Icom IC-703 Accessibility Review

Front view of IC703 with microphone resting on top. The radio is tuned to 14.025mhz
Accessibility Review of Icom IC-703

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

February 2010

A RAIBC 703 arrived today from ML&S stock. I’ve spent the afternoon
evaluating it for use by a blind op with G4JZL.

First off, it’s a great radio for an M3. I’ve had several contacts around
the country with good reports. The ATU tunes well. My aerials are resonant
on the bands I use, but the worst I could find was 12m on my dipole. This
showed 6-1, and the tuner tuned it fine. The front panel can be detached,
and I could imagine any disabled person being able to operate this from a
bed or chair.

The voice chip. It is an optional item and it reads Frequency and mode, and through setting a menu option, will add signal strength. The volume of the synthesizer was very quiet. In fact, I could only
Hear it properly when switching RX to dummy load. The manual refers to an internal
pot for adjustment, but we did not attempt this.

As suspected, the biggest problem I found, for a blind operator, was the lack of direct frequency
input. There is no number pad, and the radio does not support a keypad
microphone. I’ve just checked with Icom, and neither the 703 or 706 allow
direct input via mic keypad.

The problem can be addressed with the addition of a QSYER keypad. See the Comments section below.

Without an external keypad, the only way of a blind operator finding a frequency, is via the band up & down, followed by
laborious VFO spinning, and checking the voice output. The Multi-Channel
control, the one that clicks as you turn it, can be set for 1kh steps, but
going from 3.5 to 3.8 takes 300 clicks.

In my opinion it is too difficult for a blind op to use the memories. The
Mem to VFO function is a button found in the Menu system, as is the locating of memory channels, and the memory write. There is no
voice feedback for any of this and it is easy to get lost.

Perhaps I’m being over cautious, but in my experience, I’m directly entering
frequencies all day long. It is though feasible many of our blind operators
simply tune up and down on one band, without the regular need to find a
specific spot. I hear the difficulties experienced by blind operators, on
our Nets, all the time. Nnetting on the exact frequency, even when given
the figures, can be a real challenge. It’s a case of nudge and check the
voice, nudge and check the voice, and so on.


The radio will work with the John Hansen Millenium qsyer keypad. This keypad will work with Icom radios and Yaesu radios.
I own an Icom 703 and use this keypad with it. I also own a Yaesu FT817ND and the keypad will work with this radio as well.
One has to order the keypad with either a cable that will work with the Icom radios or the Yaesu radios.
In the case of Yaesu radios it will work with the FT817ND the FT857d and the FT897D.
These keypads give bare access to the Yaesu radios. You can switch modes and read out the frequency in CW. I had to have a sighted ham friend set the menus on the Yaesu for me.
Of course there is no speech available on the Icom 703 menus either.
73, Eric Clegg KU3I

Related Downloads

IC-703 Mp3 Manual
Icom IC-703 PDF Manual
I can work this thing.com
has the following text files in it’s ‘Amateur Radio, Multi band Transceivers’ section:
IC703 Manual

Icom IC-7600 Accessibility Review

A photo of the IC-7600. The VFO is tuned to 7.076 lsb and the spectrum display is active.
Accessibility evaluation of the Icom IC-7600

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

March 2011

I was recently able to spend a couple of hours evaluating the Icom IC-7600 owned by G4JZL. This cannot be an in depth review, but I wanted to satisfy myself the rig could be used easily by a blind operator.

My immediate impression was of a substantial piece of equipment. According to the Icom specifications, the radio is 340mm wide, 116mm high, and 280mm deep. These measurements do not include the front dials and other protrusions. The rig covers the HF bands and 50MHz and has an output of 100 watts. The Ic-7600 replaces the IC-756 series, and has many modern features such as USB to PC connectivity, allowing easy integration of digital mode audio.

In line with most modern Icom transceivers, the IC-7600 has a voice synthesizer built in as standard. The voice read-out button was conveniently positioned at the bottom right of the front panel. The incoming Signal Strength, the frequency, and the mode are voiced. The individual mode buttons can also be made to speak, but this requires a menu setting to be turned on.

