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July 12, 2017

How to update the TYT MD-2017 to store 100,000 contacts

TYT-MD-2017-firmware-update.jpgAs many of you may know, I work tirelessly with TYT directly to provide feedback to them (both my own and that of the end user) to enhance their products. I can honestly say it is an around-the-clock job. I spend many hours outside of normal day working with TYT to make their products the best in the Chinese market. I was the one who had them re-work the programming software for the MD-2017 and MD-9600 so they could be used with your pre-existing code plugs. This has been a game changer as far as I am concerned. So, let me jump off my soap box now..

When the MD-2017 was released, my biggest concern was the lack of storage in the radio for contacts. For most folks, 10,000 contacts is more than enough; however, I am a firm believer in the old saying that bigger is better.

From my feedback, TYT recently released a firmware upgrade for the MD-2017 to allow up to 100,000 contacts! However, in order to accomplish this, the recorder option had to go away. I was not a fan of the recorder anyhow. It was a neat concept on paper, but a useless function on the radio- kind of like a flashlight or a wrist strap.

Want to add up to 100,000 contacts into your TYT MD-2017 dual band DMR digital radio? Here's how to do it.

What you need:

Note: Microsoft Excel is currently required to be installed on the PC for the import of contacts to work.

Step 1: Save the correct firmware version to your desktop. In the case of the early release radios, it is V3.33 bin (non GPS)

Step 2: Double click on the "FirmwareDownloadV3.04_EN.exe" link

Step 3: Under the "User Program" section, click on "Open file upgrade". This is where you will find the file you saved to your desktop.

Step 4: Plug the programming cable in to your radio and the USB in to your computer. With the radio powered off, hold down the PTT and orange button and power the radio on. The screen will remain black but the LED light on top will flash red and green. You are now in firmware update mode.

Step 5: Write the firmware to the radio. To do this, click on the "Download file of upgrade" button. Your radio will now begin to receive the updated firmware. Once the download is complete, power the radio off and unplug the cable from the radio.

Step 6: Open the V1.17 software and plug the cable back into the radio. If you have a current code plug, the contacts that are in that will remain. This is important for your talkgroups.

Step 7: Click on the "Program" dropdown and select "Write contacts". A box will open with available buttons "Read, Write, Export, Import, and Cancel".

Step 8: If you already have a list, you will want to click the "Import" button. After you do this, select the list and import it to the software. The only notification you will get is if it was successful or not. You will not see these in your regular contact list.

Step 9: Once you get the notification that the import was successful, you will now want to power the radio on and hit the "Write button". The process will now begin. Upload times depend on the number of contacts. With the 64,000+ contacts I uploaded, it took about 5 minutes. Be patient and do not power the radio off!

Step 10: Once the download is complete, power the radio off and then back on again. Next is the most important step: You will need to go into your menu for the radio, click > utilities > radio settings > ContactsCSV, and turn it on.

Now your radio should be good to go! I think there are a few little things I would like for TYT to fix, but for the most part this is pretty awesome!! I like the display on it. It has the look of a pretty well-known firmware hack from the MD-380 days.

I installed this on my MD-2017 a few weeks ago and have been using it ever since. I also released my csv file containing over 64,000 contacts.

As always, my sales staff and I appreciate each and every one of our customers. We will continue to support you and the products we sell!


Anthony R.
Sales Manager

February 1, 2017

Midland MXT MicroMobile GMRS radio comparison

The Midland MXT Series adds an exciting new element to the world of GMRS radios. These micro mobiles offer more power, range and features than any of the consumer FRS/GMRS portable handheld radios currently on the market, expanding the flexibility and capabilities of the General Mobile Radio Service. Midland MXT MicroMobile GMRS radios are available from Buy Two Way Radios.

The chart below lists all the models in the MXT Series for a full feature comparison. These models include the MXT105, MXT115 and MXT400. Although now discontinued, the original MXT100 is included as a reference to the upgrades and improvements added to the current models in the MXT line.

