The Kenwood TK-790

The Kenwood TK-x90 series of radios are discontinued land-mobile radios used extensively in public safety (police/fire) in the US and which are currently available used for under $100. The VHF models can be converted to work on the 2m band, making them an inexpensive option for a dedicated APRS radio. They are also capable of 9600 baud FSK.

This article is about repurposing Kenwood TK-790 land-mobile radios for amateur packet radio. It is geared towards radio amateurs that have access to a 3D printer. In this article we will discuss the benefits of this radio as well its challenges. We will provide an overview of the various models that are available and point out which ones are suitable for ham use. We will then go into the process of powering on the radio, connecting a speaker, programming it, connecting it to a TNC, configuring the hardware for 9600 baud use, and building custom programmers and microphones with the aid of a 3D printer.

Making these work isn’t for everyone. You have to be a little technically adventurous. But if you want a mil-spec grade mobile packet radio for very little money, this could be for you.

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We may also have some Kenwood TK-790s for sale (North America only) at our online store: