The TYT TH-8600 is a compact, inexpensive 25-watt VHF/UHF FM radio made in China. While it gets the job done, it has a number of shortcomings that users of the “name brand” equipment take for granted, such as automatic repeater offsets, alphanumeric channel labels, and the like. But you can’t have everything in a small package that costs around $100. I bought it more because of its form factor than its price – it fits neatly in the accessory tray in the dashboard of my car. I plan to upgrade to a better transceiver soon, but this one has served me well since I bought it at the Dayton Hamvention last year.
Dan KB7JZI, who uses the TH-8600 and has much advice for its users, quips on his club’s website that TYT stands for “take your time” – programming the rig is not a simple task. And the manual isn’t much help either. It’ll give you the information you need, sure, but it requires going through many steps to accomplish anything. I wanted to program a few channels during a road trip last fall, so I patiently took my time, read the manual, and dictated each step into my voice recorder so I could transcribe them and follow them later.
So here, for your benefit and mine, are the steps to program a repeater or simplex channel into the TH-8600.
- In VFO mode, set the repeater output frequency.
- Long press the LO button to view the transmit offset frequency. (Typically 0.6 MHz for 2 meters and 5 MHz for the 70 centimeter band.)
- Long press the LO button again to change from plus to minus or none. There will be a + or – in the display above the frequency.
- Press the AB key to set the offset. Can be set using the knob or keying the value on the microphone keypad.
- Pressing CT will turn on tone transmission. Pressing it again will turn on tone receive squelch.
- To set the CTCSS frequency, press F followed by the CT T.S button. Turn the small knob to select frequency desired, then press AB to exit.
- After setting transmit tone frequency, press the CT again to select the tone squelch frequency, then press CT one more time to exit.
- To store the channel, press and hold V/M for one second. The channel number will be flashing. Turn the small knob to the desired channel number, then press V/M again to store. This will overwrite the memory if one already exists.
One caveat: For those of us who have a little trouble reading fine print, note that the symbols in the display can be very tiny and hard to read, and so can the inscriptions on the buttons. Make sure there’s enough light, and use magnifying glasses if needed to see the tiny indications.
As with most modern equipment, the transceiver has a USB port and can be programmed using computer software. TYT includes a programming cable and sells the RPS8600USB software separately. Should you wish to spring for the software, it’s available from your favorite ham radio supplier.
For more detailed instructions, the user’s manual can be found online.
Do you have a TH-8600? How do you like it? Have you figured out an easier way or a better way to program it? Leave me a comment and describe your experience with this radio.