something on the Yaesu FRG-9600 for people that aren't aware of this really
cool VHF/UHF communications receiver. In 1985 Yaesu decided to release an advanced
piece of hardware for the commercial & ham radio community to receive from 60 MHz
to 905 MHz in all modes (AM, FM Narrow, FM-Wide, LSB, USB and CW). It included 100
channels, 5 bandwidths, tuning steps starting at 100 Hz and had computer control
with squelch and signal level output on it's CAT connector (Even the ICOM R7000
don't have these as standard interface outputs). This is more of a communications
receiver than a scanner but with the computer control, the features are open to
all possibilities and makes it software upgrade-able via computer control to do tasks
not imagined in 1985. Remember, this is all back in 1985 (over 30 years ago).

The Yaesu brochure stated" The YAESU CAT System provides a direct control link
to the cpu in the FRG-9600, allowing operators with personal computers to add
virtually unlimited computer control functions in software: such as multiple,
organized memory banks; automatic tuning; and customized scanning systems;
using most any personal computer and a Yaesu FIF CAT interface unit." Yaesu made
the FIF-65A for Apple, FIF-80A for NEC PC8001 and FIF-232C for IBM computers.

One last thing, the Yaesu was first to market for a Ham / Commercial VHF/UHF
all mode communications receiver with no usual frequency gaps and included
the 800 MHz band. It was also one of the first computer controlled scanning
receivers made. The ICOM came out a few months later with an even more advanced
VHF/UHF communications receiver that covered up to 2000 MHz and was the standard
set for many years to follow. Both these receivers are in a different class than
the typical scanners of their time and many are still in use to day, even in
government and surveillance agencies. The FRG-9600 is more common in Europe that
the USA. It was originally to include optional up-converters and down-converters
to extend the frequency above and below the 60 to 905 MHz frequency coverage
by a rear band switch connector but was never put into production because of
lack of sales in North America.

Computer Control Software For the Yaesu FRG-9600 (Yaesu FRG-965 & Sommerkamp SRG-8600DX)

Here is a list (not complete and please add any not listed here)

1.) Scan*Star Version 6.35 (Windows Software)

2.) Scancat Gold Version 6 (MS-DOS)

3.) Scancat Gold for Windows Version 8.5 (Windows Software)

4.) SysLabs Radiocontrol Version 1.2 (Windows including Windows 10) * needs USB to Serial adaptor

5.) TRX-Manager V.5 (Windows including Windows 10) * needs USB to Serial adaptor

6.) ApoScan 2.1b by Tony Richardson VK2APO (MS-DOS and uses optional MS-DOS mouse driver)

7.) FRG27 By Bernardo Rossi (MS-DOS)

8.) PC-Monitor (Yaesu Radio Monitoring System with 1000 memory channels) by Simon Collings G4SGI (MS-DOS)

9.) SmartScan 2.1 by Stefano Stella IW3IBF (Windows Software) Very nice program that also works on the ICOM R10

10.) FRG123 Scanning Program for the FRG-9600 by Author RMS (His IRC Handle?) and help from Frank Paxton NGON (MS-DOS)

I've heard of more programs but not in the English language. Some of
these are freeware or shareware but most are commercial software that's
sold on-line. Most can still be purchased and some Demos/Freeware/Shareware
can also be found on the web.

Some of these programs will only work with Windows XP or MS-DOS but
I see that as a very good thing. Instead of tying up you expensive home computer
and also having it run 24 hours a day to control the scanner, you
can get a cheap or even FREE old MS-DOS or Windows XP computer to
dictated completely for computer control of the radio. An old
laptop would work best and can be portable. You will need a computer interface to use
this radio with a computer's serial port. Yaesu made the FIF-232C but you can build your
own with instructions found on the Internet.

The FRG-9600 can be had very inexpensively today and is a hackers dream for
for someone wanting a very cool toy. Usually selling for 50% or less than what an ICOM R7000
sells for. The Yaesu's manual even gives instructions to program your own software in
computer BASIC and mods on the internet for using a discriminator output. It already has
an MPX output built-in.

Electronic Equipment Bank in VA, listed the ICOM R7000 in 1985 for $949.00 and the Yaesu FRG-9600
listed for 619.95 not including the video output option. That's a lot for a radio back in 1985.
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Old 02-21-2017, 12:03 PM
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The FRG-9600 used a TV tuner as the front end and first IF, that's why it had the odd frequency range.
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Old 02-21-2017, 12:16 PM
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Here's a picture of both the ICOM R7000 and Yaesu FRG-9600/FRG-965. Also includes a picture of the back of the FRG-9600's showing it's connections and CAT interface connector.
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Old 02-21-2017, 1:01 PM
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I still have my FRG-9600 complete with add-on TV IF module for watching TV.

