THE  ‘SKYLINE’  70-1000X  PROGRAMMING  SYSTEM

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

They aren't ALL really frequently asked, but we decided we should try and anticipate ....

1.  Will this programmer/software work with my computer, running Microsoft's XYZ operating system?

All Microsoft operating systems from DOS through Windows© 3.x and Windows© 95/98/ME ("Windows 4") allow direct program access to I/O ports, including the parallel port.   The 70-1000X programmer’s software requires this direct access.

Microsoft’s operating systems based on Windows© NT (which includes all incarnations of Windows© NT, Windows© 2000 and Windows© XP) prevent direct program access to I/O ports.  On machines using any of these NT-based operating systems, this programming equipment can only be employed if:

In these situations, SkyLine cannot guarantee a successful outcome.

The software has been tested under DOS 5.0 and Windows© 98SE on a variety of hardware platforms.

As Windows© ME is the next (and last) operating system in that DOS-based "Win9X" series, it is expected that the software should operate there without problems, but
this has not been tested.   (Frankly, ME was not a popular system, resulting in many users migrating either to 2000/XP or reverting to 98.  If you are stuck on ME, you are on your own, but we don't expect it to be materially different to 98.)


1A.  Will it operate under Linux/Ubuntu or ...?

Do you have a Windows
© (or DOS?) emulator?

Can you boot with a removable media? If so, it should work, but we certainly haven't tried it..



2.  What are the minimum hardware platform requirements?

There is no minimum platform (processor) requirement, BUT the motherboard must support a bi-directional parallel port.

The programmer provides the critical timing, and the software establishes other timing parameters to suit, so operation is very largely independent of platform speed.  The software has been tested on a variety of platforms, with the fastest being a Pentium 3 machine running at 667 MHz.

The system will require a mouse, mouse driver (for DOS operation) and an available bi-directional parallel port.  (Hint:  It needs to actually be set in the BIOS to EPP and not SPP.)



3.  Can the system operate with non-standard parallel port addresses?

Yes, the software can accept non-standard parallel port addresses.



4.  Can this programmer be driven by other software?

No.  The hardware is tightly integrated with the software, and there is no other way to operate the programmer.

5.  Can this programmer use files that were created by other software?

Yes.  The software will transfer your existing binary images to the target module, as well as allowing you to edit these files.

6.  I have some Z-273 modules but I don't know which radios they came from.  Can the 70-1000X tell me which they came from?

Yes.  Assuming the modules were properly programmed, the software determines the band of the radio for which it was programmed as a necessary step in resolving the programmed frequencies.   However the software cannot tell whether the module came from an 'A' or 'B' sub-band unit directly, (say a 70-340A vs a 70-340B) as the sub-bands overlap, and also units are often programmed out-of-sub-band.  Once the frequency information is visible ("View/Edit  Buffer Contents") you should be able to make an informed decision.

7.  Does the 70-1000X program the Z-350 module from the 80-channel Syntech 70-155/-255 portables?

YES!!  With recent assistance from Andrew at RFGuys, we have been able to confirm the nature of the stored checksum information (which forms an integral part of each channel's data).  Software has been written and tested for programming these modules.  Special thanks are also due to Jim N5VGQ for donating a Midland 70-1071 (Z-349) adaptor to facilitate testing.  This software is now available in beta release for all current and future 70-1000X owners as part of our ongoing product enhancement and support policy.

NOTE:  You will require a Midland 70-1071 adaptor to accommodate the module.  We are unable to supply that adaptor.


8.  Does the 70-1000X program the Z-383 module from the 8-channel 70-336 and 70-526 mobiles?

YES, with our X383 adaptorUsing this adaptor on the SkyLine 70-1000X -  together with the corresponding software - enables programming the Z-383 module.  See the X383 page for further details.

Warning:  The Z-383 is traditionally programmed using the Midland 70-1000 and their 70-1072 adaptor.  These modules use only four bits of each byte of data, and connect the unused data lines from the programmer to +5V or ground.   The SkyLine 70-1000X was designed specifically for the Z-273 module which requires using the full eight data lines.  Rather than redesign the 70-1000X to suit this less common transceiver group, SkyLine has instead designed our own adaptor (the X383) so that the standard 70-1000X can program the Z-383 module.
If you plug a Midland 70-1072 adaptor directly into the SkyLine 70-1000X - with or without a Z-383 EPROM module - you may risk damage to the programmer and your computer's parallel port.  (The SkyLine programming software for the Z-383 tests for the presence of a Midland 70-1072 adaptor during the setup procedure, and will not proceed if one is detected.  However there is no effective way to safeguard against an unwary user installing a 70-1072 out of sequence AFTER the checks have been completed.)


8A.  Does the 70-1000X program "Talkaround" for the Syntech-1 mobiles and Syntech 80-channel portables?

YES!!  This is something we were always interested in implementing, but had never actually seen the Z-273TA module referred to in the User Manual for Midland's 70-1000 programmer.  Recent investigation has revealed that the required functionality can be readily implemented in the standard Z-273 EPROM module, and this has now been incorporated into our Z-273 software.  (Programming of Talkaround for the Syntech 80-channel portables has been incorporated since the initial beta version release.)  See TALKAROUND page for more information.

9.  Will the 70-1000X program the Z-xxx module from the 70-xxx mobiles?

We don't know.  It is always possible, but we haven't got those modules/radios/adaptors to try it.  Always keep in mind that the Midland 70-1000 was specifically produced for the Z-273 module, and anything else it may do is an afterthought.

