The TH-D74A is Kenwood’s latest portable HT. Announced in Ohio earlier this year (2016), this handheld radio has recently become available to the US retail market.
This is not your typical handi-talkie. This is a feature packed HT with the inclusion of GPS, APRS, D-Star, HF RX, a KISS TNC, and many other useful capabilities.
This radio has general TX capabilities for 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm along with dual VCO extended RX and RX modes across those bands including HF starting at 100KHz.
TX modes include FM, NFM, and DV (digital voice). RX modes include FM, AFSK/FM, Data FSK, AM, SSB, and CW.
Interface a computer to the TH-D74’s integrated KISS TNC (microUSB) and all sorts of interesting digital mode communication possibilities open-up.
The TH-D74A performs the majority of it’s functions flawlessly but there are a couple of gremlins lurking, which may (or may not) just be my unit, including:
- The device “randomly” performs a warm reset when radio is in dual-band mode and APRS (band-B) initiates a TX beacon. There was a similar issue reported when using D-Star. This particular issue does not appear to be resolved with the 1.04E firmware update on my unit.
- TX on band-A while band-B in APRS high or medium power mode causes the display to blank. Possible power-draw issue?
These problems may be resolved in future firmware updates or it could simply be something funky with my unit. Also, I have this radio running full bore with dual RX bands along with GPS, APRS beacons, and RX on the digital modes. Apparently, this is enough to make the digital gremlins grumpy.
And, it’s interesting to note that even though this radio is available in the US right now, the D74A is conspicuously missing from their product line-up on the Kenwood USA website (12-7-2016). Soft launch, Kenwood? Or, something more sinister?
Update (1/4/2017): Kenwood’s recent firmware update (1.05) appears to address the issue where the device would randomly reset with APRS beacons enabled on band B. The display blank issue also appears to have been resolved. Both of these issues were frustrating and the fact that they have been addressed with a firmware update is great news. Also, Kenwood now lists the D74A on the US website, http://www.kenwood.com/usa/com/amateur/th-d74a/
Pricey, but worth it
From a price point and capability perspective, this is not an entry level radio. Although with the number of features it provides and making the assumption that Kenwood will be fixing any early production glitches, I find that the TH-D74A is worth the price-tag. One feature being the built in GPS with APRS. No more dongles, hacked interfaces, and wires everywhere.
Overall, I am happy with the capabilities of this portable. With so many features, it’ll be some time before I can try them all out. I’m hopeful that any remaining issues are solved soon.
This HT will give you a boat-load of things to try-out. Let’s hope that you’ll have some free time on your hands…
Here is a presentation slide-deck from a recent Billerica Amateur Radio Society (BARS) meeting: Kenwood_TH_D74A_Presentation_Slidedeck