A Description of Yaesu FT-M100DR/DE for the blind – Not Technical but Tactile

Let’s start with the front Panel Button Layout

Top Left On / Off / Lock

Below Volume control

Below are a row of buttons easily identified because of the casing either side of them. From left to right they are;
1 Band A / B, 2 TX Power, 3 VFO / Memory, 4 Mode, 5 Group Monitor, 6 Squelch / Digital Voice, 7 Back, 8 Settings DSP.

Top Right, 1 Megahertz step.

Below a ratchet selection knob.

At first unpacking the transceiver I thought it to be quite odd. The top has a raised area that contains the speaker. The front panel feels like a bolt on being considerably taller than the height of its body. Further more the body is metal wile the front panel is a plastic box. I haven’t seen a radio before also that has a power cord fixed to the radio. Although, this is a short wire with a connector at the end. In the box was a long power lead to connect to this pigtail. Considering the back panel. I have never seen a radio with a fan housing sticking out of the back. This design has the advantage of providing a recess so that antenna, headphones and data plugs and leads cannot be crushed against anything behind the radio.

Included in the box was an extension lead for the front panel. By pressing a hard to find button on the left front side of the radio the front panel can be removed. In fact, this is necessary to do in order to attach the microphone. Critics have argued that Yaesu should have also included an extension lead for the mic as if the extended front panel lead is used the mic is likely to require an extension too. There are three other metal parts in the box. One bracket that saddles the radio body and a 3 sided bracket that is for the front panel. There is the traditional mic clip too. In addition there are other little odds and ends such as an adapter to be used if using a mono extension speaker.

The FT-M100 dimensions are 165mm from front to back, 135mm across the front and 40mm tall.

So How Accessible Is The FT-M100?
Sadly, the first time the radio is turned on or a factory reset has been performed. The radio demands the entry of a callsign. This process is not intuitive nor does it speak. I did complete it with support from an AIRA agent via an internet video link. However it was painfully slow owing to the brightness of the LED panel. The default is max brightness. I have turned the brightness down to about half way (Settings Menu 1) and agents don’t have difficulty reading the screen via an iPhone camera. The app seeing AI provides some useful feedback but not enough to change settings in the menus independently.

The manual suggests that if the FVS-2 voice board is fitted the frequency will be read on demand. This may be true if menu 12 voice guide is set to manual however, the other buttons don’t speak. The default is auto. Which means that the two buttons VFO A / B and VFO/ Memory read the new state. Using the mic to input a frequency or a memory number are spoken too. Because of the variety of tones used many of the buttons provide useful orientation. e.g. the TX Power button provides three tones the high power tone is higher in pitch than the other two tones.

Yaesu provide software to clone the radio settings and write them back to the radio free of charge. The software appears to be quite accessible. My Windows 7 machine assigns a com port and I can set it within the software. The lead is provided and my Windows machine did not require a driver. I understand that when I use a Windows 10 PC I will need to use a dedicated driver as it uses a Prolific driver, which Windows 10 replaces with a universal driver I can read from the radio and fill a data sheet with current settings. By loading the software and after checking the com port settings are correct I select read from radio. A dialog appears stating the steps that need to be taken. Select menu 13 then 7 for clone. The radio asks for direction i.e. from radio to other. Then the insecure nag are you sure with the default on cancel. One click anti-clockwise of the selector knob moves focus to OK. There isn’t much time after pressing enter on the PC’s keyboard and then quickly finding the Settings / DSP button on the radio I can start the read from radio process. After the write to PC the screen returns to the main screen having exited the menu system. NVDA reported an error although there was no dialog on the screen. By pressing the right arrow it moved focus from VFO A to VFO B and a simple press of the tab key enabled me to curser through those frequencies I had programmed into the radio. I am going to spend some time amending my data and try to write it back to the radio.

Regarding the supplied six pin mini din USB data lead, SCU-20. Thee socket is on the back panel left-hand side of the fan and underneath the power cord which is not the easiest of locations. By exploring the six pin plug I can feel a flat on the shroud and opposite that flat is a groove. This flat is at twelve o’clock and the groove at six o’clock orientation to go into the socket.

I believe the SD card slot is behind the front panel as well as a selector switch for firmware updates. There is also a reset button and another firmware switch under a rubber bung on the top left-hand side near the front of the radio’s outer casing. Also behind the front panel is where the mic socket is located mentioned earlier. Menu item 13 is where the current versions of firmware are stated.

In summary:
This differently shaped transceiver is the most accessible Yaesu I have looked at. Sadly there is a lot of room for improvement to match the competition, in terms of accessibility. The radio is quiet usable on a day to day basis. But when a blind user needs to set up a new or reset radio. Or even a simple adjustment to a menu setting sighted support is a must. Having said which, I have always been a Yaesu fan and I love this radio I think it is great value for money and is a keeper.

My sincere thanks to John KD8PC who created an audio demonstration of the FT-M100 which can be found on the blind hams archive. I would suggest anyone seriously considering this transceiver to listen to John’s demo. Thanks John for your support and for taking the time to create your audio demonstration because I would not have known about this little beauty.

73

M0EBP

Radioddity GD-77S Introduction and Demonstration Using A Hotspot

Radioddity GD-77S and the Sharkk RF OpenSpot 2
An Introduction To DMR by Gena, M0EBP, from a blind person’s perspective!

February 2019

Background

I hope you enjoy these recordings that I have put together after exploring DMR for a few weeks within early 2019. The GD-77S software is V1.1.10, Windows 10 and Jaws 2018..

The zipped bundle is available to download in the Related Downloads section below, and a description of the audio files and some useful DMR links follow:

Apologies for unwanted background noises during recording.

Audio Recordings included in the bundle

001_GD-77S_OS2.mp3
As an introduction Gena describes the Radioddity GD-77S and more.

002_GD-77S_OS2.mp3
Gena opens the software and creates a code plug with just one analog repeater keeping it simple to get started.

003_GD-77S_OS2.mp3
Incomplete! Gena opens GB3PP using the GD-77S.

004_GD-77S_OS2..mp3
Gena adds talk groups to the code plug. TG9 and TG 9999 for the OS2 and TG91 World Wide talk group. Not forgetting to unlink..

005_GD-77S_OS2.mp3
Gena struggles with the OS2 interface using the Chrome browser and Jaws. Hopefully it is clear that important settings should match in the modem and connectors sections of the interface. Remember to save after making changes.

006_GD-77S_OS2.mp3
Gena takes a tour of the code plug and discusses Brandmeister and Phoenix servers and how 2 different numbering systems are linked for UK users.

Additional Files included in the bundle:

demo4-v1.dat
Minimal entries: GB3PP TG 91 WW TG 9999 Echo and TG 4000 Unlink.

Demo6-v1.dat
the UK Brandmeister talk-groups listed below. Unlink is on channel 1 of mode 2. GB3PP and GB3RF are 2 & 3 of mode 2 and are untested as yet.

These are the 2 code plugs observed in this project. Having removed my ID.

Useful URLs: (Obtained 6 February 2019)

Essential JAwS Scripts:
http://www.dlee.org/dmr/

Radioddity software download.
https://radioddity.myshopify.com/blogs/all/gd-77s-update-software-v1-1-10

Brandmeister UK, includes a link to get registered
http://www.bm-dmr.uk/dash/

Phoenix UK
http://www.dmr-uk.net/index.php/phoenix/

Open DMR, Phoenix UK and Europe DMR network
https://www.opendmr.net

Northern DMR Cluster
https://www.northerndmrcluster.com/talkgroups.html visit here if you want to view a collection of DMR Plus links i.e. 2350 linked to 4400.

To extend my coverage, view this youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BPsLLChhlE

Brandmeister Talk-Groups UK: (6 February 2019)
TG 2350 United Kingdom 4400 listen live
TG 2351 Chat listen live
TG 2352 Chat listen live
TG 2353 Chat listen live
TG 2354 Ireland listen live
TG 2355 Scotland listen live
TG 2357 Wales listen live

23500 S.West listen live
TG 23510 S.East listen live
TG 23520 N.West listen live
TG 23527 UK Mil & Vet listen live
TG 23528 UK Hackspace listen live
TG 23529 Bracknell ARC

Disclaimer:

I am still learning about DMR and while I am glad to share my findings I cannot and do not suggest that my understanding is completely accurate. These are my findings as of February 2019.

Enjoy!

Gena

Call: M0EBP
DMR ID: 2346259
Loc: IO83PS
73

Related Downloads

D77S Introduction and demo bundle (download file and unzip)

Kenwood TH-D74 Accessibility Review

Accessibility Review of the Kenwood TH-D74

Close up photo of the th-d74 Rig

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

December 2016

Background

I was contacted by Jim MI0JPC in September 2016, asking if I had any accessibility information on the new Kenwood TH-D74 handheld. The model had been discussed on the Active Elements email group a few weeks earlier, but despite the radio’s obvious potential, no one had any firm details.

The TH-D74 had the prospect of being the first handheld with full speech output and accessibility to D-Star. I have very limited experience of using handheld portable radios, and the low cost handheld I reviewed a few years ago only ’spoke’ the key that had just been pressed. It could not be interrogated further to learn the current frequency, and it left me feeling that only part of the accessibility job had been done.

The Kenwood TH-D74 had the potential to be fully usable by a blind amateur, and the spec was impressive. It is a 2m and 70cm Dual Band handheld with full voice Guidance and D-Star. It has GPS, APRS, wide band coverage, including SSB on 2m and 70cms, and FM broadcast coverage. It would offer a plethora of programming possibilities, without a blind operator having to remember a set number of beeps or clicks.

Basically, the radio sounded like an ideal unit to review for accessibility. I asked Mark M0DXR of Kenwood UK if he would loan me a unit, and I have to say a big thank you to Mark for sending me the review radio for a couple of weeks. To make sure I could get onto the D-Star system I was also loaned a Digital Voice Access Point DVAP by Jeremy G4JZL.

Preparation

Before receiving the radio, it seemed a good idea to prepare myself by grabbing the PDF manual from the Kenwood site. While 99.9% of the manual was easily read by using PC screen reading software, some buttons, such as the arrow keys, are shown graphically as pictures of arrows. When read with a screen reader, a picture is ignored. So, for example, when I read the PDF manual, I learnt that you turn on the power by pressing [ ]. OK, you can work this one out, but if the command involves presses of several buttons that include the arrow keys, and these are being ignored, you cannot learn how to operate the radio.

I can fully appreciate the PDF manual will refer to a button as Menu, because Menu is written on the actual button. Likewise, if an arrow is printed on the real button, it makes perfect sense to show a picture of the arrow symbol in the manual. Sighted readers naturally expect this kind of consistency.

When you consider the tremendous effort Kenwood have gone to in making this radio accessible for blind operators, it is such a shame the manual is so hard to use. It would be incredibly helpful if Kenwood would produce a separate text only manual. The graphics being ignored are a very small number, but nevertheless, crucial!

To get over the immediate hurdle, I extracted the text from the PDF manual into a document, and Steve M6HFH went through it, replacing the blanks with text labels, such as ‘Right Arrow’ and ‘Power On/Off’. Jim MI0JPC has subsequently divided it into separate TXT files for easier navigation.

Discussing this with blind amateurs on the Active Elements email group, folk indeed like using text manuals, particularly for the ability to rapidly navigate and search them. There is general agreement that both PDF and HTML documents work extremely well, if properly structured.

D-Star Operation

I was able to rapidly establish that as a standard analogue multi-mode handheld the D74 has excellent accessibility, but the handheld also offered unparalleled access to D-Star. As primarily an HF operator, I only had a notional idea about D-Star, and I had found it easy to overlook. Having now used it, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is just another way of communicating, but with some great benefits. For one thing, you can talk and exchange greetings and ideas anywhere in the world, do so in audio comfort, and without the need for a large antenna system. This could be a great way of continuing with the hobby if you have severe antenna restrictions or even if you go into a residential home.

Getting D-Star working is a great deal easier if you already know someone using it. Rob G0WSC has been using D-Star for a while, and was able to answer many of my questions. There is a fair amount of new terminology to learn and initially the plethora of connection methods is daunting. This is not just initially daunting for the blind amateur, but seemingly for many operators. Like many things in amateur radio though, the picture becomes much clearer and simpler the more you use it.

As I’m a long way from a D-Star repeater, and very unlikely to be able to access one with a handheld, G0WSC suggested I use a Digital Voice Access Point or DVAP, and connect directly into the D-Star backbone. This means I could bypass the Repeater system. This inevitably means my review of using the D74 might well be different from your experience!

A quick note about the DVAP. I was loaned a 2M DVAP by G4JZL for the period of the evaluation. The DVAP connects via USB to a computer, in my case a Windows PC, and the appropriate software is installed. The Th-D74 then transmits and receives on a simplex frequency, in DV mode, using the DVAP.

The DVAP Windows software is not without accessibility issues. I found the setup screen did not give any feedback , using any of my screen readers. There is a second screen and you can switch to this with Alt+Tab. This screen can be read by screen readers and will show the setup screen, but you must switch back to the first screen to change the input parameters and switch back to the second screen to read any changes!

The salvation of the DVAP software is that once setup is complete, no further changes are needed. I just ran the software, tabbed twice on the unreadable screen, and pressed Enter. The connection was opened. I could then switch to the second screen and get feedback if required.

Audio Demonstration

In previous accessibility evaluations I’ve written a lot, and recorded a little. This time it seemed sensible to record as much of the Voice Guidance of the TH-D74 as possible, and this actually became a collection of short recordings that now total about 80 minutes. I have placed the separate MP3 tracks into a zipped file, available from the following link:

TH-D74 MP3 Audio Demonstration

The separate MP3 tracks are:

1 General Description 5:57
2 Introduction to Menus 3:12
3 Frequency Input 2:32
4 Squelch 1:21
5 Power Adjustment 0:40
6 Dual Band Operation 6:47
7 Memories 7:01
8 Programmable Function Keys 4:14
9 FM Repeater setup 3:39
10 DVAP 9:22
11 D-Star through DVAP 28:0
12 D-Star through Repeaters 8:10

The only key combination I will mention here is how to turn on the Voice Guidance. Simply hold the Hash key when you power on the radio.

Conclusion

If you haven’t listened to the audio tracks, you’ll still want to know if the radio is accessible. With some minor accessibility exceptions, the radio is brilliant. Not only does it give unparalleled feedback to the usual analogue operation, it includes full access to D-Star. I was unable to try APRS and the MCP programming software in the limited time I had the radio. I switched on the GPS function so I could use the Nearby Repeaters list, but I did not pursue further investigation of GPS features, beyond this.

The review radio had version 1.0 of the firmware, and at the time of writing, version 1.04 is available. Future firmware updates hopefully also give the possibility of further accessibility improvements.
Once again, Kenwood have approached accessibility very seriously for the blind operator, and done an impressive job.

