I recently had the privilege of dealing with Chris Taylor of Taylor Made RF who supplied me his rather excellent custom keypad for the Kenwood TS990s.
Chris gives the device the part number TMRF TS990KP and it follows the convention as outlined in the user guide 16-7 of the TS990s user manual which allows for the user to program each of the 8 function keys a specific task, for instance; change antenna, play a recorded voice macro or change filters. An extremely handy accessory.
Of course, you could build one of these but for an “appliance” operator and for sheer mini-bling, the TMRF TS990KP is a delight to use. It comes very nicely packaged with basic instructions, a simple 3.5mm jack to jack stereo lead and of course, the engineered keypad.
The keypad is made of solid perspex type material with is machined and finished. Buttons sit on top of small micro-switches that are soldered to the PCB and everything is on display to see. 4 castle nuts act as a handy base. I notice that on a totally flat surface, there was a tiny bit of wobble which was the least of my worries. I might prefer rubber mounts instead of the stainless castle nuts. But this is a minor annoyance.
Plugging the unit in is very straight forward, there is a socket on the back of the TS990s, top right of the back panel, just above the AC power socket. Chris supplied the unit with around 1m jacked lead which is plenty enough to have the device placed anywhere near the radio that is convenient.
I found programming the macro / functions simple enough. The steps are Menu > 0 > section 19 (button 1) through to section 26 (button 8). Selecting that option with the menu allows you to twiddle the function knob and select lots of different parameters.
It took me a moment to work out which button was which function key. It might have been nice to have had that engraved on the PCB however with the jack facing away from you, the buttons start at 1 for top right, then 2, 3 and 4 straight down to the bottom and then up to the top left position for button 5. You’ll work it out. Maybe Chris could map this out on his instructions when he sends the device out.
And it’s not expensive either. Chris has found a way of keeping the price down so that he makes a small profit. The cost is £54.95 and as I type this, I notice his website is suffering tonight (TS990 External Keypad) so I’m unsure how to place the order on his ecommerce site however you can email Chris: email@example.com. Chris, I’m a professional web guru. I can help
Conclusion: There are a number of ways to get an external keyboard working with the TS990 including a small USB keyboard. But for the man who has everything, this is an ideal accessory and I’m pleased to have it in my shack, particularly for simple voice keying.
Here’s the photo library: