After scouring the net and playing with settings on and off for months, I finally was able to successfully configure my KT-8900D using Digirig on VARA FM, Winlink.
First, preaching to the choir here, but Digirigs rock! I’ve been using them on my HF rigs for some time.
I’ll share my most important finding with this rig first, then some other helpful things.
I’ve been struggling for months to get this to work, squashing minor problems here and there, never sure if I could ever get this thing to work. Finally today, after exhausting every tutorial on audio settings, rig settings etc, I had a hunch… Read the Manual (but look for things that may be impacting my setup… no manual tells you how to config for a particular digital mode on UHF/VHF!). I had two KT-8900D radios set up at my QTH, both with digirigs, the same home brew cable, similar computers. Both would key the radio and I could hear packets on both sides (via a 3rd radio listening) but they just wouldn’t respond to each other. Then I tried this:
Disable both “Squelch Tail Elimination” and “Repeater Squelch Tail Elimination” (menu 53 & 54) on both rigs.
I gave it one more connect try and BOOM it worked!!! Supposedly this feature is common with cheap Chinese radios, and may have thwarted my attempts in the past to get these rigs running. I had focused mostly on audio issues (which are still important) but did not solve my issue.
So since there is no documentation or forum mention of this, I wanted to get it out there, that this was the key to my success in getting this little cheap rig to work. I have much to do to test this out in the field, but this was a promising sign. Would love to hear from others about this rig specifically (those that have successfully used them, not the naysayers of these spatter prone products) or other inexpensive rigs.
My goal here is to use these rigs to inexpensively set up a messaging infrastructure in our county to serve as a backup in emergency response situations. We don’t have the big bucks that others have to build motorola or icom level fail safes, so these Chinese wonders will have to do.
Other things I have found helpful:
-Use a digirig. They are rugged, effective, simple, and cost effective.
-Buy the USB cables from digirig with ferrite cores on them. They prevent RF issues, are a fair price, and high quality.
-Move your antenna away from the computer, they don’t play well, especially if you use BlueTooth accessories.
-Set squelch to zero, feed the audio to the computer so you don’t have to hear it.
-Use a 3rd radio to monitor frequency, spend 25$ on a beofeng for this
-I like the KT-8900D because it’s cheap, small, and has a 3.5mm TRRS audio jack with mic and ptt on the back
-Do all the audio stuff Digirig suggests, then use the “Auto Tune” feature to dial in your settings.
-As mentioned above, disable both Repeater & Squelch Tail Elimination (menu 53, 54)
TRRS pinout that worked for me:
Digirig → KT-8900D
T —> R2
R1 → R1
R2 → T
S —> S
Good luck! Open to feedback