Drake E Communications Terminal

Within >ne pasi two to three attc-r a ramer lethargic period 'rere nas been a resurgence of interest m amatour and SWL RTTY activity primarily this has been due to :he state ot the ait moving rapidly forwaro thus making available video-dispiay-type comrnunicahonL ler minals, which, technically ai least, far sur pass The capabilities of teleprinters and theT associated e-quipmeni

This revtvaf has also had ttit incentive of lowered costs of such :erminais. together with the popular*:> oi personal computers that has burst upon us within the last tew years, ii^en the most lowly $88 computer can now transmit and re* ceive RTTY and CW Electronics has never been a standstill industry, and with Ihe advent of the integrated circuit, it 'Aas only a matter of time until computers and nam radio merged to form a single path of two extremely exciting interests.

Actively aiding this explosion o" interest in communications, the Drake Com pany of Miamisburg, Ohio has recently released the Theta 9000E communications terminal

To say that this terminal Is the ultimate lermtnal would be incorrect, nol hecausi?: of any lack of features, by any means, but because of the very volatility of alec-tronics design. Nevertheless, the Drafts 9QQ0E has so many operating features that some owners will probably n«ver gM around to using all of them. Let's look at these capabilities In depth and see how useful they can be to (he operator or listener.

Features

The Theta 9000E operates in five distinct modes and numerous sub-modes Not all of these are related directly to amateur radio or commercial monitoring, for several of These are definitely com puter-oriented. This is not to sa^ thai this aspect may not also be ultimately used 'or ham operation. In tact, at FCC rpgula tions permd land it may be hoped Ihese will continue to be brought to within the state of the art i, the 9000E will be extreme ly usefui Ahen ysed in computer to-computer communication.

Specifications of the 9Q00E are shown in Tabie 1 As a communications terminal the 9000E will send and receive CV. Baudot (RTTYi and ASCII (RTTY and KCSi. The last-named. Kansas City Stan dard. has some restrictions which Aii.oe mentioned ¡alar. As£ compu'^- tr-e9000E has a full word-processor function, useful for wvriting articles, letters, etc.

A standard an<i an enlarged videodisplay forma: can be used, as .veil a^ a memory capability of T4,00C cnaracte'S which may be scrolled on-screen. A graph ics function with an accessory light pen allows drawings to be produced on screen, which may be saved to a cassette tape recorder inot supplied) or transmitted to another Theta 9000EL

I: is possible to use the terminal in fui

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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1, Code

Morse code (CW). Baudot CQde<FtTTY). and ASCII (RTTY and KCS)

2, Characters

Alphabet, figures, symbols, and special characters

3, Spend

Morse Receiving 5-50 words/minute {automatic track)

Transmitting 5 50 words/mmuie weight Baudot and ASCFI 45.45. 50. 56 S8. 74.2. 100, 110. 150, 200. 300 600, 1200

2400. 4B00. 9600 baud

4- Input

AF mput impedance (CW. R7TYr and ASCIIS 500 Ohms KCS imput impedance! 500 Ohms TTL level input: common to CW. RTTYr and ASCII RS-232C mpui common to CW 3TTY and ASCli duple* mode while using ASCii and you can also use I he unit as an RSr232C ter minai at up to 9600 baud Three frequency shifts are available and either nrgh tone or low-tone pairs may be selected Ma.rk< only or space-only copy can be switched in and out. if required.

The only mandatory external equipment required iot terminal operation is a po*e* supc ly and a video-display momior

Addiliona' features gviltoediscussediin greater detail below

Hardware

Mechanically ine9000Edehmteiy does not toofc like something kiudged up in someone s garage. The appearance is first-class, and the mechanical rigidity Is solid Ail of the electronics are packaged in an attractively finished satin-black metal case measuring 16V* inches by inches, with the panel sloping from i *4 inches ai the front to Inches at the back.

The keyboard is standard QWERTY m ASCII format In addition, ihere is a row of speoaJ-purpose dual-function --eys aiong The lop of the keyboard Thes^ are ¡dedicated to conTrol functions and jre quickly identified as they are colored red with white markings {except one, the RESET key, which is white with black markings) There are numerous other computer-oriented keys on This keyboard, such as ESC (Escape). RETU RJM. B51 Back Space}, etc. Nevertheless, when iransmlt ling Baudot, It will conform to the require ments of FCC Regulations Part 97.69 re qarding Internalional Telegraphk, Alpha bet No. 2.

