Wednesday, 5 October 2022

ELAD TM-2 TMATE2

 ELAD TM-2 TMATE2

I spotted the TMATE some time ago and nearly bought one. Back then it was sold (from memory) by a company called Woodbox Radio and it was a pretty basic design with a large dial and a few programmable buttons. It was pretty expensive for what it offered, so I held off for a cheap second hand one - which never came. I wanted it originally to control my SDRPLAY RSP1A and when I purchased an Elad FDM DUO, I thought it might be handy for that too. But like I said, a cheap one never came along.

 THE ORIGINAL TMATE
 
So here we are some years later and it appears that the unit has progressed somewhat and the latest incarnation is the ELAD TM-2. The unit is much more attractive to the eye and it features a large tuning dial (optical encoder) with 2 additional rotary encoders (all metal) and 6 programmable buttons. There's also a lovely LCD screen to provide tuning, signal strength and mode information, etc.

BUT it's still expensive - almost £300 with postage 😦


And that's why I still decided against purchasing one. Sure, they're incredibly handy when using an SDR receiver connected to your laptop, but boy, that's a good chunk of money for such a limited device.

Anyway, I just bought a used one for £130, delivered!! Boxed and virtually unused!

The TM-2 is a simple Plug&Play device, requiring no drivers, so you really do just plug it into a USB socket on your PC and away it goes - it takes its power from the PC. That's similar to my ICOM RC-28 (except the RC-28 costs the same but doesn't include an LCD screen)!

ICOM RC-28
 
Although the TM-2 has a definite Elad identity, it can, of course, be used with a variety of SDR software and the one of greatest importance to me is SDRPLAY's SDRuno.






The TM-2 integrates perfectly with SDRuno, requiring very few alterations to the software menus to get it going. The main VFO Dial obviously tunes your active receiver (VRX) and pressing it like a button, locks the LO. The dial and software provides you with progressive tuning which is a feature I really love on my Icom radios.

If you have more than one receiver setup onscreen (as you often do with SDR software), then you can have the TM-2 LCD screen change colour as you move from one receiver to the next. Another handy feature.

The primary functions of the two smaller knobs (E1 & E2) control volume and filter-width, but by pressing the buttons, they cycle through other functions....

E1 Encoder

The function of this control can be selected by you: pushing the knob and selecting the current function among the five available:

- VOL adjust the VRX audio level (AF level or volume).

- RFG adjust the AGC gain (if AGC is enabled) or the RF gain (if AGC is disabled).

- SQL adjust the squelch threshold.

- NR adjust the amount of Noise Reduction

- NB adjust the threshold of the Noise Blanker

E2 Encoder

The function of this control can be selected by you: pushing the knob and selecting the current function among the two available:

- HIGH adjust the selectivity filter high frequency limit.

- LOW adjust the selectivity filter low frequency limit. 

It's worth noting that the information on the LCD screen updates instantly and there is no discernible delay between the PC screen and the TM-2 screen. And that includes the signal strength meter!

The row of Function Buttons at the bottom of the TM-2 perform specific functions in SDRuno and they are....

F1 – Decrease Step.

Decreases the tuning step to the next lower value (if available).

F2 – Increase Step.

Increases the tuning step to the next higher value (if available).

F3 – Knob Lock

Locks/unlocks the tuning knob; the locking status is indicated in the RX Control panel, to the left of the frequency dial and by the LOCK LED on the Tmate 2 window.

F4 – Assignable Button

The function of this button depends upon the current parameter controlled by the E1 encoder:

- VOL MUTE on/off.

- RFG AGC on/off.

- SQL squelch on/off.

- NR Noise Reduction on/off.

- NB Noise Blanker on/off (NBW only).

F5 – RX Mode

Selects the current receiving mode.

F6 – VRX Selection

Assigns the Tmate to the next VRX of the same instance.

It may sound a little confusing, but in practise, it's actually pretty simple - just like how the Elad FDM DUO works. It certainly makes using your SDRuno much easier and more 'natural'.

The device itself is very well made and has some heft to it so it doesn't get pushed around as you operate it. 

Am I glad I bought it? YES! Is it great value for money? NO! Well, not at full price, anyway. I guess it's like anything else - it's worth what a buyer is willing to pay for the features and functionality of such a thing. If the SDRdx was the only radio I had, then I wouldn't hesitate in buying a Tmate because it just gives you that 'real radio' feel. You pay your money and take your choice.

It’s such a pleasure having the TM-2 next to the laptop in the shack. Makes ALL the difference!





Thanks for visiting - leave any comments in the box below.

73, Tom, M7MCQ 😊


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