With a radio of this size, I found there was plenty of room on the front panel. I found there was a dedicated control for all of the important functions of the transceiver. This is important because the Menu System is not accessible. The radio is very tactile, with different sized knobs and well placed buttons. I had the impression that some of the buttons to the top left, such as the power on, the Send/Receive, and the auto ATU, were flat and smooth, making them sit almost flush with the front panel. This impression is made on reflection as I am no longer in front of the radio, but might cause some initial difficulty if touch sensation is poor.

I also found the status of functions, such as the Processor, gave the same beep regardless of it being turned on or off. Whilst I did not thoroughly investigate this function, I suspect the Monitor facility would have to be engaged to allow a blind operator to determine if Processing was being used.

I found It was easy to select the previously determined filter widths, and adjust the shape of the band pas filtering. The Noise Reduction control is a pleasure to use. Just turn the NR on, and turn the knob to suit your preference. Functions such as the Mic Gain, the VOX delay, and the TX Power are each adjusted with dedicated knobs.

The numeric keypad makes frequency input straight forward, and there is a marker on the 5 key. The keypad is slightly recessed, and this means there is a useful tactile ridge in the casing, running down to the right of the numeric keys. This made tactile keypad orientation very intuitive. The Split operation was very slick, and the Split, Dual Watch, and the Main/Sub buttons were nicely placed.

I did not use the Memory features, but I would expect them to be just about usable for recalling 50MHz repeaters. Without voice prompts, Memory usage may well require sighted assistance.

Of particular interest, was the Dual Watch capability of the radio. This feature allows the operator to listen to both the receiving and the transmitting frequencies at the same time. If you are interested in working DX stations, you will find the operators often work Split. It is really useful to find and listen to their RX frequency, particularly if it is being continually adjusted. You can often spot a structured method in their listening habits, and it helps you call in the right spot.

The IC-7600 allows you to hear both frequencies at once, by merging the TX and RX signals into a single mono signal. A separate knob allows you to adjust the volume balance of the two incoming frequencies.

The IC-7600 can store short recordings of incoming audio. The radio is continuously recording, and pressing the Record button, and then the Playback button, will repeat the last 5 seconds of signal. I suspect that more like 20 seconds is actually recorded, and the full recording can be heard by entering the Recordings Menu. Just hearing the last 5 seconds is incredibly useful, though. If you hear a callsign, just hit the Record button. The last 5 seconds is usually just the right amount of time to capture the callsign, ready for immediate playback with a press of the Play button.

The radio can also store voice keyer messages, ready for transmission. This can be useful for often repeated phrases, such as CQ calls. With practise, both the playback and the recording of voice messages can be performed by a blind amateur, but there is no voiced feedback. Rather, it is necessary to remember a sequence of button presses. Fortunately, it is always possible to start from a known position, and there are audio cues including playback of the actual messages. CW messages can also be stored, but as this involves the inputting of characters, I suspect this is inaccessible using the rig interface, but is perhaps possible using an external keyboard.

To make the use of the message keyer much easier, the Ic-7600 will accept an external ‘button box’, plugged into the rear panel. This box has 4 buttons, and these will operate the voice and CW keyer. The big advantage being, the operator need not get the keyer menu up on the display to use the pre-stored messages.

In summary, I was immediately at home using the IC-7600. The voice synthesizer only reads the basics, but the number of dedicated controls means there will be no pressing need to enter the inaccessible menus. A blind operator may well require initial sighted assistance to set up personal preferences, but should find the radio comfortable in daily use.

Related Downloads


Kenwood TS-590 Accessibility Review

A photo of the Kenwood TS-590. The orange display is reading 14.200 USB
Accessibility Review of Kenwood TS-590S

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

February 2011

I first saw the TS-590S, on the Kenwood stand, at the Newark rally in October 2010. This radio had excited blind amateurs through 2010, as it promised unrivalled accessibility. Traditionally Kenwood have taken accessibility very seriously, and I had been very impressed with the speech feedback offered in other radios I had used in their current range. Using the optional VGS-1 ’Voice Guide and Storage Unit’, the spec sheet suggested even the SWR reading was available, a first to be built in as standard in a modern radio. The evaluation radio has been kindly lent to me by Kenwood UK.

