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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held) | Kenwood TM 261 A Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TM 261 A
Kenwood TM 261 A Reviews: 59 Average rating: 4.1/5 MSRP: $169.95
Description: Two-meter FM radio
Product is not in production.
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You can write your own review of the Kenwood TM 261 A.

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KC8NZJ Rating: 5/5 Dec 14, 2008 17:29 Send this review to a friend
Great radio!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This was the FIRST radio I ever purchased when I got licensed in 1999. I have used it in both mobile and base installations and it has never missed a beat. Good TX and RX audio, easy to program and use.

The only downside is it doesn't have tone decode. Great radio if you only need 2 meters.
VE7CE Rating: 5/5 Dec 7, 2008 15:00 Send this review to a friend
Good, but..........  Time owned: more than 12 months
The TM-261A has been a great little radio, in my various vehicles for more than a decade, but recently it has developed all sorts of intermittent troubles, both in receive and transmit. The Kenwood tech said it is not worth fixing. Right now the microphone is more valuable than the radio.
N6HPO Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2008 15:49 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful for Beginners  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
No need to reiterate what others have said here; one of the advantages of being a rookie is that the best rig for your needs is the one you currently own! For me, having nothing to compare the 261-A to is not a handicap!

This is a great rig for anyone, young or not-so-young who is just breaking in to the "above 30 MHz" frequencies. I bought it, some Anderson "PowerPole" connectors and an external speaker from a very kind, older ham in L.A. for $50. I also bought a "Nifty! Quick-Reference" for $5 which helped me understand thing better.

The extended receive is an excellent addition, including the air band. I live in an area where wildfires are almost an annual event. This rig fills the bill, has everything I never knew I needed in a 2 meter rig!

Now if you'll excuse me I'm on the hunt for it's bigger brother, the TM 461-A 440 MHz rig.

Best of 73!

WL7KV Rating: 4/5 May 15, 2008 20:40 Send this review to a friend
Great Little Radio!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had this radio just over a year, bought it used from a local ham for $80.
Used it as a base station and lately in my little toyoat with a cheapo mag mount. Great rx & tx, I've had good reports on the audio.
I like taht I can listen to the airband frequencies as well. (My new Yaesu 2800 doesn't receive this part of the band.)

My dislikes:
Limited memories.
Difficult to program, I have to consult the book because I forget how.

Set it and forget it!

KD5NR Rating: 2/5 Oct 16, 2007 09:36 Send this review to a friend
You're no TM 241 !!!!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Unlike my fellow reviewers, I'm not even going to pretend to be impartial. I've had two of these and three 241's and the 261 is JUNK compared to the 241 in all aspects. The receive audio is absolutely the worst of any 2 meter rig I've owned over the last 30 years (I have HT's with far superior audio), the heat problem is totally unacceptable, the display is atrocious, and the intuitive programming has gone downhill since the 241. If you know a ham (real or no-code) who says the receive audio from the tiny free-floating speaker (not even screwed down to the chassis) is "OK". never ask that individual for an audio test because they have tin ears. Also, my model will do nothing with the jumpers cut for MARS enablement.
A piece of junk from a company that makes amateur gear as a sideline to their auto stereo business. You'd be better off buying a radio from a company that markets radios first and foremost and not a copycat company like Kenwood.
KI4RBX Rating: 5/5 Sep 15, 2006 22:44 Send this review to a friend
GREAT For a 2m Mobile  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have had my TM-261 for the past 2 weeks, installed in my Explorer along with the "World's Cheapest" Pro-Am (formerly Astatic) 2m Mag-Mount antenna. I have nothing but good reports and it seems to have a decent RX. I paid $85. [used] for it from a local shop & it has performed very well. The only rigs I have to campare it with are in different leagues - an IC-7000 & a TH-F6A. Overall, for under $100. -- GREAT 2m RIG!
KB0HAE Rating: 4/5 Aug 23, 2006 02:58 Send this review to a friend
Good with a couple of mods!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I had my TM-261 donated to me. The reason was that it had overheated in hot weather (50 watts TX with a long winded op) in a van, with the radio mounted vertically (poor air circulation).

Upon trials using a dummy load, the rig did indeed get hotter than it should while transmiting on high power (50 watts). No heat sink for any solid state device should get hot enough to make it uncomfortable to hold your hand on the heat sink. I also found an unacceptably large voltage drop across the factory fuses/fuse holders. I added 2 40mm(square) by 10mm fans to the heat sink (wired in series so that they will run quietly) and changed the fuse holders and fuses.

The radio now stays much cooler, and will operate better from emergency battery power (or when the car engine is off).

I have posted the mods to If anyone has trouble getting them, contact me at, and I will email it to you.

Similar mods could be applied to any radio that you think gets too hot.