Not sure what the software I had was called but it was Commodore64 based and allowed control and logging.
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Old 02-21-2017, 2:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOxlong View Post
I still have my FRG-9600 complete with add-on TV IF module for watching TV.

Not sure what the software I had was called but it was Commodore64 based and allowed control and logging.
I didn't know they made an interface for the Commodore 64 or that software was made for it but I know it's one of the easiest scanners to write software in with the BASIC computer language. The scanner uses just two commands. The frequency set command and the mode set command. The computers knows if it found a station or signal by reading pin 5 (Signal Level) or pin 6 (squelch). Pin 6 is easiest to read because it's either high or low for squelch closed or open. Pin 5 needs the voltage level read to display the signal level of the signal and needs extra hardware to do this but some software use a computers joystick port to read this.

Here is an picture of an example of a program someone wrote for the Yaesu FRG-9600 and you can see how simple it is.

You can take that example and add the following structure to make a scan and search program for the scanner in BASIC.

Programming to search is by using set mode (FM-N), then set lower frequency, check for signal on pin 6, if not, increment by frequency step of your choice (say 12.5 kHz) and set frequency, check pin 6, when you reach a high frequency for the search range you choice, then start back at low frequency range you set, etc.

(set) AM-N (set) 120.000.0 (check pin 6) with software increment 120.000.0 by 12.5 so you get 120.012.5 and (check pin 6) in no signal, increment 120.012.5 by 12.5 so you get 120.025.0, etc. when you reach your high frequency limit you wanted, restart at the low frequency and do it all over again.

You should only need to set mode once in a search because you searching a frequency range in the same mode and the radio should remember the last mode.

Programming memory scan is even easier. You can't scan the FRG-9600's built-in memory but you can scan a memory file on the computer. You go set frequency, set mode, check pin 6 and repeat for every memory you want to scan.

ex.

(set) 120.000.0 (set) AM-N (check pin 6)
(set) 121.050.0 (set) AM-N (check pin 6)
(set) 150.100.0 (set) FM-N (check pin 6)

Because you will scan a mixture of modes like AM-N and FM-N, you have to set mode with each frequency unless you scan all the AM-N first and then use the set FM-N to scan all those in a group. That way you only use the set mode before scan all frequencies in that mode. Like set FM-N and scan 50 FM-N frequencies and set mode again to scan another 50 AM-N frequencies.

The picture is using apple basic. What I have above is not a program but the structure a program would need to in BASIC to have the scanner function properly. You would have to have some knowledge of basic to write a proper program but for people familiar with BASIC, it's not that hard.
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Old 02-21-2017, 2:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOxlong View Post
I still have my FRG-9600 complete with add-on TV IF module for watching TV.

Not sure what the software I had was called but it was Commodore64 based and allowed control and logging.

Presume you don't watch much TV on it now?
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Old 02-21-2017, 4:21 PM
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Still have mine. The memory battery has died so I just keep it connected to my shack DC supply.
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Old 02-22-2017, 2:44 PM
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That was a very interesting read
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Old 02-22-2017, 6:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LesWurk View Post
Presume you don't watch much TV on it now?

Last time I used it for tv was when a few locals threw up an atv repeater.
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Old 02-23-2017, 5:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOxlong View Post
I still have my FRG-9600 complete with add-on TV IF module for watching TV.

Not sure what the software I had was called but it was Commodore64 based and allowed control and logging.
I know this is a real long shot, but you wouldn't happen to still have a copy of the C64 software would you?
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Old 02-23-2017, 6:30 PM
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Sorry but that would have disappeared many years ago.
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Old 02-24-2017, 8:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOxlong View Post
I still have my FRG-9600 complete with add-on TV IF module for watching TV.

