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Michael Gracie

Programming the Yaesu VX-8DR on macOS, with the help of CHIRP and Valley Enterprises

In a word, easy.

The quad-band Yaesu VX-8DR is a nifty little radio, but in many respects it also suffers from feature overload. Hence menu pain. Even after several sessions of RTFM, one can still be lost. Programming via computer, please enter stage left on queue.

Unfortunately for Apple users, most pre-packaged programming utilities i.e. cable and software offerings cater to the Windows operating system and/or are designed for serial ports (think DE-9 connector). Those jokers with a spare MacBook Air lying around are almost SOL; they have to assemble their own tools instead.

With a little research it’s a moderately low effort endeavor. Even less if you just continue on here.

You will need the following to make this happen:

  • Dan Smith’s CHIRP, free software that Agent Mister Smith updates with regularity.
  • The KK7DS Python Runtime, available here.
  • A RPC-Y8R-UF USB FTDI programming cable from Valley Enterprises. My sole experience with those folks was extraordinary.

Now for the Usain Bolt of step-by-steps …

  1. Install the KK7DS runtime. In case you’re curious, the files will get placed in /opt/kk7ds.
  2. Open the CHIRP disk image and place the executable in your applications folder.
  3. Plug the business end of the cable into that proprietary (ugh) seven pin jack on the top of your radio, and the USB end into your machine.
  4. Run CHIRP. Click menus. Follow popup instructions. Rest easy.

Side notes for the weary

The Valley Enterprises cable is based on the FTDI chipset for serial comms, and there are drivers available for it here. However, at least partial support is already included in macOS Sierra – I was using 10.12.5 – so you shouldn’t actually need the driver. If you did use said driver in a previous OS X version and then upgraded to 10.12, I suggest you either remove it completely, or reinstall it and then disable the resident support by following these instructions (PDF).

When you run CHIRP, your best bet is to first select Radio / Download From Radio from the top menu. You are going to get a little popup window asking you for your comm port and radio model. Your selection for the latter should be obvious, but the former not so much. The port dropdown should offer bluetooth or serial; you are going serial, and it should look something like /dev/cu.usbserial-A505PVPC (the suffix may be different). Then you’ll get another popup that looks like this …

CHIRP

My advice … follow the instructions on said popup, verbatim. I found that not doing so exactly as prescribed resulted in failed communication. If you can’t get past the first popup, it is probably a driver issue. So check your USB settings from System Report, and hope you find something like this:

System Report

Sans that, like I said … driver problem. You will need to starting fiddling around with the FTDI stuff already mentioned.

All said and done, you will have the ability to perform nifty tricks like downloading local repeater frequencies (and tones, offsets, etc.) directly from resources such as RepeaterBook and RadioReference, quickly organizing all those memory banks you have on that spec’d out rig, and even rolling APRS settings and messages (no emojis!).

CHIRP

That is all.

MG signing off ( ..-. .-. . . — ..-. – …. . … – .-. .- .. -. — ..-. .–. .-. — –. .-. .- — — .. -. –. — -.– .-. .. –. — .- -. ..- .- .-.. .-.. -.– )

Comments

Jim Forslund says:

High Sierra, CHIRP and USB FTDI programming cable allow me to download from VX-6, but when I upload it hangs about halfway. VX-6 displays ‘ERROR’ on screen. Any ideas? TIA

Not sure, since it is hanging after start. I had a similar problem with an FT817ND, but saw the error right at start. Turns out I was pushing the buttons in the same order as per download; the upload sequence is different.

Since you are using the latest macOS, I suggest opening a ticket over at the CHIRP site.

Best wishes.

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