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Programming a TK-290

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k2ns

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Jun 22, 2008
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Hi all,


I have a TK-290 coming from an auction I won, and I also have an aftermarket KPG36 programming cable coming. I googled KPG-36 today and there are some cables advertised as "ribless", meaning they do not need a Radio Interface Box (RIB). Does this radio need a radio interface box to program it ??? What is a radio interface box, and what purpose does it serve ???


RON
 

ramal121

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The radio of this vintage uses RS-232 serial data between the radio and the computer for programming. To a computer, RS-232 means +12v and -12v for the data levels. A radio cannot generate these signal levels (without excess baggage). Radios use what is called TTL, data levels of +5v and 0v. Some kind of level converter is needed to have a computer and a radio talk to each other.

Motorola utilizes a contraption called a RIB (radio interface box) as a level converter. It is universal and programs many models. The only thing needed is a model specific cable for the radio, which is only wires to the required connector.

Kenwood, on the other hand, builds their level converter into each programming cable. Take the connector for the computer end apart and you will see a circuit board. Because of this, Kenwood radios do not need a "RIB".

Motorola cables now come as ribless, built with the level converter already in them like the Kenwood cables. So with Motorola you have a choice of RIB or RIBless but with Kenwood there is only one flavor.

P.S. In addition to the cable, you will need software, KPG38D.
 

Luis_R

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Kenwood radios don't need a rib, it's built into the cable. RIB box are more commonly used with motorola radios, helps connect cpu to the radio via the cable.
 

ramal121

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My tk-290 and tk-280 radios program just fine with a USB KPG-36 cable.
And these are fairly new. Just another converter. The TK290 cannot use USB, so a USB to TTL serial translator is built into the cable. Requires drivers for the computer. Me, I use good ol' serial cables, and a Belkin USB to serial adapter for the computer. Hasn't let me down yet.
 

hill

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I could write to the tk-290 with a USB to serial adapter, but not read. I can do both with the usb cable, so it is my first choice for programming. Still have serial one to use as backup.
 

ramal121

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Well I'm glad you can hobble along. Now I'll jump on my soapbox. If you scan the forums on commericial radio, you
will see many threads about problems and errors concerning the ability to read and write to a radio from a computer.
For starters check the Motorola forum. Wonder why?
The commercial radio industry seems to drag its feet when it comes to new technology in this area. Without details, we
needed new software to program Motorola HT1000's. It is still available to order, but it comes as a DOS program on a
3 1/2 diskette. Come on!

Only the latest wave of radios are can comunicate directly via USB, although how many years has this protocol been
available? If a radio is only a few years old, it needs to communicate via RS-232 serial data which has been around
for eons. When was last time you saw a new computer for sale with a serial comm port and a floppy drive. This was
windows 98 stuff ten years ago or more. Thank god you can still special order this stuff, but it's not the norm.

So how does the average Joe program radios with his whiz bang XP/Vista/7 computer with no serial port and no DOS?
DOS programs are a PITA. Some work on newer OS's under a DOS window and some only work with a older machine. Windows
98 with a P-1? Maybe. You might have to step backwards to a 486 with DOS 6.2. No one can tell until everything plays.

The serial port is a kludge. If you do not have a true blue serial port on your computer, then you will have to use
an adaptor, whether it is built into the cable or it a universal one for use with serial cables. USB to RS-232 adaptors
are built pretty much the same. What makes it is the driver that allows the USB protocol to emulate RS-232. I am on my
third USB USB to serial adapter. The other two either did not work, or were flaky. I think the driver, not the adapter
was the issue. I now program Motorola, Kenwood, Icom, Zetron, Ritron(ick!), Federal Signal, etc, without a problem.
I use a EEE PC 1000 HA as my main programming computer and these seem to play real well. Don't mess with it if it works.

There is no hard and fast recommendation for a programming setup. We all live in a world of computers now and have to
try to understand the technology and do our best to fudge a compatable solution with what we know and what we have.

My sympathy to all those out there that struggle with this. I will now get off of my soapbbox, Ouch! Fell on my a$$.
 

robbie2

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Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
57
hi

My tk-290 and tk-280 radios program just fine with a USB KPG-36 cable.
I have both cables usb and serial and cant get my tk-290 programed my desktop pc is windows vista
and running the KPG38D ver 1.01 software in Dosbox i was able to program my tk-250 and tk-3101 easy.
I think it could be the battery its kinda acts weak maybe thats the problem.
 
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