The Kenwood TKR-D series repeaters are Kenwood’s DMR range of two way radio repeaters. Introduced in around 2015, the TKR-D range have become one of the radio communications industry’s leading repeaters. There are several versions available. However, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to concentrate on the “E” european versions, but the details in this article are also relevant to the “K” and “K2” versions of the Kenwood TKR-D repeaters.
Kenwood TKR-D Repeater Models
Tip: On our website, you can download a full and complete installation and functions guide for the TKR-D series repeaters free of charge.
Power & Spacing Options
All Kenwood KR-D repeater models work from a minimum of 5W to a maximum of 50W output power. Spacing is 12.5kHz (Narrow) or 25kHz (Wide 5k).
What You Need To Program The TKR-D710 VHF or TKR-D810 UHF Repeater
Here’s a list of everything you will need in order to program the TKR-D710 VHF or TKR-D810 UHF repeater.
1. Windows PC or Laptop
Kenwood software only works with Windows. Therefore you will need a PC or laptop running Windows 7 or above. We recommend at an Intel i3 with 4GB of RAM as a minimum to reduce the chances of buffer underrun.
Radiotronics recommends Lenovo Thinkpad T series laptops as our staff have been using them for over a decade. The Lenovo Thinkpad T series is robust, works and lasts. And the best part is that they’re relatively cheap 2nd hand. However, if you would like an even more robust laptop, we recommend the Panasonic Toughbook CF-53.
Tip for Mac Users: You can do this using a mac running VMware Fusion with a guest version of Windows 7 or above. But you must use only a USB cable (see below) and have USB passthrough switched on. This enables the USB cable to be passed directly to VMWare Fusion and through to windows bypassing your Mac altogether. Kenwood software does not work via Wine or any other emulation software.
2. Kenwood KPG-174D Programming Software
Quick Link: Kenwood KPG-174D
3. Programming Cable Options
There are two (or more) options for which programming cable you can use. It all depends on whether your PC or laptop has a RS-232 serial COM port. If you don’t know what a COM port is, then the chances are you don’t have one. In this case, skip to option 2 (USB).
Whatever cable you choose, they all do the same thing which is transferring data between your PC and your repeater.
3.1 Serial RS-232 COM Port Option
The most cost effective option of programming cable is the Kenwood KPG-46A serial cable. However, you will need a physical 9-pin D-sub port on your PC or laptop. The alternative, if you do want to use a serial cable and do not have a 9-pin D-sub serial port is to buy a Serial to USB cable. Kenwood used to make one called the Kenwood PCT-53U. However, Kenwood has since confirmed that it’s to discontinue this cable. So we sourced the Startech USB To RS232 DB9 FTDI serial adapter cable as an alternative. If all this seems too complicated – and it is – see the USB option below.
3.2 USB Option
As an alternative, Kenwood make an all-in-one USB cable. See the Kenwood KPG-46U on our website. This cable is supplied with a driver CD. However, if you already have a KPG-46U, you can download the driver free of charge here.
Tip: We also make a cheaper alternative to the Kenwood KPG-46U. You can see the Radiotronics KPG-46U-RT on our website.
Installing The KPG-174D Software
Important: We recommend you switch on file extensions as shown in this helpful article.
Extracting the Zip File: The Kenwood KPG-174D is supplied as a zip file. For those unfamiliar with ZIP files, a ZIP file is a file that contains a number of other files and or folders. For this, you can use the built-in “Extract All…” utility built into Windows 7, 8 and 10 – follow this guide here for instructions on how to do this.
Note: You can open a ZIP file like a folder in Windows 7 and above. If you’ve not Extracted the files, you’ve done it wrong and the installation will fail. Go back to the Extracting the Zip File section above and follow the procedure carefully.
Once you’ve extracted the files, a new window will open with the newly extracted files. Click into the folder structure until you see a file called setup.exe. Simply click on the setup.exe file to start the installation. Follow the steps until you get to the screen which asks you for Username, Company Name and Serial Number (could be different depending on language).
Enter your name in the Username field, your company name in the Company Name field (or your name again). Then in the serial number field you’ll have to enter the serial number you have. If you’re wondering where the serial number is, it’s usually in the unzipped folders in a file usually called Serial.txt (or Password.txt). Pop back to the file system and you’ll find it. Once you’ve entered this information, the installation will continue and complete. If your computer asks to restart, please do so.