Related Downloads

TH-D74E Tactile Layout and RTF Manual with Replacement Text Labels
TH-D74E Separated Text Manual

TH-D74 Menus from Ivan ZL1IA
TH-D74 MCP-D74 JAWS scripts written by Joe VK5JKS
TH-D74 Accessibility Guide written by Joe VK5JKS

New Kenwood TS-590 Evaluation Section

We have added a new section to the Kenwood TS-590 evaluation page, called ‘Assigning voice parameters to the PF buttons’.

 

Andor PA9D describes how to use the 590’s Menu to assign each of the 3 available voices to the Programmable Function buttons, both on the radio front panel and microphone.

 

The new section has a level 2 heading, for the convenience of screen reader users.

Kenwood TS-990 Accessibility Review

Accessibility Review of the Kenwood TS-990

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

July 2013

It’s not often that one of the main amateur radio manufacturers launches a new flagship model. When Kenwood announced the TS-990S it naturally caused great interest, and I was intrigued to learn the radio would include an integral voice unit. Other recent Kenwood models can be fitted with the optional Voice Guidance and Storage unit, the VGS-1, and the built-in voice guidance might mean there was an improvement to accessibility, or might mean a reversion to former more basic functions. As you read on, you’ll see I was extremely impressed by the work done by Kenwood, and the TS-990S has made huge accessibility leaps forward!

TS990 on the desk with matching speaker, and a Kenwood mug, for those long QSO's

TS990 + SP990 + DM7800

The Radio

The TS-990S is a large 200 watt base station, allowing transmissions on HF and 6m. It has an integral ATU, and is mains powered. It has connections for 4 TX antennas and an RX antenna. I measured the size of the casing to be approximately 460mm wide, 160mm high, and 400mm deep, excluding front panel controls. The feet add about 40mm, making the actual height more like 200mm. This is an imposing radio!

It is sadly inevitable that much that the TS-990S has to offer will be unused or unappreciated by a blind operator. The radio has large vibrant displays, and these caused quite a stir from several of my sighted friends. The TS-990S has many data decoding options and display graphics, and I spotted in the manual it can even be used for logging, using a USB keyboard.

There are varied alternatives for getting audio into and out of the radio, and as well as Ethernet, USB and serial connectivity to a PC, both optical input and output is available, along with USB drive storage.

Undoubtedly, one of the prime attractions of the TS-990S is the ability to have two independent cross band receivers. Anyone who seriously works DX, will immediately understand the advantages of listening simultaneously to the TX and RX frequencies of the DX station.

I think that if you want to know more about the radio’s capabilities, you would be wise to read the full technical review by Peter Hart in the June 2013 RadCom. This is available in MP3 format in the Related Downloads section below.

This evaluation is looking solely at accessibility, and how the TS-990S can be used by a blind operator. I am very grateful to Kenwood Electronics UK for the loan of the review radio.

First Impressions

My first impression of the TS-990S was somewhat daunting! There are lots of controls, but it soon became apparent that Kenwood had brought all of the commonly daily used controls onto the front panel. Whilst initially overwhelming, it didn’t take long to realise I recognised every control, and they all made sense. This radio is geared up for quick and seamless operating, and while there is undoubtedly a learning curve, you won’t be digging into the menus just to increase the power.

As previously mentioned, there are two displays. The largest is positioned on the left at the top of the front panel, the smaller is approximately in the centre top with the main tuning VFO below, and the right third of the front panel is given over to button and rotary controls.

All of the buttons are a hard flat plastic, meaning there is no unpleasant dragging on the finger tips as you feel for a control, and the buttons are flat and without lumps and bumps. There are many different shapes and sizes of button, and it will take some time to become fully accustomed to their layout. In fact, I think the manual will almost certainly become your best friend, for a while at least!

Layout

In slightly more detail, there are buttons in a vertical column at the far left of the facia, and to the left of the large display. These include The power on, Timer, Programmable Function A, Send, and Auto ATU. There are 7 function keys running along the bottom edge of the main display, and a series of rotary knobs below the function keys. These are typical concentric inner and outer rotary knobs, and control Mic and VOX Gain, Processor levels, TX power levels, Key speed and Delay, and CW pitch and Monitor level. Just above and in-between these knobs are 4 further buttons related to the function of the knobs themselves.

A vertical column of 7 buttons is positioned between the displays, and they include control of Antenna selection, Pre- amp, TX power limits, the display Meter, and TX filter. Below this column are the vertically arranged Mode buttons announced with CW, and to their right, the main tuning knob.

To the right of the smaller display and Main tuning dial, at the top, is the numeric keypad, with markings on the 5. This has 3 buttons above including RX antenna selection, and transverter, and the Menu button is in the row below the keypad. Below this is the main block of buttons. These include Main and Sub band selection, with Up and Down buttons in a group. A group of 9 buttons operate the Memory system, RX record and play back, and Quick Memory.

There are 6 buttons in 2 groups of three, positioned above and either side of the main tuning knob, controlling the use of the two receivers and the Split function. There is a column of buttons to the right of the main VFO for Fine tuning adjustment, Main Voice, and main Lock. Continuing to the right along the bottom of the front panel is the smaller Sub tuning dial, and the Fine, Voice, and Lock are mirrored for the Sub receiver.

Moving to the top of the facia and to the right of the keypad is the RIT adjustment knob, with related buttons below. Below this is the Multi-Ch control, with 2 columns of 3 buttons below, for Diversity reception, PF B, AGC, and RX and TX Equaliser. It is nice to find the equaliser controls have found a place on the front panel. Below these buttons is the previously described Sub tuning VFO.

Back at the top and to the right of the RIT, are inner and outer rotary controls for Noise Blanker 1 and 2, and then Noise Reduction 1 and 2 in the top right corner. These are turned on with buttons below each knob.

Below these, and to the right of the Multi-Ch control are inner and outer rotary controls for Main Notch and Squelch, and Sub Notch and Squelch. Below these controls are buttons to control the Notch behaviour on each receiver.

Below the Main Notch knob is the band pass control. a rotary concentric inner and outer knob allow the band width to be changed.

To the right of the band pass control are 8 further buttons to control the AGC, Noise Blanker 1 and 2, Noise Reduction 1 and 2, and APH, for the sub receiver.

Finally, the bottom right corner has separate concentric inner and outer controls for main and sub AF and RF gain.

For a comprehensive front panel layout, see below in the Related Downloads section.

A note on the layout. Make no mistake, this is a complex radio! There is a large block of buttons extending below the keypad, and my sighted friends initially expressed some concerns that none of the button groups lined up with their neighbours. In reality I’ve not found this a problem, but the button area is busy. I think that having a varied tactile layout can aid navigation, and as I’ve become accustomed to how everything fits together, I’ve found the different shapes and positions actually helps me find the needed control. The manual is currently available in PDF format, and I found it quite easy to use with the Window-Eyes screen reader, and it is essential reading to understand the TS-990S operation. As a blind user, you will certainly also need a full front panel description in the learning stages.

One small criticism about the numeric keypad, I personally don’t feel there is enough space around it for rapid tactile use. There is a row of 3 keys directly above and below the keypad, and only the slightest increased separation between them. I can’t help feeling that over the course of the radio’s life, a blind user will potentially use the keypad thousands of times and very swift operation is only possible once the first button press has been verified as correct. Saying that, the keypad is fully voiced, which is a tremendous asset.

Preparations

The TS-990 has the integral automatic announcement voice guidance switched off by default. As a blind user, you will want to turn it on. This can be done through the menu system, but the easiest method is to hold the PF A button when the radio is switched on.

Kenwood have been able to loan me the radio for just over a week, and I will be the first to admit the rich feature set of the TS-990 will need much longer to investigate fully. I discover something new in terms of accessibility every time I switch on the radio, and you will understand why as you read on.

Traditionally, amateur radios have been made accessible by announcing button presses, and announcing the result of any changes. The TS-990S does not slavishly follow this convention, but has taken huge strides in accessibility by giving spoken announcements to the changes being made on the displays through the Function keys. This means that even the very advanced options, such as recording audio messages, can be easily managed by interacting directly with the display a sighted operator uses!

I normally write about the great Kenwood accessibility to the menu and memory systems, and all of this is spoken as we have come to expect from Kenwood, but we are not used to having such accessibility to the more advanced functions of high end radios. The TS-990S, in my opinion, has moved the game forward in leaps and bounds.

It seems to me that the traditional menu system is now more reserved for adjusting little used settings, the kind of options you set and forget. All of the more commonly used features have either been given their own control on the front panel, or are adjusted on the main display using the Function buttons running along the bottom of the display. I believe it is this accessibility to using the Function Keys that really sets the TS-990S apart.

Once I had started the automatic announcement of the Voice Guidance, by switching on with the PF A key held, I decided to install the Kenwood ARCP software on my PC. This is free from the Kenwood site, and it immediately gave me access to the menu system via the PC, using my screen reader. The Menu is accessible using just the radio, but only the menu numbers are spoken, and you will need an external list of the menu structure to browse through it successfully.

The big advantage of using the ARCP software is that it is accessible, and each menu option is described. I’ve not actually spent much time investigating the software, but the pulldown menus seem to work well, and it seems to me this is certainly an easy way to make Menu changes. Any changes made using the ARCP are immediately seen on the radio, and similarly, any changes made to the menu on the radio were immediately seen on the PC.

Using the software, the Menu is shown as a Tree-View, and each group is then opened to show the options. When you want to make a parameter change, just tab through the Checkboxes.

If you use the rig to make menu changes, just press the Menu button, move through the options with the Multi-Ch control, and press F4 to select. The use of the F4 function key, as the selection button, was my introduction to using the function keys.

As is my preference, I was able to set the Multi-Ch control to 1kHz steps for each rotary click, and the frequency is moved to the round figure. This means I can tune for a signal, and providing it is on a round frequency such as 7.106.00, I can make the final tweak with the Multi-CH control.

I also like the VFO to move by 5kHz for every complete revolution of the main VFO, and this was easy to set. When the Fine frequency button was engaged, each revolution then moved by 500 Hertz, meaning I would move from 7.100.00 to 7.100.50. I was also very pleased to see the frequency was announced to the Hertz level with the Fine adjustment engaged. The frequency is announced as 7.100.500.

Operating

Over the course of the evaluation I found that visits to the Menu were very infrequent. As I’ve previously mentioned, all of the common functions of the radio are controlled from the front panel. I found that when I needed an announcement I got one, and when the voice would have been obtrusive, I got useful beeps.
I guess the Antenna change button and the Attenuator buttons sum up this approach. These buttons are in the column between the displays. Press the top button for aerial selection, and you hear ‘Antenna 2’. Subsequent presses give ‘Antenna 3’ and so on.

Move down to the Attenuator button and you hear one high pitched beep for 6dB, two beeps for 12dB, three beeps for 18dB, and a single lower tone for off. Holding the button takes you in the reverse direction.

The third button in the column is the Preselect. This button Beeps for on and off with a momentary press, and when held it announces the setting, and can be adjusted with the Multi-Ch control or the function keys. F1 held, will reset back to default.

MP3 Demo of Antenna Attenuator and Preselector keys

The fifth button in the column, the TX Power Limit button, allows you to set power limits on each band, and between data, non data, and Tune.

MP3 Demo of Power Limit Setup

The TS-990S has many options for assigning programmable function buttons. There are two dedicated buttons on the front panel, labelled PF A and PF B. By default, the PF A key announces incoming signal strength, or outgoing power when sending RF. PF B works in conjunction with the Meter button, and can announce Power and SWR when transmitting.

The Up and Down buttons on the microphone can also be assigned as PF keys, and an external unit can be constructed for eight additional PF keys. The optional MC-47 fist microphone has 4 extra buttons available for programming, and I calculate this would give the dizzying possibility of 18 programmable keys. As so many functions can be assigned to a PF key, this gives lots of options to move commonly used keys to somewhere more easily accessed.

Traditionally, the frequency announcement itself has been assigned to one of the available PF keys, but the TS-990S has two dedicated Voice buttons for both the Main and Sub receivers, so the PF keys are not needed for frequency announcement.

Continuing with our look at the vertical column of buttons between the displays, the sixth button, the Meter selection, is a pleasure to use. Among the options, the SWR, ALC, and Power are announced by transmitting RF and simultaneously pressing the PF B button. On the Meter screen, Processor is only announced if the Processor is enabled.

MP3 Demo of PF keys

I found the lower left row of rotary controls very easy to use, as although there is no voice announcement on the majority of them, the notch in the control can be felt. If we look at the first knob, the inner is the Mic Gain, and the outer the VOX Gain. Using the adjacent button gives access to the VOX Delay and Anti Vox setup on the display. Changes are made with the function keys.

MP3 Demo of VOX Setup

Split operation is very slick, with a dual watch function allowing the Main and Sub RX to be separated into left and right ear pieces. I needed to enter the menu to set the 50/50 balance for the headphones. All of the Main and Sub functions work very well, and Split operation is clearly announced.
A momentary press of the Split key announces ‘Split On’.

Holding the Split key announces ‘Split Enter’. If you then press a 5 on the keypad, the Sub receiver is instantly set 5kHz higher. If the Main is set to 7.100, you hear ‘Split TX 7.105’.

MP3 Demo of Split Operation

As we have come to expect with Kenwood radios, the memory system is accessible. As well as storing Simplex frequencies, using the F6 key when storing, Will allow the Sub band to be included. When subsequently scrolling through the memory channels, the duplex channels are announced with a ‘D’, and simplex channels with ‘S’.

The TS-990S has 6 channels to record voice messages. The messages are controlled using the function keys, running along the bottom of the main screen. Again, these buttons give enough spoken feedback for operation without sight.

To record a voice message press F2, you will hear ‘Voice Message’.

Press and hold F2 through F7, which corresponds to message channel 1 through 6. If you press and hold F2 for message channel 1, you will hear ‘Record Mic’. At this point you can change the input source, but the default is mic.

Press and hold F4 and make your recording. If you press F2, your message is played back.

MP3 Demo of Audio Messages

Setting the CTCSS tone is a good example of the TS-990S accessibility for lesser used features. Firstly, change the mode to FM, and press and hold F4. You will hear ‘Main Tone 88.5’.

Next press F6 to select the Main or Sub band. You will hear ‘Main’. F6 now toggles between Main and Sub.

Use F2 and F3 to switch between Tone and CTCSS, and use F4 and F5 or the Multi-Ch knob to move between the frequencies.

Press Escape when you’re done, and remember that holding F1 resets back to the default.

MP3 Demo of CTCSS Setup

Recording communication audio. You can record a maximum of 30 seconds of audio data per file to internal memory or a maximum of 9 hours of audio to a USB thumb drive. I found the Record, Stop, and Play buttons allowed me to capture received audio, and replay it instantly. Pressing F1 announced ‘Audio file’, and I was able to move through each of the previously recorded clips and play them.

AGC. The AGC buttons are available for both the Main and Sub receivers. There are full announcements for Fast, Medium, and Slow, along with their values. Holding the AGC button enters the AGC setup, and the values are easily adjusted and saved.

