- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

Reviews Categories | Packet TNCs | Kantronics KAM XL Help

Reviews Summary for Kantronics KAM XL
Kantronics KAM XL Reviews: 18 Average rating: 3.3/5 MSRP: $399.95
Description: Kantronics third generation multi-modem TNC is a state-of-the-art design giving the customer operations on both HF/UHF and VHF, while supporting DSP modems and popular new modes of operation.
Product is in production.
More info:
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the Kantronics KAM XL.

<— Page 2 of 2

KF2OY Rating: 1/5 Jun 23, 2003 19:49 Send this review to a friend
Unimpressed  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Showed up with chassis screws sticking out (not driven "home".... that should have been the red flag. Built on a Friday afternoon.

This price-class product in this market place should, at bare minimum, be provided with hard-copy documentation. Even the CD-ROM manual was obviously cut and pasted from earlier product. Pinouts and wiring diagrams practically useless as presented. You really have to read a bit to clarify what the poor "diagrams" attempt to convey.

Additionally, it's pretty clear they could care less about I/O. Every connector is "build your own" and evidently sourced by an agressive buyer (CHEAP!)... same goes for the supplied wire scraps.

If you don't need the horse power of this unit, it is definatley not worth the "Kantronics" hassle-factor.... It's as if you need to know the "special handshake" to get this box to do anything but monitor VHF packet....

It now sits in the closet. Bad decission, but it might just be me. Perhaps I should figure it all out and write a "Kantronics Survival Guide, Don't Buy One Without It"....

KC4IVG Rating: 5/5 Jun 18, 2003 17:53 Send this review to a friend
Great!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought a Demo at R&L and its a nice machine! Ive owned or own 3 PK-232's 3 PK-900's and in the past have had KAMs and MFJ-1278's

This new XL beats em all! I dont know about the poor PSK-31 problem with past users but the new one is pretty awesome and trouble free. I run PACKTERM 98 with mine. I cant ask for anything more!

If you havent run an all mode like this before theres a lot of manual that comes with it and a lot to learn....but its a really fun machine!
AA2BN Rating: 4/5 Nov 23, 2002 00:38 Send this review to a friend
Good PSK-31 Performance  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I was lucky to find an open box / demo unit for about $100 off list. I bought the KAM XL, primarily because I wanted a computer independent solution for PSK-31, and the Motorola EVM56002's are getting pretty hard to find. Since I run primarily Macintosh, I didn't even bother with the demo software. I use ZTerm running on an iBook with OS X 10.2 to interface with the KAM XL.

I have to admit that the interface for the PSK31 mode is rather, er, kludgy. You input a series of CTRL-C directives to change the passband and center frequency. Usually, by the time you get this sorted out, the station sending has ceased transmitting. The work around I found is to send the following series of directives:


which yields a center frequency of about 1000 Hz, with a passband of about 80 Hz. Adding a macro to ZTerm to do this with one keystroke was trivial. Then, I tune around the PSK sub-band trolling for signals. When I set the filter bandwidth on my K2 to 100 HZ, this combination really kicks butt! Running some of the panoramic spectrum sound card programs (like DigiPan) allows the receiver AGC to start pumping the desired signals strength when a strong nearby station keys up. By going the narrow band route, I find that I have no trouble working weak PSK31 stations under crowded band conditions. I've been able to make a lot of QSOs running 5 watts. I also added macros to ZTerm for other frequently used functions like CQ, brag file, etc., so I don't really miss most of the sound card program amenities.

I have also been satisfied with the 9600 baud performance, using the KAM XL to modulate a Yaesu FT-817. While I have not conducted any formal testing, the FT-817/KAM combo played well with my Kenwood TH-D7A(g) on 440 Mhz @ 9600 baud.

I'd really like to find some other Kantronics users to try some experimenting with the GTOR mode. I understand that theoretically it's supposed to have outstanding weak signal performance, but I wasn't able to find anyone one else to test this out with.

All the other functions of the KAM XL are as good as, or better than the ones provided on the KAM Plus, which the review unit replaced at my station. The only thing that kept me from giving the review unit a 5 was the goofy PSK31 user interface.