Installing The USB Cable Driver
Have a serial cable? If you have the KPG-46A serial cable skip this step.
Assuming you have a Kenwood KPG-46U cable, you should now install the driver you downloaded from our website. Don’t have it? Download the KPG-46U driver here. Same as above – it’s a ZIP file. Extract All… and install the driver.
Have a Non-Kenwood Cable? Please follow the instructions that cable manufacturer gave you.
Be sure to install the driver before plugging the cable in, unless your cable manufacturer tells you to do otherwise.
Connecting The Cable
Tip: Please ensure you’ve installed the appropriate driver for your cable before plugging the cable in, unless your cable manufacturer tells you to do otherwise.
This diagram assumes you have a USB cable. But the same principle applies to the serial cable.Unlike Motorola repeaters, Kenwood does not allow a rear connection for programming. Connect the USB port to the computer and the RJ connector to the repeater’s microphone port.
Using the Kenwood PKG-174D Programming Software
Once PKG-174D is installed as mentioned above and the cable is connected as shown in the diagram above you’re ready to launch the Kenwood KPG-174D. To get started click the start menu and expand the Kenwood Fpu category and click on KPG-174D icon. The software will launch and will look something like this:
If you have experience with Kenwood radios, this may look familiar as most Kenwood programming software looks almost the same. But whilst all Kenwood software looks the same, they’re not the same. And specifically, these repeaters are both analogue and DMR repeaters so at the very least we need to consider whether we’re programming in digital DMR or analogue mode.
Step 1 – Setting the COM Port
Below are instruction for both serial cable and USB cable that enable you to find your COM port number.
Serial RS-232 9-Pin D-Sub Cable (KPG-46A) Instructions
If your PC or laptop has a RS232 9-pin D-sub serial port you might have chosen to use a KPG-46A serial cable. In this instance, you will simply need to find the COM port number that Windows has assigned to it. You can find the COM port number by opening device manager – here’s a great article on how to open the device manager in all versions of windows. Once device manager is open look for the Ports (COM & LPT) category. Expand this and look for a COM port device – it will look something like this:
99% of the time, the built-in COM port is COM1, that’s communications port number 1. But it could be anything depending on how your PC manufacturer configured your PC or laptop.
Can’t See It? If you’re 100% sure you have a built-in COM port and it’s not shown here. The chances are is it’s switched off in the BIOS. You’ll have to do a web search for instructions on how to access your computer’s BIOS and switch it on. Then come back to this guide, repeat this step and it should be shown as COM (some number).
USB Cable (KPG-46U) Instructions
Confusingly, even if you’re using a USB cable, this cable is a COM port emulator. So thet software requires you so set the COM port number. You can find the COM port number by opening device manager – here’s a great article on how to open the device manager in all versions of windows. Once device manager is open look for the Ports (COM & LPT) category. Expand this and look for a COM port device – it will look something like this:
As you can see under the Ports (COM & LPT) category, is a device called Silicon Labs CP210x USB to UART Bridge (COM3). This may have a slightly different device description for different cables. But the bit we care about the most is the COM3 as this shows us the COM port number – number 3. If you have multiple COM device numbers, you can 100% verify this is your Kenwood cable by simply unplugging it – and the correct device will disappear and re-connect and it will re-appear.
Note: If you are using a USB cable and do not see your USB cable device in the device manager, you might have forgotten to install the driver. Stop here, download the driver free of charge here and come back to this guide once your cable is shown as correctly installed and shows a COM number.
Set The COM Port Number in KPG-174D Software
Once you’ve verified that you have a valid COM port in the device manager as shown above you’re now ready to tell Kenwood KPG-174D software which COM number you’ll be using. You do this by clicking Setup on the top menu, the selecting Communications Port Number (usually the first option). That will open a dialogue that looks like this:
Select your COM port number and click OK (depends on language).
Step 2 – Reading The Repeater
Whilst you can just select the model of your repeater by selecting Model on the top menu, this is not the best option as there’s always the possibility of getting it wrong – and then you won’t be able to write to your repeater which, believe me, is so frustrating. By far, best practice is to actually read the repeater to ensure we have the correct model open in our software.
To read the repeater, ensure your cable is connected and in the software click Program > Read Data from the Repeater from the top menu. Before the KPG-174D software reads the repeater, the following dialogue box will appear.
