Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

Amateur Radio Projects and Software Defined Radio

Alinco DX-SR9 Hybrid SDR Transceiver Review

Configuring HDSDR to Work Correctly for Transmit and Receive 

If you are willing to go down the rabbit hole a little further, you can possibly replace KGTRX as your go to SDR software with the DX-SR9. You will have to a little more work and you will not be able to control some features such as power settings and gain settings. You will have to set these manually before you put the DX-SR9 into SDR mode. However, you will gain access to some of the additional features HDSDR and more advanced 3rd party programs. After you have got your basic soundcard settings set up for HDSDR, do the following :

  1. First if you have installed the DX-R8 ExtIo.dll file get rid of it and it’s ini file by removing them from the HDSDR directory. Leaving them active will cause massive confusion.
  2. We are going to use OmniRig to control the DX-SR9. HRS has developed a beta ini file for the DX-SR9 that will allow HDSDR to access a few basic features of the DX-SR9 such as reading and writing the VFO frequency, reading and writing the Mode, as well as supporting TRX on and off. The ini file and OmniRig can be used to interface the DX-SR9 to many other amateur radio programs. So head on over and download OmniRig and install it. At the end of this article will be a link where you can down load the DX-SR9Beta.ini file. Place the ini file in the Afreet / OmniRig / Rigs folder. Start OmniRig and for Rig 1 select the Rigtype as DX-SR9Beta, Port to your ERW-7, Baud Rate to 9600, Data Bits to 8, Parity to None, RTS High, DTS High, Poll int to 100, and Timeout to 100 (you may need to increase the value of Poll and Timeout to suit you system). Your done. You will not need to open OmniRig again unless you need change it’s settings. Programs that use OmniRig can automatically start its services in the background.
  3. Start HDSDR and select CAT to Radio (OmniRig) menu.  Check the following settings from in the menu and make sure they are enabled : synch Rig1, synch to Omni-Rig, synch from Omni-Rig, synch Tune frequency, and synch Modulation. Turn on the DX-SR9 and don’t put it into SDR mode for now. Start HDSDR. Try changing the Tune Frequency in HDSDR. If you hear a whole bunch of beeping from the DX-SR9 and the frequency changes, then you got it right. Also check the SSB, AM, FM, and CW buttons in HDSDR and see if the DX-SR9 beeps and changes the mode (beware of the ECSS button it will send the DX-SR9 into a massive beeping fit, to stop it just select another mode). While out of SDR mode, the DX-SR9’s VFO tuning knob and mode buttons can change HDSDR’s settings. Once you do put the DX-SR9 into SDR mode all the beeping stops and the VFO knob and front panel buttons stops working. So if all that worked, you are good to go.
  4. HDSDR will be a problem with the default settings if you plan to use it for transmit. It’s very important to get HDSDR setup so that transmitting won’t be a problem. The Tune frequency and the LO frequency are usually two different frequencies. The LO setting will be your transmit frequency, not whatever the tune frequency is set to. If you don’t want to worry about this, you can go to the Options / Misc Options /  set LO <-> Tune Offset to 0. The go to Options / Misc Options and select Tune fixed to LO <-> Tune Offset. This will lock the tune and lo frequency together, so that when you click on the waterfall for frequency selection the DX-SR9 will be tuned to the correct transmit frequency. Now this will change the way you may be used to using HDSDR since every time you click on the waterfall it will tune the radio to a new center frequency. This might be a little odd at first if you are used to the default way that HDSDR works, but this not that unusual since some other SDR programs do it this anyway. These would be the preferred settings if you plan to transmit with HDSDR.
  5. If you have enabled DVOX on the DX-SR9, you should be able to transmit from the digital mode program.

