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Reviews Categories | Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Hand-held | Kenwood TH-D72 Help

Reviews Summary for Kenwood TH-D72
Kenwood TH-D72 Reviews: 50 Average rating: 4.4/5 MSRP: $499.00
Description: Kenwood APRS dual band Transceiver
Product is in production.
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WD0FIA Rating: 5/5 Jun 22, 2012 23:31 Send this review to a friend
Well worth the price!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought the D72A to use for Sky Command with my TS-2000's. I found that it works great for that purpose, and I have no complaints.

Setup for APRS was very easy. I think they did a very good job on getting all the functions together in one compact package.

A major plus is the free software, and the mini-USB programming cable is included.
N0OQA Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2012 18:44 Send this review to a friend
I like this radio  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Initial Review

+ Very good GPS, lock fast, works inside!
+ Built in Digipeater!
+ GPS satellite and signal strength display
+ Like the positional / directional data
+ Programming similar to my D710
+ Menu grouping make programming simple
+ Large display easy to read
+ Like larger size, rests on base and fit the hand
+ Easy to update firmware

- Plastic case will show wear very fast
- Large clear plastic face will show wear very fast

Summary: Great handheld APRS solution
KR0L Rating: 4/5 Apr 30, 2012 18:10 Send this review to a friend
Best APRS HT around, but nt perfect  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've owned a VX-7R, the D72, and a VX-8GR. I wrote up reviews of all three today, and posted them to my blog here:

Because this is so long already, I'm going to skip the sections on the other radios and some of the comparisons. Here's what I wrote about the D72....

It’s hard to use any word but “incredible” to describe this HT, though it does have its own rough edges.

Starting with the basics, it has dual transceivers with full duplex (meaning you can be transmitting on one band while receiving on another). Its stored memory system and memory bank scanning system are both a lot easier and faster to use than Yaesu’s, and work the same on both transceivers A and B, though perhaps offer slightly less flexibility than Yaesu’s (on the VX-7R, a single memory can be a member of more than one group). The quoted operating time is 6 hours, which is probably accurate with APRS and GPS off, matching (or nearly matching) the VX-7R.

The TH-D72A has the usual mic and speaker ports. Unlike Yaesu, Kenwood has used the same jack for years, so it is not necessary to purchase new accessories with each upgrade. The unit also has both serial (Kenwood connector) and standard mini USB ports, and even ships with a USB cable. The USB port is designed to interface to a PC, and the radio presents itself as a serial-over-USB device. Kenwood also includes MCP-4A, the programming software for the unit, free. This is one example of several things that Kenwood includes for free but are costly add-ons with Yaesu.

Kenwood’s configuration menu system is hierarchical. You can scroll through the four top-level menus (RADIO, GPS, APRS, and SKY), then navigate through sub menus. The result is that it’s both faster and easier to find what you want than on the Yaesu menus. Plus, as you navigate, the radio shows you the shortcut key to get to a particular option (each level of menu is numbered starting) — so, for instance, Menu-1-1-0 takes me directly to the configuration for RX battery saver interval far faster than I could get there on the VX-7R or VX-8GR. Only the APRS menu gets a bit crowded with this setup.

The D72A supports Kenwood’s Sky Command II – an intriguing way of making it essentially a remote for a Kenwood HF rig such as the TS-2000. It works by engaging a crossband repeater for the audio, and setting up a AX.25 packet link for the control. It works, but as the response time to frequency adjustments is measured in seconds, is klunky for tuning around a HF band. A nifty, though perhaps not supremely useful, feature with some hackable potential that I haven’t explored yet.

The TH-D72A is one of only two shipping general-purpose amateur radios that have a built-in GPS — the other is the Yaesu VX-8GR. The GPS works well, and can get a fix indoors if desired. It has a system of saving waypoints, which you can then navigate back to later (using distance/bearing indicators). It also has a track log. While the track log can’t be viewed on the unit, it can be downloaded with the included MCP-4A software and saved in a variety of formats including Google’s KML for later importing into Google Maps or Google Earth. I enjoy this feature on trips to see where I went later on. There is also a GPS-only mode, which disables all of the other radio circuitry on the radio for very low power consumption. The GPS navigation screens all support heading-up or north-up indicators.