MP3 Demo of AGC Operation

I’ve mentioned the memory channel system is fully accessible, and the quick memories work well too. Interestingly, pressing Enter, and then rotating the Multi-Ch control, takes you through the history of frequencies entered through the keypad. A very nice touch, and again all announced.

Briefly, I found the Timer functions were announced, and while I did not complete the setup, programming the clock and setting a sleep timer all looked to be accessible. There is a Lock key for each receiver, and similarly two Mute buttons. Very usefully, I found the radio would announce its status at switch on, if it had been left in setup mode, or in Split mode, when it was switched off.

Conclusions

In summary, I am incredibly impressed with the accessibility built into the TS-990S. It seems the voice announcements allow the operator to make almost any change, as a sighted user would. I installed the ARCP software and this meant I could browse the menu system with descriptions, but whilst useful, it is not strictly necessary, as the menu plays a more minor role in this radio. Having the radio for just a week meant there is much more to discover, and no doubt much better ways of doing things, but I’m sure the audio demonstrations will give you a good idea of the tremendous work that has gone into making this radio fully accessible. Congratulations to Kenwood, for a flagship radio with truly superb accessibility!

Related Downloads

TS-990S Front Panel Layout.doc
TS-990S MP3 Recording of the June 2013 RSGB RadCom Review by Peter Hart
This article is © of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and was originally published in their magazine, RadCom, 06 2013. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. For more information about the RSGB please visit http://www.rsgb.org.

Kenwood TM-V71E Accessibility Review

Image of TMV71E with detached head and microphone on top of radio.
Accessibility Evaluation of the Kenwood TM-V71E

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

June 2013

The Kenwood TM-V71E is a mobile VHF and UHF transceiver for FM communication. There is not a terrific choice available for a blind amateur in this market with accessibility, and if you want a multi-mode radio, your best bet is probably one of the so called ‘shack in a box’ transceivers that also covers HF.

The TM-V71E has been around for several years, and is considered to be near or at the top of the shopping list for blind amateurs wanting a 2m and 70cm FM radio. Although generally accepted as one of the most accessible radios in this market, I thought it would be worth evaluating the TM-V71E, and I thought it was useful to jot down some of my findings.

I don’t intend to write a full review, and I am delighted that there are so many accessible resources available to get you started. Under the Related Documents section on this page are an MP3 review and demo by David 2M0TSR, the full manual recorded in MP3, and the full manual in HTML format. Each describes the layout and operation, and I would encourage any owner to check them out.

I have evaluated the TM-V71E, and this is the European version. I believe the other versions are very similar in operation, but with frequency allocations more appropriate to their region.

As I am almost entirely an HF operator, I was initially surprised by the small size of the TM-V71E! I’ve approximately measured the width to be 140mm, the depth 190mm plus front controls, and the height about 40mm.

The radio has one N type antenna socket, computer and TNC sockets, and will support two external speakers, one for each VFO. It transmits on 2m and 70cm, and has three power levels. Low is 5 watts, Medium is 10 watts, and High is 50 watts. There is no numeric keypad on the front panel, but the chunky microphone has a keypad, and 4 additional programmable buttons. The radio can also be used to receive frequencies outside of the amateur bands in FM and AM modes.

The front panel controls are very well defined, and the buttons are a hard plastic giving no finger drag as you move from control to control. There is a small tuning knob at the bottom left of the facia, And this clicks as you tune through the frequency steps. This knob is also used for selecting memory channels and moving through the Menu. The bottom right has two Volume and Squelch knobs, for independent VFO a and VFO B control. These knobs and the Tuning knob can also be pressed for additional functions.

The test radio was fitted with the optional VGS-1 voice guide. This gives spoken access to the majority of button presses, but I must stress that there is still a need to read and understand the operating guide, as the radio is surprisingly complex in use, and there are several potential pitfalls just waiting to trap the casual blind operator .

The Memories are spoken, giving accessibility to the storage of repeater programming, and the Menu system can be navigated with speech output. In line with other Kenwood radios I have tested, the Menu channels are not fully described as you move from item to item, and it is necessary to have an external reference list at hand.

Menu access is achieved by pressing the Function key followed by the Tuning knob. You are given the spoken prompt ‘Menu 001’, and further turns of the Tuning knob click through to ‘Menu 002’ and so on. As you move through the menu, the selected parameters are not automatically spoken for each menu. I found I had to press the Tuning knob to be placed into a talking list of the parameters. A further press of the Tuning knob saved the setting, and returned me to the menu list.

Using the microphone keypad, it is very straightforward to enter a direct frequency, but first, one of the Programmable Function (PF) buttons must be designated as Enter. I found that it was ideal to use one of the four PF buttons on the mic for this purpose, and menus 509 to 512 can be used to set these buttons. I found the PF keys seem to be programmed in the reverse order to my expectation. For example, 512 is the top PF button on the mike, and 509 is the bottom button.

The tone key cycles through Tone, CTCSS, or DCS, and Off. These functions are not initially spoken, and each setting has the same higher pitched beep, with the Off position having a lower beep. I also found that when on the CTCss and DCS positions, the radio usefully became silent, as only signals with the appropriate coding are allowed through. I guess this might cause some head scratching if the tone button is pressed accidentally.

If I needed to set the CTCSS, I pressed the Tone button until I heard the lower pitched beep of the Off position, pressed a further two times, and pressed function. Now, a further press of the Tone button would speak ‘CTCSS frequency 88.5’. The tuning knob is then used to make the selection, and a further press of the Tone button saved the setting.
In its simplest operation, I found the Rev key worked by switching the input and output frequencies when listening to a repeater. I briefly investigated the more advanced Rev functions, and I could change the plus or minus offset frequency. Pressing Function followed by Rev toggled the settings between Off, minus, and plus. The Off position, where there is no offset, gave a low pitched tone, and plus and minus gave a higher pitched tone. At each stage I pressed VFO A volume control to read the frequency, in conjunction with the Rev key, to find out what I had changed. There is plenty of scope for confusion using this function, and I suspect there will seldom be a need to use it beyond initial setup, and possibly never.

Here in the UK, the 2m repeater outputs are in the frequency range 145.600 to 145.800. I found that entering a frequency in the repeater block automatically set the correct offset for the transmit. It is then just a matter of selecting the right CTCSS tone and saving to memory.

As we have come to expect from Kenwood, the memory channels are fully accessible. The channel numbers are spoken and their status is announced. If you have lots of repeaters in your area, it would be useful to maintain a list of frequencies and the memory channels used. There is a facility to label memory channels, and while the actual labelling process was inaccessible, I did add one label, with sighted help, to see what happened. Unfortunately, only the channel and frequency were spoken, the tag was ignored.

Since I started to evaluate the radio, I was intrigued by the voice announcing ‘PM2’ at the power on. Investigating further, the radio has 5 Programmable Memory states. This allows a single user to setup the radio for several types of operating or for use in different localities. It also means that several different users can tailor the functions to their particular preference, and store the individual setup.

This system is again accessible, but I think could cause a degree of confusion if the wrong buttons are pressed. Imagine setting up the PF keys on the microphone in PM1, and then accidentally moving to PM2. All the settings still reside in PM1, but appear to be lost.

With this scenario in mind, the way of changing the PM status is as follows. Simply press the PM button until ‘PM’ is heard, and then press one of the keys running along the bottom of the front panel. The Call key turns PM mode off, the Function key moves you to PM1, the tone key to PM2, and so on.

The memo and conversation functions of the VGS-1 work as described in the manual, and can be easily used.

Unfortunately, I could find no way of having the VGS-1 tell me the incoming signal strength.

Overall the Kenwood TM-V71E is highly accessible, but there are still some areas where the blind operator has to infer the information, rather than being told it explicitly. I am personally surprised at the complexity and rich feature set of this small VHF and UHF radio, and it is certainly a unit where the manual needs to be read thoroughly. Once again, Kenwood have worked extremely hard to make the TM-V71E very accessible through the VGS-1 voice guidance system.

Related Downloads

Kenwood TM-V71E MP3 Audio Review by David 2M0TSR
TM-V71E Full MP3 Manual (Please Right click and Save Target As:
TM-V71E Full DAISY Manual (Please Right click and Save Target As:
Rob K6DQ has prepared a fully accessible HTML manual, and related files
Kenwood TM-V71E K6DQ files
Dowload and unzip this truely excellent file containing a fully indexed HTML web page giving links to the text and descriptions of the user manual
The K6DQ file also contains:
Kenwood TM-V71E HTML Menu description
Kenwood TM-V71E TXT Microphone Keypad Description
Kenwood TM-V71E TXT Front Panel Description
Handihams have, at the time of writing, the following files and audio tutorials in their Manuals section:
tmv71_layout.mp3
tmv71a.mp3
tmv71a_brochure.txt

Elecraft KX3 Accessibility Review

Photo of KX3 on a house brick for size comparison

Accessibility Evaluation of the Elecraft KX3

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

May 2013

The KX3 Is the first Elecraft radio I have tried. Several of my amateur friends have been using Elecrafts for several years, and the brand certainly seems to engender a loyal following!

I have had the opportunity to borrow a KX3, serial number 1907, while my friend G4JZL has gone on holiday. Reading comments from others on the Active Elements email group, I count myself very privileged to have been entrusted with such a prized possession!

The KX3 in this evaluation used firmware version 1.1.2, a very early firmware version. The very latest Beta firmware in early May 2013 is 1.4.7, and Rob K6DQ has tried out some of my findings with version 1.4.4. Rob describes the firmware progress as being akin to having a new radio every few weeks, and it is interesting to note the improvements already made to the CW readout in recent upgrades.

I have only spent a few hours with the accessibility documentation, and I feel I only understand the basic operation. Due to the rapid development of the KX3 firmware It is very likely that the findings in this review will have changed again, or I have overlooked something obvious!

The KX3 is an HF radio covering from 160m to 6m. The power output is up to 10 watts from an external power source, and it has an internal battery and an internal auto ATU capable of matching a 20 to 1 SWR. There are many optional extras such as the 100 watt amplifier and the narrower roofing filters, and the microphone is itself an additional option.

While primarily a portable radio, the KX3 has base station receiver performance in several areas. The April 2013 RadCom review by Peter Hart was very favourable, and on paper some of the figures were comparable with the very best.

It is perhaps too easy to categorise the KX3 as a CW only portable radio, but I can confirm it sounds excellent on SSB transmit, and I found during my testing that the noise reduction on SSB reception is superb. Listening with the KX3 to a weak DX station on a noisy frequency, the Noise Reduction excelled at reducing the fatigue of listening to a weak signal through the crackles and hiss of HF.

My initial impressions of the KX3 was that it was a shape and size unlike anything else I have used before. It is about 200mm wide, 100mm deep, and 90mm high including controls. I can best describe it as being in the shape of a house brick, with the controls on the top surface.

The KX3 has a BNC aerial socket on the right side, and power input and sockets for microphone, Morse key, headphones and PC connection on the left side. There are future plans for an additional 2m antenna connection, and you are given the impression the KX3 is very much at the start of the development cycle. As the KX3 is offered as a kit, I speculate that some of the hardware improvements, such as the 2m VHF capabilities, might be offered as a module for existing radios.

I will describe the top panel as though you are looking down on it from above, in a plan view.

There are 6 buttons on the far left, running from top to bottom. These include the up and down band buttons, the direct frequency initiation, and the auto ATU. The bottom button is the zero in the numeric keypad.

6 more buttons run along the bottom of the panel, starting in the bottom left corner next to the zero button, and ending about two thirds of the way along the facia. These buttons control receiver functions such as Pre-Amp, Attenuation, Noise Reduction etc. These buttons toggle settings on and off with a momentary tap, and toggle other settings with a longer press. An abbreviated CW announcement is given for every press. The pitch of the CW changes as commands are switched on and off. These buttons also act as 1 through 6 in the numeric keypad.

Above these buttons are 3 rotary knobs. As well as turning, these knobs can also be momentarily pressed or held. Often a function is entered by pressing a knob, and the adjustment is made by turning the same knob. Again, you are given adequate CW feedback at each stage. These knobs also act as 7 through 9 when used for frequency input.

To change the transmit power, the third knob is held for about half a second. A beep is heard, and adjustment is made by turning the knob. There is CW feedback when you pause turning the knob, and typically you will hear:

4 R 6

Meaning the output power is set at 4.6 watts.

When in SSB mode, the second knob can be used to control band pass filtering. Tapping the knob switches between High and Low cut, and rotating the knob changes the filter width. A longer press puts the filtering back to normal. You are given CW feedback for High, Low and Normal positions.

Above these 3 knobs and virtually in the top centre of the facia is the LCD display.

The main VFO tuning knob is to the right of the third knob described previously, about three quarters of the distance from the left edge, and finally to the right is the Sub Band tuning knob. This smaller tuning knob is also used for RIT and XIT tuning, and for scrolling through the menu.

There are 6 buttons in two columns of three at the top right of the panel. These buttons change the Mode, and control the swapping of frequencies between the Main and Sub VFOs and the Split functions. The bottom two buttons of this block are programmable, and can be assigned to menu options.

Finally, there are a further two buttons at the bottom right for changing tuning step size and for announcing frequency in CW. The bottom right button also accesses the configuration menu when held, And when not used for CW frequency readout is used for switching the VFO B area of the LCD display to show various parameters, such as power supply voltage, battery voltage, current draw temperatures and other non accessible info. It is worth mentioning here that the HamPod reads all of this information, and this is discussed later.

In terms of usability by a blind op, it is very interesting to discover how Elecraft have put considerable thought into accessibility. The radio can be setup to produce CW feedback for almost all of the controls. This means the KX3 is highly accessible if you read CW. The CW announcements are turned on in the menu system, and it would be nice if this was an option assigned to one of the programmable buttons as a default. It would mean a blind customer could purchase the KX3, turn on the announcements independently, and start using it without sighted assistance.

Although the menu system gives no aural feedback at this stage, the accessibility documentation indicates that Elecraft plan to give CW access to the menu system in future firmware upgrades.

I think that one of the most exciting aspects of this KX3 review is the discovery of the accessibility documentation prepared by Elecraft. The document is specifically written for blind operators, and describes the radio controls. You are encouraged to read the full manual for more in depth information, but the accessibility documentation covers the basic operation of each control. One improvement that could be made to the accessibility documentation is to give each control a structured number. For example, I added A-1, A-2, etc to each of the 6 buttons on the left side. The 6 buttons along the bottom edge became B-1, B-2, etc. Without this additional indexing, it is unnecessarily difficult to search the file, to find the purpose of one control. Similarly, by assigning each control an individual reference number, I can search for ‘Split’, and instantly see it is button C2.

There is a copy of the accessibility document at the foot of this page, and I would imagine it will be updated as new features become available. I would therefore encourage you to find the latest copy yourself as it is unlikely I will be able to keep it up-to-date.

