Kenwood TM-V71 Review

From ve3ugg.com: ****+ (4+ stars)

These are excellent radios. Probably the best cross banding radios available. A local ham and myself sometimes use our V71’s and the local VHF and UHF repeaters (or simplex) to have a completely duplex QSO 🙂

Mine has been in a variety of 24/7 base use or all weather mobile basis for 3 years – no issues. No, sadly they don’t have fancy touch screens or APRS but they are rock stable and built like tanks. And they play well with computers – mostly. Despite what the documentation says, there is nothing special about “EchoLink Mode”. But the “data jack” works very well as do most in this class of radio.

They are very easy to use in a mobile. There’s only a few “buttons” and unlike some competitors, they are laid out with some thought. Dual VOL/SQ knobs, one for each A/B side. Very readable display in most conditions. They are easy to program either by computer (the free software works quite well) or in the field. The menu system is not “nested” (54 items) and it’s easy to find things.

As well, if you can find a TMD710 head unit – that accepts a GPS signal – you can replace the head of the V71 as the radio bodies are identical! Then you will have a complete mobile or base APRS unit.

The biggest issue is the modular microphone jack. It is very easy to break the tab off the modular jack of the mic and then it is ill fitting. I would have preferred an 8 pin mobile mic jack so this is why I gave it a 4+

If you can find a used one in good shape for $200 CDN, buy it.

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From a retailer:

Price: $419.95 CDN (at www.DurhamRadio.com)

 

The following was taken from the official Kenwood documentation… I think. It’s quite accurate at least.

FREQUENCY COVERAGE

RX: 118 – 524 MHz 136 – 524 MHz 800 – 1300 MHz * (*excluding cellular band)

TX: 144 – 148 MHz 430 – 450 MHz

RF Power Output

5/10/50 Watts on Both VHF and UHF

Dual Receive On Same Band (VxV, UxU)

In addition to simultaneous receive on both VHF and UHF bands, this radio can receive two frequencies on the very same band. This means, for example, that you can have both the call channel and local channel, or the repeater channel and local channel, on the same band.

Five-In-One, Programmable Memory

For extra versatility, the TM-V71A has a programmable memory that can store five entire operating profiles, ready for instant recall at the push of a button. Each profile includes such settings as display mode, frequency range, and memory mode. It can equally be used to switch between 5 VFO frequencies.

1000 Multifunction Memory Channels

There are 1000 split memory channels for storing essential data such as transmit and receive frequencies, frequency step, and tone frequency.

Plus an additional 10 for programmable scan. You can identify each channel with up to 6 alphanumeric characters (Memory Name function). Additionally, memory data can be edited and stored on a PC using the optional PG-5G programming interface cable and MCP-2A Memory Control software

Multiple Scan

As well as VFO scan, program scan, MHz scan, memory scan and call scan, the TM-V71A offers memory bank scan: the 1000 channels are grouped into 10 banks for selective scanning. Also featured are scan resume (time-operated, carrier-operated, and seek), memory channel lockout, tone scan, CTCSS scan, and DCS scan.

Invertible Front Panel

For greater installation convenience, the detachable front panel can be inverted so the transceiver can be mounted upside down, thus ensuring that the speaker is not obstructed.

Choice Of 2 Backlight Colours

To maximize visibility, the backlight colour for the large LCD panel can be switched between warm amber and cool green.

104-Code Digital Code Squelch

In addition to CTCSS (42 subtone frequencies), the TM-V71A is equipped for DCS (104 codes). Whatever code is chosen, the squelch will only open for reception if the other party uses the identical code.

Voice Guidance & Storage Option (VGS-1)

The audible announcement function is enabled for blind-key operation using the optional VGS-1 unit, which also provides up to 30 seconds of continuous recording.

Weather Alert/RX (US only)

This transceiver is capable of receiving the NOAA Weather Band and responding to emergency transmissions such as storm warnings by emitting an audible alert tone.

EchoLink® Sysop Mode For Node Terminal Operation

When the TM-V71A is connected to a PC (with the necessary Windows-compatible software installed) using the PG-5H option, it can operate as a node terminal for EchoLink®. EchoLink® connects radio amateurs through the Internet using VoIP technology: any transceiver with access to a node can connect to any other in the world as long as it too has node access. It is also possible to access the EchoLink® network directly from a PC. To register for EchoLink® (using your call sign), access the official website at www.echolink.org.

EchoLink® Memory (Automatic Dialer)

Up to 10 DTMF memory channels dedicated to EchoLink® can store call signs (or conference names) and Node Numbers.

 

 

Kenwood TM-V71

Read Review

The Kenwood TM-V71 Mobile Radio

At my QTH I can barely make it to the local APRS digipeater from my Yaesu FT1DR walkie using 144.390Mhz. The local iGate shut down so that left me with no APRS coverage (other than my phone) while taking the dog for a walk 🙁 What to do? Well, I haven’t been very active on FM voice lately. My  walkie can use APRS on any frequency – even UHF – so I thought I thought I’d press an old TM-732 into service as a cross band repeater (5 watts). Low and behold, this worked!