Midland MXT Series Comparison Chart

Midland MXT Series Comparison
Item MXT100 MXT105 MXT115 MXT400
Transmit Power 5W 5W 15W 40W
GMRS Channels 15 15 15 15
Repeater Channels
Weather Channels
Weather Scan
Weather Alert
Privacy Codes 38 CTCSS/
104 DCS
104 DCS
104 DCS
104 DCS
Backlit LCD Display
Manual Squelch
Channel Scan
Monitor Mode
Keystroke Tone
Voice Compander
Keypad Lock
5 Call Tones
Digital Volume
Silent Operation
Timeout Timer (TOT)
Auto Power Off
Call Alert
Signal Strength Meter
Talk Around
Selectable Power Levels Hi/Lo Hi/Lo Hi/Lo Hi/Med/Lo
Backlit LCD Display
Display Colors 1 1 8 1
Adjustable Backlight
Keystroke Tone Signal
Flip Display
Flip-Frame Detachable Mount
Hand Microphone
3.5mm Audio Connector
USB Charger Port
Reset Function
12V Adapter Cord
12V Hardwire Cord
Includes Antenna
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
Weight (ounces/grams) 6.08/172.36 6.08/172.36 - -
Price (MSRP) $149.99 $99.99 $149.99 $249.99

Additional resources:
TWRS-108 - New Midland Mobile GMRS Radios
TWRS-86 - The New Midland MXT100 Mobile GMRS Radio
Midland MXT MicroMobile® radios unboxing video
Midland MXT100 Micro Mobile GMRS Radio Preview video

December 23, 2016

GMRS Radio Range Chart

Range is a popular word in the world of portable handheld two way radios or walkie talkies. Ironically, it's also one of the least understood among the masses, which makes it quite controversial. This simple, five letter word is easy to enunciate, yet it is perhaps one of the most complicated to resolve in the consumer radio marketplace.

The reason for this is contained in the word itself. Although range has an absolute definition, it is defined by a range of variables. In short, range is absolutely relative.

The Variables of Range
A number of variables determine actual range. These include (in no particular order):
  • Type of Radio Signal
  • Obstructions
  • Terrain
  • Distance to Horizon
  • Antenna
  • Radio Power (Wattage)
  • Atmospheric Conditions
Type of Radio Signal
The type of radio signal is a significant variable in determining range. Lower frequencies such as those on the VHF band travel farther but can be more easily blocked. Higher frequencies in the UHF band do not travel as far but can pass around obstacles more easily. The GMRS operates on UHF frequencies around 460 MHz, so our range estimations will be based on that variable.

GMRS radios operate on "line-of-sight", which simply means that as long as they or their operators can clearly "see" each other with nothing between them to obscure their view, the radios should be able to communicate with one another. Anything that gets in the way can adversely affect the line of sight. Such things include, but are not limited to, hills, trees, bridges, buildings, vehicles and anything else that can potentially block, deflect or divert the radio signal away from its intended target.

The terrain between the radios is another important consideration. If the area is flat with few or no obstructions, the signal can freely travel unencumbered towards the horizon, even at a very low power. If the terrain is populated with vegetation such as trees or heavy brush, such obstructions can slow or eventually block the signal at some point along the way. Higher frequency GMRS radio signals cannot penetrate earth, so if the terrain is hilly or mountainous, the distance the signal can travel may be reduced significantly.

Distance to Horizon
Since the earth is round, GMRS radio signals do not have an unlimited line of site across the entire globe. At some point, they are blocked or diverted by the curvature of the earth. This is the earth's horizon. In an area of open, level terrain with no obstacles or over open water, the average distance to the horizon is just a few miles. On the roof of a very tall building or mountaintop, the horizon could be ten, twenty or thirty miles. The higher you are over the terrain, the greater the distance between you and your horizon, hence the farther the line-of-site. Conversely, the closer you are to the ground, the nearer you are to your horizon, thus the shorter your line-of-sight.

The antenna is one of the most critical components of a radio. It converts the radio signals into the electrical signals the radio can understand and vice versa. Without an antenna, your radio could neither receive nor transmit across any perceptible distance at all. This means the type, height, location and quality of the antenna will have a significant impact on the overall range of the radio signal.

Radio Power (Wattage)
Obviously, the more powerful a signal, the greater its potential range. Or is it? When comparing a 5 watt radio transmission to a 50 watt signal, the difference in range can be quite significant. However, when comparing two low power signals between 1 and 5 watts, the difference is not as impressive. Depending on some of the other variables, there may not be much of a difference at all. For instance, an entry level GMRS handheld walkie talkie operating at about half a watt in an open field may have about the same coverage as a five watt model in the middle of a large city. Depending on the distance to the horizon and/or the height and quality of antenna, it may be even better! The moral? Don't let the wattage rating alone dictate your choice of radio. Consider all of the variables.