If the module can be programmed by the Midland 70-1000 with only a physical adaptor and without firmware changes, then that would suggest that the data format in those modules is identical to the Z-273.  Maybe.  But see above regarding the Z-383 - nothing is certain until it has been checked out.  Don't take risks with your equipment.  Ask first.

With the Z-350  - see question 7 above - the data structure has some differences, and the Midland 70-1000 firmware (after a certain revision number) can support the Z-350.  If there is a list of modules other than the Z-273/Z-273TA that the Midland 70-1000 can support in stock trim, we'd like to see it.


10.  Does the software/programmer support ham band operation?

The short answer is Yes.  The frequency bands supported are taken directly from the band selection table in the Midland 70-1000 User Manual, which are:

so 6m, 2m and 70cm bands are directly supported for Band 0, 2 and 3 equipment respectively.

The band selections on the screen form are slightly different, being based on the actual bandspread offered in the transceivers, but the limits above are employed in determining what frequency data is valid/acceptable.

In some parts of the world (such as Australia), ex-commercial equipment in 25-55 MHz is not plentiful but surplus gear in 70-85 MHz is readily available and cheap.  As a result, much of this latter equipment is modified for 6metre operation.  The SkyLine software accommodates this practice by use of a command line "switch" after the name of the executable file, "/ham" (without quotes).  When "ham" mode is invoked, the band limits for Band 1 and 4 are changed to 50-54 MHz and 902-928 MHz for 6m and 33cm bands respectively.

Note that because the Band 1 and 4 radios do not have the bandspread to
simultaneously accommodate both 6m and 60-90 MHz frequencies (or 806-866 and 902-928), when in "ham" mode support for the commercial Band 1 and Band 4 frequencies is not available.

The software will also automatically recognise 6m or 33cm frequencies in a properly structured file or EPROM and switch to "ham" mode.  The band selection form is adjusted to reflect the "ham" mode whether selection is by user command-line switch or by reading an EPROM or file.

For
the command-line-challenged Windows types, the User Manual describes two ways to invoke "ham" mode.

11.  How can I find out more about the 70-1000X before making a purchase decision?

To enable you to experience the "look and feel" of the software, we have prepared a software "sampler" which you can download here (ZIP file, size 135kB).  As you won't have the programmer to connect, some functions obviously can't be supported but the functions interacting with the EPROM (such as read/blank-check/compare) do a simulated read etc. 

In producing this sampler, there may be some "quirks" that have resulted from stripping parts out of the full version to keep the file size down.  Note that when running the sampler, you should ensure that you don't have a printer or other device connected to parallel port LPT1.  Also refer to Question 1 above regarding operating systems.

There is also an abridged version of the user manual which you can download here (PDF file, size 459kB) or here (Zipped PDF file, 343kB).  As many net users are still limited to dial-up speeds, we have endeavoured to keep the file size as small as practical while still retaining the information and instructions.  To achieve this, some explanatory appendices have been omitted as have many of the screen shots from the full manual.   These omitted screens are present in the sampler software.

12.  You don't include a power supply with the unit?

No.  Voltage and outlet configuration vary from country to country.  We cannot source the majority of types, so it is impossible to offer them.  The user is best placed to source the power device in his own country.

13.  You don't include a cable to connect the PC to the unit?

No.  This is a common 25-pin male-female (extension) cable with all pins wired straight through.

14.  Can I leave the programmer connected when I shut down the PC?

No.  Although the old IBM Technical Reference Manual describes how a parallel port was built and functioned, that was way back in history.  Since then, the hardware implementation of the parallel port is no longer standardised, and it would be unsafe to assume anything about how these ports react to the presence of the programmer at shutdown/startup.  For this reason - protecting your port from any possible ramifications of this uncertainty - the software requires the programmer is de-powered and disconnected before you exit.

15.  I have a problem with my 70-1000X programmer.  What should I do?

The first thing is to determine what the programmer is NOT doing.  If there is an error message, the user manual will provide some additional guidance.  If there is NO error message, there are some hardware and software checks you can do.

Re-check all connections and ensure that you are following the on-screen directions and prompts.

A.  Software.  Does it read a disk file and display the contents correctly?  What result do you get when trying to read a module?

B.  Hardware.  Disconnect everything from the programmer, then connect only the power.  Check that both LEDs on the rear panel and only the green LED on the front panel are all illuminated.

If going through the above checks doesn't reveal the problem, contact us for information regarding further investigation and service.  DO NOT send the unit unless we authorise its return.

16.  My 70-1000X programmer fails when I try to "Write Buffer to EPROM".   What is wrong?

Do you get an error message "Write failure ..."?

Assuming that it reads EPROM modules OK, have you ensured that the module is blank (erased) before attempting to write information to it?   EPROMs must be erased before programming.   Erasure can only be achieved by exposure to UV light of the correct wavelength.  This requires an EPROM eraser (not supplied) and you can find decent ones at Xeltek (such as the LA6T) or cheaper units on ebay.  Be sure to check that the drawer opening is high enough to actually accept a Z-273 module.  We use an LA6T here, and have removed the front two screws and loosened the rear ones, so that the top assembly is effectively hinged and allows the drawer to
accommodate the extra height of the Z-273 module.

17.  I have found a bug in the software!

No.  This is not possible.

But if you are convinced there is a problem, let us know.  We will thoroughly investigate all credible reports of "undocumented features" in our software.  Really.

18.  Why should I consider buying your product?  I'm sure I could make one.

We have been asked this one.  Refer to this page for our response.


If your question isn't addressed above, feel free to ask us for further information or assistance.      

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