John AA2BN
WB9BVB Rating: 1/5 Sep 22, 2002 04:34 Send this review to a friend
Poor manual  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought a new Kam XL at AES in Milwaukee,the sales staff knew nothing about the product they were selling. I bought this product mainly for doing email with use of Airmail software thru the pactor mode. I drive truck OTR and would like to make use of email. I found the manual on cdrom a problem finding setup or troubleshooting problems. I emailed Kamtronics for tech support and so far have'nt got a reply. You would think that someone selling a product could have some knowledge of their products uses and would include some info. I would have never spent the $399.95 if I knew that you were on your own after the sale. I should run it over with 18 wheels.
N2EXU Rating: 4/5 May 20, 2002 00:04 Send this review to a friend
Works well and less $$$  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I use this mainly for Pactor and RTTY and on a VHF DX Packet cluster. It's not perfect, but it works well for all these modes. Like all Kantronics products, the manual (on CD only) contains all the info, you'll just go nuts trying to find it. I've used other TNCs and the souncard software, but I wanted Pactor and this was the reasonably priced option for me. PSK-31 is a joke on the KAM-XL (or any hardware based TNC) compared to the soundcard modes, so if that's your focus save your money. I'm rigging a switch to the DATA port on my FT-100D and then I can mix and match the TNC and the soundcard.

I paid $249 at Burghardt for a used/demo unit (it was perfect and I saved $100). An SCS PTC-IIe would cost me about $400 more and I couldn't justify the extra expense for Pactor 2.

So with the exception of the PSK-31 mode, this works as advertised. All the dealings I have ever had with Kantronics have been positive, so I wanted to continue that relationship. Burghardt Amateur Center rules for customer service and I recommend them highly for any purchase.

Pacterm for Windows is the software recommended for this unit and that's where the weakness is. It works well enough if you have never used MixW or Digipan, but it really could use a better User Interface. I use Airmail for Pactor email via the Winlink 2000 system and the system and the software are really great.

Summary: For the money it's a really good piece of gear if you need it. If you need Pactor 2 (or 3) and have more cash on hand, you might want to try the SCS PTC series. However, if all you need are the modes available in soundcard software, save your money and enjoy the simplicity.


Lonnie N2EXU
KF4SIR Rating: 2/5 Feb 28, 2002 06:53 Send this review to a friend
Well made but needs work on HF  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I received one of the first units Kantronics shipped and had nothing but trouble with it on HF pactor. Never did get it to work correctly on pactor. The weak signal RTTY was poor. Kantronics has been working on the firmware and the pactor problem might be fixed by now. The unit does have a lot of potential and given some time the pactor problem and poor RTTY might get fixed. I believe the real forte of this TNC may be VHF/UHF packet. It does have dual ports and should be great for BBS Ect. PS - be careful if you are thinking about any of the software from CSS, the demo versions do not demo much and if you buy the full version you will be stuck with it. No refunds and no transfers of purchased software to another ham call (you can not sell the CSS software along with the controller).
N9ESH Rating: 0/5 Dec 21, 2001 22:14 Send this review to a friend
KAN THIS TURKEY!!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months

I thought it was time to replace my trusty old PK-64 with a TNC that had Pactor and DSP. So I went shopping on the web. Well, the Kam xl looked like it would fit my needs. So I ordered one. BIG mistake.

For $400 I would expect, at least, to get a simple tnc to computer interface cable. Nope. Add $10.

For $400 I would expect a tnc to operate as specified. Nope. Add about $80 to purchase software to allow multi-port operation (its big selling point) and another $60 for wefax. The cheesy supplied demo software won’t allow the tnc to operate to its full potential.

For $400 I expected this tnc to actually function. No such luck. It would not communicate with either of my Win 98 or Me computers. Nothing. Nada. I tried all the troubleshooting info, nothing. Did I get a $400 lemon?

How about its DSP filtering capabilities ? Good question. The 201 page manual doesn’t say anything about DSP. The advertisements say “..while supporting DSP modems”. What does that mean? Does it or doesn’t it have DSP?

PSK-31 – Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to try this mode. It does look rather humorous compared to the simple sound card versions freely available. “ Since PSK31 is a very narrow signal, a fine tuning rate on the receiver (and a steady hand) is very helpful.” I’ll stick with DigiPan.

For $400 I expect a product to function as advertised without a lot of extra hidden costs or silly games.

I shipped this turkey back.

KY6R Rating: 5/5 Dec 12, 2001 04:34 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I needed a way to run UHF/VHF Packet and APRS and HF Modes (especially PSK31) using one COM port. My other COM port is used by DXBase 2002 to control my rig.

The KAM XL and Pacterm by CSS fit the bill, and the Pacterm software lets me run HF and UHF/VHF multi-modes at the same time, using multiple windows.

I also have UIVIEW32 running APRS with the KAM XL, but not at the same time as running Pacterm. That is the only limitation of this software / hardware combination.

I thought about running multiple Rigblasters through multiple USB ports (with USB to COM adapters), but chose this route.
<— Page 2 of 2

If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.