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Reviews Categories | Packet TNCs | Kantronics KAM Plus Help

Reviews Summary for Kantronics KAM Plus
Kantronics KAM Plus Reviews: 11 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $399
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ZL4AX Rating: 5/5 Sep 10, 2015 21:26 Send this review to a friend
The Best but getting Creaky now!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I still have the brand new KamPlus V8.2 that I bought in 1995. It's as perfect as the first day. Nothing has come along to overtake it as the best dual-port multimode ever made. Don't even look at the other inferior, deafer, antiquated items made by other manufacturers. No comparison now, and never was.
However, it is now 2015. I've had a dozen more of the older white-cased and new black-box KamPlus units in the last couple of years. Be aware that the aparrently 'new' black box model is in fact, the same circuit board as the old model, screwed inside a new style case! Many are starting to fail and require big repairs. This is mostly due to the seven electrolytic capacitors drying-out. These in turn destroy the U10 voltage regulator chip and may also take down two transistors. Repair is a big job, involving lots of components and testing. They often fail again within two years.
The model has been the 'top of the game' for twenty years, and still is. But be ready for big failures. Time's up, I'm afraid! Compared to the faultless Kantronics KPC3's made in the same decades, the old KamPlus is no longer reliable.
KA3YAN Rating: 5/5 Jul 23, 2015 10:57 Send this review to a friend
A consistently reliable multimode TNC  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have personally owned and used many TNCs over the years. Each device has their own quirks, some being strengths and others not so much. The KAM Plus is without a doubt one of the top performers.

If the KAM Plus had 9600 baud packet, it would be my number one pick in terms of function, affordability, and fit-n-finish. Because of the lack of 9600 baud packet, it loses out only to the SCS PTC-IIex. At half the cost of the PTC, it's a very marginal loss. If a user never has a need for 9600 baud packet then I would recommend the KAM Plus in a heartbeat.

As you can see from the date that I'm writing this, the KAM Plus is no longer in production. All KAM Plus units that are available are only available on the used market. The great news is that the KAM Plus is so robust that they rarely need any service. The device has a large support base of fellow KAM Plus users, so questions can easily be answered via the KAM User's Yahoo Group.

While I have nothing against the highly upgradable PK-232 originally offered by AEA and now by Timewave, in terms of portability, the KAM Plus takes the cake at about a third of the size. It does lack the ability to be upgraded for soundcard modes like the PK-232, but it makes up for this shortcoming in that it can be used as a gateway between VHF and HF.

Most original KAM Plus (white box) units can be had for less than $150 and most of the later model (black box) units are available used for less than $200. At this price you really get a lot of bang for the buck.

The last bit I want to touch on is the replacement of the KAM Plus, and that's the KAM XL (we won't discuss the KAM 98 as it really wasn't a true replacement). The KAM XL was Kantronic's successor to the venerable KAM Plus, but due to severe reliability concerns, I cannot recommend it to any radio amateur. I do own one and most of the time it works flawlessly. The key being "most of the time." If you're wanting a device that can be left unattended, possibly in varying environmental conditions (hot/cold), the KAM XL will disappoint. These problems have been identified to Kantronics Tech Support, and Kantronics have neither acknowledged the issue nor offered their customers any solutions. This leads me to believe that Kantronics knows there's an issue that may not be "fixable' with a simple firmware update. Bad news for KAM XL owners.

Look for a used KAM Plus and you won't be disappointed!
NX8P Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2010 17:00 Send this review to a friend
Great TNC!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've owned my KAM Plus since the early 1990s and I just purchased new software for it at the 2010 Dayton Hamvention. I bought the ROC Digital Desktop from installed it on my Mac laptop under VMware running Windows XP and connected it to my KAM Plus with a USB to serial adapter. It works great!!!! It connected right up and configured itself perfectly! It is like having a new TNC. I'm glad that CSS Incorp. still supports my old TNC! They were also very helpful and friendly at the Hamvention. I'll keep my KAM Plus for a long time to come. Great TNC and still supported with software ten years later. Even does PSK31 now! This is the '57 Chevy of TNCs!
TOYBOX Rating: 5/5 Nov 4, 2007 16:43 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Piece Of Equipment  Time owned: more than 12 months
Been running a KAM+ on HF for years. Never a single problem. Very flexible and reliable piece of equipment. Reading the manual will enable you do make the most of this controller. There is no reason that you can not configure this controller to your specific need. And it is a workhorse.