Unless you have a HamPod, having just CW feedback available will no doubt limit the radio’s appeal to non CW operators. The CW feedback speed can be slowed to accommodate a beginner, but it can become laborious as the CW speed decreases.

With the early firmware version on the test radio I could not find a method of interrupting the CW readout once it had started. For example, if I used the band up button to move from 40m to 15m, if I pressed the button quickly, I rapidly moved through 30m, 20m, 17m and onto 15m. The 15m frequency was then announced in CW. If I pressed the band up button slowly, I had to listen to the complete 30m frequency in CW, before further button presses worked. I found all announcements were not automatically interrupted by subsequent button presses, and I had to wait for the readout to finish before I could proceed. I was therefore very pleased to learn the lack of readout interruption on frequency changes has been addressed in later firmware releases, and this demonstrates the advantages of the rapid development cycle, and Elecraft’s continued attention to the accessibility issues.

The readout duration may not be a problem if the CW announcement is set to a rapid 35 words per minute, but for slower speeds, the need to wait for the CW readout to complete was occasionally frustrating.

When pressing the band up and down buttons, you will hear in CW something like:

C 1 4 0 1 1

The ‘C’ at the beginning of the announcement shows the Mode is CW.

Note, the Megahertz and Kilohertz are read back, but the Hertz are not. During my evaluation I could not find a way of having the Hertz announced. The button in the bottom right corner reads back the current frequency. You will hear something like:

C 0 1 1

Note, only the Kilohertz are read back.

Direct frequency input is possible, but with the limitation of only the Megahertz and Kilohertz being accepted. As there is no traditional keypad on the KX3, the buttons running along the bottom and the 3 knobs are used for inputting the numbers. This method works, but I found I could not quickly tap in a frequency without waiting for the CW announcement of each previous key press to finish. I understand there is some improvement to the interruption of playing CW readout, but to be totally certain of accurate input it is still prudent to wait until the completion of each number before pressing the next.

In my experience, it is extremely useful for a blind operator to be able to enter an exact frequency. If the person you are in QSO with says they are moving up 750 Hertz, to get away from QRM, it is often easier and quicker to tap in the direct frequency, than to tune with the VFO, and then need to check you have made the correct adjustment by listening to the readout.

I feel the limitation of not being able to read or enter the frequency more precisely than one Kilohertz, is a serious obstacle for a blind operator.

I was pleased to find there was a Dual Watch feature, and both the Main and Sub receiver can be heard in separate ears. The Dual Watch operation is turned on and off from within the menu, and I believe this can be assigned to a Programmable button. There is a 15kHz tuning limit for the sub receiver, in Dual Watch mode, but it is unusual to have a wider spread for DX.

Rob K6DQ has been working on HamPod compatibility, using a KX3 loaned by Elecraft. Rob tells me ‘support for the KX3 is now equal to the K3.’. Rob had to add code for 26 additional menu screens, and the HamPod knows if it is connected to a K3 or a KX3, so it can process queries and commands accordingly. Rob also tells me existing HamPods can be upgraded with new firmware to include the KX3 support!

I would encourage any blind operator to check Rob’s pages at http://www.hampod.com for the latest information.

In summary, the KX3 is very accessible if you read CW, and will no doubt be improved. Congratulations to Elecraft for going the extra mile, and putting considerable effort into accessibility!

Comment 1

Photo of KX3 with key fitted

From Chris G5VZ, May 2013:

I think it might be useful to readers to also mention the use of the radio with HDSDR.
I started checking this out last weekend and needed to source a couple of leads to
connect the radio up (The interface connectors are a mix of 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks
with three poles – standard stereo, that is – and four poles.) Having spent an entertaining
time finding suppliers of these odd combinations of plugs and wires I then discovered
that Elecraft part KX3-PCKT is a KX3 connector cable kit with everything you need
to interface the radio to an amplifier, PC, foot-switch PTT and all that sort of
stuff. With these connectors properly sorted, though, I think other software is
opened up – not just the SDR functions using the KX3’s I/Q input and output but also
HRD and the likes. I imagine that’s an accessibility benefit in the grand scheme
of things. And it also demonstrates that Elecraft’s support of the radio is genuinely
100% of everything you need to get it on the air plus their customer service seems
to be faultless.
Photo of KX3 in its Pelican case

Comment 2

From Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV – Erie, PA – May 2013

I fully expect things to get even better in regard to the KX3 accessibility. I just love mine! One thing I’ve done, just yesterday in fact, was to set up the programmable function keys to switch between hand key and paddles, and to switch various antenna tuner on/off, AGC on/off, and dual watch on/off in a five-way toggle. If you or any other KX3 users want the macros, let me know and I’m happy to share.

Comment 3

From Chris G5VZ, June 2013:

The menu control of the Morse user interface is essentially through the menu option headed SW Tone. This can be set to none – shown on the display as OFF – when no beeps are generated on any key presses or to ON, in which case button presses are indicated by beep or bee beep and
so on. The other menu settings are CODE and a speed digit-pair; so it’s CODE 10, CODE 15, CODE 20 and so on for feedback at 10 words per minute,
fifteen or twenty. A bit fiddly though. All covered in the original owner’s manual.

If the radio is powered up with the CWT button (Bottom row, button five counting from the left) pressed then the Morse user interface is activated at 20wpm. That is press and hold CWT then press the two power buttons (BAND and ATU TUNE simultaneously) then when the radio powers up release the power buttons first and finally release the CWT button.

This was implemented in firmware MCU 1.26 / DSP 0.99, 10-24-2012 and anything programmed before October last year doesn’t do this. In the current firmware there is a bug and powering up with CWT pressed and Morse UI already enabled can cause the radio to go into MCU Load status. It doesn’t happen every time and, in fact, only happens very
infrequently. This has happened to me once. The way to switch off Morse UI is through the SW Tone menu option.

As far as I know you cannot select or deselect Morse UI using the KX3 Utility Program with the radio connected to a computer.

The current firmware functionality is named “Morse User Interface (Phase 1)” and the documentation suggests that the later phase or phases will include Morse announcements on menu options as well as the button and rotary control operations already implemented.
Elecraft are very receptive to ‘wish list’ emails so anyone with actual experience should
probably get in touch with Wayne at Elecraft if there are specific (And achievable!) ideas for future firmware.

Hope this is useful.
73 Chris G5VZ

Related Documents

KX3 Blind Info PDF

Kenwood TS-570 Accessibility Review

Photo of TS570

Accessibility Evaluation of the Kenwood TS570D HF Transceiver by Phil 2E0OCD

This review is being written in February 2013. At this time, I have been using the TS570D for over a year. I am not a power user, but I’ve used it enough in every-day operation to form a reasonable opinion of its pros and cons as a rig for blind operators, and it is from this perspective that I shall comment.

My TS570D has been fitted with the optional VS3 voice chip. This chip has been superseded in more modern Kenwood models (such as the TS590) by the newer VGS1 chip. The VGS1 generally provides far superior speech access to visual information than the VS3 does. Nevertheless, the tactile nature of this rig’s controls, combined with auditory feedback in the form of bleeps and the spoken information provided by the VS3, mean that the TS570D can largely be operated by a blind op without too much difficulty. Having said this, some initial assistance in setting up the rig would be helpful, and may be invaluable if troubleshooting certain problems.

This review is organised around a description of the rig’s main controls. In the course of describing its controls, I shall also explain how a blind op might best operate the rig, and describe the auditory and spoken feedback which is provided during operation.

Here are my observations in more detail.

The rig is fairly chunky, measuring approximately 273mm back to front (excluding the additional depth of front controls and rear sockets), 285mm side to side, and 105mm top to bottom. The rig has a flip out metal stand which runs across the width of the rig, just underneath and slightly back from the front edge. This helps to slightly elevate the front of the rig and place its controls at a more ergonomic angle.

All the controls on this rig are on the front panel. The controls comprise a combination of tactile rubber buttons of different shapes and sizes, and plastic rotary dials. The controls are arranged into different zones, or groups. Although there are a lot of buttons and dials on this rig, they are sensibly organised and are relatively straight forward to distinguish by touch.

Towards the top left corner of the front panel is a cluster of eight buttons in two columns of four buttons.

The top left most of these is a small round PF (programmable function) button. This can be programmed to perform one of a range of functions. I have programmed this button on my rig to speak the RX signal strength via the VS3 voice chip. (This is achieved by changing menu 41 from a value of 51 to 52.) The remaining seven buttons in this cluster are all rectangular in shape. The first of these is the power button. This is located immediately to the right of the small round PF button, and it has a series of raised dots along its surface which make it easy to find.

The remaining six buttons in this cluster are as follows: buttons to activate VOX and send/receive, buttons to activate attenuation, pre-amp and processor, and a button to activate and tune the internal ATU. There is bleep feedback when these six functions are toggled on and off, the pitch of which is slightly higher when the relevant function is activated and slightly lower when it is deactivated. However, this difference in pitch is quite slight and so may be hard to detect reliably.

The ATU button is the one located at the bottom right of the group of eight buttons. Pressing the ATU button in and then quickly releasing it will toggle between turning the ATU on and off. You will want the ATU on unless you are intending to use an external ATU, in which case you will want it off; you should be able to tell whether it is on or off by the pitch of the bleep made when the button is pressed. With the ATU on, pressing and holding the ATU button in for a second or so will cause the internal ATU to look for a match. Whilst doing so, the ATU provides good auditory feedback through the sound made by the latching of the relays. If a match is found, there is a single beep. If a match is not made, then a longer sequence of CW characters is played. I do not know CW, but I understand from other blind ops that the CW spells out “SWR”. In any case, even if you do not know CW, the sequence of bleeps produced when no match is found is noticeably longer than the bleep produced when it makes a match.

Immediately to the right of this group of eight buttons, and stretching most of the way along the top of the control panel, is a smooth plastic area. This is the LCD display.

Below this group of eight buttons is a 6mm headphone socket, and below this is a standard Kenwood mic socket.

To the right of these two sockets, and below the LCD display, is the numeric key pad made up of twelve round rubber buttons. These have a slightly convex shape. They are organised like a telephone key pad in three columns of four, with the 1 key in the top left, and the 0 key bottom middle. There are four small raised dots on the 5 key making this easy to locate. The bottom left button is Clear, and the bottom right button is the Enter key.

Direct frequency input is very easy: simply press the enter key, enter the desired frequency (omitting the decimal point), and then press enter again. All key entries are spoken, including “enter” when the Enter key is pressed. The new frequency is also spoken after the second press of the Enter key. Pressing the Enter key twice in succession will cause the VS3 chip to speak the current frequency, which is very handy.

Most of the buttons in the numeric key pad perform secondary functions which are activated if they are selected without the Enter key having been pressed first. For example: the 4 key toggles the TX and RX between Antenna 1 and Antenna 2 sockets; the 6 key modifies the operation of the VFO control so that one rotation of the VFO is either 1kHz or 10kHz; and the 7 key toggles the Noise Blanker on and off. Unfortunately, the VS3 chip does not speak the status of these functions, and whilst these keys do issue a bleep when pressed, there is no difference in the pitch of the tone of the bleep to indicate whether a function is in one state or another, so it may not always be easy for a blind operator to determine this. However, with some trial and error, and use of lateral thinking, this can often be overcome. For instance, it will be obvious when toggling between Antenna 1 and 2 which you are on if you only have one antenna connected, or if you have two, if you disconnect one of them. Using frequency read out by pressing Enter twice will tell you whether your VFO is moving in 1kHz or 10kHz steps if you check the frequency before and after a single rotation of the VFO tuning dial. These days, One can even use on-line software defined radios accessed through websites to listen to one’s transmissions to try and determine the setting of other TX related functions.

Moving on, there is a further column of four round buttons to the right of the numeric buttons. These are smaller in size than the numeric buttons, but also have a convex shape. They are the transmit functions which are used in conjunction with the Multi Channel selector dial found towards the bottom right of the rig. From top to bottom, these buttons are: Mic, to set the microphone gain; Power, to set the TX power; Key, to set the internal keyer speed; and Delay, to adjust the delay between TX and RX when VOX is activated. These buttons produce a high tone when activated and a low tone when deactivated.

So, for example, to adjust the TX power, you press the second button down once, then use the Multi Channel selector knob to set the desired power level, then press the Power button again to store the change. The Power button produces a high pitch bleep when the power setting function is activated, and it issues a lower pitch bleep when storing / deactivating the function. The difference in pitch is significant and so will be easy for most people to detect. Unfortunately, the VS3 does not voice the power level (nor any of the other values which can be altered with these four buttons such as the microphone gain level). Nevertheless, it is possible to set power accurately, since the lowest power setting in the range is 5 Watts, the highest level in the range is 100 Watts, and the incremental change is always 5 Watts. So, to set power to 50 Watts, press the Power button once and listen for the high pitched bleep. Then turn the multi channel selector anti-clockwise at least 20 clicks. This brings the power level down to the minimum of 5 Watts. Then turn the Multi Channel selector nine clicks clockwise, which increases the power to 50 Watts. Finally, press the Power button again and listen for the low pitch bleep to confirm that the new power setting has been saved.

The main control to the right of this column of four buttons, is a large VFO tuning dial. It is easy to grip as it has a ridged and rubberised outer surface. On the front face of the VFO tuning dial, there is also a finger indentation. A torque switch is located at six o’clock directly underneath the tuning dial which, when slid to the left provides a light touch movement to the dial. When slit to the right, it provides greater friction in the movement of the VFO dial making it easier to move the VFO in very small increments. I like to have the VFO set to tune by 10 kHz per rotation, but this is adjustable as already indicated by pressing the 6 key which will reduce it to 1 kHz per rotation.

To the left of the VFO tuning dial and hugging the curve are a further three round buttons. These are slightly larger than the numeric buttons, but have a concave shape. These are the mode selectors, and from top to bottom they are: LSB/USB selector; CW/FSK selector; and FM/AM selector. When pressed, the VS3 chip announces the selected function in CW bleeps. This is not very helpful if, like me, you don’t know CW. However, I have learned to recognise the difference between LSB and USB because the CW bleeps for LSB are noticeably longer than the CW for USB (note that both “LSB” and “longer” start with the letter l, which is how I recall it).

Below these three buttons and still to the left of the VFO tuning dial are two very small round buttons (though I understand that on some versions of the TS570D these may be rectangular in shape). When pressed, they bleep, but there is no difference in the pitch to indicate what state they are in. This should not present any difficulties though, as we will see.

The right hand of these two buttons is the 1MHz / Amateur Band mode button. This button toggles the function of the Down and Up buttons between 1MHz and Amateur Band modes – I shall mention this again later.

The left hand of these two buttons is the Menu button. When pressed, the Menu button toggles the menu system on and off. Blind ops considering the TS570D will be pleased to know that the menu system is accessible via spoken prompts from the VS3 voice chip.