Ail of ihe alpha and numeric keys are colored lighi gray with while indicia, special control keys are black with while, and function keys are eliher white with black lettering, ot< as in the case uf the space bar and shift keys, red and red with white, respectively.

Overall, the keyboard has a very pleas Ing appearance and a good, definitive touch when the keys are depressed I found ihe posi^on of The RETURN key a lilile far away for my ptnky to reach com fortabty; it must pass over DELETE on the way. However, this opinion is sub|ective —nearly every computer now has the ENTER or RETURN key at a sHghtly different position, and it is a matter of getting used to it. (As witt bo explained later, there are only a few occasions when it is necessary to use The RETURN key anyway, as full-word wraparound is supported.I

U is necessary to remove the case in order to install two AA type batienes used for memory retention ¡good for about one yeart. Thrs is a simple operation and lakes but a momeni. LEDs are to indicate power on and the presence of apace and mark signals. Two variable controls Fine Tuning and Volume are in a wlica) ¡.neon the right-bar-} side of the caomet

All connections to the 9000E are made via the rear panef ithe internal speaker tor the audio monitor faces out from this back panel alsol Bringing all of the peripheral cabling out the back is quite satisfactory — the great number of possible connections -vould otherwise mane a rat's nest of cabling Coaxal cable the size of FIG-174 icui not otherwise identified! is supplied tor making connections to peripheral equipment, together with sufficient phono connectors. The use of Thhs type of connector especially for RS-232C connections, is not the best way to go. parallel printer port has a standard D&-25 connection which is much more effective The power cable exits from the tack panel, too. and ?acks are available for connecting an external osc^Jiosco;e for monitoring space and marr tuning, fdesiree All FSK and AFSK connection circuits are via high-voltage, high-current optoisolators.

The audio monitor ¡s used for both transmitting and receiving and has its owr gain control Monitoring m Receive can tie either the output of the mark signal path or space or the audio output f rom the age amplifier prior to the channel filters.

VWe<yDliplay Terminal Requirements

The vtdeo^djspiay Termma monitor) ma> be of ¿ny s>z9 screen Drake offers a monitor as an opnon The display must be capable Of accepling a composite video Signal of t o /olt p o at 75 Ohms im pedance

PoweeSuppty Requirements

A power source of volts dc i - 1. +2 volis) at l 3 A is required for the 9000E. (Drake also ofieti a suitable power supply as an opnon i An on-olf rocker-type switch Is on the back panel

Functional Description (Communications-Oriented!

RTTY The first mode to be described, and probably the most important in the eyes of many who are presently operating, is RTTY RTTY is available on the 9000E in a multitude of modes, shifts, and speeds. Possibly (he mosl common mode currently In use on the ham hands is Baudot operation with 170-Hzshift and45.45baud (60 wpm| However, all of the Shift frequencies and baud rates shown in Table 1 are available by keyboard selection. Of course, all of those shown are not currently authorized by the FCC for amateur operation In the US

These frequency shifts and transmission rates are available as AFEK or FSK transmissions, depending upon the output that is selected for use with the transmitter Reception will be at Ihe Sheeted shiftfspeed, and. although it is possible to receive at a different shift or speed than that transmitted by using a quick ¡keyboard chance this is a highly unlikely possibilty

It should be noted that the shift fre-q uencfes and speeds shown in Table 1 are available in a htgh-tone o? low-tone out pui Tne choice mac£e is largely dependent upon whether you are operating in the HF bands or on VHF

aSOt The other primary sub-mode fn RTTY operation is the one that is gaming more and more adherents s:nce being authorized by the FCC - ASCIt. This mode will be ol interest to computer buffs, too as they may transmit and receivecomput er programs and operaie remote computers a iih no translation needed from ASCII to Baudot

As -vith Saudo! the ASCII shiits speeds anc high-.ow tones are available but because of the complete differences

5. AF Frequency

Morse 830 Hz

RTTY (Baudot, ASCII): Mark

Shift

KCS; Mart

Space

11. Battery-Back-Up Memory

256 characters * 7 channels

12. Buffer Memory

3120 characters m the codes of Baudot and ASCII the 90Q0E has dedicated keys to perm it sefec ttofi upon powerup of either one or the other.

