I recently acquired a Kenwood TS480HX (TS480SAT) just without the tuner. Nice little radio which surprisingly outputs 200 watts.

Coming from a I.T background, I immediately started focusing on the firmware within the unit as bugfixes and enhancements are always on the cards with such units.

If you were to ask me the result of this upgrade, my answer would be massive, black and white, night and day. It has really uplifted the radio to another level in my opinion.

The below are my experiences through the journey of updating the firmware. You can follow the instructions on the Kenwood site as well:


  1. Check Firmware
  2. Tools Required
  3. Method
  4. Gotcha’s

Here’s a picture of the unit listening on the 40M band.

Super clean unit, well looked after from previous owner.

Checking Firmware

1. Ensure the transceiver is OFF
2. Hold the MIC key and NR key together and switch on the unit while pressed.

Version 1.00 (Original firmware) 

[Checksum = 459A]

Upgrade to 1.07

[Checksum = 996F]

Overall there are 8 firmware releases for the TS480 SAT/HX as of this writeup. You can check your readout on what firmware you are currently on at:


I will only focus on the firmware that made the most noticeable improvements. The speech processor algorithm changes in v1.01. The speech processor in my opinion with the original firmware was literally non-existent, did not function correctly and I believe Kenwood realised this quite quickly from the angry mob of owners. ( Since corrected in v1.01)

  1. Updates the following features. 1.7MHz band TX range is expanded to “7000kHz-7200kHz” for the TS-480HX E, TS-480SAT E (European models).
  2. Internal automatic antenna tuner performance on 28/50MHz band is revised to higher precision impedance matching for the TS-480SAT K/E.
  3. Algorithm of the Speech processor is revised for further compression ratio.

The latest firmware release is at 1.07. You have no ability to upgrade to a previous version, for example an upgrade to 1.05 as 1.07 has all updates rolled up into the one firmware upgrade file

1.07 release notes state:

1. When using a single lever paddle, the internal electronic keyer occasionally generates extra dots or dashes.

Tools Required

  1. A Computer of course. (Windows 10 was used. Windows 8.1/8 or 7 is sufficient)
  2. A serial port. I would ignore the USB to Serial RS232 Prolific cheapies from eBay (Painful experience here). My desktop pc did not have a serial port so I went and bought an Internal PCI Serial card from MSY(Local computer parts supplier) for $14. If you are going to try to get this going with the USB to Serial, its hit and miss and definitely not worth the risk


  3. Serial cable. Female to female DB9 connectors. MUST be straight through, not a null modem cable. I made my own. Down to Jaycar Electronics, 2 x DB9 female + shells and some spare cat6 cable laying about.

IGNORE THESE. Save your sanity!
Serial PCI card. Can also use a PCI-Express version . This unit cost me $14.00
For the fraction of the price, I bought 2 x female DB9’s, shells and had some leftover Cat6 networking cable laying around.


When using the USB to RS232 adaptor, it surprisingly worked flawlessly with programs such as n1mm+ logger, HRD and Kenwood’s ARCP software.

Where this USB to serial failed was when attempting to update the firmware on the unit hence the internal Serial PCI card was installed. Using the USB to serial, firmware would be uploading to the radio but fall short resulting in a communications error.

  1. Download the latest firmware from the Kenwood site:
  2. Unpack the files in its entirety in your preferred location.
  3. Turn off the transceiver, remove the power completely. Remove the top cover of the transceiver and locate S201 switch. This is a fairly flimsy switch so I would be very careful with operating it.
  4. Power on the unit, ensure the Serial cable connected and start the update firmware application from Kenwood.
  5. Execute the firmware application as ‘Run as Administrator’ . Right mouse click on the executable and select this option.
  6. Follow the instructions within the app till completion.
  7. Once complete, remove the power from the transceiver, switch S201 back to normal position.
  8. Perform a factory reset by holding A=B switch then powering on the unit.


From my experience, the most important things to note:

  1. Use a ‘straight through’ serial cable. No if’s or but’s.
  2. Ensure that you do not use a USB to serial adaptor as they are quite sensitive to this type of operation. FTDI or Prolific.
  3. Be physically sensitive with the S201 switch.
  4. Ensuring that you get in your head that there is ‘NO’ such thing as a programming cable to program these radios. For example, ‘programming cable’ is simply a USB to serial FTDI or Prolific chip adaptor only and nothing more. They are overpriced in the $30-40 USD mark which is quite ridiculous. This is worth noting as I have seen a lot of claims of programming cables on eBay. It is simply a serial to USB or vice versa. You just need a straight through serial cable which you can cook up yourself cheaply.

Feel free to contact me for assistance. My details are on qrz.com