To activate the menu system, press the Menu button once. There will be a single bleep and the VS3 chip will announce the menu number, eg, “menu eleven”, and the state of the setting associated with that menu, eg, “on” or “off”. Once the menu system is activated, you use the Multi Channel selector dial to move up and down through the different menus, and each menu is announced by reference to its number. This means that one needs a separate list detailing what each of the numbered menus are in order to make sense of the spoken information. In order to change the setting associated with any given menu, one uses the Down and Up buttons, either on the rig itself, or on the supplied Kenwood microphone. I will discuss the Down and Up buttons on the rig shortly, but on the microphone, they are located on its top surface. The options within a menu do not wrap, so when the last option is reached at the start or end of a menu, further presses of the relevant Down or Up buttons will only elicit a bleep. Each time a menu setting is changed in response to a press of the Down / Up button, the new setting is announced, eg “on” or “off”. Again, one must refer to an external list detailing what the various settings associated with each menu are in order to make sense of this information. Once all changes are made, press the Menu button again, a short bleep is heard and the menu system is deactivated.

Thankfully, a list describing the numbered menus and their settings is provided in the manual, a recording of which is available on the Active Elements and RAIBC websites.

Moving to the right of the VFO tuning dial, there are four further groups of buttons. With the exception of the first and last of these, these are generally used for more advanced operation such as working split frequencies, and, not being a power user, I am less familiar with their operation. So my tour of this part of the rig will be less detailed.

The first is a row of four round, convex shaped buttons, located immediately below the LCD display. Working from left to right, these are as follows: the Down button; the Up button; the Quick Memory Recall button; and the Quick Memory In button.

The Down and Up buttons have a minus and plus sign, respectively, inscribed into their surface. Someone with sensitive touch may be able to make this out. These buttons perform three functions. As already seen, when the menu system is activated, they move down and up through the available settings within the selected menu. Otherwise, there other two functions involve moving the frequency of the currently active VFO: when the rig is in 1MHz mode, they move the frequency by exactly 1MHz; when Amateur Band mode is active, they move the frequency from one amateur band to the next.

The Quick Memory buttons provide a quick way of writing, and then recalling, operating settings into quick memory. There are five quick memory positions. Each time new settings are added to quick memory, the oldest entry drops out of memory and the remaining four entries are shuffled along one place to make way for the new entry, which is added into the number 1 memory position. Data that can be entered into and recalled from Quick Memory includes frequency and mode, as well as other settings. To add a frequency and its associated settings into quick memory, simply press the Quick Memory In button. This button has a tactile dot on its surface. It will bleep to confirm. To recall a frequency and its associated settings from quick memory, press Quick Memory Recall. There will be a bleep, and the VS3 will speak the number of the currently selected memory position, followed by the frequency stored there (it will not speak any of the other settings such as mode). Use the Multi Channel selector knob to click up an down through the five available quick memories. As you do this, the VS3 will speak the memory position and the frequency stored there, and the VFO will jump to that frequency so that the RX can be heard. At this point, a user has two choices. You can either exit quick memory and return to your previous frequency and settings by pressing Quick Memory Recall again. Alternatively, you can choose to exit quick memory and return to normal operation using the settings stored in the selected quick memory position. To do the latter, you need to press the N>VFO button (discussed below) instead of the Quick Memory Recall button. Pressing the N>VFO button causes the contents of the selected quick memory to be copied to the VFO and puts you there whilst also exiting quick memory. In either case, there will be a bleep to confirm.

The next group of buttons is below the row containing the Down/Up and Quick Memory buttons. This group is arranged in two rows of four round buttons. The buttons themselves are slightly larger, and are concave in shape. These buttons largely relate to split operation, which is not an area I have explored in any detail. I shall therefore skip over this section. However, I understand from other blind ops that it is possible to operate this rig in split mode, if that is something you are interested in doing.

The next group is a row of three rectangular shaped buttons immediately below the buttons used for split operation. From left to right these are the Scan button; the N>VFO button; and the Memory In button. The N>VFO button is used, as mentioned above, to copy the contents of a quick memory to the VFO.

The last group of buttons is a column of four rectangular shaped buttons immediately to the right of the LCD display. The top button is a Noise Reduction filter which toggles between three settings: off, and two filters referred to as NR1, and NR2. The next button down is a DSP beat cancellation filter which toggles between on and off. It is usually obvious from the RX audio whether these filters are activated. The next button down activates the CW zero beat function. The bottom button enables the RX bandwidth to be changed if an optional filter chip is installed, which it is not in my rig.

The remaining five controls on this rig are smallish plastic rotary control dials which are all easy to locate and use. The first two are located below the column of four buttons which I have just mentioned. The top one is the RIT / XIT dial which is used for split operation. The bottom dial, which is located at the bottom of the front panel, is the Multi Channel selector dial. This clicks as it turns. This makes the selection of frequency (when in VFO mode), menus (when the menu system is activated), and quick memories (when Quick Memory mode is activated) straight forward. Using menus 4 and 5 in the menu system, the Multi Channel dial can be set so that, when changing frequency in VFO mode, it does so in steps of 1kHz, and to the round frequency, for every click of the dial; this is a very useful setting to bear in mind.

At the extreme right hand edge of the control panel are three further dials which effect the RX audio. They are all designed with an inner and an outer dial which move independently of each other. The top dial is a DSP sloping pass band used to cut out high / low frequency noise. The middle dial is the RF gain and the audio volume. The bottom dial is the squelch, and the IF band pass control which enables you to slightly adjust the RX band pass higher or lower when interference is present. These are all perfectly usable by a blind op as their effect is obvious from the RX audio.

With the exception of the headphone and microphone sockets, all other sockets are located on the rear of the unit. I shall not discuss these as they are amply described in the manual, a recording of which is available on the Active Elements and RAIBC websites.

Three final observations will complete this accessibility evaluation of the TS570D.

First, just to make clear that whilst the VS3 provides spoken access to certain information such as the current frequency, the frequency in quick memories, and the menu system, it does not speak the status of other settings such as mode (although these are indicated using CW tones), filters, and other TX and RX settings.

Secondly, it is worth knowing that the TS570D retains the status of certain settings within each amateur band allocation. Settings being used for each band are stored independently of the settings being used in other bands. The settings that are stored are those which are set when the VFO moves in and out of the band, whether this occurs via direct frequency input, by turning either the VFO tuning or Multi Channel dials, or by moving via the Down and Up buttons. Therefore, if you adjust a setting, such as switching from LSB to AM, this will be retained when you return back to the band. This is the case even if you have powered off the unit and then powered back on. This clearly has advantages, but it can be a little annoying if a setting is changed inadvertently as it may take some time to realise that you have made a change and what that change is. I would suggest, therefore, adopting a fairly strict routine of trying to ensure that all settings are returned to an expected state before switching bands or powering off, in order to avoid unexpected surprises when that band is revisited, or the rig is switched on next time.

Third, whilst it is adequate, the sound quality from the internal speaker is not as good as you may wish, and therefore a separate speaker may be desirable. One of the nice things about the audio on this rig, especially when using an external speaker with an independent volume control, is that you are able to independently control the volume of the RX audio and the information spoken by the VS3 chip. The AF dial on the rig itself can be used to control the RX audio, but this does not change the volume of the VS3 announcements; to do this, you can use the separate volume control on your external speaker. When working with the internal speaker, or on headphones, the VS3 volume is set to a specific level which can not be altered, but I find that it is set to a perfectly acceptable level for my normal hearing.

Related Downloads

TS-570 MP3 Manual
TS-570 Front and rear panel layouts, and Menu system.doc

Yaesu FT-2000 Accessibility Review

Accessibility evaluation of Yaesu FT 2000.

I have wanted to evaluate the FT2000 for some time. My good friend Rob G0WSC has been using the FT 2000 for about four years, and whilst Rob is sighted, it became obvious that once initially set up, the Menu seldom needed to be accessed again. In terms of accessibility, the main challenge for a blind operator using the FT 2000 is the lack of a voice synthesiser. Therefore, obtaining the frequency and mode information requires a connection between the radio and a PC. This evaluation is therefore slightly different from the ‘stand alone’ reviews I have conducted previously, as it is indeed possible to use an apparently inaccessible radio with no voice output, if a computer can be operated.

FT2000

YAESU FT2000

On paper, the FT2000 is an interesting radio. Even for a blind operator, it has certain features that make it worth investigating, even without speech output. I have had the FT2000 here on the bench for a couple of days only, and so this accessibility review can only really be my impressions on the radio, and I would encourage any blind amateur to do more research and check out my very superficial observations.

The radio is physically large, measuring 410 x 135 x 350 mm and weighing 15 kg. It covers 160m to 6m. I evaluated the 100W version, and there is also a 200W model. The version I tested has an internal PSU and the radio is plugged directly into the mains.

For its price point, I believe the FT2000 is currently the most inexpensive radio with separate receivers. The sub receiver must be on the same band as the main receiver, but it is possible to monitor different signals in each ear, using stereo headphones. As I have mentioned in previous evaluations, my usual operating practice is working DX, and this inevitably involves working on Split frequencies. I personally gain great benefit by listening to the DX station transmitting in my left ear, whilst I am looking for a pattern in his RX frequency range, listening with my right ear.

As previously mentioned, this radio will need to be initially setup using the menu system. There is a wealth of information available on the Internet, including e-mail user groups, and many people have published information on their personal Menu setup. It is almost inevitable that a blind operator will need sighted assistance for this initial phase.

I connected the FT2000 to my PC via the RS-232 CAT port, and used my logging program and screen reader to speak the frequency and mode. The physical connection was made using a standard serial cable, connecting to a USB adaptor plugged into the PC. I simply unplugged my usual radio and swapped cables. For some reason, I expected the FT2000 to need a special interface cable, but this was not the case. All this was very straightforward.

As the radio is physically large, my initial impression of the front panel was of an overwhelming mass of controls. There are lots and lots of buttons and knobs, But it doesn’t take long to start understanding the radio’s layout. The radio is turned on by using a button at the top left corner, and the VOX button is conveniently positioned here too. There is a line of buttons on the left hand side positioned horizontally below the display. This row contains the dedicated buttons for Monitor ,Processor, AGC, Noise Blanker, attenuator and filter functions. These buttons are long and thin, and have the same beep regardless of whether you are turning the function on or off. There are differently shaped buttons at the end of the row to select A and B receivers. Below these buttons are two horizontal rows of large knobs of the concentric inner and outer type. These contain RF Power , Mike Gain, VOX Delay, Manual Notch ,and the RF and AF gain for the Main and Sub receivers.

Below and running along the bottom edge, are 8 buttons for transmitting any pre-recorded voice and CW messages.

To the right of the knobs are two further columns of buttons. The first column contains buttons for choosing the mode, and I was pleased to find individual buttons for USB and LSB selection. To the right again is another column of buttons containing the Split, and the TXW button, allowing you to quickly hear the Sub receiver signals.

The main VFO tuning dial is to the right of the previously described controls, and approximately in the centre of the front panel. Each revolution of the VFO moves 10khz, but I would imagine this can be changed in the Menu.

To the right of the main VFO are more buttons for controlling the Main and Sub receivers, the main numeric keypad, the Sub receiver VFO, the Clarifier knob, and the filter adjustment knobs.

It soon became obvious, there is literally a button or a knob for every common function. For a blind operator this is terrific. There is seldom a need to enter the Menu system, but there are a lot of controls to remember!

A brief note on the buttons. All of the buttons are hard plastic, and not the rubber type that drag on the finger tips as you slide your fingers around the operating area. The long thin buttons running under the display on the left hand side are very easy to use, but I found some of the other buttons were quite tricky to orientate myself around, because of their unusual shape. These buttons are not flat, but the tops are tilted, and with a slight concave curve. The buttons are closer to the fascia at the top and thicken slightly at the bottom. In the case of the numeric keypad, the buttons are quite noticeably concave, with the button being thicker at the top and bottom, and being recessed across the middle. This actually makes tactile manipulation more awkward. As you move your hands over the keypad, instead of feeling a block of 12 flat buttons, instead, you have lots of peaks and troughs to negotiate. Until you get totally familiar with the keypad, it is easy to mistake the space between the buttons, as a button itself. There was no tactile pip on the 5.

The keypad uses the Triple Stacking method for band changes, meaning, pressing the number three will cycle you through three different stored frequencies on 40m.

Direct keypad entry of a frequency was straightforward.

I have very little experience of using Yaesu radios, and this is mainly due to the range generally lacking a voice synthesiser. I was therefore new to some of the concepts on the FT2000. For instance, when you are tuning for 0 beat on a CW signal, the Yaesu will give you a visual indication to show you are on the exact frequency, and fortunately, there is also an audio indication. A button press will produce a 700 Hz tone, allowing you to tune, and match the incoming signal to the generated tone.

A maximum power limit can be set when tuning. This works for both the internal and an external ATU. Limiting the tuning power to 20 watts while keeping the TX power at 100 watts is very useful.

Having established the FT 2000 was relatively easy to use, I wanted to make sure I could easily use the split facility and the sub receiver. With a radio of this complexity there are several ways of being able to work split. Sighted operators may well find they never need to use the split function at all, as the Clarifier itself allows an adjustment over 10 kHz! But, from my own personal experience, I like to be able to put in a definite frequency, so I don’t need to keep checking the voice output.

If you are wearing stereo headphones, in the standard set up, you will hear the main receiver in both years. If you press the TXW button, you will hear the sub receiver in both years. A menu setting allows you to hear both receivers at once, the main receiver in your left ear, and the sub receiver in your right ear. As the menu is inaccessible, I am assured the ‘Dual Watch’ function can be assigned to the programmable CS button. I did not actually try assigning the CS button on this borrowed radio, so this is something to make sure of yourself.

If you want to set the split very rapidly, there is a single button option to set the split to a 5khz high shift. This default can be adjusted. But, I think the most straightforward way of setting the Split frequency at say 3kHz up, is to press A=B, to make the Sub receiver equal the Main. Then press A/B and press the microphone Up button three times, this sets the frequency on the Sub receiver. Then press A/B again to return to the Main, and finally the Split button. You are now ready for Split operation with a shift of three kHz.

A press of the TXW button gives a double beep if Split is on, and the Split frequency was immediately shown on the PC. The signal on the sub receiver is heard.

In summary, the FT2000 can be satisfactorily used by a blind operator, but for independent operation needs to be connected to a PC via CAT. Every common function has a dedicated button or knob, meaning the inaccessible menu is not required in daily use.

Related Downloads

None

Baofeng UV-5R Accessibility Review

Baofeng UV-5R Review

By Ian Spencer DJ0HF/G3ULO

December 2012

This is a review of the Baofeng UV-5R dual band 2 metre/70 Centimetre hand-held transceiver. I suppose I should start by saying what motivated me to buy one, well it was simply the price. Most dual band Hand-Helds are in the 100 pound plus range and the cheaper Woxoun around 85 pounds or so, and this new Baofeng was only 32 pounds here in Germany including postage and if ordered directly from China I have seen it as cheap as 28 pounds almost a third of the price of the nearest competitor.