Not sure what the software I had was called but it was Commodore64 based and allowed control and logging.
Did you make your own computer interface for your computer, buy an aftermarket one or did Yaesu make one for this model computer?
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Old 02-24-2017, 12:00 PM
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Pretty sure I made my own interface but keep in mind, this was almost 30 years ago so my memory isn't that great.
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Old 02-28-2017, 3:32 PM
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I remember the FRG-9600 back in the day. I've heard it popularly referred to as the "Frog" 9600 (FRoG-9600).
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Old 03-04-2017, 4:28 AM
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I bought one as the price was right back in the 90's. It was certainly NOT cool! Overload and adjacent-channel breakthrough were just a couple of its shortcomings, and its scanning capabilities were clunky to say the least. Up against the Icom 7000 it was severely wanting, even accounting for the price difference.
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Old 03-04-2017, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
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I still have my FRG-9600 complete with add-on TV IF module for watching TV.
Is there any analog TV signals these days, since TV has all gone digital?
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Old 03-05-2017, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iMONITOR View Post
Is there any analog TV signals these days, since TV has all gone digital?
AFAIK, there are none left in the U.S. but there probably a lot remaining in third-world countries.
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Old 03-05-2017, 3:58 PM
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Quote:
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Is there any analog TV signals these days, since TV has all gone digital?
Ther is at least one in SW Ontario, ch 42, should be receivable in Detroit without much problem.
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Old 03-06-2017, 9:35 PM
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Quote:
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I bought one as the price was right back in the 90's. It was certainly NOT cool! Overload and adjacent-channel breakthrough were just a couple of its shortcomings, and its scanning capabilities were clunky to say the least. Up against the Icom 7000 it was severely wanting, even accounting for the price difference.
Yes, this was true for many people. While the FRG-9600 is a fantastic receiver it did have problems especially with quality control of the first batch of radios made. I remember reading some vintage reviews where some reviewers gave it a high rating and others where they just had all sorts of problems. Most were fix with an alignment and they gave good service afterwards. Also to make matters worse, the radios used 3 different tuners in it's design over the years. Again, some of the earlier ones came right from the factory out of alignment. I don't believe Yaesu made the tuners but sourced them out of house.

Most people I know that had problems with them (off frequency, overload, adjacent-channel problems, etc) were fixed with a proper radio alignment. I know that the radio can overload with really strong signals but that happens with a lot of receivers / scanners in this price range.

The ICOM R7000 is superior to the FRG-9600 in most aspects but in it's day, the FRG-9600 was the closest thing you could get to a R7000 without paying the R7000 price.

As for the quirky/clunky scanner features. It has some very advanced features for it's time BUT they missed two main features. When scanning memories, it can't scan the full 100 memories at one time but only 1 bank of 10 memories at a time. The second feature missing is when scanning, it only stops on an active frequency for about 8 seconds and then continues on.

If you want to hear a transmission that lasts longer than 8 seconds, you have to push a button to hold it. It doesn't stop until the transmission is finished and then resumes. This looks like a problem and they should have had two scan modes, one like a regular scanner and this one.

What looks like a problem was really designed that way for a good reason. This is first really a communications receiver so the memories are designed to be tuned with the knob to monitor a single channel. The strange scan mode is made really for searching wide ranges in the frequency range that can also have non-voice frequencies or other signals that can stop the scan/search process. At that time, radios were in the infancy with Yaesu's AF scan, Voice Squelch Control where the receiver checks received signals for voice components or the more modern data skip options. They did work but could be fooled.

This way, if it stopped on just noise, pager or a data signal it would just continue on after 8 seconds until you heard a station that interested you and then you would press a button to hold it. I wish some modern scanners had that feature (I think ICOM does have this feature even now where you select a time and it resumes after that preset time).

The Yaesu was really meant to be controlled by a computer as the manual suggest to write your own to do what you wanted it to do. This radio had both a squelch output and a signal level output on it's CAT interface that even the R7000 never had on it's CI-V interface. The R7000 never had a factory designed way to report a signal or signal level back to a computer. Some software used the tape recorder output to relay when the radio found a signal to a computer.

If you still have your FRG-9600 and are having problems, you would be surprised what it may perform like if you get a full alignment done on it. I heard of a government department that still use a bank of these radios. Their is over 10 software programs out their for this radio and with the manual and a little help, you could write a program to do what you wanted it to do including some modern features. Under software it can scan 1000 channels with alpha tags and stop on a frequency, resume after the station stops transmitting with any delay (1, 2, 5, 10 sec, etc). It can also search with frequency steps starting at 100 Hz and scan memories of unusual frequency off-sets, etc. All under software that it can't do on it's own.
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Old 03-09-2017, 2:43 PM
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Thanks for that info, Compuscan. I kept my 9600 (mine was a 965 of unknown provenance) for quite a while, as it was a useful 'second scanner' despite its problems. I flogged it to a friend a few years later.

Andy.
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