Leave everything exactly as you see it and click Read. You might get a message that says something like “would you like to save your existing file…” You have no need to save it, just click No. The software will proceed to read your repeater and open a new file in the KPG-174D software.
Assuming the repeater is brand new, the repeater will have opened a blank file to enable you to start programming your repeater.
Step 3 – Checking The Model
It’s best practice to check the model of your repeater before going any further forward. Assuming you’ve followed the steps of this guide and got to the stage where your repeater has been read and you have an open file in your software you can check the model by clicking Model from the top menu, then selecting the Product Information. This will pop open a box like the one shown below. As you can see, the model we’re using is the “E” european TKR-D810 440-470MHz model.
Step 4 – Program A Channel
There should be a dialogue open called Channel Information. If this is not open, select Edit from the top menu and select the Channel Information which is the first option. That will open the Channel Information dialogue box as shown:
If this not blank, simply click in the RX frequency box and hit the DEL key. This will clear each line. Next, click the Channel Edit button which will bring up a new dialogue.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this is blank and totally grayed out except for the Channel Number and the Receive Frequency (MHz) box.
Type your Receive Frequency (RX) into the Receive Frequency (MHz) box and press the TAB keyboard key. This will move your cursor to the Transmit Frequency (MHz) box. Then simply type in your Transmit Frequency (TX). The frequency pair we’re using for this article are RX 450.0MHz and TX 445.0MHz to make it simple but you will be using whatever Ofcom has allocated to you.
Programming A Digital Channel
For a DMR channel, leave the setting exactly like this. The beauty of this repeater is that in DMR mode it will simply repeat whatever DMR “ID” it’s given as long as the colour code matches. So simply ensure the colour code matches on your radio and the DMR group ID set on your radio is the DMR group ID the repeater will broadcast. This repeater is now set to work in DMR digital mode. If this is all you needed, check the colour code is correct and jump to writing the repeater.
Programming An Analogue Channel
The first thing you’ll notice is the next box, Channel Type, already has DMR selected as the channel type. If you’re programming an analogue channel change this to Analogue and you’ll notice the QT/DQT boxes will light up. You can then select your CTCSS or DCS tones which have either been allocated to you (see your licence) or simply choose two that match. We have chosen CTCSS as 250.3 for this part of the article.
One thing that’s important to note here is that this repeater automatically checks the QT Reverse Burt option. We would usually disable (uncheck) this unless it’s also checked on your radios – check your radios and be sure they match.
Tip: Remember that your radios need to exactly match this programming including the QT/DQT (CTCSS/DCS) values and the QT Reverse Burst and Channel Spacing, just with the TX and RX frequencies reversed.
A Note on Mixed Mode
This repeater is mixed-mode capable. That means it’s capable of listening out for both digital and analogue incoming signals. However, you have to tell it specifically whether to rebroadcast as analogue or digital DMR. Unless you really know what you’re doing it’s probably best to stick to analogue or DMR digital avoiding mixed mode.
Step 5 – Writing To The Repeater
Now that we’ve programmed the channel we needed – whether it was analogue or digital, we can now proceed to writing the settings to the repeater.
To write the data to the repeater, select Program from the top menu and select Write Data to the Repeater which will bring up the write dialogue box.
Simply click the Write button. The blue progress bar will start moving with the Block display counting from 0/261 to 261/261 when complete. It’s immensely important that you do not unplug the programming cable or switch off the repeater power during the programming write process.
No Antenna Warning
You must never ever allow a repeater to transmit without an antenna (or substitute such as a dummy load) plugged in as this could cause irreparable damage to the output stage of the transmitter part of the repeater.
That’s All Folks
We’ve come to the end of our article. There are some things we didn’t mention, such as this repeater’s ability to only listen on certain DMR groups and some other features. Although it’s quite long, this article is designed to be a basic step by step guide to getting your repeater up and running and not designed to be a comprehensive programming and function guide. If you would like a more in-depth guide, please download our comprehensive in-depth TKR-D710 / TKR-D810 installation and function guide.
- Kenwood KPG-174D
- Kenwood KPG-46A
- Kenwood KPG-46U
- Startech Serial USB Cable
- Kenwood TKR-D710
- Kenwood TKR-D810
Author: Radiotronics Technical Team
Tel: 0871 288 2816
This article is designed to be a guide only. You modify and program your equipment at your own risk. Radiotronics Limited takes no responsibility for the accuracy of this article.