And although I’m not a VI operator myself I felt that this Hand-Held might be suitable for someone with a visual impairment as it does have some voice announcement features and so I will try to test this by operating the radio with my eyes closed in the hope of getting some idea of whether it really would be suitable or not.

I didn’t expect much for 30 odd pounds especially these days where a simple desk mike often costs a hundred pounds or more and so when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. It came in a small square carton and on opening it I was presented with a very neat hand-held which didn’t look in the least bit cheap and certainly seemed externally to be up to the build standard of my other more expensive radios. The box contained the Handy plus a 1800maH Li-ion Battery pack, a belt clip, a wrist strap and an extra earpiece for silent listening and a drop in battery charger, this is nice as you can drop the whole Handy into it for charging and don’t have to remove the battery pack or use a fiddly cable to connect the charger. There was also a rather basic instruction book to round off the contents.

The main case of the handy is black (though other colours are available) and on the top you find the socket for the rubber duck antenna and a volume control which includes the on/off switch and a white bright emitter LED which allows the Handy to be used as a torch and which in practice is surprisingly bright. The antenna socket is a reverse SMA (male) type and so if you want to connect another antenna perhaps with a BNC connector then you will need an adapter, though these are readily available for a few pounds on Ebay.

The front is divided into 3 areas and at the top is an LCD Display and below that is the speaker and to the left of the speaker are two important buttons which I’ll discuss in a minute and a small green LED which lights when a signal is being received. In the bottom third are the 4 rows of 4 buttons for menu functions and entering numeric information. All of the buttons are quite a good size and raised above the surface of the Handy and have a very positive click when pressed, so that once I had familiarised myself with the layout I found no problem locating the ones I wanted and operating them even with my eyes closed. On the right hand side is a flip open cover which reveals two sockets, a 3.5mm and a 2.5mm stereo socket into which you can plug the accessory earpiece or a combined microphone/speaker. These two sockets are also used for the programming cable to connect the Hand-held to a PC for programming.

The Li-ion battery clicks firmly into the back of the transceiver and the belt clip is attached by two screws if it is required.. Rotating the volume control turns it on with a click and a voice announces `Frequency Mode’ and the LCD display lights up in Violet with a welcome message for a couple of seconds.

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The unit has two basic modes of operation `Frequency Mode’ where two VFO frequencies are displayed on the screen and you can switch between them with a small blue A/B button. Or `Channel Mode’ which uses the 128 memory channels and is selected by a quick press of the orange coloured VFO/MR button. Both the VFO/MR button and the A/B button are placed well away from the other buttons being in the middle section of the Hand-held to the left of the Speaker. On the left side of the radio are three buttons , at the top an orange button which when pressed selects the FM radio for listening to stations in the 76 to 108Mhz broadcast band or it can be switched to the 65-75Mhz band by a quick press of the band button (to the right and just below the speaker). Pressing the orange button a second time turns the FM radio off. In the middle is a larger `PTT’ button and below that a `Moni’ button which is pressed once turns on the LED torchlight, if pressed a second time the LED blinks as an alarm and if you hold it pressed the squelch is switched off, the LCD display turns blue and you hear the usual loud hiss of an un-squelched VHF FM Receiver.

In `Frequency Mode’ I typed in 145500 on the keypad and each key was announced as I pressed it as `one’, `four’,’five’ etc. I was then listening on 145.500Mhz. I pressed the PTT button and the display turned orange and I had a quick contact with a local amateur. Using the standard 4 Watts, though low power 1 Watt is also available. He said it sounded fine though the modulation sounded a little quiet. This seems to be one of the only weaknesses of the Baofeng, you do need to speak very closely to the microphone, it’s said this deliberate as when the Baofeng is used in a commercial environment (for which is was first designed) then they didn’t want a lot of background noise being transmitted if the environment was noisy. I then punched in a 70cm frequency and repeated the test with no problems at all. Later I tested it on 2M and 70cm Repeaters and it worked fine on both bands. If while transmitting you press the band button then it transmits a 1750Hz tone to open a repeater. Though you can also program CTCSS or DCS tones which are required by a lot of repeaters these days. And there we come to a bit of fly in the ointment for all users and especially if you are a VI user. Programming the Baofeng from the keypad is possible but not particularly easy. There are several videos on `You-Tube’ on how to do it but not really practical for a VI user.

Whether you are visually impaired or not, obtaining the programming cable and free software from Baofeng is a must. This makes programming the 128 Memory channels and setting other features a breeze. Here in Germany I paid around 8 pounds for the programming cable but these seem a little more expensive in the UK. Though they won’t break the bank.

I had no problem programming the Baofeng with the standard software and cable. I could do it on both my Windows 7 Professional and Windows XP Professional computers perfectly. Even though the seller had said in his advert that the cable was only for XP. That said there have been a number of items on the internet saying that people had problems with Windows 7. This seems to be down to the version of the Prolific USB driver that windows 7 loads when you plug in the cable. However I have the latest version on my Windows 7 machine and it worked perfectly, this may not be the case with some versions of the driver and you may need to install a compatible version. The free software from Baofeng works pretty well but it’s not particularly sophisticated. There seem to be a number of different versions of the software and a number of versions of the firmware in the Handy. The older models have Firmware BFB28x, the newer BFB29x and there seem to be some differences. On the website I found a version of the programming software with NEW_OLD in the name which I suspect works with all versions but has a couple of unfortunate features.

When it starts there are lots of question marks on the screen because it starts in `Chinese’ and you have to go to top menu bar and select the second item from the right to switch to English.

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Then everything magically appears in English. The only other minor problem with this software version is that in the menu bar it doesn’t have the `OTHER’ option which allows you to change the welcome message on the Handy to for example `Your Call-sign’. I think this is missing because this feature is only available on devices with the newer BFB29x firmware. As mine has the newer firmware I used another version of the software from June of this year with the name UV_5R_VIP which does have the `OTHER’ option in the menu and allowed me to change the Welcome message to `DJ0HF’.

The radio is pre-loaded with a lot of channels and you can select `Read from Radio’ to download them into the program and then delete or modify them as you wish. The only unusual feature is that you don’t enter a repeater offset but instead enter not only the receive frequency but also the transmit. So for example as receive you might enter 145.600Mhz and the program automatically displays the transmit frequency as 145.600 as well and you have to change it to 145.000 to get the 600Khz offset. Unusual but not a big problem. Once you have entered all of the simplex and repeater channels you want then you simply click on `Write to Radio’ to upload the data and that’s it. As I said the Software isn’t very sophisticated and so after it tells you it has finished reading or writing the data you actually have to click `Cancel’ to get back to the main screen rather than it going back to the main screen automatically. Sometimes I noticed that the first time I said Read or Write it gave and error but after clicking it away then the second attempt always worked without problem for me. Very important is to know on which `COMM’ port the Prolific USB cable has been configured. It usually ends up on COMM3 but this many not be true, depending on how many COMM ports your computer already has. Some versions of the software automatically see the correct port and select it others you have to choose the `Communication’ option in the menu and click the required COMM port. If you have the wrong port selected then nothing will happen and you will not be able to read or write anything over the cable to the radio.

There is another software package called `CHIRP’ which can be used to program many different types of radio but it warns that it is experimental with the Baofeng, so I tried it in read mode and it read the data from the radio without any problem but I didn’t try writing anything back to the radio in case I `Bricked’ the radio and made it useless. Anyway I find the Baofeng software easy to use and so don’t have any real reason to use CHIRP.

So if you are a VI user could you use the radio. Well assuming you can get someone to help with the programming of the channels or have a very good screen reader which will work with the software, then I think yes.

In `Frequency Mode’ (which is announced) you only have to punch the frequency and all of the keys will be announced and that’s it. You can work simplex on the channel you punched in very easily. Pressing the VFO/Memory button will announce `Channel Mode’ and each time you press the UP or Down arrow the channel will step up or down one memory channel and the new channel number is announced. So as long as you remember your favourite simplex or local repeater channel numbers then there shouldn’t be any great difficulty in finding the channel you want and using the radio.

This review is already getting very long so I don’t want to go into all of the menu items here in detail (there are 40 of them). You can program any of the facilities from the software or by pressing the `Menu’ button and then a two digit menu number. Pressing `Menu’ again allows you to change the value of the item and in some cases announces the name of the menu item selected. After setting the required value pressing `Menu’ again, announces `Confirmed’ and pressing `Exit’ takes you out of the menus.

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If you are in `Channel Mode’ then pressing and holding the scan button, starts the radio scanning through all of the memory channels and the start of the scan is announced so if you are a VI user you know the scan has started. You can stop the scan by simply hitting the `Exit’ button. In the menu’s it’s possible to select to stay on the active channel until the carrier drops and then continue scanning, to stay on the active channel for a few seconds and then if `Exit’ isn’t pressed continue scanning or to exit scanning mode completely once an active channel has been found and remain on that channel.

As I say there are so many menu options that I can’t list them all here but for example you can set the squelch level (though I have never had to alter it). Select different colours for the display for Receive, Transmit etc. Set the step size, for example 12.5Khz or 25Khz etc. Turn on VOX operation if you don’t want to use the PTT. Set dual channel watch which allows two VFO frequencies to be monitored, the radio skipping back and forth between them until one of them becomes active. Or you can do the same with 2 Memory channels. Interesting is that if you are listening to FM Broadcast radio and one of the channels becomes active then the broadcast is muted until the activity on the channel ends and then it switches the broadcast receiver back on again. You can of course set CTCSS tones and interestingly you can set them for both transmit and receive. Normally for a repeater you would only set transmit CTCSS so that when you transmit it includes the tone but on receive you don’t need it. But if you set it for receive too then if you are talking from one baofeng to another in simplex or with a group of radio’s the receiver will only open if it hears the CTCSS tone from the other baofeng and ignore any other transmissions on the frequency. You can program a roger beep and lock the keyboard and lots of other things but I think you get the idea.

So is it an all singing all dancing Handy for the VI user, well most certainly not. But could a VI user operate the normal day to day functions of the radio in simplex or on a repeater (once the channels have been set up) I think the answer would be a most definite `yes’.

Comments

Ian DJ0HF has confirmed the following:
1 The frequency will not be read on demand. The frequency numbers are only spoken when entered.
2 The firmware appears to be very similar to the Wouxun KG-UVD1P, but the menu numbering is slightly different. I’m sorry to say that although the menu’s are very, very similar they do not have the same numbers. So for example on the Wouxon, you press ‘Function’ (which is Menu on the Baofeng) then 4 to go to the power Menu, on the Baofeng it’s Menu then ‘2’ then when you press ‘Menu’ again, like the Wouxon it announces ‘Power’ and you can use either the up or down buttons to cycle between high and low power. Like the Wouxon you can also use the one and zero buttons to set the power but unlike the Wouxon the one sets low power and the zero high power. I have recorded chapter 12 of the manual, describing the menu numbering. It is in the Related Downloads section below.
3 I tried to see if I could insert the Handy into the charger without it fully contacting the charger tabs but I really couldn’t. If I hadn’t inserted it properly I could twist the Handy clockwise and anticlockwise, if I had it fully inserted I couldn’t twist it. 4 The Wouxon review said that the Wouxon only gave about 2 seconds to enter a change after selecting a menu item before exiting the menu and returning to the normal mode. My Baofeng gives you about 8 seconds before it does this.
5 Unlike the Wouxon there is no rotary control on the top for changing frequency/memory channel or menu item. There are just the up and down keys and the numeric keyboard.

Peter MM5PSL comments:
Kelvin, You mentioned the problem of a slack charger on the Wouxun review. The Baofeng has a similar problem. The charger opening for the radio is too big and there’s quite a gap around the sides. The answer is knowing how to insert the radio. Unless by accident, only a sighted person would notice how it slots in. The radio has to be inserted with the back of the radio against the back of the opening and it slots in snugly. If it is too far forward it misses the guides on each side

Related Downloads

Baofeng UV-5R MP3 Tutorial by KA9OPL (opens a new page on Joe’s own site)
Baofeng UV-5R Chapter 12, Menu Numbering MP3
Baofeng UV-5R Tips and Hints for Eyes Free Operation by Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV
Baofeng UV-5R MP3 Review
Baofeng UV-5R OCR conversion of original PDF Manual

Icom IC-7200 Accessibility Review

A picture of the Icom IC-7200.  The display is reading 7.072.  This model has the carry handles attached.
Accessibility Evaluation of Icom IC-7200

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

December 2010

Several of our blind members have shown interest in the IC-7200. It is priced competitively as a mid-range HF base station, and is compact enough for mobile or field day use. The radio is marketed as being ‘rugged’, and my first impressions were of a compact and solid radio. Icom UK were kind enough to loan me the evaluation radio, and it was fitted with the optional carrying handles mounted on the corners of the front panel. These add to the go anywhere feel of the radio, and give a degree of protection to the knobs and dials on the facia.

The IC-7200 is a HF and 6M transceiver. It has one SO239 socket at the rear, and has CAT via USB to link to a PC. Maximum power is 100 watts, with a Tuner button allowing seamless operation with an optional external ATU.

In common with most modern Icom amateur radios, the IC-7200 has a voice chip fitted as standard. The voice chip reads Signal Strength, Frequency, and Mode when the Voice button is pressed. The menu system does not speak, but adjustments can be made to the voice synthesizer, such as changing volume. I immediately turned on the menu setting to make the Mode button speak, but I needed sighted help to navigate the menu. I was pleased to find the radio gave an audio indication when band edges were found, and this was the default setting.

The front panel of the IC-7200 is uncluttered, and initially seems to have too few buttons and knobs. To the left of the VFO are dedicated controls for adjusting Band Pass filtering. A nice touch on the smaller Icom radios, allowing easy band shape changes without the need to access multi-level menus. The AF volume, RF gain, and Squelch are adjusted with the traditional inner and outer knobs. There is the Mic input, Headphone socket, Power on and off, and a shared button for Voice and Frequency Lock. The only other buttons to the left of the VFO are a block of four, controlling Mode, Band Width, Tuner, and Tuning Steps.

As previously mentioned, I engaged the menu setting allowing the Mode to be spoken when changed.

The Band Width button cycles through three previously defined widths, and is a nice feature also found on the more expensive Icoms.

I chose the 1 KHz Tuning Steps for the fast tuning button. This meant in normal use, one revolution of the VFO moved smoothly through about 1.5 KHz. When fast tuning was turned on, the tuning dial moved about 130 KHz per revolution. The microphone buttons allowed me to move easily to a round frequency, and subsequently by 1 KHz steps when in fast tuning mode. The Mic buttons moved by 50 Hz steps when in normal tuning mode.

To the right of the VFO is the numeric Keypad, with just above the keypad, three buttons controlling Noise Reduction, Noise Blanker, and Auto Notch. Below the Keypad are two further buttons for Attenuate/Pre-amp and Menu. There is a rotary outer knob controlling the Manual Notch and a Multi-purpose ‘ratchet’ inner knob for various uses, including scrolling through the menu.