One other aspect of ASCII operation will be ol Interest Ihe so-called Kansas City Slandard {KCS) ThfS operation may t>e used for recording on a cassette recorder, so that In effect you have a tape system * capable Of storing text or RTTY pictures for future use

CW. This is the third mode available tor transmitting and receiving with ihe 9Q00E This toor is selected using a dedicated key. Similar io the Baudot and ASCII modes, the CW mode may be effected

1275 Hz (kw -one 2125 Hz ^..gn 'one: 170 Hj ¿25 H;. 850 Hz + lire tuning 2400 Hz 1200 Hz with severa sub-types of operatic n Butin the case of CW. these probably are more valuable than in the RTTY mode. For example, you may transmit to the screen and built-in aud'O monitor any approved CWcharacteT,The ¡atter sa loca1 ^ode and is not transmitted jyou touic do that too of course^ ^rso. if you need tfte prac lice you may place the terminal an automatic cipher mode and it will send random five-letter group characters fore ver, if ¡ou would like thai. You may a':so direct Thene groups to a tape recorder or a printer Us ing ytu' hand Key, ouc or kep'er. you can Send manual, and have it sound on me speaker and appear on ihe screen. Be-

13. Oulpul Impedance lor Oscilloscope

200k Ohms

14. AF Output

150 mW

Output impedance; B Ohms

15. Power Supply Requirement

16. Dimensions

415mm x 245mm x 45mm,v7Bmm

17. Accessories

Instruction manual 1

Pin plug 13

Fuse 1

Coexiat cable 4m

Light pen 1

3P connector i

TI Specifications tor /fie Thetä 9000E terrmnst

6. Output

Keymg output CW 80 mA 200 V {optoisoiatort

FSK 80 mA 200 V {optoisolator)

A emote 200 mA. 100 V <optoisolator) PTT 100 mA. 100 V (positive voltage only)

AFSK output impedance 5QC Ohms [common to CV. RTT> and ASCh FÎS-232C oui put common to CW. RTTY ASCI!

7, AFSK Output Frequency

Morse: 830 Hi amr (Baudot ASCII) Mark T275 Hz (low tonei 2125 Hz ihigh lone*

Sh^fl 170 Hz 425 H^ 850 Hz + fine tuning

KCSt Mark 2400 Hz

Space 1200 Hz

A. Display Output

Composite video-signal output impedance: 75 Ohms

9. Interface for Prlntei

Centronics compatible parallel interlace

10. Number of Characters Displayed

Screen formal (keyboard selectable): &0 characters x 24 lines = 1920 characters 40 characters x 24 lines = 960 characters Possible number of characters displayed: 14,000 characters Graphics mode 80 elements wide x 72 elements high

F r g í Peripn fw I equip men r i n rere o n nee tions cause oí :he acule act precognition attributes of the 90ÜQE, your sending had t j.'tteT be flawless or nearly so This wllltn discussed again later on

You may also send manually but receive by way oí the terminal technical:». you ctujicJ do the reverse by usmg th« board to transmit sfld listening and copying manually You may ever, dc this and useIhe keyboard for Typing .what you are hearing and have the screen or printer display your copy

CW transmitting speeds- are preselected. with the initial power-up state being 11 wpm, Nine other speed a may be koyboard-selecied; 5. a, 14. 10, £3, 30, 39, and 50 wpm. Ten steps of welghling may be set. also by keyboard conlror.

CW reception speeds are automatically tracked 11 there is ¿sudden switch from a higher sueed oi reception io a lower ore. several characters may be dropped unH synchronization is achieved

The speeds sho*n above are not a fixed Tjclcr 4 refinement tv l/S^th higher of man the easting speed is poss'ble b> a double-key eniry iÜBing the9000Efor code practice you could select a goal oí speeding up irt54th each day \

Description (Computer-0 ríen ted J

11 the preceding modes could De described as "communications/^ then The next can be called «'computer " Never-iheless, (hese, too, may be used In communications where authorized or bydirect wire using a modem

Wortí Processor The word-processor modi; operates just as any computer word-processing program- would but it does not ha^e all of the embellishments of some of tne mcr^ esoterc computer programs or dedicated word-processing terminals Notwithstanding mat at ate mint, it ts stiil quits adequate for letter writing small ar-ncifl preparation. lists cogging, etc.