The TS-590S is a mid sized unit, measuring approximately 280mm wide by 300mm deep by 100mm high. It covers the HF bands and 6M with an output of 100 watts. It has an internal automatic ATU, and two SO-239 sockets at the rear. It can be connected to a PC using a traditional RS-232 serial connector, or via USB. When using the USB connection, the radio adds an external sound card to the PC hardware, and this can be used for both sending and receiving audio via the radio. The VGS-1 Voice Guide was fitted to the evaluation radio, giving verbal confirmation of key presses, and recording/playback of stored messages.

The TS-590S has two Programmable Function buttons on the front panel. PF A is conveniently positioned in the top left corner, and by default reads the Frequency. PF B is positioned below the display and above the 2 and 3 keys in the numeric keypad, and by default reads the incoming Signal Strength.

When pressing PF A, the VGS-1 voices:

‘VFO A 14.200, a slight pause, 00’

When in Split Mode, pressing the PF A key elicits:

‘VFO S A 14.200, a slight pause, 00’

The PF A key also reads back many of the adjustable settings and Menu options, depending on the current state of the radio.

For an incoming signal of strength ‘8’, PF B voices:

‘S 8’

The Programmable Function keys can be assigned to perform many different commands, so they are not fixed to just read Frequency and Signal Strength. If you use an optional microphone with four additional Programmable Function buttons, these can also be assigned. I was delighted to find the TS-590S also allows the microphone Up and Down buttons to be programmed.

The Frequency and Signal Strength readouts are shown in the manual as Voice1 and Voice2 respectively. In line with the anticipation of the SWR readout, there is the addition of Voice3. This is not assigned to a programmable function key by default, and I chose to assign it to the Down button on the microphone. Voice3 works in conjunction with the meter display. If the SWR meter is selected and a carrier is transmitted, pressing the mic Down will voice:

‘R 1.0’

The SWR appears to be announced accurately up to 5 to 1, and if the impedance is out of range, you’ll hear:

‘R Over’

To assist in reading the SWR, I programmed the microphone Up button to send a 10 watt tuning carrier. This meant I could press mic Up, followed by mic Down and have the SWR spoken.

(For a full description of how to setup the voices in the Menu, see PA9D’s guide below. If you’re using a screen reader, the section has its own heading.)

Each press of the Meter button toggles the display between SWR, ALC, and Speech Compression. These presses give no spoken feedback, but when used in conjunction with Voice-3, the SWR, the ALC, and the Compression levels are individually spoken.

If ALC is selected, pressing the Voice3 button voices:

‘A 0’, for no signal

‘A 10’, if the level is ten

‘A Over’, if ALC is out of range

Similar voice outputs are given for Speech Compression, but with ‘C’ being used instead of ‘A’. I’m not sure how much reliance can be placed on setting the ALC and Compression accurately using this method.

The Meter button also engages the Drive feature when held for about 1 second. The Drive reduces power output for use on the LF bands, and beeps to indicate On and Off. It could be easy to accidentally hold in the ‘Meter’ button for slightly longer than you had intended, and find you are no longer being heard because power has been reduced. There is an option in the menu system to increase the time needed to hold buttons to engage second level commands, and this mightbe be useful.

The block of six buttons at the top left of the front panel, are in the usual Kenwood arrangement. They include the Attenuator, Pre Amp, VOX, Processor, Send/Receive, and the Auto ATU. These buttons turn the commands On and Off, and give aural feedback with a short high pitched beep for On, and a lower toned longer beep for Off. The Auto ATU is engaged by holding the button for a second or so, and the ATU relays can be heard clicking. Positive confirmation of a good match is given by a double beep, or SWR is sounded in CW if the impedance is out of range.

These buttons also perform different commands if held for about a second. For example, Antenna 1 or 2 can be selected by holding the Pre-amp button, and a single or double beep is heard. Holding the VOX button allows the VOX Gain to be changed, and this is with full spoken output akin to the Power adjustment described below.

Between the headphone socket and the numeric keypad is a vertical column of three buttons. If pressed momentarily these allow adjustment of Mic Gain, TX Power, and Keying Speed. If held for about a second, the buttons adjust Carrier Level, Monitor On/Off, and VOX Delay. Some of these buttons are also Mode dependent, and perform different commands if CW is selected.