Craig N4CQR
WP4O Rating: 3/5 Dec 11, 2004 13:34 Send this review to a friend
no support from Kawin  Time owned: more than 12 months
Kawin program doesnt work with the Kam 98, so dont try it.. Kawin works great with other Kantronics modems but sorry to say no luck with the Kam 98... What say Kawin ? lets make this happen.... regards...
OK1DX Rating: 4/5 Sep 9, 2003 10:29 Send this review to a friend
Plus & Minus  Time owned: more than 12 months
I used the KAM+ with 3 different firmware (up to 8.2) for about 6 years, then I changed to PTC2e. Of course, the PTC2 is in most views better (but also for double price), but I still miss some nice features of KAM+...
Plus: simultaneus HF port and VHF packet port. Rare feature of cheaper TNCs, sri supported only by few terminal programs. Adjustable HF tones that allows easy operation with most radios. Large enough local BBS with great feature for autoforwarding msgs to/from local BBS. Small dimensions (I took it sometimes when operated /MM). Large tuning scale. Separate independent connectors for VHF packet and HF. Good host mode (description available from Kantronics on request - I wrote a simple terminal program for my usage...).
Minus: necesity to use narrow filters in radio, otherwise strong nearby signal significantly reduces sensitinity of AF input (500 Hz filter recommended). The audio input sensitivity is not very high and not sufficient for some radios (usualy the KAM+ receives OK, just scale doesn't react as necessary). The freq width of tuning scale is less than 40 Hz (!!!) that makes exact tuning to 170 Hz shift signals very inaccurate (I modified the circuitry - some resitors - and I was able to increase the width to about 140 Hz, but optimum would be about 220 Hz...). The VHF packet port is 1200 Bd, no chance for higher speed. No clock signal available for connection to external Manchester modem. Random reset (but not very often) resulting in lost of all parameters and BBS contents (mostly by slow/varying power supply down). It is necessary to open the box when you need to adjust TX audio level (when you close the box, be carefull to LEDs!). Higher level elmag QRM (poor filtering of in/out signals/wires). Amtor operation with higher error rate (comparing with PK232 I used before).
Of course, there is no support for new modes like PSK31 and PactorII, but it is clearly because of missing DSP and you must accept it.
73 Pavel OK1DX/KF9VM
NB6Z Rating: 4/5 Aug 7, 2001 13:42 Send this review to a friend
A good buy!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have operated my KAM+ for 8 years using V7.0 firmware. Never had a problem with it! The only thing that could make it a better TNC is a true DSP front end. For the price it is the best available...
WB7QXU Rating: 5/5 May 20, 2001 07:54 Send this review to a friend
Great TNC  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned a Kam Plus for many years and Upgraded it to the 8.2 Version. I found it decoded RTTY great, and easy to use. I found that weak Signals on RTTY were hard to decode. I put a TimeWave 599zx inline with it and WOW it made signals come alive. and made RTTY A Real Joy. I am just waiting for Kam to come out with a TNC that will do all Digital Modes. I did have one problem the Switching FET went bad and would not key my rig, I called KAM and they gave me tech information On the phone pronto! supper easy fix, and they give out Tech support Fast and Friendly and prefer to help you fix your Kam then send it in. It also will do G-Tor. Not popular but works well in very poor conditions.
W9JCM Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2000 11:12 Send this review to a friend
great fun  Time owned: more than 12 months
I purchased mine used with version 3.0 or something like that. I went and bought the upgrade kit 8.2ver. Installed it with easy made up my cables for my 746 and away we went. No problems at all. I love it. Its a really good buy on the used market and they hold there value.
AC5AA Rating: 4/5 Jul 7, 2000 14:35 Send this review to a friend
Good TNC, dual port + easy tuning  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned a KAM Plus for just over two years, and worked RTTY DXCC with it. I used it with an IC-765, but most of the time with a Ten-Tec Omni VI+. The KAM-Plus is a very versatile unit that decodes a slew of digital signals. I used it primarily for RTTY, but also tried PACTOR, AMTOR and a little CW. (I'd rather decode CW myself, but had to try it!) I also used it for VHF DXPacketcluster use. The strength of the KAM-Plus is its dual port design. If you are a contester or DX'er who wants to be able to watch the DX Cluster and run RTTY at the same time, the KAM-Plus is your TNC. (You must use software that takes advantage of Host mode, however, to do this -- XPWare, PacTerm '98, KaWin, are a few that do. The solution I chose for myself was DX4WIN logger and PacTerm '98 which handles both the TNC and the logging software. Nice package.) I should add that most logging programs and contesting software do not support this mode. I found the KAM to be very good if you have good rig-based filtering and if the RTTY signals are S4 or better. Weak signals could make for garbled print - a fairly common problem on RTTY. I found tuning RTTY signals with the KAM to be easier than with the HAL DXP38 I'm replacing it with, but maybe that's just me. If this is your choice, buy one while you can - HRO apparently has a few new ones left, or get one used. Kantronics' replacement KAM98 is a single port only model (you can do both VHF and HF, but not simultaneously.)
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