Forlhosehams *hc may not befamiiiar vvilti computer operations» word processing is the ability to compose write Itypei. delete» nnodily, and move characters, sentences, and blocks of words on the video display until the material Is satisfactorily composed. This is like typing something and then bc?lng able to change or correct any ol ■( twfate committing 11 to ihe printed page

The word-processor mode is accessed by passing two keys simultaneously The baud rate w ill be 300. and the AFSK output wet be 2400 Hz mark ano 1200 Hz space (KCS). Up to three pages o I 65 lines are available for preparation purposes with the video presenting linee of 90 characters The screen splits vertically in this mode, with the teltmosi erght character columns comprising an operation area and the next 72 columns allowed tor "data' — in this case, this is your text area.

In ihe word processing mode, you may connect lo a tape recorder as well as a printer Full cursor control Is obtained by using ihe labeled arrow key>. and the cursor may be moved up to 99 lines in one move (depending upon its location at the momemi by three keystrokes.

A g*eat many oltrar standard *ord-íMOcessing functions are avariabie using similar Key motions, such as block text change line insertion úv etion left and r^ghT margin justihcal fOn, insert and delete spaces, and numerous others. Even one of ine more useful and highly desirable lunciicns found in good com-marcial word processing programs is withm ihe capabiliiy ot the 9000E —

character search Character may be a single character or a sequence of characters. known in Ihe computer field as a transceiver

"string Merely b> lyplng One letTC plus tne siring being sougl^ tne flQOQE will search tor and display ine string upon locating it This ma> take a second or Iwo ot a fraction of a second depending upon he* far Ihe string may be Into ihe text from ihe start of the search When found the screen will scroll to the line where the string is located and the cursor will Slop at ihe beginning of the line thai the sinng is in If no such string exisis, the screen will display NO DATA Once found the siring may be deleted, modified, or moved, using the commands foi ihese (unctions.

A rather unusual function, and one that Is not customarily foundl in many word-processing programs is the ability lo draw vertical and horizontal lines on the screen or printer A dual keystroke followed by a numeral will draw either one of these <|rom the cursor position t-: (he en-lent of trie numerical quantity lhai has oeen entered The manual describes ¡his operation as " he drawing of horizontal vertical -fines " and tne way it is presented is a Itttle confusing. For ^stance if nine horizontal 'lines'1 (manual terminology) are to be drawn, nine hyphens in a row will appear The manual indicates lhat each hyphen lg a "fine," which Is not really Ihe concept Of course, you can draw nine truly individual broken horizontal lines by requesting the required number ol hyphens for each of the nine lines desired The same applies to vertical ■'lines," In this case, the vertical "lines" are colons presented vertically down ihe screen Regardless of how this is presented m the manual, Ihe ability to draw tines such as these >s an excellent way to quickly lay out tables and Chans on the screen and the pfinter

The 900GE memory may be used for the retention of repetitive material used in the word-orocesstng mode, tne lines mentioned acovs, or names and Jddresses, etc., foi instance, and these may b< accessed as required The memory function will he described in more detail presently In connection with the oiner functions.

Graphics. The Una! major function of the 900QE is the graphics mode This will be mentioned >n this review as a major mode, although in the 9000E manual It is relegated lo a category of sub-functions thai includes split screen operation and selective calling

Tne graphics mode however, is rot on-ty unusual tor a communications terminal lo have, but also its output may be trans milted ¡o other Theta 9000E terminals and could be useful for rough schematic draw mgs or block-diagram transmissions.

Graphics aru created using a supplied light pen. Once ag^inH for those not too familiar with computer techniques, a light pen may 11 read" or "write" data to and from a CRT by touching the lighi-sensiI ivg tip of ihe pen lo the screen. This ise*acily what happens with ihedOODE. but using the pen to read characters does not apply with this equipment. Any characters created on : he screen may be transmitted to either a lape recorder or anoih^f Theta as mentioned.

