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Reviews For: Kenwood TM 261 A

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held)

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Review Summary For : Kenwood TM 261 A
Reviews: 60MSRP: 169.95
Two-meter FM radio
Product is not in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
N1KOQ Rating: 2006-07-17
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: 2006-04-04
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: 2006-01-06
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
W3KI Rating: 2006-01-06
Satisfied user Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought my 261 from HRO Woodbridge several years ago. When I bought it I was a student pilot and wanted a unit capable of receiving the airband so I could monitor the tower and pattern traffic on my way to and from my lessons.

I must admit it has treated me far better than I have treated it. I have used it mobile for 98% of its life. For the first few years it was mounted in a 1986 Jeep Wagoneer and mounted/unmounted daily. I brought it inside at night so as not to attract attention in our townhouse complex. The Wagoneer died and now my daily transportation is my wife's '94 Celica. THe upside for the radio is that we moved and now it and the car are garaged.

I have not found a spot to mount it and it would trouble my wife to see me taking a power tool to her baby. Therefore, it is currently flop mounted (laying on a piece of kitchen drawer non-skid fabric on the dash) feeding a 5/8 magmount. I take it out of the car when she wants to have a non-mommy moment and leave the minivan at home.

Is has been drop-tested, shock-tested, thermo-tested and toddler-tested (dragged by its antenna lead across the kitchen floor) and still has not exhibited any problems.

To me the main question is: Would I buy another one based upon my experience with this one? Yes indeed.
KI4HWC Rating: 2005-12-29
Good Radio, Bad Speaker Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have had the kenwood tm 261a for about a year and it works fairly good, the only problem is that the internal speaker pops then eventually goes out.

Good first Radio !!!!
N5LXI Rating: 2005-10-04
Works FB Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have two, one was banged around in the truck until replaced with an IC-706 a couple of years ago. Both inside now and still work great. Simple but effective. In terms of a modern transceiver, I REALLY miss alpha tags -- there are Lots o' repeaters in the D/FW Metroplex. Other than that, they are great 2-meter FM rigs.

joel / N5LXI
W2SNJ Rating: 2005-08-20
Indestructable! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I bought the radio in 1998, used, for $100. Yes it does get warm using medium power, and hot when using high power, so common sense would dictate that you can't keep it keyed down indefinately. To make sure I didn't blow the finals, I purchased, from a friend, a modified commercial amp. Using low power, the radio is always cool to the touch, and the amp puts out the neccessary 50 watts. The receiver is very good, even outside the 2 meter band. I have it programed for the NOAA weather frequencies. It also does a nice job of receiving the aircraft band on AM.
I can sometimes be rough with my radios, when using them as mobile. This one has been banged around quite a few times and has held up, physically, very nice.
I have had to order a new power cord & mounting bracket because of my misplacing them during moving. I'm about to start using the radio after a 3 year hiatus.
I highly recommend that if you can get one of these little radios for $100 or less, grab it.
N0IDX Rating: 2005-06-12
Bulletproof Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Aw, come on you folks that say this radio is no good. I don't know what the heck you could have possibly done to make this rig give you fits. I own 3 of them. One of them gets pounded in a tractor-trailer cab all day long. I even got it wet, filthy dirty, and kicked it a couple times by accident and it still works perfectly. OK, it's not pretty anymore, but it still works. Come on, I have them in both my cars too. I pulled the mic out of the plug once. Big deal. The same would have happened to your lame Icon junk.
NE2Q Rating: 2004-11-30
Short Lived Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have had two Kenwood TM-231 a TM-241 and a TM-261. All have failed within less than 4 years of casual use. The TM-241 had the final module fail. Upon examination, there was no heat sink grease applied to the amp module when manufactured. The TM-261 locks in transmit mode and only way to stop it is by either pulling the mic. plug out of the radio or shutting power off. Lots of problems with microphone failures. Generally these transceivers seem to be of questionable quality.

Earlier 4-star review posted by NE2Q on 2001-02-21

Radio works fine overall for over 12 months now. Installed in vehicle that is driven almost every day.

I like to sometimes listen to aircraft but find that I have to be within a mile or two of a control tower to hear it. Sens. seems very poor. In addition, I have to open the squelch all the way and put the volume to max in order to hear any air band transmissions. I would not recommend this radio to anyone that hopes to monitor the aircraft frequencies.
KE7BIO Rating: 2004-10-12
Great little radio! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Have had this for about 1 1/2 months now, bought off eBay. I've no complaints, this radio is easy to use, like the microphone, works as it should, plenty of power. Would recommend for your first 2M radio!!