Voice Announcements of SWR and
RF Power by the Kenwood TS-590
This article is for blind and vision-impaired amateur radio operators interested in voice announcements of SWR and RF power. The Kenwood TS-590 transceiver with a VGS-1 voice guide can announce these levels, as well as other readings from the radio multi-meter: S-meter, ALC, and COMP. No computer is required.
The full range of VGS-1 voice announcements is described separately. This page gives details about the multi-meter readings.
Programmable Function Keys
The TS-590 multi-meter announcements are accessible with Programmable Function keys. There are two PF keys, [PFA] and [PFB], on the radio front panel.
You can also reprogram the microphone [Up] and [Down] keys as PF keys. There is an older model Kenwood microphone with four additional PF keys. The TS-590 Instruction Manual includes a diagram of a simple external switch circuit you can build to function like four microphone PF keys.
The VOICE Keys
In the default configuration, the [PFA] key is programmed as VOICE1, which provides the standard VGS-1 frequency/channel announcements described elsewhere.
The default [PFB] key setting is VOICE2, which announces the current status of the S-meter and the RF power meter.
Any PF key can be programmed as VOICE3, which announces the current state of the SWR, ALC, and COMP meters.
If you use the Kenwood ARCP-590 Remote Control Program for rig monitoring or remote control, a VOICE announcement can also be triggered by clicking on Voice-1, -2, or -3 in the Radio pull-down menu.
If the S-meter reads S9, then "S9" is announced when [VOICE2] is pressed. There are 10 possible readings from S0 through S9 plus 6 readings from 10 dB through 60 dB.
If the RF power meter reads 25 watts, then "P25" is announced when [VOICE 2] is pressed. The possible readings are P0, P5, P10, P25, P50, P75, and P100, so they are not intended to be as precise as reading the meter directly.
Each press of the [METER (DRV)] key cycles between the SWR, ALC, and COMP meters:
If the SWR is 2.0, the "R2.0" is announced when [VOICE3] is pressed. The possible SWR readings are R1.0, R1.5, R2.0, R3.0, R5.0, and R-Over. If the SWR is greater than 10, the TS-590 with or without a VGS-1 unit automatically emits an alarm—"SWR" in Morse code—and bypasses the internal antenna tuner.
If the COMP meter reads 10 dB, then "C10 dB" is announced when [VOICE3] is pressed. The possible readings are C0, C10, C20, and C-Over.
If the ALC reading is 2, then "A2" is announced when [VOICE3] is pressed. The possible ALC readings are A0, A1, A2, A13, A14, and A-Over.
The "DRV" function is enabled if you press and hold the [METER (DRV)] key for more than 0.5 seconds (which is adjustable). In DRV mode the transmitter output is 1 mW, and a small "DRV" indicator appears on the display. This setting is stored in the antenna band memory, so the transmitter will switch back to DRV mode each time you return to this band. To disable DRV for the band you are on, press and hold the key again.
Kenwood TS-590 multi-meter readings—RF Power, S-meter, SWR, ALC, and COMP—can be announced using a VGS-1 voice guide. This feature is a significant advance in HF radio accessibility. The number of possible reports is limited—seven points on the power scale and six SWR reports—so they are not intended to be as precise as reading the meter directly.
Curtis Delzer, WB6HEF, posted information about the DRV function on the Blind-Hams Listserve Achive. (In the Archives index select September, 2011, and locate the subject heading "IMPORTANT Blind Users of TS590S" in the alphabetical Table of Contents.)
Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S. This web site has no ads or conflicts of interest.
Email: HamRadioAndVision "at" gmail "dot" com.