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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Kenwood TK-290 Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TK-290
Kenwood TK-290 Reviews: 1 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $(missing—add MSRP)
Description: 5 Watt VHF,Synthesized 160 Channel (Programmable in multiple banks if desired) Portable with dual priority scan, and user selectable scan list. INCLUDES: 7 character alpha/numeric & icon display (inverts when speaker/microphone is attached) , Metal belt clip, QT, (CTCSS) and DQT (DCS) encode / decode per channel. Also includes Built-in Two-Tone and DTMF selective calling decoder, built-in DTMF signaling & dialing capability, five programmable keys, emergency key & call channel, security features, encryption board port/ control, data password, internal noise canceling microphone, operator selectable tone/code, cloning, keylock feature, flash ROM, battery power save, time-out timer, busy channel lockout and screw mount antenna connection.. Radio package also includes spring action belt clip. Can be set for field manual programming or cloning. Battery, charger, antenna, & programming is not included in basic radio pricing; Order desired battery, charger antenna & programming from accessory list. *MULTI-MODE READY on a "PER CHANNEL BASIS" * MEETS NEW FCC 12.5 / 25 kHz Specifications & Mil Specs 810 (c) (d) (E); including Driven Rain.

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You can write your own review of the Kenwood TK-290.

KG4STP Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2004 23:23 Send this review to a friend
Super tough Field Programmable  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have used TK-350 UHF Kenwoods for years and decided to get a TK-290 vhf based on my experience with the 350's. As a Ham, I had several criteria to meet. 1- It had to cover the 2 meter band (TK-290 goes 136-174!) as well as commercial hi-band. 2- It needed to be field programmable w/out computer or cable. 3- It needed to be extremely weather proof. 4-Be capable of narrow band. Very few radios meet these criteria at any price. Ones considered were JT1000 Motorola (only 16 ch), the TK-250G (while down tunable to 2 meters, not officially broad band enough), Bendix King (Not so wide band—looked promising though), Thales 25 (formerly Racal, it had everything including digital. I really wanted this but the expense was too high, especially w/ purchase of software and basic accessories—clearly made for government types who spend other people’s money). Motorola XTS5000 (Only feds can get the field programmable model. Same issues as Thales). XTS3000 (no field program, expense of software, cables etc.) Kenwood TK-280 (would have worked, but not technically as wide band though I was told it could be down tuned to 2 meters). I finally settled on the TK-290 since it had everything and could be found used for around $300. It has wide availability of accessories and batteries which makes it easy to keep going. Once set up for field programming (remove resistor inside and enable feature w/ programming software KPG38D), you can enter just about anything having to do w/ channel programming except alpha numeric tagging. You get group number and channel number as default. I can program 160 groups of 1 channel or 1 group of 160 channels and anything in-between as long as total is 160 channels. You can adjust power levels, squelch, and things you shouldn’t in field mode! The radio can scan one group or all groups. My radio was bought used and I found I had some trouble hitting a few repeaters. Quick check showed power output was set low by previous owner which I corrected by dialing it up (all tune features are software controlled—no pots. FYI draws 2.25amp at 5watt output). My antenna is too short and begins to get a little deaf at 2 meter freqs. (Will be getting the 136-150 MHZ antenna soon) While in carrier squelch on some frequencies-not all- I occasionally pick up a very close cash register or computer, but for the most part very immune to noise, image, pagers, etc. in places that swamp my Ham radios. The radio has an excellent noise canceling mike. I’ve used it in extremely noisy situations and receiving stations said they only heard me. With my ham gear in a noisy room, the background seems to come through better than I do! You do need to talk very close to mic (can be adjusted in software and noise canceling can be turned off-I haven’t played w/ that yet). Even if I yell into the radio it doesn’t splatter. If I back away from mic 6-8 inches like you can w/ ham gear, my audio drops dramatically. Audio in and out is that deep solid commercial sound instead of sharp treble sound of most ham gear. The receiver seems plenty hot, but my only subjective test is being able to pick up distant weather stations that I can’t get on my other radios. Advantage goes away in 144-147, but as mentioned before this seems to be an antenna problem (too short for 144). Lets just say I know the receiver is at least very good, but not yet sure if it’s “astounding”. There are adjustments in software for sensitivity, tight squelch, and squelch which can radically shape receiver. For most Public Safety they set their gear to work in a mature strong signal environment rather than for DX’ing and I’ve yet to fool with these settings.
NEGATIVES: -7 character display—I want more.
-While there are 5 buttons, 1 switch, and 2 knobs-more than enough for sane people-I want 1 or 2 more. You can use 1 button for function and have 2 functions for the rest of the buttons and I still want more!
- No VFO—yeah I know, unrealistic. The main drawback to all commercial gear.

PROS: -Tough, weatherproof, huge features, lots of channels, field programmable and reliable. It’s the only radio that met all my criteria. Use it in a thunder storm—Job 1 for Hams is an emergency isn’t it?

So far I’m thrilled w/ the TK-290 (3months). Until they make a truly commercial grade ham radio I will stick w/ my Kenwood TK-290. I’m even looking at a UHF model!

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