Atmospheric Conditions
One variable that is sometimes overlooked is the atmosphere. While not as disruptive as many other variables, atmospheric effects such as rain, snow and fog can interfere with a radio signal and may slightly reduce overall range.

The Confusion with Range
Considering all the variables, calculating range still doesn't seem too complicated. It isn't, really. So, why the confusion? To answer that question, all we need to do is pick up a brand new pack of consumer FRS/GMRS radios and look at the packaging.

One of the first things you may notice, more often than not, is a great big number emblazoned in bold and prominently displayed on the front of the package, usually designated in mileage. It may read 16 Miles, 26 Miles, 36 Miles or more, and is implied to be the mileage rating of the radios enclosed. The higher the number, the greater the range, and the more powerful or higher wattage the radios are perceived to be. But are they? Not necessarily.

Remember, power/wattage is only one of the many variables used to calculate range, and as we've noted, it is not the most influential. After all, a low wattage handheld radio can have a greater range than a higher wattage handheld radio within reason, provided the other variables exceed those of the higher wattage model.

It's easy to pick out the big bold number on the box, but miss the words "up to" in the small print above it. As a result, many who latch onto the large font and tune out the tiny type naturally assume the double digit figure is an absolute, when it isn't. In fact, the mileage on the package doesn't really figure into the range equation much at all.

The Truth About Range
Are the manufacturers lying? Well, technically, maybe no. If the radio is advertised to transmit (up to) 36 miles, you might get 36 miles - that is, if you're transmitting from a mountaintop or hovering somewhere in the upper troposphere and the horizon is at least 36 miles away. If you're orbiting the earth and there are no obstructions, you might even get more. But then, how often do you go there? Exactly.

The truth is, the number on the box only indicates how far the radio has supposedly been tested to transmit and receive under what the manufacturers refer to as optimal conditions. This phrase or a variation thereof is usually found in even smaller type somewhere on the back, side, or bottom of the box. Unlike those big numbers, you'll probably have to look around to find it.

Optimal vs. Actual Range
Forget the fantasy figures. Let's get real. If those numbers mean anything, they serve as a general reference as to which tier the radio is placed within the industry. It works like this. GMRS radios with a low optimal range of 10-16 miles typically have basic features and functionality. These are considered low-end or entry level models. Those labeled as a higher optimal range of 35 miles and above with the most wattage, add-ons and options are considered the high-end models. The mid-tier models consist of everything in-between. While not perfect, it's a fairly reliable method and goes a long way towards simplifying the confusing marketing hype surrounding the range claims created by the manufacturers of FRS/GMRS two way radios.

To simplify things further, the chart below was created to convert the manufacturer's advertised range to an actual, real-world range and assigned to a tier as a range rating. The chart is further divided by type of terrain for greater accuracy. Note: These are real world estimates only.

Rick's Simple GMRS Radio Range Chart

Urban Terrain
Advertised Range Actual Range Range Rating
16 miles 1-2 blocks Low
20 miles 2-3 blocks Low
26 miles 3-4 blocks Mid
30 miles 4-6 blocks Mid
36+ miles 0.2-0.25 mile High

Suburban Terrain
Advertised Range Actual Range Range Rating
16 miles 300-800 feet Low
20 miles 0.1-0.3 mile Low
26 miles 0.4-0.5 mile Mid
30 miles 0.6-1.0 mile Mid
36+ miles 1-2 mile High

Open (Level) Terrain
Advertised Range Actual Range Range Rating
16 miles 0.5-1 mile Low
20 miles 1-3 miles Low
26 miles 3-4 miles Mid
30 miles 4-5 miles Mid
36+ miles ~6 miles High

No Terrain
Advertised Range Actual Range Range Rating
16 miles Up to 16 miles (est.) Low
20 miles Up to 20 miles (est.) Low
26 miles Up to 26 miles (est.) Mid
30 miles Up to 30 miles (est.) Mid
36+ miles Up to 36+ miles (est.) High

Related Resources
30 Miles? The Truth About Range
Getting The Most Range From Your Radio
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-05 - Radios in Range
The Two Way Radio Show TWRS-45 - The Truth About GMRS Radio Range
Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range
How To Optimize Range for Motorola Talkabout Two Way Radios

December 12, 2016

How to reset the TYT TH-9800 to factory defaults

The TYT TH-9800 quad band mobile radio is a popular counterpart to the popular Wouxun KG-UV950P. With its powerful features and flexible options, the TH-9800 is generally considered a good value for the price. One example of this flexibility is the reset option. Most mobile radios allow the user to reset the transceiver as needed, however it is often limited to one or two reset options, either a partial reset of selected programmable items, or a full reset of the entire radio. The TH-9800 offers four. Now, that's a quad bander.

