HamPod Kenwood Reader


   The HamPod Kenwood Reader provides speech output and accessibility for blind and vision-impaired amateurs. The Kenwood Reader is the same physical device as the original K3 Reader, but with different firmware. It provides access to the most commonly used functions of a some Kenwood transceivers without requiring a connection to personal computer. It also enables you to turn off the Kenwood speech synthesizer and select the reports you want.

   This review is based on the User Manual and my experience testing a HamPod Icom Reader.

HamPod Station Accessories

From the Kenwood Reader manual:

   "The HamPod series of amateur radio station accessories are stand-alone, micro-processor based text-to-speech devices designed to provide speech output and accessibility to common station equipment such as transceivers, antenna controllers and rotor controllers, SWR/Power meters, and other equipment capable of serial data exchange...The voice synthesizer utilizes the popular Double Talk voice synthesizer and is customizable to your personal preferences."

   A HamPod (Figure 1) is 5.3" x 4.0" and about 1.9" high, including the attached 16 button keypad and enclosed speaker.

Figure 1. HamPod   hampod.com


    The Reader communicates with a transceiver via a user-supplied serial cable. There are two male DB9 serial ports on the back for connecting to radios or other devices and for updating the firmware.

HamPod Kenwood Reader

As explained on the HamPod site, the Kenwood Reader is designed for the TS-2000 with some additional commands for TS-590S and TS-590SG models. Contact Rob Santello, K6DQ, for details about other models that are likely to work with the Reader because they use a similar Kenwood serial protocol.

   A USB-to-DB9 serial cable and a null-modem adapter are provided with each HamPod for updating the firmware using a Windows computer. Downloads include a screen reader-accessible flashing application that automates the process.


   Key presses query the radio and change settings. From the manual, "[Each key can be] operated with both a standard push or an extended longer push and hold action.” The SHIFT key [A] increases the number of operations for a single key. Press [A] once for SHIFT, twice for a second level SHIFT2, and a third press turns SHIFT off.  Keys are always pressed in sequence—never two at the same time.

   For example, pressing the [1] key reads the VFO A frequency. Holding the [1] key down for 0.5 seconds or more reads the VFO B frequency. The HamPod can also report the frequency automatically after you tune the radio.

   Press [*] to read the S-meter.

   Press [9], Hold to read the Power Level. 

   Press [SHIFT], then [5], Hold to read the SWR.

   A list of functions of all the keys is in the User Manual. The long list of accessible readouts includes mode, mic gain level, filter width, preamp and attenuation status, as well as the status and settings for PL and CTCSS tones.

   There is also a Memory Mode that allows you to access memory channels.


   The HamPod Kenwood Reader is a convenient, well-designed accessory that provides speech output and accessibility for the most commonly used functions in a number of Kenwood radios.


   Thanks to Rob Santello, K6DQ, for information about HamPod operation.

Author Information

   Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra class amateur radio operator in the USA. 
Email:  HamRadioAndVision "at" gmail "dot" com.

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