All of these adjustments have spoken output. If the output power level is to be adjusted, press the Power button. A short beep is heard followed by:

‘TX Power 100’

Turning the Multi-Ch control anti-clockwise by one click, voices:


The power is reduced by 5 watts. There is a reassuring beep if the Multi-Ch control is turned beyond the 100 watts maximum and the 5 watts minimum. A final press of the Power button gives a longer beep, to show you have left power adjustment mode.

To the right of these buttons is the numeric keypad. As we have come to expect from Kenwood, this is fully voiced. Each individual key press is spoken, and the new resultant frequency is announced. Kenwood has adopted a three level band stacking system for the various numbers on the keypad. A press of the ‘3’ will take you directly to a remembered frequency on 40M. The next two presses will cycle through two further stored frequencies on 40M, with a third press cycling back to the original position.

I found the numeric keypad buttons to be well sized and well spaced, with a tactile indication on the ‘5’ key. I would though prefer to find more space around the numeric keypad, making it easier to differentiate from the buttons above and to the left and right. I found I needed to account for these surrounding buttons, before I reliably entered a direct frequency.

It’s worth mentioning here, the TS-590S has hard smooth rubber buttons, and there is no unpleasant dragging on the finger tips, when moving from button to button!

Mode changes are made using a column of buttons to the right of the keypad and directly to the left of the Tuning Dial. Feedback is given in CW. If the CW mode is selected, you will hear Dah Di Dah Dit.

The Tuning Dial sits in the Centre of the front panel, And has a drag adjustment just below. The Dial sits on a slightly raised plinth, and this helps prevent you from accidentally touching the dial when locating buttons close to it. The Tuning Dial has a useful indent, and moves 10khz per revolution in standard mode and 1khz in Fine . This can be adjusted. Using the Menu System, I was also able to assign 1khz tuning steps to each click of the Multi-Ch control.

To the right of the Tuning Dial is a block of some twenty buttons. The first row of five buttons operate the IF filters, Noise Blanker, Noise Reduction, and Notch filtering. These buttons use beeps to indicate position 1 or 2 and a longer beep for Off. If for example, the first Noise Reduction filter is selected, holding the button for about a second enters the adjustment mode. The current setting is spoken, and it can be changed using the Multi-Ch control.

The second row has four buttons. These are Split, TF-Set, and A/B. The Final button is the first Message button, in a vertical column of four.

Split works as you would expect, transmitting on VFO B, and adding ‘S’ to the spoken Frequency announcement. You hold the TF-Set button to temporarily monitor the VFO B frequency. The A/B button toggles between VFO A and B, and when held, equalises the second VFO with the primary.

Split frequency operation gives good feedback, but I personally found the continual voicing of the current frequency to be tiring and unnecessary. For example, when holding the TF-Set button, the VFO B frequency was announced, and then the VFO A frequency was announced on the button’s release. If you are working a DX station using split frequencies, it is likely you will be pressing the TF-Set button every time the DX station gives a report, and you will be searching for the frequency he is listening on. You will be concentrating on the various signals, and having the frequency automatically announced every time will be a distraction.

I found two practical ways round this problem. Firstly by turning off the voice completely in menu B. I cover this more fully when I discuss the menu system, and the ability to switch between menu A and menu B. The second method was by turning off automatic Voice announcements. This option is well thought out. Basically, all speech is turned off unless one of the PF keys is pressed. The TF-Set key will no longer speack frequencies, the number pad will not speak, and the menu system will be silent. Although I could not fully investigate this function in the limited time I had the radio, I found that although the menu system was silent, pressing PF A, voiced the menu option and setting. If I pressed the TX Power button, only the beeps were heard, but pressing PF A, spoke the usual ‘TX Power 100’. In effect, the verbiage was dramatically reduced, but speech could be called upon if needed!

The third row, again has four buttons. Memory/VFO, Memory Write, and Memory to VFO. The final button in the row is the second Message button.

In line with previous Kenwoods, I found the Memory system to be fully accessible. It is easy to find memory contents and move them to the VFO. It Is easy to store frequencies in either previously used or vacant channels.

