TK-981 Troubleshooting Section

"Help! My TK-481 or TK-981 scans automatically and I did not press the scan button!
I cannot lockout a nuisance repeater, this is frustrating!"

This is a problem that arises when the TK-481 and TK-981 are not programmed correctly!

Programming "Epic Fail" Method 1
The first common mistake in programming a TK-481/981 is to put all the repeaters in your area in the SAME System (i.e. System 1 Groups 1-23 as an example) and set the Scan type in KPG-49D as "FIX SYSTEM SCAN". If you program the radio this way, the radio is only going to scan the SELECTED Group in EACH System, and since you only have one system programmed, and the Scan type selected in KPG-49D is as "FIX SYSTEM SCAN", this means that you are not really scanning at all.

Programming "Epic Fail" Method 2
The second most common mistake in programming is the belief that all the repeaters in your area should be in the same System or from people who love Motorola and want to make a Kenwood radio work like a Motorola radio and therefore create scan lists- a Kenwood scan list is not the same as a Motorola Scan list. This mistake in programming means that people program all the repeaters located in their area in the SAME System, increasing Groups, and then in KPG-49D select "LIST TYPE SYSTEM SCAN" and create a scan list. If you program the radio this way, the radio is going to scan all the time, without you selecting scan, unless you set Group Lockout to Yes and/or No depending on what you want scan to do.

The above examples of Epic Programming Fails are not the ways to program a Kenwood TK-481 and TK-981.

The way to properly program a Kenwood TK-481 and TK-981 is as follows:

Program all the repeaters in your area in their OWN System (System 1 up to System 32) and the SAME Group. Set the Scan type in KPG-49D as "FIX SYSTEM SCAN". Then assign a front panel button to "SCAN" and also assign another button to "SCAN DEL/ADD", and LEAVE the Group Lockout set to "YES" (which is the default setting). If you program your radios this way you are going to LOVE your 481 and 981 more than ever!

Here is an example of how to program a 481/981, these locations will look familiar if you happen to live in California in the SF Bay Area:

Oakland Repeater is programmed in System 1 Group 1
Mt Vaca Repeater is programmed in System 2 Group 1
Sunol Repeater is programmed in System 3 Group 1
Calistoga Repeater is programmed in System 4 Group 1
Los Gatos Repeater is programmed in System 5 Group 1
San Jose Repeater is programmed in System 6 Group 1
Pacifica Repeater is programmed in System 7 Group 1
Cupertino Repeater is programmed in System 8 Group 1
Redwood City Repeater is programmed in System 9 Group 1
Vacaville Repeater is programmed in System 10 Group 1

...continue programming every repeater in your area in INCREASING System numbers and the SAME Group. Ensure that you have Scan set to "FIX SYSTEM SCAN" (which is the default) in KPG-49D; the radio will scan when the scan button (SCN) is pressed, it will stop scanning when:

  1. The radio encounters a busy channel.
  2. You manually stop scanning by pressing the Scan button.
  3. You use a grounded mic clip/hanger and lift the mic off hook- make sure you have the radio "SCAN REVERT" programmed as either "LAST CALLED" or "SELECTED+TALKBACK", also make sure you have the "OFF HOOK SCAN" box unchecked.

Remember the radio will Scan every System, and ANY SELECTED Group in each System- once again ANY Group can be selected- this means you get a lot of versatility! This does not limit you to just 32 frequencies; you can program the radio with multiple states or areas (as I have done on my own personal radios)- but you can only scan 32 frequencies at any one time.
If you have a linked repeater system in your area- you could program the linked repeater system in the SAME System and INCREASING Groups- and just select the closest repeater to you and the radio will scan just that Group in that System. If you want to block a repeater from being scanned then press the button that you assigned "SCAN DEL/ADD" to (typically the "A" or "B" button) and that System will be removed from scanning- pretty easy and painless!

A simple recap of what NOT to do:

  1. Do NOT program all the repeaters in your area in the SAME System.
  3. Do NOT use Scan Lists.
  4. Do NOT think of a Kenwood System as a Motorola Zone; they are not the same. This statement DOES NOT apply to the NX-901 and NX-411 which use Zones and Channels and NOT Systems and Groups.