Initially in Ihe graphics mode the screen will display a full grid of small hgrn squares iPixels} To use the light pen. the tip i$ touched against the display, and whtle holding one key down, the pen is moved vertically and horizontally, as required. This creates a pattern of smali In verted "U" block characters wherever the pen touches a pixel while the key is dp pressed. When llmshed, a single command erases ,ilt ol the remaining pixels, which leaves Ihe skelch as composed.

Memory

The Impressive memory capabilities of the 9000E are sufficiently important to ^arrant review consideration in some de tail. Memory in the RTTY mpue is like hav ing a built-in paper-tape capability in this insiance hp,\t^ef. you may modify and store data ready ?or transmission yt olher use n an tnstani. and without the noise C a paper punch.

The memory is available for use m all modes In fact, some data stored in memory may be applicable and used interchangeably in RTTYandCW for instance. But protocol will dictate actual us^ge: CW

abbreviations hav* limited use, if any. in a RTTY QSO: on the other hand, words spelled out are seldom used in CW except for iratliC handling *hen mis could tie particularly useluh iFor vaffic tiling you can uaftsmit i^e -rece'-ed"' screen, too:

A 3120-ch¿facte* bu^ei memory may be uliiizeo in splii-screen mode on the io*er portion ot the screcn This is a voia^ie memory. A Random Access Memory IRAMJ capabrliiy of 256characters each in seven different chanr^ is ir also available Daia is maintained m this area with the batteries meniioned under "Hardware." Data in this ¿ru^i may be changed at any time, and in any channel, without disturbing Ihe contents of other channels. II should also be mentioned lhat data in ihe bulfer may be changed even while oerng transmitted it necessary (before it is keyedT of coursei

One memory channel (channel 6) has 16 subsections wt|h space for 15 characters each m ij. ar,o another (channel nafi eight subseciicn-n o* characters each Transmission of data in the first five channels (255 characters each! may be repeated up to nino Um«s Channel 6 with Its i6 subsections may Cham" or over wnte into a subsequent channel if the number of characters in one exceeds its limits. Thus it, toci. may bi.1 utilized for characters if necessary. This Channel also may be repeated up to nine times

The operation of channel ? is similar; however, subsection 7 of in is channel has the " QBF message *vrillen in ii (^THE QUICK BROWN FOX . .' ), and l,CW ID FOLLOWS" is m subsection 8, which will also normally contain your call No repeal function occurs in channel 7r A stored RYRY ' is present, loo.

Operaic^s Manual

Until l began reading the manual. I honestly believed lhai the SOOCt was of US manufacture (not yet having looked at the serial-number plate) Almost lm mediately it was evid*^nt thai the manual was wntlen in Japanese oriented English Not that Ihis pattern is particularly difficult to undersinnd in this instance, but a few oi the sentences and phrases throughout the manual are convoluted to the extent lhat you may ask. lHWhai does this mean?"

In addition, the manual suffers from a tack of good organteaiion. with a numbet of explanations either redundant or scat lereo piecemeal in d'Herent pans of ihe manual A good English editorial treat ment of the manual could cut its volume t, a third and 31 the same '.me make il far mpre eaS'. !c read a^o understand

Physicalfy. the manual is composed cl 75 pages of sharp typewriter font copy; II is very legible being printed on good quality, coated white paper Sectional numbering is maintained throughout al though there is ^ preponderance of seL-Hon, subsection, paragraph, and item numbering, which becomes quite effusing when looking for a particular subject.

All of this Is bound In a stiff cardstock blue cover Unfortunately, the bock is glued along the spine, making il impo&sJ* Pie to use il open and Hat. (I cut me spine off. punched thfee holes in il, and bound it m a three-ring binder >

There is a Table of Conients. but no Index, which *ould behelplul, inasmuch ±ss Ihe creaking oi information as men Honed above rray place important mfor mation in more lhan one location.

One seciion 'Iniroduct+on to All the Function Kays," is a valuable inclusion AH keys, used singly, dually or triply, are shown as they refer to the various lunc-tions they perform together with an ex*

POVtlf*

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