The fourth row has three buttons, with the last being the third Message button. The first two are Quick Memory Write and Quick Memory Recall. These are very accessible, with channel numbers and contents being spoken. A Menu option allows you to choose the number of Quick Memories to be used.

The final row contains the MHZ, Scan, and Menu buttons, with the last being the fourth Message button. Beeps are heard to indicate if the MHZ and Scan functions are On or Off, and in the case of the Scan, the band noises indicate the band is being tuned.

The Menu, gives typical Kenwood accessibility. In general, it is excellent, although it is necessary for a blind operator to refer to an external list of descriptions for menu options. For example, adjusting the voice chip volume is accomplished using menu number 6. As you scroll through the menu, you will hear:

’06 4’

This means you are on menu 6 and the volume level is 4. There is no spoken indication to tell you that this is the voice volume setting.

Two useful menu features are, the ability to place commonly used options in a Quick Menu and the ability to maintain different settings in two separate menus.

If you frequently adjust the voice volume and say the RX Equaliser, you can add both to the Quick Menu. When turned on, only these options will appear, in this case, options 6 and 31. This makes it much easier to remember your commonly used options!

Another useful feature is the ability to have different settings in Menu A or B. For example, I could set the radio for DX operating in menu B. Once in the menu system, pressing the A/B key switched between menu A and B, giving one or two beeps to indicate which had been selected.

As previously discussed, there are four Message buttons, in a vertical column, to the right of this block of buttons. They allow messages to be recorded in voice or CW mode and were perfectly accessible for both recording and playback. With the option turned on in the menu, the fourth button will play back the last continuously recorded 30 seconds of incoming audio.

There are three buttons, set horizontally, at the top right of the radio. RIT, XIT, and Clear. Beeps indicate if these functions are turned on or off.

Below the RIT, are two further buttons. These control the various AGC options, and when in FM mode, allow the operator to select CTCSS tones. I found these to be fully accessible, with the CTCSS tones being spoken.

The right end of the front panel hosts the usual knobs for RIT, Squelch/Manual Notch, Multi-CH, and AF/RF Gain. Concentric knobs also allow adjustment of the band pass filters. The filter band widths are spoken every time an adjustment is made. Whilst initially useful, I felt the voice might interrupt the incoming audio, as adjustments are made for best reception. This is prevented if Automatic Announcements is turned off.

I was particularly impressed when preparing the TS-590S for its return to Kenwood. I pressed the necessary keys to perform a re-set, and was astonished to find I had full voiced feedback. I was able to choose between the various Full and Partial re-set options.

As the radio is likely to be popular for blind operators, I decided to briefly look at the ARCP software. It is difficult to fully assess how easy it would be to ‘only’ use the software to operate the radio, but personally, I would envisage the software as complementing the traditional interface. It is much easier to press buttons on the radio itself, than to hunt around a screen in a timely manner. The software starts to become extremely useful, though, in changing less frequently used settings and in getting full Menu descriptions.

I found the software can be installed without the need for the TS-590S to be attached. There are many commands that obviously will not work, such as the menu system, but it can be roughly tested before a purchase is made.

I found the ARCP software to be straightforward to install and use with my Screen Reader. Using the Tab key, it is easy to move through the commands presented on the screen. Hitting enter on the Menu button makes this area very accessible , And shows the menu system with descriptions. Utilizing the Windows Pull Down menus, makes it possible to store data from the radio on the PC in the form of a backup. It can then be written back to the radio if required. One big advantage of using software, is the ability to browse round looking for little used features. I thought the ARCP software was excellent in this respect. During my limited explorations I found I could also assign many common commands to Function keys on my PC keyboard. For instance, F2 could be made to bring up the direct frequency input form. F3 and F4 could change between LSB and USB. F5 could change the mode to CW. F6 could make the radio voice the frequency etc. I found Memory management a little more difficult. I was hoping to find a table allowing me to input all of the Memory Channels in one go. I am perhaps missing something obvious, but I could only find ways of laboriously moving from channel to channel one at a time.

