Kenwood TS-480 SAT
Accessibility review of Kenwood TS-480 by M0AID – February 2010
I evaluated the TS-480 for use by a blind op today. In a nutshell, this radio is very tactile and fully accessible.
The design is different from other radios I’ve used. The front panel is separate from the transmitter’s body, and it is in the form of a remote head. The remote head is mounted on a metal stand, and sits at a nice angle.
The microphone plugs into the base unit via a RG45 socket, and there are options to extend cable lengths for the microphone and remote head.
The unit I used had the optional VGS1 voice chip. The VGS1 also allows 3 voice and CW messages to be recorded along with the ability to continuously store the previous 30 seconds of RX audio.
The front panel is very tactile, and I was impressed at the intuitive layout. The buttons are fairly small, and may not suit ops with dexterity problems.
The rig I used was the 100 watt version with auto ATU. The ATU tuned well, and SWR was played back in CW if a match could not be found.
The VGS1 voice chip is literally streets ahead of any other voice chip I’ve used. I chose to set the Programmable Function button to read the signal strength, and read the frequency by pressing Enter twice. The Mode is indicated with CW.
Direct frequency input is possible with the keypad, and each number is spoken as it is entered.
Common functions, such as power adjustment, are fully voiced. Simply press number 4 and ‘TX power’ is spoken along with the setting in watts. This goes for Mike gain, Keyer Speed, Processor Level, Noise Blanker Level, VOX Delay and Gain , and much more. Absolutely great.
The off and on status of options are indicated with different beeps.
This Is a small radio, possibly designed to be used primarily as a mobile rig. This means some controls such as adjusting RF Gain and band pas filters do not have dedicated knobs. Instead, a button is pressed to engage the function, and the multi-channel knob is turned. In the case of the band pass filters, even the High and Low cut frequencies are spoken by the VGS1.
The menu system is fully accessible and all parameters are spoken. It is necessary to use an external reference list to identify the various options. For instance, the default TX equaliser function is spoken as 19, OFF. You need to refer to an external list to know menu number 19 is the TX Equaliser. Movement between the parameters within the menu option is spoken. Thus, using the Band Change up and down buttons will select ‘Off’, ‘HB1’, ‘HB2’ etc. Note: HB equals High Boost.
All Memory channels are spoken, both the channel number and stored frequency. Same goes for the Quick Memories.
Split operation is indicated, and you are told if you are using VFO A or B.
As a blind operator, I always set the multi-Channel control to move in 1kh steps when turned by one click. I found that even when adjusting this step size, the step increments are spoken.
In terms of accessibility and usability, the TS480 is extrordinary. Kenwood should be highly commended.
Kelvin Marsh M0AID