TH-9800 Factory Reset Options
    Resets the menu settings to factory defaults
    Resets the Hyper Memory settings to factory defaults
    Resets regular memory settings to factory defaults
    Resets all memory, menu and other settings to factory defaults

Follow the steps below to reset a TYT TH-9800 Quad Band Mobile Two Way Radio from Buy Two Way Radios to its original factory settings.

To perform a Reset
1. Turn off the radio.
2. Press and hold the LEFT [LOW] and turn the radio on.
3. Turn the DIAL to choose the RESET menu.
4. Choose the appropriate reset option [F-1, F-2, F-3 or F-4].
5. Short press the [SET] key to reset the radio.
7. Reset is complete.

A reset may resolve many issues or malfunctions, but may not work for every scenario. However, it is usually a recommended first step when troubleshooting a two way radio.

August 17, 2016

How to reset the Wouxun KG-UV8D to factory settings and English prompts

KG-UV8-Display-800.jpgThe Wouxun KG-UV8D two way radio has a quick and easy reset. The only downside to the reset operation is it also clears out all the language settings and sets them to the default. English is its second language. The default is Chinese. The reset process clears all the language settings, both voice prompts and menu items shown on the display. If you speak and read Chinese, that's not an issue. If English is your first or only language, fear not, we're here to help. if you can read this, follow the instructions below and post-reset navigation should not be a challenge.

There are two reset options.
Functional Parameter Reset (VFO)
the VFO option resets the function settings to factory defaults without wiping out the channel settings.
Total Parameter Reset (ALL)
The ALL option performs a full reset back to factory defaults and clears the channel settings.

Follow the steps below to reset a Wouxun KG-UV8D, KG-UV8D Plus, or KG-UV8E two way radio from Buy Two Way Radios to its original factory settings and English prompts.

To perform a VFO Reset
1. Turn on the radio and press the MENU button.
2. Press the UP and DOWN arrow key to select RESET (Menu Item 51).
3. Press MENU to choose RESET.
4. Press the UP/DOWN arrow keys to choose VFO.
5. Press MENU. The radio will display RESET SURE?
6. Press MENU to confirm. The radio will display Waite please (yes, "wait" with an "e") for a few seconds, then shut down and restart.
7. The radio will revert to Chinese language mode. Reset is complete.

To perform a FULL Reset
1. Turn on the radio and press the MENU button.
2. Press the UP and DOWN arrow key to select RESET (Menu Item 51).
3. Press MENU to choose RESET.
4. Press the DOWN arrow key to choose ALL.
5. Press MENU. The radio will display RESET SURE?
6. Press MENU to confirm. The radio will display Waite please for a few seconds, then shut down and restart.
7. The radio will revert to Chinese language mode. Reset is complete.

To set language from Chinese to English
1. Press MENU.
2. Press the UP and DOWN arrow key to select LANGUAGE (Menu Item 12). Note: the menu will be in Chinese, so the next two steps are important if you cannot read Chinese characters.
3. Press MENU.
4. Press the DOWN arrow key once.
5. Press MENU.
6. Press EXIT.

A reset may resolve many issues or malfunctions, but may not work for every scenario. However, it is usually a recommended first step when troubleshooting a two way radio.

August 15, 2016

How to program the Wouxun KG-UV8D

The Wouxun KG-UV8D is a popular dual band handheld two way radio for a reason. It has great performance, it's loaded with features, and it has a nice, large, color LCD display. It's also reasonably priced.

Then there is programming.

Programming the KG-UV8D isn't very difficult if you do it with a computer. Although the programming software provided by Wouxun isn't perfect, it's really not too bad, and it's not too difficult to figure out over time. Of course, if you have the open source programming software called CHIRP, it's even better, because it now supports the original KG-UV8D. CHIRP is freely available online.