Conclusions. In my opinion, this is the most accessible rig currently available. I could find no major accessibility issues, and indeed, most settings give good feedback. At last there is a radio on the market, where a blind operator can learn what SWR the rig ismeasuring. I was particularly impressed with the ability to turn off Automatic Announcements, there are possibly some improvements to this area, but the feature is welcome, and demonstrates an understanding that more speech is not always better. In conjunction with the ARCP software, a blind operator has access to virtually every setting and feature on the TS-590S. A remarkable achievement, and Kenwood should again be highly commended.

Assigning voice parameters to the PF buttons

By Andor PA9D

July 2014

Setting up the different Voice parameters in the TS-590 takes a bit of work but if you understand what is actually happening isn’t too difficult.

The menu system descriptions within the VGS-1 are not very clear and will require you to have a list of menu numbers and descriptions ready to find the correct menu for the given option.

For the programmable function keys A and B and the up and down buttons on the standard MC-43S hand-mic supplied with the rig, there are four menu options to set the actual function coupled to these buttons.

And yes that does include the actual up and down functions that the up/down keys perform by default HI.

The menu numbers are:
– 79: PF-A (left of the on/off button)
– 80: PF-B (above the number 2 and 3 keys on the numeric keypad left of the main dial)
– 85: down button
– 86: up button.

Next to these 4 function settings, the TS-590S has four additional function key settings. These correspond to the four programmable function buttons found on the Kenwood MC-47 hand-mic and are labelled PF1 to PF4 (probably the MC59 as well with numeric keypad but I can’t verify that as I don’t have one).

These four function keys are programmed under menu’s 81, 82, 83 and 84.

For all function keys the following VGS-1 information is important:
– code 200 or voice-1: reads out the frequency, current menu option and value when in a menu etc.
– code 201 or voice-2: reads the S-meter setting on receive and ACL and speech processor output on transmit
– code 202 or voice-3: reads the SWR value on transmit ranging from 1.0-5.0 or OVER on too high SWR, this function is new for the TS-590 and not available in the TS-480 models unfortunately.
One extra code of interest is code 204 which will switch the TS-590 into CW mode and sets it to transmit a 10 watt carrier wave.

My setup is as follows:
– menu 79 is set to code 200 (default)
– menu 80 is set to code 201 (default)
– menu 85 is set to code 202
– menu 86 is set to code 204

Effectively this means that pressing the up-arrow will set the rig into the CW 10W transmit carrier mode, pressing the down arrow in sequence after that will readout the SWR value and pressing the up-arrow again will return the rig to the previous mode and power settings in receive mode.

I have left the menus 81-84 as is as I’m not using an MC-47 hand-mic with the TS-590,
so no use in changing them.
VY 73 de Andor PA9D


This review is for the TS590S, but the rig was updated to the TS590SG in early 2015. The complete SG manual has therefore been added to the Related Downloads section below.

Related Downloads

TS-590S MP3 Manual
TS-590SG MP3 Manual
TS-590 PDF Manual
I can work this thing.com
has the following text files in it’s ‘Amateur Radio, Multi band Transceivers’ section:
TS590S Manual
TS590S In-Depth Manual
TS590S Menus
TS590S Front Panel

Kenwood TS-2000 Accessibility Review

Kenwood TS-2000. The main frequency is reading 14.200 USB and the sub channel is reading 435.000 FM
Accessibility evaluation of Kenwood TS-2000

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

December 2010

The Ts-2000 has been well regarded by amateurs with low vision for many years. It is about 270mm wide, 100mm high, and almost 400mm deep including controls. It covers HF, 6M, and 2M with a maximum of 100 watts, and 50 watts for 70CM. It can be optionally extended to transmit on 23CM at additional cost, and has an internal ATU for HF matching. The radio has a Sub Receiver for VHF and UHF, and can be used for cross band communication.

The TS-2000 is packed with features, and its front panel and rear panels comprehensively cater for almost every need from HF to UHF. The front panel has many small rubber buttons and rotary controls, and the facia is sloped and contoured, giving a tactile emphasis to certain groups of buttons.
The rear panel has 4 antenna sockets, 2 SO-239s for HF and 6M, 1 SO-239 for 2M, and an N type socket for 70CM.

The TS-2000 was fitted with the optional VS-3 voice chip. The VS-3 has been superceeded by the excellent VGS-1 on newer Kenwoods, but gave unparalleled access to Kenwood radios when introduced.

