I wanted to talk a bit about the Kenwood TS-2000 now that I’ve spent a couple of weeks actually using it. This isn’t a formal review, you’ll find enough of those out on the net, along with specifications and all that other fun stuff. I want to talk about what it’s like to actually use it, something that gets lost in the mix in formal reviews.
The 2000 is an impressive piece of equipment straight out of the box. I’m used to consumer grade electronics which are generally so badly made that it’s lucky if they survive being unpacked. The build quality of the 2000 is so far beyond what I’m used to that I am still impressed by it. The knobs and keys are rock solid. The knobs are silky smooth in action, with no side play at all. The keys are extremely well fitted and solid as well, with positive tactile feedback. Everything about this radio is extremely well made with tight tolerances, with excellent attention to detail.
The display is reasonably well laid out, if a bit cramped. It’s generally easy to read, although a bit intimidating and confusing at first as all of the different functions come into play. Fortunately the manual has several pages devoted to just explaining what in the world pops up on the display. Although a bit confusing at first, it doesn’t take long to get used to.
There is an SWR meter built into the unit, but you can’t see it here. It appears over on the left side of the display with the other meters and seems to only appear when you hit the button to activate the internal antenna tuner (yes, it has a built in antenna tuner). Unless I’m missing something (which I admit is entirely possible), the SWR meter appears only at that time, and is only active during the actual process of tuning for the antenna. Considering that this takes all of about 2 seconds, during which time the meter jumps around all over the place as the unit works on acquiring the best SWR reading for the antenna, you’d better keep an eye on that thing when you hit the antenna tuner button or you’re going to miss it.
By the way, the antenna tuner and SWR meter only work on HF.
Once I got used to the control configuration, the radio isn’t hard to use. It can be a bit intimidating, though, because all of the keys have multiple functions. A quick press does one thing. Press the key and hold it down, and it activates yet another function. Press the FUNC button, and the keys now activate an entire different group of functions. It may seem confusing at first, but I got used to it quickly, although I found it necessary to keep the manual handy. But once I started to use it seriously, everything started to make sense with control groups laid out in a logical fashion.
There are 2 HF antenna connectors on the back and 1 VHF, both 259 style connectors for standard coax. The UHF antenna is an N style connector (which means that to use UHF I’m either going to have to get a separate UHF antenna or cobble together adaptors to feed my multi-band VHF/UHF antenna). There is also an antenna jack for HF receive only if you want to go that route. (There is a lot of other stuff back there that I’m ignoring because I don’t use any of it, except for the CW key jack).
On the VHF side the transceiver is being fed with a Comet VHF/UHF vertical antenna that seems to work pretty well. On HF it’s hooked to a Comet 250B vertical because a) I’m really lazy and the 250 is real easy to put up, and b) it’s the middle of winter and trying to put up complex antenna systems with 3 feet of snow on the ground and -10 wind chills is no fun at all.
Actually using the 2000 is pretty straightforward, with no glitches or nasty surprises. Everything works exactly the way it’s supposed to and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
I did replace the included hand held mobile mike with a desktop model.
There are some minor irritations, like the numeric keypad. I find the buttons too small for my short, stubby farmer fingers. I also question why I have to press the ENTer button before I can enter a frequency directly. I understand the need to have multiple functions for keys, but the thing most users are going to use that numeric keypad for is entering frequencies (or at least that’s the case with me), not using the functions associated with the keys. But the ENT button has to be pressed first or you’ll end up selecting various functions you don’t want. Even after having used the radio for a couple of weeks I still find myself trying to punch in frequencies without hitting that blasted ENT button first.
Having the dual receivers is fantastic. It lets me monitor my favorite repeater frequencies up on VHF while I work on HF on the other side. In the photo you can see that the main receiver on the left is down on 14.27 mHz while the sub receiver is on 144 mHz. Since the photo was taken, I’ve programmed the memories in the radio with a dozen or so of the repeaters I use on a regular basis, and generally I keep the ‘B’ receiver on the left scanning those frequencies for activity while I’m down on HF with the main receiver. If I hear someone I want to talk to on VHF I just hit the ‘SUB’ button to the right of the main tuning dial to transfer the transmit functions over to the sub-receiver and away I go.
VHF-wise, the radio has been fantastic. Even with transmit power dialed down I can hit the local repeaters with no trouble at all.
On HF the results have been mixed. Not because of the 2000, but because of the antenna I’m using. I’m not going to go into detail about the drawbacks of a multi-band HF vertical antenna because you can read those anywhere. Let’s just say that the Comet 250 isn’t the most efficient antenna in the world and leave it at that. At best it is a compromise for someone like me who wants to get on the air on HF fast and easy.
6 thoughts on “First Look at the Kenwood TS-2000”
Nice radio! I’m getting ready to change QTH’s in the next few months. Finally plunk some money into a place of our own. And the HF rig will be bought, installed and an antenna will go up.
Good luck with the new place! The TS-2000 is a great piece of equipment and I enjoy it enormously, and I’d recommend it, especially if you’re looking for something that can handle HF, VHF and UHF all in one reasonably compact package. I’m waiting for better weather so I can get a better HF antenna system set up. The Comet will probably end up as a backup or I might use it for emergency operations for ARES/RACES mobile operations. KC9YGN
I found your item on basic PSK very helpful, I am intending to use my IPad and was wondering if it really worked, and you have answered that ! I have taken delivery of a TS 2000 e and am still in the 2 step foreword and one step back but it feels and acts like a radio should. Best 73 , Kenn G0NKZ.
Yep, the iPad will do a pretty good job of working with PSK. My son set up a Win7 machine for me so I can use Ham Radio Deluxe, but while it has a lot of fun bells and whistles, I find myself going back to using FLDIGI most of the time, and I could have stuck with using my Mac computers for that.
I’m going to be working a boy scout event later this spring at a remote location if all goes according to plan, and I’m going to try to get the TS-2000, my iPad and one of my Comet vertical antennas up and running at the park where the event is going to take place, and see if I can work some PSK out there. We’re taking our EmComm trailer out there so I can tap into that for power. It’s been a while since I used iPad and 2000 for PSK so I need to get back up to speed with that set up again.
I agree with grouchy farmers write up that it’s a darn well built rig and should serve me for decades. You pay a bit extra but you get what you pay for too.
Its a nice bit of kit, you can actually get the SWR reading if you press the METER/5 button