I’ll go on to describe how Icom have very cleverly utilised so few controls, but there are two areas I feel could have been improved to make life easier for a blind operator. First, is the positioning of the Voice button. This is situated on the front panel and fairly close to the main VFO. It is at about 8 o’clock in relation to the main Tuning Dial. As the Tuning Dial sits almost flush to the front panel, it is very easy to accidentally touch, when attempting to check the frequency. Some of the other buttons are also close to the VFO, but I feel the very frequently pressed Voice button should be placed further away from the Tuning Dial. Somewhat compounding the problem , the frequency Lock is shared with the Voice button.

My second grumble with the layout, is the lack of separation around the numeric keypad. The three buttons for Noise Reduction, Noise Blanker, and Auto Notch are positioned above the 1, 2, and 3, of the numeric keypad. While they are slightly narrower and slightly offset, it would be more intuitive to have a separation of some kind. There is no pip on the 5 key, and I found myself locating the Enter key, bottom right, and counting buttons on the keypad from this known point. Not a major problem, but an area of the radio a blind operator will inevitably have to navigate many thousands of times over the course of its working life.

I was very interested to learn how Icom had implemented the use of very frequently used functions in the IC-7200. There didn’t seem to be enough dedicated controls, and I initially feared the menu would have to be used for even basic changes.

With the IC-7200, Icom have changed the notion of the numeric keypad being used as a three level stacking system for the bands. For example, on many other Icoms, pressing the 7 key would take you to the 15M band, where subsequent presses of the 7 key would cycle through 3 different frequencies and modes on 15M. The IC-7200 departs from this, and uses the numeric keys to control other functions. You can still get to a band directly by using a long press on the Enter key, followed by a number, but a momentary press of a number key will now control other functions.

For instance, press ‘7’ to turn compression on and off. Each press gives a beep, but unfortunately the beep tone does not differ to indicate on or off. In the case of compression, I would normally be looking for the Monitor button, so I could hear the changes through my headphones, indicating on or off. With the IC-7200, I was very pleased to find I could always reliably turn a function on by entering its set-up mode.

If the ‘7’ key is held in for about a second, the compression set-up mode is entered. You will hear a short beep followed by the longer beep, to let you know you’re in compression set-up mode. Now, this is the good part, because as I’ve mentioned, entering set-up mode, always turns the function on regardless of its previous state.

So, to guarantee Compression is turned on or off:

1. Hold the ‘7’ key until you hear a short and a longer beep. You are now in compression set-up mode, with Compression automatically turned on.

2. Momentarily press the ‘7’ key again. You’ll hear a short beep, and you’ll be back in normal operating mode, with compression still turned on.

3. Momentarily press ‘7’ again. You will hear another short beep and compression will be toggled off.

If you are sighted, and wondering what all the fuss is about. I can guarantee that some way down the line, a blind operator will forget if an option is on or off. Being able to determine this independently is crucial !

Fortunately this useful convention applies to almost every function controlled by numbers on the Keypad, and also the Noise Reduction and Noise Blanker. Hold the appropriate button in for a second, and then press again momentarily to guarantee always turning the function on.

If we actually want to change a function’s setting, simply hold the key until set-up mode is entered. Adjustments are then made by rotating the Tuning Dial. I found that one complete revolution equated to a setting of about 60%.

So, to change the Noise Reduction:

1. Hold the Noise Reduction button for a second, you will hear a short and longer beep and be in set-up mode.

2. Turn the Tuning Dial, and you will hear the decrease in noise levels.

3. Once you have found the best level for the QSO, press the button again, and you will return to normal operating mode, and know that Noise Reduction is turned on.

I found Split operating to be easy and intuitive to use. The ‘2’ on the Keypad, toggles between VFO A and VFO B. ‘3’ on the Keypad turns Split on and off, with a longer press operating A = B, and following the convention it automatically turns the function on. Once the XFC function has been enabled in the menu system, the RIT key will allow you to listen to your transmit frequency when held down. This can also be used to establish if Split is turned on.

Memory usage is not so straightforward. In theory, it is possible to use it successfully, but there seemed to be no way of easily getting to a Memory Chanel using the Keypad. I could only find a channel by turning the Multi purpose knob, and the channel number was only shown on the display, not spoken. If I wanted to access memory 44, I feel it would be essential the system either spoke the channel, or allowed me to enter ‘44’ on the Keypad.

I found output Power adjustment to be relatively easy. You hold the Menu button for about a second and hear a beep. Incidentally, holding it for a further second, would put you into the full Menu. So, holding until just the first beep is heard, puts you into a mini Menu with three options shown. These are Power, Mic Gain, and Data. You cycle through these options using the Multi-purpose knob. Very usefully, the Power option always beeps, so you know where you are in the mini menu. Adjustment to the Power is then made using the Tuning Dial.

So, the process for changing output Power is:

1. Press and hold the Menu button. A long beep is heard.

2. Turn the Multi-purpose knob until a beep is heard. You are now on the Power setting.

3. Turn the Tuning Dial. One revolution is about 60%. Turning clockwise several turns will get you to the 100 watts position, and additional clockwise turning has no effect.

A similar mini menu structure is used to adjust the various VOX parameters. Again, it is possible to make all the necessary adjustments independently, if you remember the fairly simple sequence, and can estimate the levels when turning the Tuning Dial.

In summary , the IC-7200 will voice the Frequency, Mode, and RX Signal Strength. This obviously limits menu access, but I found it was not necessary to visit the menu other than for initial set-up. There are minor issues with layout, and I think storing and retrieving frequencies in the Memory Channels would be a challenge for a blind user. Apart from these limitations, I found the IC-7200 to be very accessible. A blind operator will have to remember the layout and location of buttons, as they are not spoken, but frequently used functions are easy enough to use, and I was impressed with the keypad implementation.

Related Downloads

None

Kenwood TM-V71E Accessibility Review

Image of TMV71E with detached head and microphone on top of radio.
Accessibility Review of TM-V71E

By David Murphy 2M0TSR

This download is for an audio review of the Kenwood dual band FM radio the TM-V71E. You can hear the voice chip of the radio in action along with a review of its capabilities.

Related Downloads

Kenwood TM-V71E MP3 Audio Review by David 2M0TSR
TM-V71E Full MP3 Manual (Please Right click and Save Target As:
Rob K6DQ has prepared a fully accessible HTML manual, and related files
Kenwood TM-V71E full HTML Manual (This is a truely excellent web page with indexed links to the text and descriptions of the user manual)
Kenwood TM-V71E HTML Menus
Kenwood TM-V71E TXT Microphone Keypad Description
Kenwood TM-V71E TXT Front Panel Description
Handihams have the following files and audio tutorials in their Manuals section:
tmv71_layout.mp3
tmv71a.mp3
tmv71a_brochure.txt

Wouxun KG-UVD1P Accessibility Review

The Wouxun KG-UVD1P talking dualbander. This photo shows the radio tuned to 145.05 and 439.700
Screen grab of Wouxun PC control software.
Accessibility review of Wouxun KG-UVD1P

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

November 2010

The introduction of the Wouxun dual band 2M and 70cm handhelds has caused quite a stir in amateur circles. It has been favourably reviewed in RadCom and Practical Wireless, and a comprehensive set of features aligned with a price tag of under £90, make it very attractive. Of particular interest to blind users, is the inclusion of voice prompts as a standard component.

I was asked to review the handheld in August 2010, but due to high demand we had some trouble sourcing one. The radio I reviewed came from Moonraker.

Initial observations on opening the box, were of a well made, good quality handheld. I had some help attaching the belt clip and the wrist strap, but the battery pack fitted intuitively and clipped snugly into the body. The radio needed an initial over night charge, and here I ran into a problem. Whilst the radio has a nice ‘intelligent’ charging stand, it is possible to push the radio very firmly into the stand, but actually miss the contact points. There is no obvious way for a blind person to know if it is charging or not. A sighted person can see the LED on the stand, but there is no other indication, until you grab it the next morning, and find it has not charged. I’m not alone in noticing this problem, as at least one other member has encountered the same issue.

I’ve found two methods of making sure I am charging the Wouxun, and I think it might help others by mentioning them here. Firstly, the LED on the charging stand can be monitored using an audio Light-probe. These are readily available from RNIB. The second method is a trick I use to make sure my electric shaver is pushed securely into its charging stand. I use an old transistor radio, tuned to a clear Long-wave frequency, and listen for interference when contact is made. Using this method meant I could adjust the Wouxun, until I could ‘hear’ it was charging.

My experience of using VHF and UHF is limited, and I had never independently used a handheld before. My initial thoughts were that the Wouxun was very tactile and well laid out with good sized buttons. The radio spoke when I turned it on, and the numbers were read back as I entered a frequency, all good so far. I was very pleased to find the radio always returned to a known position when switched on. If you get ‘lost’, simply turn off and on, and you are back in VHF mode.

At this early stage, I discovered the most obvious limitation of the radio when being used by a blind person. It is its inability for the voice to read the frequency on the display. This is not necessarily a huge problem if you are using repeaters or you are going directly to a simplex frequency, but if you are using the rotary tuning knob, and you find a busy frequency, the radio cannot tell you where you have landed.

Apart from the seemingly obvious omission of a frequency voiced readout, I initially struggled to grasp the concept of programming the Wouxun. A sighted user will almost certainly cycle through the menu system with the rotary tuning knob, and then choose an option with the arrow keys. There appeared to be a way of using menu numbers to access these directly, but I found there was no time to think about what I was doing, before the radio automatically left the menu and returned to its operating state. Fortunately, Quentin GW3BV, our Chairman, came to the rescue when we were at Newark. He found a superb document for using the Wouxun ‘eyes free’, written by Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV I. It describes the layout of the Wouxun , and most importantly describes how the radio can be successfully programmed. I recommend this guide as essential for any blind user.

A good example of using the menu system by numbers, is to change the radio’s power. The Function key is pressed, followed by ‘4’, Function again, and then instead of using the arrow keys, ‘0’ can be pressed for low and ‘1’ for high power. The final step is to press Function again. In this example, menu ‘4’ accesses the Power menu, 0 or 1 select either low or high.

This is where the radio’s voice prompts really shine. Turn on the Wouxun and it will say ‘Channel Mode’ or ‘Frequency Mode’. To change a menu setting, we switch to ‘Frequency Mode’.

To change the power, we get the following audio prompts:

1 Press Function – FUNCTION SELECT, is spoken.

2. Press ‘4’ – BEEP.

3. Press Function – POWER SELECT, is spoken.

4. Press ‘1’ – BEEP.

5. Press Function – ENTER, is spoken.

Not all menu options are spoken as with the ‘Power’, but programming is fairly straightforward, if you can remember the menu numbers. I say ‘fairly’ straightforward, because this leads me to another limitation of the Wouxun, that could be improved for all users. I’ve previously mentioned, the radio returns to its standard operating state, if you are not quick enough when changing a menu setting. I estimate the time is set at about 2 seconds. I found this to be hugely frustrating for one of our senior members, when I was explaining how to use the menu. I found I barely had time to give the next command before we heard the quiet ‘triple beep’, indicating we would have to start again. In my opinion, the menu time-out should be listed as an adjustable menu option itself. 2 Seconds is not long enough!

One of the main uses for a VHF or UHF handheld will be to access local repeaters when on the move. With this in mind I was very impressed with the voice prompts giving positive confirmation between Frequency Mode and Channel Mode. Frequency Mode is where you enter simplex frequencies and adjust the settings, and Channel Mode allows you to cycle through previously assigned memory channels. When switched on, the Wouxun will tell you which mode is being used, recalling the position the radio was in when you switched off.
When in ‘Channel Mode’, the rotary tuning control will cause each channel number to be spoken, as it is turned. Unfortunately, the actual frequency in the memory channel is not voiced, only the channel number.

Entering a repeater into a memory channel is fairly straightforward with just voice and audio prompts. Again, the main problems will be the short time allowed for each keystroke, and the need to remember menu numbers.

I found the easiest way of adding a repeater to a memory channel, was to firstly set the CTCSS frequency whilst still in simplex mode. In my case this was menu ‘16’ and then option ‘11’, giving a transmit CTCSS of 94.8.

I did not need to use repeater offsets, as I used a menu setting that allowed both input and output frequencies to be stored. Menu ‘27’ firstly stores the repeater receive frequency into a memory channel, and then using menu ’27 again allows the transmit frequency to be stored into the same memory channel.

So, the process would be to set the CTCSS first. In my case 94.8:

1. Press Function – FUNCTION SELECT, is spoken.

2. Press ‘1’ ‘6’ – BEEP BEEP.

3. Press Function – CTCSS, is spoken.

4. Press ‘1’ ‘1’ – BEEP BEEP.

5. Press Function – ENTER, is spoken.

Next, to set the repeater frequencies:

1. Enter the receive frequency – each number is spoken.

2. Press Function – FUNCTION SELECT, is spoken.

3. Press ‘2’ ‘7’ – BEEP BEEP.

4. Press Function – CHANNELL MEMORY, is spoken.

5. Press ‘0’ ‘0’ ‘1’ for channel 1 – BEEP BEEP BEEP.

6. Press Function – RECEIVING MEMORY, is spoken.

To set the ’input’, go through the same steps again, but this time enter the transmit frequency before you use menu 27. When ‘0’ ‘0’ ‘1’ is entered, for the channel number, TRANSMITTING MEMORY, is spoken.

The repeater settings are now stored in memory channel 1. The final step is to remove the CTCSS setting, as you are still in simplex mode. Select menu ‘16’ again, and choose option ‘0’ to turn off CTCSS.

With experience, I found I used simplex mode on either VHF or UHF quite happily. I found repeaters could be set up, and I could easily move through the memory channels, although I had to remember the contents of each memory channel.

The final step was to review the PC interface software for use with a screen reader. Again, Quentin found the software on the Wouxun Web site, and ordered a USB cable. Installation and set up was straightforward, and I started by ‘reading’ the settings in the Wouxun Back to the PC. The interface is simple, and shows each memory channel in a spreadsheet like table. I found that once a receive frequency had been added to the first column of the table, I could then tab to each subsequent column. Using a screen reader, in my case Window-eyes, I was able to read the column titles and then work out which area I was tabbing into. I could enter the transmit frequency, the ctcss tone, the power level, and whether wide or narrow FM was to be used. Using this method it is relatively easy to enter all of your local repeaters into memory channels. Once entered, these can be ‘written’ back to the radio.

In summary, my experience with the Wouxun was favourable. It is not perfect for a blind user, but with reference to an external menu list, and some dexterity in entering the settings, it can be satisfactorily used independently. If it is to be programmed with many memory channels, the Wouxun software and USB cable would be a very useful addition.

Related Downloads

PC control software for the Wouxun KG-UVD1P
Wouxun KG-UVD1P Tips and Hints for Eyes Free Operation by Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV

Icom IC-7400 Accessibility Review

Picture of Icom IC-7400 with frequency reading 14.195 mhzAccessibility Evaluation of Icom IC-7400

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

– May 2010.