Sort of. It digipeats about 50% of the packets. Oh well, there’s lots of packets right? It works pretty good. Today I thought, “hmm. I wonder if my TM-V71 would work better?”. So I tried it. Yes, it works better. Much better. About 90%+ are passed now. And an extra bonus, my TM-732 was kind of bonky on UHF receive anyway and my walkie’s squawk range is 30% more! Need to send a text or email? Forgot your phone? No problem, APRS is there!

I discovered that 440.390Mhz is the UHF APRS frequency so I’m using that and ID’ing every 10 minutes on the UHF frequency using Morse at 20 WPM. I use a computer to squawk my ID (a STATUS really) over the APRS channel to be legal.

If you’re looking for a low cost solution to an APRS “extender”, this might be the way to go for you. The only issue is squawking on UHF. But, if you’re using a TinyTracker and an external radio, just swap out the VHF radio for a UHF radio – or use BOTH 🙂 – and Bob’s yer Uncle.

 

Echolink and APRS – EchoAPRS

Well. I’ve been looking at several ways to make a linked radio system without anyone spending a lot of money. Echolink seems to be ideal. APRS would be very useful for finding active NODEs. Some changes – or rather conventions – need to be in place.

  • All DTMF access codes must be identical.
  • Each repeater or link must beacon its position on APRS
    • OUTfrequency ( O:147.120)
    • INfreq (I:147.720) (IN and OUT will be the same for a simplex NODE)
    • PL tone (T:100 {“0” if no PL})
    • Prefix (P** {“0” if no prefix})
    • Current NODE connection (N:217613 {“0” if not connected})
    • A typical status would be: VE3KCR-1>WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1:=4200.0N/08300.0W ECAP O:147.120 I:147.720 T:100 P:0 N:0
  • Repeaters should mention their NODE number (and optionally the prefix) when IDing.

These 3 things need to be done to make the system viable and popular. And these things are easily done.

DTMF

The DTMF codes all need to have the same prefix and structure. And let’s trim the common commands down to this:

  • Connect – # node
  • Disconnect Last – 73
  • Disconnect All – ##
  • Reconnect – 69
  • Status – 411
  • Play Info – 611

As long as these commands are the same on EVERY repeater, Echolink is usable anywhere there is a NODE. Many systems are EchoIRLP and should use prefix “A” for Echolink and “B” for IRLP. Others use “*” or “**” due to various hardware configurations. The prefix can be squawked in the APRS beacon and announced in the ID.

APRS

Since an Echolink station needs to have internet to be a NODE, the station can also run APRSIS32 (or similar) software to act as an APRS beacon for the Echolink station. This way, approaching stations can determine their range to the NODE.

ID

It should be very simple for a NODE radio to ID the NODE# and any other information an approaching user may need to make a connection. Easily done with EchoStation software. This way, even a user without APRS can get the information.

Notes

These simple constructs would allow Echolink use the the most usability and flexibility possible. Currently, it’s nearly impossible to use someone else’s -L or -R (when travelling) due to the many connection variables. If these were made known in real time when a user is in the area, it would be a huge boon for Echolink.

 

EchoIRLP

To those that don’t know what IRLP and Echolink are, here’s a brief(ish) explanation. They are both ways to link repeaters but they have significant differences.

IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project)

Remote IRLP nodes (generally repeaters) are accessed from your local node (generally a repeater) by entering a 4 digit DTMF code. Some nodes require a “prefix” often an asterisk ‘*’ or pound ‘#’ although some use ABC or D and some don’t use ANY prefix. Our local node requires TWO asterisks due to technical issues mostly.

Other connection options include “reflectors” which allow several nodes to be connected together – like a party line 🙂 Some reflectors have 50 or more connected repeaters and some only have two or three.

Echolink

Echolink is a bit more flexible. Echolink nodes can be accessed through RF nodes (either a repeater or a simplex channel) like IRLP but also via a computer or smart device – cell phone or tablet. You can also start up your own Echolink node by downloading the software for free and using a link radio pointed to either a simplex channel or a repeater. Nodes can also be connected to “conferences” (like an IRLP reflector).

To use an RF node you enter a 5 or 6 digit DTMF code exactly like IRLP – often with a prefix as well. To access a node through a computer (or smart device), you’re given a list of available active nodes to choose from (this list is very big). The nice thing about using Echolink via a smart device/computer is you can access your local Echolink node from anywhere in the world where there is internet access!

EchoIRLP

Some repeaters have both IRLP AND Echolink available. To initiate an IRLP call, one enters a prefix and the node number and to initiate an Echolink call, one enters a different prefix before the node number. This is so the node computer can distinguish between the two.

Summary

  • IRLP can be accessed by RF (radio) only.
  • IRLP uses special hardware/software (proprietary)
  • Echolink can be accessed through RF links or computers/smartphones using free software.
  • Echolink uses free Windows® software for both user and sysop nodes.
  • For the most part, IRLP nodes can only be accessed by other IRLP nodes and Echolink nodes can only be accessed by other Echolink nodes. There are some “gateway” reflectors/conferences that accept connections from both.
  • Both systems use DTMF codes to link. IRLP generally uses “73” to unlink. Echolink nodes often use “73” although they often use something else.