Other than the things I did the mods for, the radio has performed flawlessly, and I have made a number of distant contacts during recent band openings. 1 interesting thing that I have found is that the TM-261 is almost exactly the same height and width as the IC-2100H. Therefore the very neat Icom MB17a mounting bracket can be used with the TM-261 so that the radio is easy to move between the house and the car.

If a thermostatically controlled fan and better fuses/fuse holders were standard with this radio, I would have given it a 5!
N1KOQ Rating: 3/5 Jul 17, 2006 09:21 Send this review to a friend
What do you expect for $100-$150?  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have owned a 241, 251, and have recently purchased the 261. Of the 3, the 261 is by far the least satisfactory to me with the 251 being the best. Dont get me wrong, for an entry level 2m mobile radio its well worth $100 used. I paid 90 for mine. Youre not going to find bells and whistles in this rig like the 251 has, just a basic no nonsense, radio. Functionally, the radio works well. The large freq readout is good but the inability to adjust brightness on the display is a huge pet peeve to me, especially seeing its very dim to begin with. Other than that, the only other negative issue I can find is the heat sink really cooks at high power. The heat sink will literally burn your hand. I can see this leading to some desoldering with constant use. Im not partial to the huge mic but thats just my opinion. The new mic on the 271 looks to be a bit more ergonomic. Otherwise, this radio is very similar to the TM-241. Good receiver, even out of band, and good audio reports. However, when comparing it to the 251, its short lived predessor, it is very lacking. I still wonder why some of the really best rigs are only available for a short time (The TM-251 and Yaesu FT-990 being good examples). Were it not for the display lighting, I would call this a 4/5. Buy a cooling fan for the heatsink and youll be ok. I have owned many other 2m fm mobiles from other manufacturers but Im only going to compare apples to apples, so to speak (Kenwood 2m mobiles only). In a nutshell, I would recommend this rig as a beater or for packet. Dont use it as your daily mobile, youll be disappointed, especially if the excessive heat due to constant transmitting causes failure. Ive seen reviews below complaining about the price vs. quality. For comparison, when I was first licensed in '91, my first 2m mobile was an Alinco DR-119T, which I bought with Christmas and birthday money in 1992. It had half the features of this radio and only 12 memory channels. I paid $329 for that radio, brand new. At $125 or less, for a 261 in good condition, I wont complain too much.
N5UV Rating: 4/5 Apr 4, 2006 23:43 Send this review to a friend
Pretty good rig, for the price  Time owned: more than 12 months
I got this 2m rig to replace my Yaesu FT-2200 (see my review about that one). I've had this radio since 2001, and it's been fairly good to me. There have been no mechanical problems, and it's easy to mount since it's so small. However, I don't like the speaker being on the TOP of the rig, that's a bit annoying. And, the speaker is not the greatest, and mine will probably need replacing in the next year or 2...or I'll just get an external speaker.

TX audio is good, the programming features are not any more difficult than with other similar rigs. It does get VERY hot when running at 50 watts, even if your antenna is a near-perfect match on the FM voice portions of 2m. I use a Comet 2m/440 ant., the really big one, so it gets out pretty well.

Mechanically, it's very tough. And what I mean by tough is that it has been stratched, banged, dented, dropped, etc., and it still works like it's out of the box. The freq. knob will get loose and come off if you play with it a lot, but despite that, I'm impressed that it hasn't exhibited problems with the buttons, particularly the on/off button...that's usually the first thing to go on these rigs, but this Kenwood is a tough bugger.

So, if you want to get on 2m., you can't go wrong with this rig...just don't expect it to be an IC-706 or something fancy.
N0MUD Rating: 5/5 Jan 6, 2006 13:21 Send this review to a friend
Still a great rig  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had mine since 1998 now and it is a great workhorse, been camping, been fishing and even been hunting with me up in the high country of Colorado. I still have the radio and soon it will be shipped to San Diego, CA when two of my grandsons take the tech test and pass it. I will be sending them the radio, buying them a base antenna and get all set up so that we can talk node to node everyday if we want and the freq is open. Yes I have replaced the radio, I have yaseu's now, dual band dual receive, the FT-8800r which I have three and just bought a new FT-7800r. I have one off the FT8800r's in my Yukon Denali. I also have a Yaesu 2800 which is also a great rig. But the Kenwood TM261A is a very nice rig to own, use for base or mobile and the price is very good. The HRO catalog doesnt list it anymore but I do believe the stores still carry them. But even when I bought mine brand new it was only $149 so I dont know where E-ham gets a price of $169, that might be a price for the TM-271a which is Kenwoods newest and greatest 2 meter and with alot more power output too.

Anyways if you can get a TM261A then get it you wont go wrong, it's a great rig.

73's Mike
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