For the most part, programming the KG-UV8D from a PC is relatively painless, especially when connected to an XLT Painless Programming Cable from Buy Two Way Radios. Programming it manually from the radio itself is another topic. To someone who is not familiar with the process, it can certainly be confusing or downright frustrating. Yet, there may come a time when you need to program your 8D and there is no computer or programming cable handy. There may be a time and place when you may need to do it manually. What do you do? How do you do it?

Follow the instructions below to manually program your Wouxun KG-UV8D, KG-UV8D Plus or KG-UV8E directly from the keypad of the radio.

How to manually program a simplex channel
  • Step 1. Press [A/B] and choose the A Side (upper display) as MAIN.
  • Step 2. Press [VFO/MR] and enter Frequency Mode.
    The radio should be in Frequency (VFO) Mode to program all settings to the channel.
  • Step 3. Enter the frequency.
    Use the keypad to enter the frequency into the radio.
  • Step 4. optional - Enter the transmit CTCSS/DCS code.
    • CTCSS - [MENU] 16 [MENU] [enter/choose code XXXX] [MENU] [EXIT]
    • DCS - [MENU] 18 [MENU] [choose code XXXXX] [MENU] [EXIT]
    • Use the [Arrow Up/Down] keys or the channel selector knob to choose the codes from the menu.
  • Step 5. Assign the frequency to a channel.
    [MENU] 27 [MENU] [enter channel number XXX] [MENU] [EXIT]
    If the Channel number is displayed in black, it is already assigned. Choose another channel.
    If the channel number is blue, the channel is available.

How to manually program a repeater channel
  • Step 1. Press [A/B] and choose the A Side (upper display) as MAIN.
  • Step 2. Press [VFO/MR] and enter Frequency Mode.
    Like the simplex channels, the radio should be in Frequency (VFO) Mode to program all settings to the channel.
  • Step 3. Enter the frequency.
    Use the keypad to enter the frequency into the radio.
  • Step 4. optional - Enter the transmit CTCSS/DCS code.
    • CTCSS - [MENU] 16 [MENU] [enter/choose code XXXX] [MENU] [EXIT]
    • DCS - [MENU] 18 [MENU] [choose code XXXXX] [MENU] [EXIT]
    • Use the [Arrow Up/Down] keys or the channel selector knob to choose the codes from the menu.
  • Step 5. Input the repeater frequency offset.
    Press [MENU] 23 [MENU] [enter the offset for 2 meter or 70 cm repeater] [MENU] [EXIT]
  • Step 6. Enter the Transmit Frequency Shift.
    Press [MENU] 24 [MENU] [enter 1 for positive shift or 2 for negative shift] [MENU][EXIT]
    Note: There are three ways to enter the frequency shift.
    • Enter 1 for positive (+) and 2 for negative (-).
    • Press [Arrow Up/Down] to toggle + or -.
    • Turn the channel selector knob to choose + or -.
  • Step 7. Assign the frequency to a channel.
    Press [MENU] 27 [MENU] [enter the channel number XXX] [MENU] [EXIT]
    If the Channel number is displayed in black, it is already assigned. Choose another channel.
    If the channel number is blue, the channel is available.

To add more channels, repeat the steps above. If these instructions are followed correctly step-by-step, you should be able to program all 999 memory channels in your Wouxun KG-UV8D. Note: These instructions will also work for KG-UV8D Plus and KG-UV8E radios.

August 8, 2016

Two way radio programmability

The two way radio is a powerful tool for short range communications, and for a number of reasons. There are no recurring connection charges, no subscription or usage fees, and it is easy to operate. Perhaps the best reason is the almost instantaneous connection. There is no dialing involved. Simply push a button and talk.

That is how a two way radio is supposed to work, and that is what users expect it to do. Many expect the radio to do it as soon as it is turned on, right out of the box, and some radios do. However, some of them don't, and a user who is not familiar with how a radio works may assume their brand new, freshly unboxed transceiver may not work at all. To those who are new to radio, it can be a real source of confusion and frustration.

While it is possible to receive a product prone to malfunction, such damage or defect isn't usually the issue. In fact, in all likelihood, there is probably nothing inherently wrong with the device itself at all. More often than not, the radio simply needs to be programmed.

The two way radios of today usually fall under one of two general categories: those that need to be programmed by the user, and those that don't. Some radio services, such as FRS, GMRS, CB and MURS, require the devices to operate on specific frequencies and/or within certain parameters, which means the radios operating within those services are generally pre-packaged and "hard programmed" at the factory to meet those requirements.