Using HDSDR for Transmit Alone with OmniRig

You can enable HDSDR directly to control transmit without the use of DVOX. However there are some issues involved. You can go to Options / TX and select Enable TX Button for Omni-Rig1. You should get a new TX button on HDSDR’s screen. Clicking the button will key the transceiver. However there seems to be an issue with timing on fast transmit to receiving switching using HDSDR’s transmit button. You will notice the button may hang in transmit until you press it again a couple times. Sometimes fast switching will just hang up everything and the PC will have to be restarted. Your mileage may vary in this matter depending on OS, hardware, etc. The problem appears that there is a slight delay in switching in the DX-SR9 and the data sent to the for transmit / receive switching gets lost or corrupted. You will notice that KGTRX accounts for this by adding a slight pause between transmit / receive actions and you can’t press the button again until the DX-SR9 has completely cycled. That being said, HDSDR seems to work ok most of the time during normal slow transmit switching during a typical QSO.

The other really strange thing about HDSDR is that even though you have enabled the Transmit button for OmniRig, you will notice that you can not change the settings for transmit audio routing within HDSDR. Thats because you have to enable SDR TX Support in the TX menu. However, when you try to do that you will get an error message informing you that you need to have an ExtIO that supports transmit. Ok, there is a workaround for this. Go to the HDSDR web page to the hardware section and download the Softrock Lite v0.12 ExtIO.dll and drop it into the HDSDR file directory. Restart HDSDR and go to the TX menu. You should now be able to enable SDR TX Support. The transmit audio routing in the soundcard menu will now be available.

Frankly the most reliable TX / Receive worked well when combining Ham Radio Deluxe and HDSDR together. We won’t go into details here, but you will need to some virtual serial port software like VSPE to create a virtual serial port. Turn on the virtual serial port and set up CAT to HDSR using the new virtual serial port. HDSDR will emulate a Kenwood radio. Go to Ham Radio Deluxe and set it up to use a TS-440S on the virtual serial port. Go to the options in HRD and set the Transmit option to RTS. Every thing is now linked  and using the HRD button seems to work far more reliably. For what it’s worth the HRD folks say they are adding direct support for the DX-SR9 soon, which should mean that some of the features that are not support for the DX-SR9 should be available from the HRD link.

 

22 Responses

  1. AE5YJ says:

    Great review! Thanks for going so in-depth with this rig. 73

  2. George says:

    Excellent review! Nice to see a semi-major manufacturer embracing the improvements SDR offers and including it in their rigs.

  3. DL8YJ says:

    Thanks a lot for the review and the Omnirig.ini. It works well with SDR-Radio.
    Is there any (more or less official) list of the Alinco commands?

    73, Uwe

    • HRS Staff says:

      Check the Alinco Forum on this site. There is a list of DX-SR8 commands that seem to be pretty much compatible with the DX-SR9

  4. N4OZ says:

    If only it included 6 meters this would be a slam dunk. I think the KX3 still has the edge, even at 90 watts less power.

  5. AE5YJ says:

    Just curious which brands of usb adapters worked and which didn’t. I just ordered a sabrent 7.1 usb card with line in, stereo mic input, etc..

    • HRS Staff says:

      Actually one of the problem devices was the Sabrient SND8. The inputs were reversed. Even though they could be switched in the software for it, the setting wouldn’t always work correctly. The easy work around was to just swap the input cables around. The best performer by far was the Soundblaster SBX external box.

      • AE5YJ says:

        Thanks for the heads up, I will keep that in mind when it comes in. I just got it because it was economical and I am impatient, lol. I will also check on the soundblaster box, I noticed in the videos of the Tokyo Ham Fair that they were running the soundblaster unit.

  6. AE5YJ says:

    When you say swap the cables around, do you mean use a stereo to mono splitter and use the stereo mic input?

    • HRS Staff says:

      It would just me a matter of connecting the Left output to the Right input and the Right output to the Left input by using an adapter or by rewiring a 3.55 stereo cable so the inputs would be reversed.

