WSJT-X with the Kenwood TS-590SG

Now that I”ve been using FT-8 for a while, I figured I’d hook up my TS-590SG (Kenwood) to my 2014 iMac running the WSJT-X software and get that running to see how that works. A little more complex than the Icom radios, but not by much.

Rather than repeat all the stuff I said in the Icom post on WSJT-X, I’ll ask you to read that one to understand the interplay between the Power (volume) setting in WSJT-X, the volume on the MIDI interface, and the volume on the radio soundcard.

For those new to this, first install the driver. I actually re-installed the driver for the Silicon Labs sound card (same chipset in the Kenwood as in the Icom) just to make sure I had a clean set of settings after using it for my Icom radio.

Then I plugged in a USB cable between the radio and the PC.

On the radio, you have the option of setting two sets of system settings by using Menus A and B. To switch between them press “Menu” “A/B” “Menu”. I put my routine CW/SSB settings on Menu A and set the screen color to green. then I put my digital settings on Menu B and set the screen color to amber. That way, at a glance I can tell if I need to switch menus depending on the settings I want.

OK, on Menu B, I set the following settings:

Menu 28: I set this to “1” then used the dials to set the low cut at 0 and high cut at 3,400

Menu 68: I set the baud rate to 19,200. This is for computer control, not audio transfer, so 19,200 is plenty fast and I seem to have less problems with control at lower settings.

Menu 69: I set this to “USB” for audio input line selection for data communications.

Menu 70: I set this to “Rear” for audio source for data communications

Menus 71 and 72, I set both to “1”, the default is “4”. Even with this set to 1, I still had to turn down the midi interface to -43db on output.

Once I had the driver installed, and the radio setup, I power cycled the radio, which seems to be necessary with Kenwoods after you change the baud rate. Then, I opened WSJT-X.  

Specific settings for WSJT-X are:

I was asked why I picked USB when the radio supports Data. The reason is found on page 40 of the TS-590SG manual. Data has a maximum filter width of 2,500KHz vs USB at 3,400KHz. Since a lot of hams transmit above 2,500KHz, I chose the latter.


Then, I changed the USB Audio CODEC output to -43db for both left and right, and made sure the input and output were set at "2 ch 16-bit integer 48.0 kHz.” 

Finally, I did a power down of the PC and radio, then started the radio and started the PC. Once WSJT-X was running, I tested PTT and CAT control and everything worked fine. I found the appropriate volume level, and I’ve been off and running. On the Kenwood, I set the bandwidth on the filter low to zero and high to 3,400. Turned off noise blanking, notch, and everything else. I found I also had to turn the RF Gain down just a bit, maybe 10% since sometimes the receiver would go quiet (overload?) when set with RF Gain full open.


© Alan W Dye 2018