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Reviews For: Kenwood TS-440S/AT

Category: Transceivers: HF Amateur HF+6M+VHF+UHF models - non QRP <5W

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TS-440S/AT
Reviews: 99MSRP: 1200 price class
160-10 Meter HF Transceiver/Auto Tune
Product is not in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KE4AMQ Rating: 2023-09-05
Got another one Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I had one for many years, then sold it. Picked one up from a buddy of mine over the weekend. Seems to work well did some adjustments to it, and now it runs good. I like them they are real work horses. This one will stay at my shack for awhile.
W0AZ Rating: 2021-11-18
A great rig then, a good rig now. Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have a 440SAT that had been sitting on a shelf since becoming squirrelly and finally going dead some years ago.

Being familiar with some of its common problems (most notably, the goo liberally applied to some boards to stabilize them in high vibration environments - like mobile use - becoming conductive and shorting circuits), I didn’t try to tackle its repair at the time. That’s a real PITA to remove and repair. So I set it aside.

In the interim I acquired other radios.

Today, I finally got around to opening it up and taking a look. This radio is a late model 440, and the material used to stabilize components turned out not to be the dreaded brown stuff that fails, but the later clear/white material that remains stable.


I started out by simply exercising the board connectors, not expecting that to solve the problem - but always a good place to start - and that was all it needed.

My rig has a few of the better options installed (variable tuning rate, 270 Hz CW filter, etc.) and it is very clean. I had forgotten how good this radio is!

I’m glad to have it back in service.

This is the rig that I completed my first 100 for DXCC with. It has a special place in my heart - and now, again, in my shack.
N0FMO Rating: 2019-04-28
Hamfest Purchase Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Found one at a Hamfest was extremely cheap Must have been an Estate radio (under $100). No mic no P.s--Brought it home, was extremely dirty, cleaned it up, knobs and case. hooked it up to a P.s. connected a Kenwood mic I also found for $20 at the same Hamfest . And it came on --no dot problem, receives and transmits fine. Replaced burned out S-meter light. When I opened it up. I found it had a SSB & Cw filter installed, Voice synthesizer installed, an At Tuner installed. Memory holding good. What a find. I fell in love right away. I had had the original sales brochure already so I was a little familiar with this girl already and so I printed service/owners Manuals for it. (Download)
N7JS Rating: 2018-12-24
VCO 5 may haunt you Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
This is actually a great radio (which is why I gave it a 4) but here is my experience with the infamous VCO5.

I've had this board (PLL Unit) pulled out and installed so many times, I could probably do it with my eyes closed. My radio developed a distorted RX audio which would usually happen about 10 min after startup. It also affected TX. I tried cleaning the synthetic rubber in VCO5 without removing parts. It is next to impossible to do this effectively and I simply made the problem worse AND the dreaded dots showed up. Depressing! I then decided to pull all the parts that had any of rubber on them whatsoever (a lot of parts) and do it right...just clean that whole area properly...very time consuming! (Pick, scrape, and then finish with some rubbing alcohol). Be careful not to get the alcohol on adjoining parts. I also decided to replace the electrolytic caps as well as Q34, Q35, and D14 (per recommendation by Kenwood). I put everything back together again and the dots are gone but the same audio/tx issue! Uggghhh. Remembering the initial problem after warm up - led me to start focusing on D13 (called a varistor temperature compensating diode). Testing it showed open on both ends with the VOM. I tried applying some DC voltage and the same thing...maybe on to something here. The bad news. It is an extremely difficult part to obtain. The original part is a MV203. Good luck finding that. Kenwood recommends a replacement of a MA27T-B (just as difficult to find - must be a T-B not A). That sent me looking at a whole bunch of diode data sheets and I came across an NTE601 with the right specs. A discontinued part but someone on Ebay has a bunch of them for sale. It arrived today and I installed it and Whalah....everything works beautiful and the radio has been on for several hours. (Below is the cleaned out VCO5 with some new parts installed including the important D13 in my case). PS: If you do this repair, don't forget to adjust T20 for 5 volts (off L20 and ground) on 14.200 before buttoning it up.
VK2JEM Rating: 2017-07-25
Get one while they last - because it wont last Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Had one years ago. A great radio in its day. Love the size, the layout, the looks, the features, the performance.

Whats not to love?
The fact that due to the goop on the motherboards and the Keypad" bounce they die. Parts are impossible and remediating the VCO goop and re-aligning is a long painful job (or expensive if you're not doing it yourself)

It soon becomes just something nice to look at

For the same price as one of these there are better choices from icom or yaesu that stand the test of time.

This one like its sister RX the R5000 were great in their day but werent built to last.