But where this radio really shines is APRS. The D72 has all the basics you’d expect – sending and receiving beacons, sending and receiving messages and bulletins, etc. It has built-in support for being a digipeater in many different ways, including new-N UI-Trace. Coupled with an MFJ VHF amplifier, this could make a nice temporary (or even permanent) digi. The message interface permits sending, receiving, and shortcuts for replying to messages.

Beacon transmission can be completely manual, at set intervals, or using SmartBeaconing. Outbound beacons also support proportional pathing (meaning adjusting via-path to not have wide coverage with every transmission). Also, if not using SmartBeaconing, a decay algorithm can be used to send beacons less frequently when the station’s location isn’t changing. An alternative tells the system to transmit a beacon every time PTT is released, subject to rate limiting by interval. So lots of choices there.

For incoming beacons, there are various filters by callsign pattern, packet type, etc. that control whether they will be processed at all, and what kind of alert (visual or audible) to present. Beacons are also placed in a received beacon list, sorted with the most recent at the top (duplicates from the same station are always removed, so only the most recent is presented.) A long press of the LIST button shows time received and type of device next to the callsign. Selecting a specific beacon shows status text, comment, device type, bearing/distance (with graphical north-up or heading-up display), telemetry (weather information and the like), and a little bit of info about the via-path. Pretty nice to see weather reports from local weather stations on there. You can sort the list by received time, station call, or distance from your position — but it doesn’t stay sorted by anything other than received time, and takes several seconds to re-sort. Seems like a bit of an oversight there.

The D72A supports QSY information in beacons. This can automatically insert the frequency of the other band on the transceiver into your transmitted beacons for you, or give you a quick way to tune to the frequency mentioned on others’ beacons. Either way, a nice touch.

The D72 also supports query packets, such as packets asking your station to transmit its position right now.

The TH-D72A can directly interface with several types of weather stations via serial link to read weather sensor information and transmit it into APRS packets directly, with no need for a PC to be in the picture at all. But if you do hook up a PC to it, there are quite a few more possibilities.

You can hook it up to PC APRS software (or a hardware device such as the AVMAP) to see locations of other APRS stations on a map. It can emit APRS packets, plus even GPS sentences, down the USB port to the PC. Moreover, in PACKET mode, it acts as a full TNC, with a fairly robust TNC command set. In short, it can do more than APRS; it can also do regular AX.25 such as DX clusters, BBS, nodes, etc. As far as I know, this is the only HT that can interface with a PC in this manner, and only Kenwood’s mobile D710 has the same kind of feature set at that.

Kenwood includes a lot of documentation with the TH-D72A. The 51-page printed manual is a summary or introductory guide. The included CD-ROM supplies another 75 pages of detailed reference material, and the 92-page “in-depth APRS manual” has a level of detail that true geeks like me appreciate. I’ve referred to Kenwood’s documentation more than once while figuring out things about the VX-8GR (which woefully under-documents things like SmartBeaconing). That said, it appears that at least some of the documentation has been copied from the earlier TH-D7A. Page 4 of the printed book is a good example. It talks about the memory effect of the battery, and warns against unplugging and replugging the charger because the charge cycle will be reset and the battery will be over-charged (I find it hard to believe that a Li-Ion charge controller would be that stupid, and furthermore direct observation suggests that it isn’t.) Parts of the in-depth APRS guide appear to have been written for the D710, but that’s a really minor nit.

Unlike Yaesu, Kenwood issues periodic firmware updates to the D72A, which you can apply over USB. They have fixed bugs and added features to the unit over time.

Now onto the things that aren’t so good about the D72A. I’ll start with the battery system, since we were already discussing it. Despite shipping with a much larger battery than the VX-8GR (1800 mAh vs. 1100 mAh), it only manages roughly equal battery life with APRS and GPS engaged. (It will probably do better as a simple voice unit, however.) This has been confirmed by numerous reports on the Internet. [I discuss this topic more in my review on my blog.]