Hope that helps 🙂

Raspberry Pi

Sounds yummy eh? I finally got the proper GPIO gear (basically, a breakout box) for my Pi B+ and wow. I satrted out like everyone flashing an LED. Had some issues getting that to work out of the hop but eventually realized the header wasn’t pressed in firmly enough. Doh!

After getting the LED to flash, I of course, had to elaborate on that right away. Started with flashing TWO LED’s then decided, “hey, why not flash FOUR LED’s in a binary counter fashion. Before I even pressed RUN I’d added 4 more LED’s and made an 8 bit binary counter. How fun is that eh?

There you have it. An 8 bit binary counter 🙂

FT1DR APRS Messaging

How to do stuff on the FT1DR – TX/RX APRS MESSAGES

Check your messages
press [F] [0]
press [0]
messages marked “>” are ones sent BY you
messages marked “<” are ones sent TO you
press [ENT] to read them
while in reading mode, press [GM] to respond to the message (as below)

Send a message to anyone (not on a list)
press [F] [0]
press [GM]
clear the call/ssid field (press [A/B], select CLR or CLRALL, press [V/M])
enter call/ssid
compose message
long press [ENT] to send

Respond to a message sent to you
press [F] [0]
press [0]
scroll to a message you’d like to respond to
press [ENT] [GM]
compose message
long press [ENT] to send

Send a text to someone that is on the list
press [F] [0]
scroll to station you want to send a message to
press [ENT]
press [GM]
this brings up the msg compose screen with the call/ssid filled in
compose message
long press [ENT] to send

The ‘compose’ screen
once you have made it to the compose area of a message,
you can just start a new msg using the keypad – like old school phones
or you can insert a “canned” msg by:
press [A/B]
press again CLR
press again INSERT mode
press again CLRALL
press again DELETE mode
press 1: msg one
press 2: msg #2
press 3: etc

pressing [V/M] is like pressing Enter here – it inserts your canned message
key [0] is for space, punctuation and special characters

Yaesu Fusion

I took the plunge into digital ham radio. Yes sir, got a spanking new FT1DR handy talkie with all the trimmings (well, spkr/cam mic and RT Systems software). First off, the RT Systems software (although recommended) doesn’t work worth a damn – $35US wasted. Oh well live and learn right? So next I tried CHIRP. It *sort of* saw the radio but not well enough to work properly. I decided I’d try the FREE Yaesu software. Worked perfect first try. Go figure right?

After playing with the unit – and finally programming it via software – I find the radio is excellent! Very good TX and RX audio (only tried FM mode so far). The radio has built in GPS/APRS and both of those work perfectly as well.

Scanning memory channels is at least as fast as any scanner I currently own. Now that’s something as I’m used to having ham radios (even the Kenwood V71a) that scan very, very slowly. This radio also includes receive coverage from 500khz to over 900Mhz. I haven’t played with that aspect much yet though.

All in all, so for I find it an excellent radio and I’ll keep you posted as I find out more about it. 🙂

ProjectPSK

Due to the sudden interest in PSK 31/63 (and not just me) I embarked on a mission to make a PSK31 program that was powerful, flexible, easy to maintain, easy to use and included macros. After trying several methods, I hit upon a simple idea. Leveraging the power of windows forms and Visual Basic 6, I developed a multi-window PSK client that fits my design criteria.

Features:

  • full macro scripting (including nesting one or more macros inside other macros). Several “built-in” macros are available (<TIME>, <DATE>, <FREQUENCY>, <SIGNAL_LEV> etc)
  • up to 20 (not sure how many *can* be used actually – 50?) user defined auto-tracking “channels”. You can use 1 channel or 20 channels or anything in between. It’s all up to you.
  • each channel has it’s own “window” – not just a line of text – complete with a “compose” area allowing several simultaneous QSO’s. It has more the feel of a multi channel internet chat client rather than a “ham radio” program.
  • double clicking a macro name puts the fully expanded macro text into the clipboard ready to be pasted into any open channel.
  • macros are written in Notepad – very simple with low resource overhead.
  • very few menus and buttons. The mouse and toolbar buttons do most of the work.
  • any – or all – channels can be PSK31 or PSK63. Mix and match. PSK63 is TWICE as fast as PSK31 – very nice if you’re the “compose and send” type person rather than the “transmit and peck at the keyboard” style of operator.

If anyone is interested, I will be posting the software in the download section of this website. As I’m a complete idiot when it comes to installation routines, I’ll include step-by-step instructions on what needs to be done. No worries though, it won’t be that difficult. Probably. I hope. 🙂

Stuff yet to add: (in no particular order)

  • drag and drop macros
  • adding QPSK
  • signal seek mode
  • context sensitive help
  • more robust error checking
  • configuration file (start where you left off sort of thing)
  • speech to text
  • text to speech (who needs digital voice modes eh?)
  • some small windowing details to fix up

Be patient – I’m only one guy…

 


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