KJ4RZZ Rating: 2017-01-12
Great radio, owned many of them Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I'm on my 5th TS-440. I've purchased them over the years,some in poor condition, restored them, used them for awhile, and then sold them for a small profit. I purchaed one recently which was in mint condition with a high serial number (90600 i think) and it does not have brown sonybond goop, but instead a white wax. This one is a keeper and will never get sold. This is now my main radio :)

I'm surprised to read of people selling the TS-440 because the dot problem was "too expensive to repair". I've fixed several of these myself... you simply chip the old brown glue away with a pick. I could teach my 12yr old to do it.

The trick though to getting a good working TS-440 is to pay attention to the details. A lot of deformed screw heads, missing screws, bent panels, are signs that someone has been inside the radio with poor skills. Knowledgeable people dont strip screws or pry apart cases. Steer clear of a beat up radio unless the owner can prove its working correctly and the price is under $300.

Look for the cleanest unit you can find and ask that the seller transmit with it until it feels warm to verify it is working. I have one TS-440 now with a bad IF board which stops transmitting after 5 minutes (even in receive mode). The deformed screws and bent case was a clue something was going to be wrong.

I wouldnt worry about the dot problem its not a hard problem
to resolve. The temporary fix is just to leave the radio on for a long time (use it often) to keep the glue from absorbing moisture.

If the radio doesn't transmit, or is stuck in transmit, or has intermittent transmit... these are radios to avoid unless you want a project.

The beauty of these old radios is that that circuit boards are single sided discrete components. Very easy to repair and find parts for if you know how to troubleshoot a circuit.

As for peformance, these radios sound great as is and can be improved further by adding a DSP to the audio output.

Earlier 4-star review posted by KJ4RZZ on 2014-02-18

I purchased a TS-440 as an upgrade from my TS-140S. The radio is great, more memory and filter options, AFSK, built in tuner, etc, compared to the TS-140S.

However there are some downsides. While the TS-140S has a power slider which is separate from mic gain (good for data modes), the 440 has only mic gain in SSB. You can do a mod to make the carrier knob work in SSB, but it then only works between 1 and 3, so you have a very limited range of the knob to control power output. Secondly, the data input on ACC2 port has a very low gain, a signalink usb or packet modem can barely drive the input. You again need to mod the radio, to swap AFSK IN and the DATA pin to get digital modes to work well (if using the ACC2 port). Lastly, there is the dreaded dot problem. 2 out of 4 I've owned has had it. I was able to fix it, but it took a long time and was time consuming and frustrating. If one is really interested in data modes I'd almost recommend the TS-140S over the TS-440S, but then you'd need the AT-250 to have an autotuner.

The fantastic auto tuner in the TS-440SAT is the reason I keep coming back to it. I admit I also like the look of it... it just looks so sharp. I guess I'm just stuck in the 80s.
KC0EKQ Rating: 2017-01-06
Great RX, too Time Owned: more than 12 months.
You can read all about the famous 'dots' issue and other generally easy-to-resolve aging issues with this radio in other reviews and all over the internet in the right places... but for this review, I'm focusing on an aspect I don't see mentioned too often in regards to the 440...

It has an excellent receiver.

By itself, its RX earns it an eham 5, solid.

The TS440 was made at the same time as the much-venerated Kenwood R5000 receiver, and as such the 440 has very similar high quality of receive audio, selectivity and sensitivity.

I've used the TS440's TX for many years, and it's certainly solid Kenwood in the TX department... but I've used it far more often just for RX, either as a separate receiver while ragchewing and DXing, or just SWLing. It is just a pleasure to use.

Certainly it's a workhorse rig, a well-respected transceiver for a lot of solid reasons, but even if you only used it as a receiver, you could hardly do better with any other transceiver from its era, and in many cases even modern rigs.

For RX alone, a great big ol FIVE from this old radio man.
KB0HAE Rating: 2016-09-24
Could be good...or not Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I owned one of these briefly a few years ago. Turned out it had the famous "goop in the VCO) problem. Too expensive to have fixed, so I sold it for parts.
R2ABT Rating: 2016-02-07
Bad luck Time Owned: more than 12 months.
My first TRX ever… Bought it as soon as I licensed. Have been happy for about a year and a half. Then so called “dot-problem” appeared. Had it repaired at Kenwood’s authorized dealer. In three-month time, the problem appeared again. Then over again. Repairing was a beating a dead horse... Nice radio. Nice receiving. Nice transmitting. Easy to operate. Nevertheless, much too old.

73! Peter R2ABT
KD8VQH Rating: 2015-09-07
love the radio Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have my TS-440sat for 2 years now. I started with a HTX100 after taking part in Skywarn Recognition
Day 2 years ago. That got my feet wet for HF and only having my Tech class 28.300 to 28.500 wasn't enough. Getting my 440 was motivation to upgrade to General. Mine has the dot issue, but it is has been left on for a while it goes away. I did the RF power mod and added 2 filters, and added the MC-85 desk mic. I love the radio and always get good reports on the audio. Our club does a 10 meter net every week and my 1st time using the 440 on the net everyone as what I did to the HTX100. I know I will use this radio for a long time. My next radio will be the TS-2000