Inexpensive Programming Cable for Kenwood Mobiles

To program my Kenwood TM-V71A dual-band mobile I needed a cable to connect the radio to my computer. Kenwood sells such a cable (the PG-5G) as do other vendors, but they are all a bit expensive. Looking for a less expensive alternative, I searched Amazon.com for a cable with the right connectors. (I really like Amazon.com because of the free two-day shipping that comes with my Amazon Prime membership!) Immediately I found a cable for $10.20 — the 3′ Hosa DBK-103 — and was pleasantly surprised to find this helpful review posted by William Bowen, K8WHB:

I bought this HOSA cable to connect my Kenwood TM-D710A 2M/70CM ham radio transceiver to my shack computer. Hosa advertises this cable for use in connecting a computer to various electronic musical instruments. They need to widen this recommendation – the cable will work on any device that uses a 8-pin mini-DIN connector for an RS-232 port that is wired in the standard Apple layout (crossover of data & control signals from the DB-9 end to the mini-DIN end).

I’ve seen cable from other vendors for this purpose, and some of the prices are just nuts (Kenwood wants $38 for an equiv. cable!!) and the construction quality of some of the other cables I’ve looked at is a bit suspect. The Hosa cable is well built with good strain reliefs on both ends & uses good quality shielded cable. That last item is very important when the cable is to be used in a radio shack, since one does NOT want to get RF feedback back into the radio’s control ports, especially when you are doing packet radio.

I’d HIGHLY recommend this cable to any ham that has a radio or other equipment that requires such a cable – it is a HIGH quality cable at a very attractive price.

Since the Kenwood TM-D710A takes the same cable as the TM-V71A, I figured this was the solution for me. I went with the longer version, though: the $12.75 Hosa DBK-110 10 Foot Synthesizer Controller Cable, 8-pin Mini-DIN to DE9.

To make serial cables work with my laptop I need a serial-to-USB adapter. These adapters have a chipset in them that require a driver on your computer. The two most common chipsets are the FTDI and the Prolific. I’ve had mixed success with Prolific before (if you’re using Ham Radio Deluxe, stay away from it or you’ll get the blue screen of death!) so I went with the excellent FTDI chipset and purchased this adapter.

After the UPS truck arrived this morning I went out to my pickup, plugged these cables together and connected my laptop to the Kenwood. They work great!

Todd Mitchell, NØIP, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Minnesota, USA. He can be contacted at [email protected].

One Response to “Inexpensive Programming Cable for Kenwood Mobiles”

  • William Bowen K8WHB:

    Todd,

    Thanks for your kind comments on the HOSA cable review. Cable is still working great, and I’ll agree with you 100% on the FTDI USB/Serial adaptors. They are the ONLY way to go.

    Bought a GearMO USB to quad serial adaptor (which uses the FTDI USB/Serial IC) after I bought a Kachina HF rig in December that also needed a serial port. I’ve got the 4 ports hooked to the Kachina, the TM-D710A (body & head) and the UPS and everybody is coexisting just fine.

    Glad the HOSA cable worked well for you.

    73,
    Bill

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