Other radio services are more flexible, and the radios operating within them are more flexible as well. These transceivers are designed for partial or full programmability by the owners themselves. That's a lot of accessibility, power and control over a device, particularly one used for communication, and many radio operators want and prefer to take full advantage of it whenever possible.

As these programmable two way radios become more sophisticated, so does their programming. Many can be programmed from the units themselves, usually either through a set of buttons or a full keypad embedded in the radio. However, some of them don't have that option, and even some that do require additional input by the user that can be cumbersome, complicated and often confusing for anyone who hasn't studied the manual from cover to cover (and if it is a manual for some imported radios, even if they have). In such scenarios, programming the radio via computer is generally considered a more practical or desirable option.

Some radios, such as lower end models used by many small businesses, retailers or localized business operations, may need to have only limited user programmability or may need to be completely locked down to prevent users from tampering with their functions and settings. These radios may be pre-programmed with frequencies, CTCSS/DCS codes and other features at the factory or by a dealer, allowing the end user a preset choice of programmable options.

Most higher end radios used for commercial, industrial, business purposes or public service operations are fully programmable and may be programmed by the dealer or the end user. Transceivers used in amateur radio are almost always fully programmable, and are usually shipped without any pre-programming from the manufacturer or dealer. These units must be programmed by the end user before they are able to transmit or receive calls.

The chart below lists the programmability of different types of two way radios we carry at Buy Two Way Radios. It is not intended to detail the programming capabilities or limitations of every make and model, only to provide the basic differences between them.

Two Way Radio Programmability Chart

Radio Service Manufacturer Model Programmable Programmer
Airband Icom IC-A6
Yes Dealer/End User
Amateur (HAM) Baofeng
All Yes End User
Citizen's Band (CB) Cobra
All No Manufacturer
Business Band BlackBox
Vertex Standard
All Yes Dealer/End User
All No Manufacturer
VHF Marine Cobra
All No Manufacturer

Additional resources:
Motorola RDX Two Way Radio Programming Software
How to program Motorola DLR1020 and DLR1060 Advanced Configuration options
How to Clone a Motorola RDX Two Way Radio
Don't Let Your Two Way Radio Dealer Hold You Hostage
How to Wirelessly Clone Kenwood Protalk Radios
How to program the Wouxun KG-UV920P mobile radio from a PC
How to program a frequency into the Wouxun KG-UV920P-A
Radio Compatibility: Which Models Will Work Together

August 1, 2016

What to do if the programming cable does not detect the radio

The programming cable for your two way radio is installed and operational. It's plugged into your radio. The programming software finds your cable, but it doesn't detect a radio. What's wrong? Is it the computer, the cable, the radio, or something else?

Follow these steps to troubleshoot and resolve the issue if your radio programming cable does not detect your two way radio.

Step 1. Verify the programming cable is installed correctly.
  • If the cable is installed correctly, proceed to Step 2.
  • If it is not installed correctly, uninstall the cable and re-install it according to manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2. Check to be sure the radio is on.
Believe it or not, this is not uncommon, especially when one is programming radios on the fly. One can connect the cable on both ends and simply forget to turn on the radio. Before cursing the cable or the computer, check the radio, to be sure.
Step 3. Check to be sure the cable is plugged all the way into the radio.
Sometimes the cable can appear to be connected without a real connection.
  • Unplug the cable from the radio and plug it back in to be sure.
  • For some radios, the cable may require an extra push to snap it in all the way.
  • If the cable detects the radio after reseating the connection, the issue is resolved.
  • If the cable still does not recognize the radio, go to Step 4.

Step 4. Try another radio.
Sometimes it's the cable, sometimes it's the radio. To find out which, first swap out the radio.

Step 5. Perform a reset on the first radio.
At this point, it is probably safe to figure the problem may be with the radio itself.

July 29, 2016

What to do if the programming cable does not work

If you program your two way radio from a computer, the programming cable is critical. It is the one and only data link between those two devices, and it needs to be reliable, stable and easy to install. It needs to connect and work every time. If you have an XLT Painless Programming Cable, it's usually not an issue.

The programming cable for your two way radio is supposed to simply install, connect and work, but what if it doesn't? What if it doesn't seem to work at all?

There is more to a programming cable for a typical two way radio than just the cable itself, and there are several factors that determine its connectivity, functionality and performance, most of which involve your computer. If your radio programming cable isn't working, consider them all before you tie yourself and your cable into knots of frustration.