When I start looking at a new or unfamiliar radio, I hope to find I can perform commonly used commands, without the need for menu access or multi-layered buttons. This is essential for a
blind user. Adjusting the volume, the frequency, and the mode, and having these spoken by the voice chip, would naturally come at the top of any list. Next would be the ability to adjust those very frequent occurrences like Band Pass filtering, Noise reduction, Notch Filters, ATU Tuning, Split Operation, Power Reduction. The kind of things we constantly adjust to get the best operating conditions possible for every QSO. Then would come adjustments like Mike Gain, Vox Gain, VOX Delay, and CW Pitch. In effect, the settings you might only adjust once per day.

With this notional list in mind, I try to learn if the essential commands have a dedicated control, or if I have to constantly enter a menu system. Accessibility for a blind user is not just about what Is being spoken, but whether the layout is intuitive. After all a blind operator does not have the luxury of being able to read descriptions on buttons. They must remember the position and function of every button, every knob, and possibly unspoken menu layouts and button sequences.

All of this means a radio with even a limited spoken vocabulary , can actually be very accessible if it is well designed. All of these thoughts came to mind when I first had my hands on the IC-7400!

My initial impressions were favourable. The radio is a traditional base station construction, and feels chunky and solid, and gives the impression of not being overloaded with buttons and knobs. The unit covers HF, 6M, and 2M, with three antenna sockets at the rear. The power output is 100 watts on all bands and modes.

The IC-7400 had been fitted with the optional UT-102 voice synthesizer. As with some other Icoms I have tried with this chip, the volume needed to be increased to maximum, by removing the radio’s casing and adjusting an internal pot. The UT-102 chip sounds rather stilted compared to newer Icoms with voice built in, and I found myself waiting impatiently for the complete frequency to be laboriously read through. The signal strength and frequency, are voiced by pressing and holding the lock button, and the mode is spoken as each Mode Button is individually pressed. One of my few criticisms of the IC-7400’s tactile layout, is the placement of the Voice announcement Button. It is tucked almost under, and very close to, the large VFO dial.

The radio comes with an internal automatic ATU rated at matching better than 3-1. There is a very subtle difference in the ‘clicks’ when turning the ATU on and off, with a quick press. When tuning, with a longer press, it is possible to decide if the ATU has found a match, depending on whether it has engaged ‘On’ or has failed to find a match ‘Off’. I was not overly enthusiastic about the very subtle indications I was being given for a potentially high, and therefore potentially damaging, SWR. I also found that the radio attempted tuning at full power, unless this was manually reduced.

In operation on the HF bands, I found the IC-7400 a pleasure to use. Whilst I had initially thought there were not many controls, I found there were just the right amount. The controls are very tactile and well spread over the front panel. I found I could easily adjust the Noise Reduction, the Notch filter, and the various Band Pass filtering to cut down splatter. The frequency is entered using a numeric keypad with hard smooth plastic buttons, and whilst a pip on the 5 would be useful, the numbers were well spaced. Split operating is intuitive, but no verbal indication is given.

Inevitably on a modern transceiver, there is a menu system. Unfortunately, none of the menu is spoken by the IC-7400. There are some important commands requiring menu access, but, in my opinion, these are not show stoppers. Two notable functions requiring menu adjustment are the Speech Compression on and off, and the AGC. With some practice, I believe the Compression can be turned on and off by a blind operator, but of course, a dedicated button would have made it so much easier. There is a Monitor Button, so using this in conjunction with the Compression setting, would enable an operator to hear any changes through headphones, before going on air.

I was pleased to find there is a Tuning Step Button, allowing the buttons on the microphone to step through the band in 1Khz or 50Hz steps. The Memo Pad or Quick Memory function is easy to use. The main Memory is again relatively straightforward, but none of the channel numbers are spoken, and only the frequency in each channel can be made to speak. I did not use the radio on VHF, but the fact the Duplexing, CTCSS, and other useful settings require unspoken menu access make this much less useable. Setting up repeater memories independently will be difficult, if not impossible.

The IC-7400 has a lot going for it as a multi-band, multi-mode transceiver. Because so many necessary functions have dedicated buttons or knobs, this radio can be very effectively used by a blind operator.

Related Downloads

None

Icom IC-7000 Accessibility Review

Picture of Icom IC-7000 with microphone resting on top of the radio
Accessibility Evaluation of Icom IC-7000

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

April 2010.

I had been looking forward to reviewing the IC-7000 for use by a blind operator. The radio is small, and can be regarded as being a mobile or portable transceiver. The main aspects of the IC-7000 are, the 160m to 70cm coverage, the multi-mode capability on all bands, and the 100 watt output in such a small package.

The radio is similar in size to the IC-703 and IC-706, but the interesting potential for a blind operator is the inclusion of a keypad on the microphone. This gives the operator the ability to enter a frequency, and goes some way to making up for the small physical size and sparse number of controls on the front panel.

The IC-7000 comes with a detachable front panel. The microphone and headphones plug into this panel, and it clips securely onto the body of the transceiver. The radio does not have an internal ATU, and the various tuning buttons on the front panel and microphone require a suitable external tuning unit. There are two SO239 antenna sockets at the rear of the radio, one for HF and one for VHF/UHF.

I initially found I had difficulty using some of the radio’s controls. The buttons on the front panel of the IC-7000 are very sleek and almost flush with the surrounding surface. After several days of use I became accustomed to this, but it is easy to unintentionally press the wrong button. I found the Function buttons, F1 to F4, along the base of the display, very hard to differentiate, but as these are virtually unusable on accessibility grounds, I tended to avoid these.

Icom have shipped the IC-7000 with a voice synthesizer fitted as standard. A press of the readout button speaks the received signal strength, frequency, and mode. The mode button can also be set-up to announce the mode as it is selected. With this limited spoken output, a blind operator relies on other audio cues, and needs dedicated controls for frequently used functions. With a radio of this size, the addition of a useable microphone keypad becomes essential.

Using just the front panel, I could control the audio volume, and the Squelch and RF gain are on a shared knob. I could alter the band Pass filtering with two concentric knobs, but the same controls are also shared for RIT and Memory Chanel selection, and I found I could not reliably use these.

Again from the front panel, I could select the Mode, and use the Pre-Amp, Attenuator, Noise Blanker, Noise Reduction, and Notch Filter. The front panel controls also allowed me to activate the voice chip and Frequency Lock, and step through the bands. The VFO itself is a good size, and fast tuning steps can be engaged.

As previously mentioned, the IC-7000 is shipped with a good sized keypad on the microphone. This usefully duplicates some of the controls on the front panel, such as the voice output and mode, but mainly offers additional controls. Of great importance is the inclusion of a good sized numeric keypad. This allows direct frequency input, and uses Icom’s stacking system for quickly moving to a previous frequency within a band.

In addition to the voice output, mode, and numeric keypad, there are buttons to toggle IF filters, tune the external ATU, and operate the memory channels. Two buttons step up and down in 50hz increments, or in 1 Khz steps if fast tuning is engaged.

The microphone also boasts two programmable buttons. In their default state they are Quick Memory Write and Quick Memory Recall. These simple functions are the only memories that can be sensibly used by a blind operator. I conclude the standard memory channels are not accessible.

With a modern radio of this size and complexity, it is inevitable many of the more advanced features will need to be set-up in the menu system. In the case of the IC-7000, the limitations of the voice chip means a blind operator will certainly need initial sighted assistance. Of more concern, is the potential need for on-going sighted help. For instance, I found power adjustment required use of the menu system. Whilst it is eminently possible to change the power, it is dependent on the operator memorising a sequence of steps or referring to notes .

To change power, a blind operator will need to use this sequence. press the AF control momentarily and hear a short beep. Press Function key 1. This highlights the last option on the menu list, so holding down F1 for a while will move back to the first entry. Hopefully, the Power option is selected. At this point, there is no audio indication of the current power level. Turn the VFO knob anti-clockwise at least two turns. This will set the power to its minimum level. From this point, every half clockwise turn of the VFO will increase power by approximately 25%. Two full clockwise turns will give full power. The final step is to momentarily press the AF control twice, giving one short beep, followed by a longer beep. If there is any deviation in this sequence, other important parameters can be accidentally changed, potentially putting the radio into an unusable state!

Other areas of difficulty are most notably in using the Split function. In its default state, Split can only be invoked through the inaccessible menu. It is possible to allocate Split commands to the two programmable buttons of the microphone, but the Quick Memory commands would then be lost.

In its basic operation, the IC-7000 can be used by a blind operator. The radio is more accessible than the IC-703 or IC-706, because of the microphone keypad. I have reservations over the difficulty in performing tasks such as changing power and operating in Split mode. The lack of memory channel accessibility could compromise repetitive VHF repeater use. Commonly used controls such as RIT, Compression, Mic Gain, and AGC, all require use of the menu.

In summary, this radio can be used by a blind amateur, but independentchanging of common functions are not possible. Unfortunately, with the limited amount of information spoken by the synthesizer, there are just not enough dedicated controls to allow a blind person independent use of the IC-7000.

Comment 1:

Hi Kelvin
Liked your review, but there is also one other useful attribute to this little radio,
it is the ability to add a television or monitor screen via its video output which
could be considered useful to a partially sighted person.
I use this facility and use a 9” wide screen television to make viewing the screen
easier.
Hope you don’t mind me adding my pennyworth.
Regards
Jerry
MU0VVZ

Comment 2:

By Trevor VK6YJ, January 2013.

I have owned the IC7000 from Icom maybe just over twelve Months, for me it fills the bill, HF VHF and UHF.

A nice small Radio, sits on the operating desk well, compared with my old IC745. One major difference between the two radios, the size, and the 7000 does not have an in built power supply.

The HF side of the Radio is strait forward, once you have the settings as you want Them, all is well. Frequency, Signal strength and mode are announced. Would be an advantage if the voice output could say more. HF works well.

Now to VHF and UHF, here is where I have difficulties in using this Radio. Simplex operation no trouble, using the repeaters etc becomes a problem. Reason for this is keeping the settings that were set, as when you go to change something on the front panel, if the correct sequence is not followed, the radio settings head off in to unintended areas, and you don’t realise which group of settings you have gotten in to. Speech is read out just like on HF, and only when pressing the PTT do you find out if you’re on simplex or Duplex.

I find the buttons on the front panel no trouble to use, the only thing is, I don’t know what they are going to do. One reason for this, is the lack of information for the blind in the Manual. If the manual was in a text or some way we could study it, I feel sure some of us might be able to work the Radio. It would be better if for example , the Manual stated ‘press F1 twice, then F4 once’, and then stated what should happen. But all we get from the PDF manual is press F1 185 then F4 177 or whatever. Too many Graphics.

A great deal of the operation can be done from the HM151 microphone, for me even this is a problem I do forget what some buttons do, unless you use them all the time. If there is a good pair of Eyes around things could be done easier. For me however, the XYL Her Eyes are as bad as mine. With an attachment, a desk microphone can be connected. Have not done this yet, a new Microphone is still in its box where I put it this afternoon when it arrived from the supplier. Summing up, a good radio only if more could be gained from the controls, does not take up much room, the Radio can get a little warm at times.

Related Downloads

None

Kenwood TS-480 Accessibility Review

Image of the Kenwood Ts-480. The face plate is sat on top of the radio body. The microphone is to the left of the body. The radio is tuned to 14.200mhz.

TS-480


Accessibility Review of Kenwood TS-480 SAT

By Kelvin Marsh M0AID

February 2010

I evaluated the TS480 for use by a blind op today. In a nutshell, this radio is very tactile and fully accessible.

The design is different from other radios I’ve used. The front panel is separate from the transmitter’s body, and it is in the form of a remote head. The remote head is mounted on a metal stand, and sits at a nice angle.

The microphone plugs into the base unit via a RG45 socket, and there are options to extend cable lengths for the microphone and remote head.

The unit I used had the optional VGS1 voice chip. The VGS1 also allows 3 voice and CW messages to be recorded along with the ability to continuously store the previous 30 seconds of RX audio.

The front panel is very tactile, and I was impressed at the intuitive layout. The buttons are fairly small, and may not suit ops with dexterity problems.

The rig I used was the 100 watt version with auto ATU. The ATU tuned well, and SWR was played back in CW if a match could not be found.

The VGS1 voice chip is literally streets ahead of any other voice chip I’ve used. I chose to set the Programmable Function button to read the signal strength, and read the frequency by pressing Enter twice. The Mode is indicated with CW.

Direct frequency input is possible with the keypad, and each number is spoken as it is entered.

Common functions, such as power adjustment, are fully voiced. Simply press number 4 and ‘TX power’ is spoken along with the setting in watts. This goes for Mike gain, Keyer Speed, Processor Level, Noise Blanker Level, VOX Delay and Gain , and much more. Absolutely great.

The off and on status of options are indicated with different beeps.

This Is a small radio, possibly designed to be used primarily as a mobile rig. This means some controls such as adjusting RF Gain and band pas filters do not have dedicated knobs. Instead, a button is pressed to engage the function, and the multi-channel knob is turned. In the case of the band pass filters, even the High and Low cut frequencies are spoken by the VGS1.

The menu system is fully accessible and all parameters are spoken. It is necessary to use an external reference list to identify the various options. For instance, the default TX equaliser function is spoken as 19, OFF. You need to refer to an external list to know menu number 19 is the TX Equaliser. Movement between the parameters within the menu option is spoken. Thus, using the Band Change up and down buttons will select ‘Off’, ‘HB1’, ‘HB2’ etc. Note: HB equals High Boost.

All Memory channels are spoken, both the channel number and stored frequency. Same goes for the Quick Memories.

Split operation is indicated, and you are told if you are using VFO A or B.

As a blind operator, I always set the multi-Channel control to move in 1kh steps when turned by one click. I found that even when adjusting this step size, the step increments are spoken.

In terms of accessibility and usability, the TS480 is extrodinary. Kenwood should be highly commended.

Related Downloads

Kenwood TS-480 MP3 Manual
TS480SAT MP3 Tutorial by KA9OPL (opens a new page on Joe’s own site)
Kenwood TS-480 PDF Manual
I can work this thing.com
has the following text files in it’s ‘Amateur Radio, Multi band Transceivers’ section:
TS480S In-Depth Manual
TS480S Menus

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.

Comments

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

None

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:

‘95’

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

Comments

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:
ts-2000_quick_guide.txt
ts2000_1_overview.mp3
ts2000_2_basic_setup.mp3
ts2000_3_frequency_entry_and_front_panel.mp3
ts2000_4_memories.mp3
ts2000_5_setting_pl_tones.mp3
ts2000_6_receive_audio.mp3
ts2000_7_setting_power_and_mic_gain.mp3
ts2000_8_subtransceiver.mp3
ts2000_9_notes_on_cw_operation.mp3
ts2000_quick_daisy.zip
I can work this thing.com
has the following text files in its ‘Amateur Radio, Multi band Transceivers’ section:
TS2000 Quick Guide