A Programming Utility For The Sangean ATS-909 And Its Clones

ATS909 Programer's Home Page



For as long as the Sangean ATS-909 and it's clones (the Radio Shack DX398, Roberts R861 & Siemens RK777) has been available, users of these radios have been asking what purpose does those DATA IN holes on the bottom of the radio serve and does anyone make anything that uses them? Finally someone has stepped forward with a programming kit that answers those questions.

Hailing from the Iberian Peninsula, computer programmer Tomas Ramirez has developed the ATS909 Programer. The ATS909 Programer uploads and downloads the Sangean ATS909 and it's clones 306 memories (presets) via a computer's parallel port aka printer port. The ATS909 Programer is not a computer controller program for these radios as these holes were not put there for that use. The ATS909 Programer kit includes the software (Windows only) and the cable needed to get started. All you have to do is come up with the frequencies you wish to program into the radio. The ATS909 Programer also allows the user to name the alpha-numeric shortwave pages and MW/FM memories. The user is also able to save the memories for future use in the computer or share them.

Getting Started
After attaching one end of the cable to computer's parallel port, the two pin A-B DATA plug (connector) must be set up. At first it is a bit cumbersome to hook-up the DATA cable to the radio but with some practice this part isn't so bad. This cable comes with a heavy clear plastic strap with Velcro on both ends that come together to hold the two pin DATA plug in place on the bottom of the radio. There is also a cable with a 3.5mm phono plug that comes off the DATA plug that goes into the LINE OUT jack on the left side of the radio. As mentioned before the cable setup seems a bit cumbersome but frankly I can't see a better way of holding the DATA cable plug in place that is as cost efficient or doesn't require some sort of expensive plastic mold. Once the DATA plug and strap is in place, make sure the flip-stand on the back of the radio is holding the radio up in its normal elevated position. This will help to lock in the strap and keep the DATA plug in place on the radio. We are now ready to try out the ATS Programer by launching the computer program that comes with the kit.

BE SURE TO FIRST BACKUP (DOWNLOAD) YOUR RADIO'S MEMORIES BEFORE UPLOADING. This is very important as you may have many of your favorite memories already in the radio.

Downloading Your Memories (Presets) From The Radio To The Computer
When you start the ATS Programer Tool software, the main introduction screen will give you two options which are either to download your memories from the radio to the computer or upload your memories from the computer to the radio. First make sure to set the software to the type of FM band that matches your radio. This box is located at the top where it says MODEL. Once you do that, it's time to LOAD FROM RADIO

The "Load From Radio 1" screen basically reminds you how to attach the strap and make sure everything is hooked up properly. On the DATA plug, the pins need to be in their proper holes; pin A matches with hole A, etc. A good way to remember this is to make sure the 3.5mm phono plug cable is on the left of the DATA plug as the LINE OUT plug is on the left side of the radio. After everything is set up click OK on the computer program.

Now we are at "Load From Radio 2" screen. This is where close attention must be paid and some quick hands ready to start moving. Put the radio in FM. Once you have done that, hold down the light button (top right with the little light bulb icon) and tap FM once. Quickly let up on the light button and then quickly press the ENTER button. You have only two seconds to hit ENTER once the process has started. If you have done everything right then you should see on the radio's display, where the alpha-numeric box is located under the frequency, DATA OUT then VERIFY and finally OK. At that point it's alright to click OK on the computer screen and then click EXIT. If the process doesn't go as discribed do not panic and try it again. Because of the quickness of hand involved it may take a few tries to get the process down.



Uploading Your Memories (Presets) From Your Computer To Your Radio
With the help of some good resources such as PrimeTimeShortwave, EiBi, Radio-Locator and dose of common sense, setting up the memories are easy by going to the main screen of ATS Programer Tool software and clicking on the bottom boxes for FM, MW, LW, and SW Memories and entering in the frequencies desired as well as the alpha numeric tags. It is worth noting that the ATS Programer Tool software defaults to AM mode for shortwave but USB or LSB may be selected to be programmed into the radio. After frequencies and tags are entered into the computer program everything is ready to be transferred to the radio.

The "Save To Radio 1" screen basically reminds you to make sure the radio and cables are hooked up properly. After reviewing the instructions on the page click OK in the computer program.

Now we are in the "Save To Radio 2" screen. Carefully attention must be paid from this point on to the process. After putting the radio in LW, press the Light button and tap the LW button. Quickly let up on the light button and then press the ENTER button on the radio. If you have done everything alright then you should see on the radio's display where the alpha-numeric box is located under the frequency, DATA IN then VERIFY and finally OK. The radio will then shut itself off. At this point it's alright to press the OK button on the computer screen. The ATS Programer Tool software will then return back to the main page. Congratulations, you have just uploaded your frequencies.

The downloading and uploading scheme may seem a bit overwhelming at first but really it's not after reading the instructions carefully and a few times practicing the process. The first time I tried the program I was over anxious to see results and accidentally clicked OK on the computer program before the radio had finished the verifying process which resulted in a ROM DUMP error. This was not the program's fault but rather operator's fault.

Though the Sangean ATS909 deafness off the whip is notorious, this radio has been one of my favorite travel radios for many years where I could throw out a small piece of wire or use a loop. A few years ago when Radio Shack blew out their remaining inventory of the DX398 for $100 I could not resist and picked up a second one. Last year I had RadioLabs modify my old Sangean ATS909 to a Super 909, which by the way I have been very happy with. I decided to try the Super 909 on the ATS909 Programer to see if anything had been done during the RadioLabs modification process that would prevent the program from working properly. Just as with the DX398, the Super 909 downloaded the frequencies and uploaded the frequencies without any problems.





The Downside...
While this is probably not the program's fault but the radio's software that causes this but each time you upload your frequencies the WORLD clock is reset to 00:00. The good news is that your HOME time zone still stays the same. In fact the HOME time zone name doesn't even change. I had changed my HOME time zone name a long time ago from the default NEW YORK to WASH DC. Same time zone just a different and closer city to me.

A nice feature would be if the ATS909 Programer was available for use via the USB port instead of the parallel port. Tomas tells me though there are no plans right now to do this due to the complexities of utilizing the USB port.

Overall Impression
The ATS909 Programer is a useful utility for someone who doesn't like to delete and re-enter the frequencies manually. AM and FM favorite memories probably don't change very much unless you are traveling or moving a lot. Shortwave though is another story. As most people know, many shortwave stations change their broadcast schedules twice a year (fall and spring). Keeping a radio that has a lot of memories up to date with useful frequencies is practically an impossible task. The ATS909 Programer makes this process a little easier and less time consuming. Since your favorite memories/presets can be saved as a file it is possible for users of the ATS909 Programer to swap memory files with each other. Another nice feature of the ATS909 Programer is the ability to create a text file of your memories. This file can be easily printed out, edited or shared. I personally always find it interesting to learn what people enjoy tuning in to on their radio and sometimes learn something in the process.

More information on the ATS909 Programer is available at ATS909Programer.com or by writing Tomas at tomas_ramirez_1962@yahoo.com.

A programming package like this has been a long time coming for this radio so hats off to Tomas for finally making a dream come true for many Sangean ATS909 users.










doteasy.com - free web hosting. Free hosting with no banners.



| Disclaimer | Feedback | About | This page was last updated: November 24, 2005 |
Copyright ©2002-2006 Radio Intelligencer. All rights reserved