Kenwood: Programming a TM-281 Was: I need help with my kenwood radio

GabeSchieven

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Sep 8, 2020
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Hi, I work in forestry in BC, Canada and my contractor has in the past always "rented" us these ICOM truck radios. This year we have to provide our own so I bought a Kenwood TM-281a. It seems like a really good radio but I'm very confused.

With the old ICOM, to use repeaters i would just choose the repeater (red, yellow, orange, brown, black, etc.) then choose the tone (1, 2, 3,...9) using the P2 button. On this kenwood I have no clue how to choose the tone. There is a tone button kinda if i press the F button then press the tone button but it looks like that just turns the tone on and off, it doesn't allow me to select which tone.
 

ladn

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Hi, I work in forestry in BC, Canada and my contractor has in the past always "rented" us these ICOM truck radios. This year we have to provide our own so I bought a Kenwood TM-281a. It seems like a really good radio but I'm very confused.

With the old ICOM, to use repeaters i would just choose the repeater (red, yellow, orange, brown, black, etc.) then choose the tone (1, 2, 3,...9) using the P2 button. On this kenwood I have no clue how to choose the tone. There is a tone button kinda if i press the F button then press the tone button but it looks like that just turns the tone on and off, it doesn't allow me to select which tone.
Your Kenwood has to be programmed with the proper frequencies for each repeater channel and tone combination. It's not an off the shelf consumer item like on a CB.

When you rented radios from the contractor, you were operating within a system under his license. With your own radio(s), to operate legally, you need to secure permission to use the contractor's infrastructure. Repeater infrastructure is a costly proposition, so expect the vendor to charge you for using the system (probably on a per radio basis).

Programming your radio requires the proper software, and some technical experience to get things set up they way you want it. You will save a lot of heartache if you have a professional radio shop handle the programming.

Since this deals with (what sounds like) a commercial radio topic, this thread should be moved to the appropriate forum.
 

AK9R

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This year we have to provide our own so I bought a Kenwood TM-281a.
If you are using this radio outside of the amateur radio frequencies, you may have purchased the wrong radio.

The Kenwood TM-281A is marketed towards the amateur radio market. It has features and flexibility that are different from a radio intended for the land mobile radio market. For example, LMR radios are usually programmed by the seller or a radio shop with a specific set of frequencies that the user licensed to use while amateur radios are typically programmed by the user and can be programmed "on the fly".

I don't know about the law and communications rules in Canada, but using a Kenwood TM-281A outside of amateur radio frequencies in the US is a violation of U.S. Federal Communications Commission rules.
 

westcoaster

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Aug 4, 2005
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Hi Gabe,
I am familiar with what you are talking about here. (I'm also in BC)

Unfortunately, you are using a ham radio on the forest service frequencies where commercial radios are to be used.

Most ham radios out of the box are not capable of transmitting on commercial frequencies. Unless you had someone "hack" your radio to do otherwise, selecting the right tone will be the least of your worries.
In other words, you bought the wrong radio for the job at hand...

Sadly I am not familiar with the TM-281A to know it's operation to be able to help with figuring out the tones.

This site is very particular about doing things by the rules. Asking for assistance in doing something that is "illegal" can result in some rather harsh consequences regardless of the naive intent of the poster....
 

AK9R

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Asking for assistance in doing something that is "illegal" can result in some rather harsh consequences regardless of the naive intent of the poster....
When a user stumbles into a non-compliant situation, I think it's the RadioReference community's job to explain the issue and help steer the OP in the right direction. What the OP asked does not warrant harsh consequences from this moderator.
 

westcoaster

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Aug 4, 2005
Messages
139
Yes, the ICOM F5061 will work for your needs....

Where are you located?

I know of a Kenwood TK-7180 in a pawn shop that will also satisfy the requirement....
 

GabeSchieven

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Sep 8, 2020
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Right now im out in kelowna, but ill be heading to the coast soon for some falling work for the fall/winter
 

westcoaster

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Aug 4, 2005
Messages
139
There is a caveat to the "yes it will work"
There is a "forestry firmware" floating around out there that changes the operation of the radio slightly so that tones are selectable per channel rather than on a global state.
If you plan on self administering your radio, the software for the forestry firmware is not as readily available as the normal F-5061 software.
 

N5XPM

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Jul 29, 2011
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Location
Texas
Supporting one radio is possible here. You may find it easier to work with the same dealer as the contractor who "rented" you the radios in the past. Getting the programming correct can be quite an adventure for only one radio, especially if you don't manage radios correctly.
 
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