As I’ve mentioned, the radio has an extensive number of buttons and knobs, with the Main Tuning Dial in the centre. To the left of the Tuning Dial, in the top left corner, are a block of 8 buttons for Voice, Power On/Off, Attenuator, Pre-Amp, VOX, Processor, Send/Receive, and ATU. Below this are the headphone and Mic sockets and three very small round buttons including Noise Reduction and Automatic Notch. The LCD display runs across the upper part of the panel. The 12 buttons of the numeric keypad are indented slightly, and below this, two rotary controls for adjusting band width. Directly to the left of the Tuning Dial are a further 10 buttons including Function, Mic Gain , Power, CW Keying adjustment, and mode selection. The Tuning Dial, in the middle, is on a slightly raised ‘pillar’, so you are less likely to touch the Dial when pressing buttons close to it.

To the right of the Tuning Dial are buttons for Menu, and TF-Set, used for checking the TX frequency when working Split. Up and Down arrow keys move from band to band, and you can select Main or Sub receivers. These 4 keys are in a ‘diamond’ shaped block, and along with the majority of buttons, are close together.

To the right, and again slightly recessed, is a block of 9 buttons. These include the Quick Memories, the associated buttons for Split operation, and the Memory Write and Memory Recall options. Finally, to the far right of the facia are buttons for RIT and XIT. A rotary knob for RIT/Sub receiver Tuning, and RF Gain and AF Gain for both receivers. The Multi-Channel control also sits in this cluster.

Moving back to the left side of the front panel, the majority of these buttons are also multi-purpose, and usually engage a set-up menu when pressed with the Function key. I’ll discuss this further when I describe setting CTCSS tones, but the Function key commands give very little aural feedback.

The TS-2000 has one Programmable button, conveniently placed at the very top left corner of the front panel. I decided it should voice the incoming Signal Strength. Programming it via the Menu, it can be made to voice the Frequency, or perform many other common commands.

The TS-2000 also reads the complete menu system, although a blind operator will need a method of remembering the function of each menu number. For instance, the RX Equaliser is menu number 20. Using the Multi Channel control, you can move through the menu until ‘Menu 20 – OFF’ is heard. Adjustment is then made using the up and down arrow keys. You will hear ‘Menu 20 H’ and then ‘Menu 20 B’ and so on. In this case, ‘OFF’ means the Receive Equaliser is turned off, ‘H’ equals High Boost and ‘B’ equals Bass Boost. A blind operator will need to either refer to an external note of menu numbers, or have an exceptional memory.

Having a full numeric keypad makes it easy to move to a frequency. If a direct frequency is entered, such as 3.743 MHZ, you will hear:

1. ‘ENTER’, as the Enter button is pressed.

2. ‘3’, When Three is pressed

3. ‘Megahertz’, when the decimal point is pressed.

4. ‘7’ ‘4’ ‘3’, as the remaining numbers are pressed.

5. ‘VFO 3.743’ a slight pause ‘00’, when the Enter key is pressed again.

As mentioned, I used the Programmable key to read the incoming Signal Strength, as a double press of the Enter key conveniently voices the current frequency.

I found I could configure the Multi-Channel control to move in 1KHZ steps. This also applied to the buttons on the Microphone.

Due to the Menu accessibility and the voicing of pressed numbers, the TS-2000 is very usable on the HF bands. The automatic tuner gives good aural feedback through the rattling of the relays, and a nice positive Beep when matching is achieved. S W R is played in CW if the radio fails to find a match. The radio’s Mode is also indicated using CW, USB is heard as Di Di Dah.

In normal use, the TS-2000 can indicate most settings, if only by a process of elimination. For instance, to adjust the power, the Power button is pressed and power adjusted by turning the Multi Channel control. None of this is spoken, but providing you have correctly pressed the Power button, giving a high pitched beep, each ‘click’ of the Multi Channel control will change the power by 5 watts. So, to set 10 watts output, turn the Multi Channel control anti-clockwise until you hear a beep indicating the 5 watt minimum has been reached, and then turn one ‘click’ clockwise to set 10 watts. Finally, press the power button again, giving a low pitched beep, to leave the power adjustment.

