Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Firmware Is Fun: 2019 Kenwood Updates

As June 2019 comes to an end, there are many exciting things taking place within amateur radio and included in the list is a firmware update to three APRS capable Kenwood radios including the TH--D74.

Yaesu is getting ready to ship its new FT-3DR  in July 2019 which includes APRS and Fusion capability. The new firmware that Kenwood has rolled out to the TH-D72, TH-D74, TM-D710 and TM-V71 will allow some of the more Yaesu specific APRS telemetry to be easily decoded on the Kenwood radios.

Most exciting in the release notes include the Kenwood radio ability to decode telemetry from the new PSAT2 satellite launched via the historic SpaceX Falcon Heavy during the early morning hours of Tuesday June 26th 2019. The PSAT2 satellite carries some interesting payloads for amateur communication and it is nice to see a vendor such as Kenwood being ready to support it.

The Kenwood TH-D74 is the only non Icom branded radio to support the D-Star digital voice mode. The firmware update also provides new functionality to allow enhanced reflector access using XLX as well as REF, DCS and XRF connection methods.   

While this is not ground breaking on the oldest digital voice mode in use today in amateur radio, it does provide some renewed interest and capability to better use the Kenwood TH-D74 in certain "cross mode" situations to enable limited communications into other digital voice networks that use Yaesu Fusion, DMR, NXDN and P25.

The firmware updates can be found on the Kenwood website for amateur radio downloads

Instructions to upgrade the firmware for the TH-D74 are very clear and easy to follow. 

One thing to note is that the file name appears to be for the TH-D74E version which denotes European specific functionality, but is indeed for the TH-D74A in use across countries that have 220 MHz band licensing as well as different repeater offsets.  

After upgrading my TH-D74A with the 1.09 firmware, there was no loss of functionality. 

This is perhaps the first firmware issued by a vendor in a while that adds functionality and did not need to improve any features that were not functioning to best of ability.

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