There is very little else to fault the D72A on, feature-wise. I have a minor nit in that it is impossible to cause the keylock feature to also lock PTT. It would be nice to be able to see raw APRS packets on beacons and messages. Other than that, I can’t think of a feature it really lacks.

Compared to the VX-7R and VX-8GR, the TH-D72A is significantly larger physically, in every dimension. It is not uncomfortably large, and still fits in my hand fine. But its size is enough different that it feels like the design is dated and could have been more compact if Kenwood would have bothered. It’s a nit, sure, but a nontrivial one.

With the single exception of the sturdy metal belt clip, the D72 doesn’t feel nearly as rugged as the VX-7R, and not even as rugged as the VX-8GR. The keys have a squishy feel to them, the PTT button works fine but has a cheap plastic design (as opposed to the rubberized versions on Yaesu’s HTs). The manual doesn’t mention it, but one Kenwood brochure mentions and IP54 weatherproofing. That means it is protected against limited ingress of dust and against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted. Contrast that to the VX-7R, which is rated for 30 minutes of submersion at 3ft and has a magnesium case. It seems to be specced similarly to the VX-8GR, though the VX-8GR certainly feels a lot more solid. I have no proof, as I’m not about to sacrifice my HTs for science, but I doubt that the TH-D72A would have survived over an hour on a busy road as well as the VX-7R did, and probably not even as well as the VX-8GR would. The case is plastic — a stout plastic, but still plastic.

Like the VX-8GR, and unlike the VX-7R, the D72A does not have broadband receive. It can receive some bands adjacent to the ham bands it supports, which includes a lot of bands of interest to people with scanners, but still can’t receive broadcast FM signals like the VX-7R.
KB3TUO Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2012 17:46 Send this review to a friend
Well Built HT  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The TH-D72 is a well built, solidly performing Handie Talkie. I bought it when I got tired of charging my Yaesu VX-3R battery every day. YES, I know it's expensive, but trust me, it's worth it! I have dropped it a few times on to asphalt and despite the scratches, it keeps on working just fine.

I really like the built in TNC and GPS. The ability to decode packets while mobile or in the field is a good feature. In fact, I've done this with the International Space Station. The GPS also works well, I use it primarily to find my position so that it may be entered into satellite tracking software.

While we're on the topic of satellites, working them with the this HT and a handheld antenna is a blast! The Dual Band and Duplex features are ideal for this type of stuff.

I laughed out loud when I read a review that said something to the effect of "IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY FLAT ON THE BOTTOM-WHAT A GREAT IDEA!", all laughter aside, the HT is VERY flat on the bottom and it takes a lot to make it topple over.

The thing I like the most is the ability to enter frequencies DIRECTLY with the keypad, and furthermore, the way you can press enter to complete the entry. For example, to enter 144 MHz, you would press ENT 1 4 4 ENT and it fills the rest in with zeroes. My Kenwood TS-450 HF rig has this and I'm glad it's still around.

It even has VOX! It's great for when you're working at a desk and you can just look at the HT and talk away.

I love the ability to switch between 5, .5, and .05 watts TX power.

The supplied antenna works fine, I can work things on Extra Low Power (50 mW) that I could not with the VX-3R on 2 watts!

I also use the HT with the SMC-34 Speaker Microphone. I've heard bad stories about it, but mine works fine, changing the TX and RX audio minimally. The ability to map the mic's keys is fantastic.

The belt clip is great, and the battery safety clip is a useful feature.

I give the HT 5/5 because I couldn't be happier with it!
EI4HQ Rating: 4/5 Apr 1, 2012 09:59 Send this review to a friend
Very competent all-in-one handy  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My last handheld purchase was a TH22 - yes, it's been quite a while since I've purchased a handy! The TH-D72 (in my case the 'E' variant) is a very competent and robust box of tricks. On the whole I'm delighted with it. I won't even attempt to summarise or outline it's capabilities here - there are simply way too many of them. To get the full benefit from this radio you MUST study the manual and take the time to get familiar with its many functions.

On the upside, I would highlight the extremely good GPS receiver (it really is very very good), long battery life, very solid construction and wide receive. Having air, 2m , marine VHF, 70cm, GPS and APRS capability makes the TH-D72 an excellent "one rig to always have with you" solution.

A few very minor gripes - I don't like the fact that I cannot disable the PTT button (every time I accidently hit it, scanning stops), others have indicated the lack of a specific APRS receive audio mute capability and I would like the option for the backlight to come on when the squelch is opened.
N4UED Rating: 5/5 Feb 17, 2012 06:41 Send this review to a friend
EASY TO USE DOES EVERYTHING .  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
W8MPX Rating: 5/5 Dec 19, 2011 20:19 Send this review to a friend
Love it  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
The rig it's build very good very good receiving it doesn't not get hot aprs. Gps all in one don't have to by extra accessories like other brands not bad for the price this radio will give me busy this winter good job Kenwood
W1TXT Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2011 03:42 Send this review to a friend
Perfect for me!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Loaded with features and works perfectly for me. An incredible radio with so many features and functions, learning all of its capabilites will keep you busy for months to come.

I also have a TH-D7A/G, TM-D710, TM-V71A and RC-D710 for VHF/UHF and I enjoy this radio more than the others. It's basically the TM-D710A w/a built-in GPS.

Very cool!
SV1JRF Rating: 3/5 Oct 27, 2011 05:10 Send this review to a friend
Very nice radio but!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First of all lets start that this radio has some excellent features. It compacts APRS ,Packet radio and GPS. The menu is very good and is better than the previous D7 model. The battery as well is excellent but is not as good as the icom e-92 battery. Actually i always forget when i last charged the icom's battery!Anyway back to TH-D72.I bought the radio 4 days ago. I read the manual thoroughly and i managed very easely to operate the radio with all its features.
Everything was perfect until yesterday. The battery run out and i decided to charge it. I plug the wall charger to the wall socket and then i plugged the small round socket to my handheld. Immediately i heard a "pouf" sound from the charger. And then silence. Well i said that was it, the radio was a brick. I chilled out and saw that the radio was working normally. The charger was broken and some weird sounds where coming from the inside(fuse maybe?). There is no access to change the fuse... I left it to the service. Anyway thank god i had my Icom's E92 charger which provides a little less output power and voltage so i managed to charge my D72 but instead of 8 hours charging time i had approx 9. No fuss about that.

So that is why i gave the radio a 3. Everything else is perfect.

ps: also buy the carrying case because the radio is kind of sensitive to scratches.
IZ4UFQ Rating: 4/5 Oct 20, 2011 15:14 Send this review to a friend
Nice but can be better  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I own a TH-F7E (European version of the TH-F6) and I like it very much because it is tiny and powerful.

I decided to buy the new TH-D72E, and I almost like it. It is a nice radio, with a lot of great features, but it's not perfect.

HARDWARE ISSUES: It's big, expecially if compared to the tiny (and yet powerful) TH-F7E. Its display is too little (even if the screen seems to be big) for an APRS radio that has a lot of information to display. It has a 4-way cursor pad instead of the fantastic 5-way stick of the TH-F7E.

SOFTWARE ISSUES: In firmware 1.04 there are two issues. The first is that when you receive APRS data, and these data are displayed, if you press the PTT button (to transmit on the other band) it does clear the display but does NOT transmit. This behaviour was not present in firmware 1.02; I emailed Kenwood and they told me they will fix it in next firmware. The second is that there is no "aprs audio mute" function. If you want to use band A for APRS and band B for voice, and you do not want to hear audio from APRS band, you have to use audio balance to mute band A, then if you revert to audio use of band A, you have to remember to set balance back or you will not hear anything from that band. There should be a function to auto-mute audio from APRS band as soon as you enable the TNC. I have suggested this improvement to Kenwood but got no answer.

Anyway, even with these limitations, it remains a great radio, with an inbuilt GPS that works even indoors, with an inbuilt TNC that works with USB serial emulation also with Linux. I was able to set up a connection to our local packet cluster in 1 minute without reading any manual with my Linux netbook and this radio.
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