Mic Gain is adjusted in a similar way, but each ‘click’ moves by 1%. As the gain can be set from 1% to 100%, there are potentially 100 ‘clicks’ to be counted. There is no way of finding out what the current setting is, unless you count the ‘clicks’ until a limit has been reached. For example, if you count 30 ‘clicks’ in the clockwise direction and then hear a beep, you can deduce the Mic Gain was previously set at 70%. Not very practical, but at least possible.

When pressing buttons to the left of the Tuning Dial, the on or Off status of many options is indicated using a high and low beep tone. This is particularly useful when, for example, entering the Power adjustment mode. One notable exception though is the Speech Processor. There is no difference in beep tone to indicate whether it has been turned On or Off. While you can physically hear the difference you make to the incoming audio with many of the settings, there is no aural feedback for a blind operator to know if he is transmitting with Speech Processing. The only method I found of knowing if I was using Processing, was by listening to my own transmission through headphones, with the Monitor function engaged.

I found Split operating to be accessible. The Voice will not indicate if you are using VFO A or B, but in practical terms this doesn’t matter. Pressing the A/B button will switch to the alternate VFO, allowing you to enter the TX frequency. Press A/B again to return to the RX frequency. Press the Split button, and you can start operating. Each time you switch VFO, the frequency is spoken, but pressing the Split button itself gives no audio feedback. Fortunately, pressing the TF-Set key will allow you to listen to your Split transmitting frequency, and you hear a beep if you are not in Split mode. The TF-Set button is also of course useful for checking the DX station is actually listening on your transmit frequency or for checking the repeater input, but I found the button always Voiced the frequency when both pressed and released. This became annoying, as when I wanted to quickly check the TX frequency, the voice was continually obscuring the incoming signal. In this case, less audio feedback is better.

There is little doubt the TS-2000 stands out from the rest of the competition, with its good accessibility, and its ability to operate multi-mode from HF to UHF. In the VHF/UHF environment, it is important to have good Memory accessibility , as potentially many repeater frequencies will be stored in memory. Hear, I found the TS-2000 was very accessible. Memory Channel numbers are spoken, along with the stored frequencies. When using 2M, the radio even knows when repeater frequencies are being saved, and automatically sets the input and output off-set. The Quick Memory accessibility was again excellent.

As previously mentioned, there are no spoken prompts for button presses involving the Function key. This means , for example, there is no aural feedback to select a CTCSS tone.

A CTCSS tone is usually selected by pressing Function followed by 6 on the keypad. A list of possible tones is displayed. Once the correct tone for a repeater is selected, the Function and 6 are pressed again to leave the CTCSS list, and the settings can be written to memory. Along with there being no spoken feedback, there is no difference in beep pitch to show the CTCSS list has been engaged.

Incidentally, I found I could often set the CTCSS tone for a repeater, providing the repeater was in use. I could enter the CTCSS set-up mode with Function followed by 6, and then use the scan button to automatically find the correct CTCSS tone. Again, there are no spoken prompts, it’s very much a matter of trial and error.

In summary, the TS-2000gives excellent access to the vast majority of its features. A blind operator familiar with the layout could easily set this radio up from scratch. Access to the Menu and the Memory Channels, and the band range from HF to 70CM on all modes, make the TS-2000 very attractive. The TS-2000 can justifiably be called a ‘shack in a Box’, but with that label comes complexity. There are lots of small buttons that could accidentally be pressed, and to get the most out of it, a blind operator will need a good memory and access to notes for both the Menu and front panel layout. One command to definitely remember is the partial reset. This will retain the Menu and memory settings, and will get you back to a known position if you get really stuck!

As an additional note. If the operator uses a PC and connects via the CAT interface, Kenwood supply an exceptionally accessible MCP program for the TS-2000. The MCP allows the radio to be configured, including the unspoken Function key settings such as CTCSS, and for the Memory Channels to be easily populated. Once changes have been made using the MCP, they can be written back to the radio and the created file can be backed up, in case a full reset is ever required.

Related Downloads

TS-2000 Front Panel Layout
TS-2000 PDF Manual
Handihams have the following files and audio tutorials in their Manuals section:
I can work this thing.com
has the following text files in its ‘Amateur Radio, Multi band Transceivers’ section:
TS2000 Quick Guide