Follow the steps below in order to properly install and resolve issues with two way radio programming cables and drivers.
Step 1. Verify the correct driver is available for the cable.
  • If the correct driver or driver CD is available, proceed to Step 2.
  • If the correct driver is not available, locate it on the CD/DVD provided with the cable or download the driver from the manufacturer's web site.

Step 2. Before installing, be sure the radio is off, the computer is on and the cable is not plugged into either device. The purpose of this step is to ensure a clean install according to the instructions of the manufacturer.
  • If this is the first attempt to install the cable, skip to Step 3.
  • If a previous attempt was made to install the cable and/or the cable driver, completely and thoroughly uninstall the cable and all elements of the driver according to the manufacturer's instructions, then disconnect the programming cable from all devices and reboot the computer.

Step 3. Follow the manufacturer's step-by-step procedure for proper installation of the USB programming cable and driver.
  • If installation was successful, skip to Step 6.
  • If installation was not successful or the cable is not recognized, go to Step 4.

Step 4. Try other USB ports
  • If the cable successfully installs when plugged into another USB port, skip to Step 6.
  • If installation failed on all USB ports, go to Step 5.

Step 5. install the cable on another computer.
  • If another computer is available, proceed with installation.
  • If installation is successful, Go to Step 6. Note: If the installation is successful on another computer, the issue may be with the first computer. You may need to contact a computer repair technician.
  • If installation is not successful on another computer or another computer is not available, contact the cable manufacturer. If the programming cable was purchased from Buy Two Way Radios, contact us.

Step 6. Verify successful installation in the system and note the COM port number.
You may need this information to configure the programming software.

Step 7. Install and run the programming software for the radio.
It is important to note that our scope of support is limited to the two way radios, programming cables and programming software we sell at Buy Two Way Radios. We do not service, support or troubleshoot computers or computer operating systems.

July 27, 2016

What to do if the radio programming software does not detect the cable or COM port

You've just received your two way radio, taken it out of the package, and now you want to get it operational. You plugged in the programming cable, downloaded the driver, set up the software, and connected the cable the radio to program it.

There is just one small glitch. When you run the program, the software can't seem to find the radio. It can't connect to the cable. It can't even find the COM port. What gives?

First, don't panic or blow a fuse. There are several devices in the mix and multiple connections here, plus an entire computer system. It could be anything. Before you pack up all the new stuff and send it back to the dealer, find out what the real problem is. It may not be as bad as you think. It may even be quick and easy to resolve.

Here are the steps to troubleshoot if the programming software for your two way radio does not recognize the COM Port or the programming cable purchased from Buy Two Way Radios.
Step 1. Verify the programming cable is installed correctly.
  • If using our programming cable and it is installed correctly, proceed to Step 2.
  • If programming cable is not installed correctly, re-install the cable driver.
Step 2. Verify the COM Port number assigned to your programming cable.
  • If you are running Microsoft Windows, go the the Device Manager and click on Ports (COM & LPT).
  • Note the number of the COM port assigned to your cable.
Step 3. Verify the correct COM Port is recognized and listed as active in the programming software.
  • If the COM port assigned to the programming cable is listed as active and available, choose it and skip to Step 5.
  • If the COM port assigned to the programming cable is NOT listed as available, go to Step 4.
Step 4. Assign another COM Port to the USB programming cable.
  • Open the Device Manager, go to Ports (COM & LPT) and right click on the listing for the USB programming cable.
  • Click PROPERTIES in the pop-up menu.
  • Click on the PORT SETTINGS tab.
  • Click the ADVANCE button.
  • Click the drop down list next to COM Port Number: and choose a COM Port below the number 10 that is not in use.
  • Click OK to save the setting, then click OK again to exit the Communications Port (COMX) properties window.
  • Note the new COM Port number assigned to the USB Programming Cable and go back to Step 3.
  • If a new COM Port number was assigned to the cable and it is still not recognized by your programming software, skip to Step 6.

Step 5. Run or close and restart the programming software.

Step 6. If the program does not recognize the programming cable or the COM Port assigned to it, refer to the manufacturer of the programming software.
If you are using CHIRP programming software, go to the CHIRP web site at and download the latest daily build of CHIRP or report the issue to CHIRP.

If these instructions are followed correctly, the programming software for your radio should be able to recognize the correct COM port and access your programming cable.