  7. AE5YJ says:

    Sorry to keep making requests, but could you possibly post a youtube video of the SDR in action in a real receive/transmit environment? Counting down the days until my soundcard gets here lol

  8. AE5YJ says:

    I replaced my first faulty ERW-7 cable and now I have everything working in SDR mode thanks to the information here on this review and in the comments. I run SDR exclusively with this rig, and it works ok. Interesting note is that the I/Q imbalance is symmetrical in my unit, gain dropoff is severe and noticeable at both ends of the panadapter/waterfall. Annoying, yes but much easier to live with when symmetrical. Here is a YT video of the SDR in action:

    http://youtu.be/uaHAQCEwQck

    73 de AE5YJ

  9. kostas says:

    hello, I have not found the settings transmit filter

  10. Michael Mc Donald says:

    Hi there just set my dx-dr9e radio up with the erw-7 cable along with two 3.5mm audio cable one into line in and one into speaker output.Is there a certain mic I require for use on my pc ? 3.5mm into mic juck or would a usb version work I have tried a basic electric mic but when I key I get a high pitched squeal I then get a notification up on screen saying out of range using a cheap electret mic pluged into my mic jack on pc.Also is there another similar software which will work with the alnico? apart from kgtrx ? thx

  11. Michael Mc Donald says:

    Quick update radio with kgtx working well apart from the tx side when I click on tx I get a nasty squeal and a message saying out of range

    • Dub Campbell says:

      From what I understand the mic jack requires a mono plug and a dynamic mic. An electret mic cannot be used as a direct substitute for a dynamic mic without making some wiring or circuitry changes. The electret mic uses phantom power like a condenser mic and if you plug it into a jack that’s intended for a dynamic mic you’ll have a squealing problem or worse.
      Just plug in a simple, unbalanced dynamic mic and you should be good to go. That is, unless the voltage from the electret mic has caused some damage…but I think damage is unlikely with a low voltage electret. Good luck!
      Dub, k4dub

  12. Urmas says:

    How on earth you program memory channels? If you do what manual says it seems that frequency doesn’t save. Really seem to be overly complicated.

    Mainly now we talk cb-frequencies(receive/transmit same frequency)Mars-mod done to unit.

  13. Mentioned soon after introduction of the DX-SR9T Transceiver was the availability of an optional plug-in “filter board” (Part# EJ-59U) that is still available from ALINCO/REMTRONIX–but has not been mentioned in “factory literature” for well over the last year (2015 & 16). This “filter board” allows the substitution of up to three Eight-Pole COLLINS Mechanical Filters in place of the “stock” Four-Pole MURATA Ceramic Filters. Though not bad to begin with–the improvement in Selectivity is remarkable!! Refer to KZ4B’s comments regarding the DX-SR9T under EHAM.net for much more detail regarding this valuable option.

  14. Chris says:

    Hi. Where can I find now file: DX-SR9_Beta.ini?
    I need this emergency. May be somebody have it?

  15. DF1FN says:

    What a great review, actually it made me purchasing the transceiver. And what can I say? I’m very impressed, what Alinco offers with the DX-SR9, especially considering the relatively low price compared to other TRXs that dont’t offer as many functions, for example FM and the SDR option.

    What I like about the Alinco is the clear and simple design.
    I even don’t mind the three solid power output levels. Where’s the problem? You get a high, low and super-low setting with the possibility to fine-adjust everything on the circuit-board or to limit the high setting to 50 W by soldering a jumper. Working digital modes I set to the “high” level and adjust the output power with the sound level of the PC.

    Ok, what annoys me a bit are the many multifunction buttons at the front, but tell me a similar device that doesn’t have them.

    The KG-TRX software works relatively well but I had to update the TRX to a newer or special firmware to make it work correctly. Otherwise there always was a offset in the waterfall when I changed between LSB/USB/CW mode. I reported to the Alinco online customer service which could help me immediately.

    The Software itself is very basic and clear, what I like very much, because with more options it would tend to be overloaded I guess. Everything works including TX and CW TX.
    The 48 khz is wide enough for me. Ok, there is this signal ghosting but it can be reduced by a high quality soundcard.

    Would I recommend the Alinco? Yes!

    vy 73 DF1FN

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