A simple recap of how to program a 481/981

  1. Put every repeater in your area that you want to scan in its OWN System and the SAME Group
  2. Leave the scan setting set to "FIX SYSTEM SCAN"
  3. Assign a front panel button such as the "A" or "B" button as "SCAN DEL/ADD".
  4. Assign Scan to the "SCN" button.
  5. If you have a linked repeater system then the best idea is to put each repeater that is linked in ONE System and INCREASING Groups
  6. If you want to add more repeaters then add to EACH System and the NEXT Group in each System

"Help! I tried to read from a used TK-981 I purchased and KPG-49D says that the radio requires a password to read from it, what do I do?"

If you tried to read from your TK-981 and found that it is password protected, then simply create a new DAT file and program over it. Do not worry about losing any functions or features in the radio, it's not a Motorola, and therefore you will not lose or gain any features or options. The password protection only works when reading from the radio and not when writing to the radio. When you write a new file to the radio the existing password will be deleted and you will be able to read and write to and from the radio.

"Help! My TK-981 says "Ver 2.0" on the back panel and has the deep amber colored display- but powers on saying "VER 1.5xx" and when I write to it in KPG-49D says its not a Version 2 radio and some features will be disabled"

If your TK-981 says its a Version 2 on the back of the heatsink but when powered on reads "VER 1.5205", "VER 1.56", or "VER 1.xx" on the display and KPG-49D says it's not a Version 2 radio then your TK-981 has had the firmware reflashed to allow it to do PassPort®.

Trident Micro Systems PassPort® is an enhanced coverage and feature trunking system that allows a radio to be used over a very large area that previously would have never worked with a normal LTR system. In other words PassPort® allows a fleet of radios to be able to talk to one another and dispatch over a large area- such as statewide or over several counties that cover hundreds of square miles- provided there is a PassPort® system set up to cover that large expanse of area. In order for a radio to use PassPort®, special firmware is required because all radios in a fleet must be registered to the PassPort® system. This registration requires the assignment of an Electronic Serial Number or "ESN" to each radio (which is not modifiable in the field or by the dealer). Each radio in addition to its own unique ESN will also have its own unique Mobile Identity Number or "MIN".

Now that you know what PassPort® is, what does that mean for your TK-981 with PassPort® firmware? Nothing- the TK-981 you have will work just fine with this firmware in it- which means you can merely ignore the power on message "VER 1.5205", "VER 1.56", or "VER 1.xx", etc.. If, however, this is annoying you and you want the radio to not have an identity crisis then you can get a hold of the TK-981 Version 2 firmware and reflash the radio! The last issue Version 2 firmware up to serial number B26xxxxx (NOT to be used on a Version 1 radio) is Revision 28 and has a checksum of "0ADE"- step by step reflashing of the firmware is covered in the TK-981 service manual.



"Help! My TK-981 will transmit but will not receive" OR "Help! My TK-981 will receive but will not Transmit!"

If your TK-981 will receive but not transmit or will transmit but not receive after you have programmed it with 927/902MHz frequencies then most likely the VCO is out of lock and needs a small adjustment- no soldering iron required! To adjust the VCO is quick and easy. You will need a VOM and a ceramic tuning tool, or sheared off toothpick works well too, or less ideal, because it is metallic, a very small flathead screwdriver (micro size) to adjust the TC-100 adjustment point on the VCO.

RX/TX/TX-T/A Unlock Condition- Adjustment Using a VOM

DO NOT adjust the VCO on your radio if it does not need it!
Program in 927.0125MHz and 927.9875 and putting your VOM on TP1 located directly next to the forward most receiver band pass filter, in the receive condition adjust TC-100 VERY, VERY slightly counterclockwise until you see ~5.7 to 5.8Vdc at TP1. Each radio will be a little different, so there is no "set in stone" rule, but the voltages should be in the ranges listed below. If the receive voltage is as stated below then you will not need to adjust the radio any further.

Normal RANGES for TP-1 voltages:
RX condition 927.0125 to 927.9875MHz: 5.7 to 5.8Vdc +/- 0.1Vdc
TX condition 902.0125 to 902.9875MHz: 3.8 to 3.9Vdc +/- 0.1Vdc
TX-T/A condition 927.0125 to 927.9875MHz: 1.6 to 1.7Vdc +/- 0.1Vdc