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Dan Smith, 02/17/2012 11:54 am

Guide to programming cables

In most cases, the manufacturer of your radio produces the highest quality cable for programming. However, these are usually the most expensive and are not always the most convenient (because of a lack of USB, etc). Third party cables are available for most radios for a fraction of the cost, but quality can be an issue. Several radios use actual RS-232 signalling and thus cables for these radios can be easily home-built.

NOTE: RTSystems has recently been shipping cables intentionally handicapped to prevent their use with third party software, and to prevent use of third party cables with their software. Beware that if you buy their software/cable package, you will not be able to use their cables with CHIRP!

Alinco Radios

All (to my knowledge) Alinco radios use a three-pin 1/8" plug with a TTL converter in the 9-pin housing. This is identical to the Icom OPC-478 cable.


The UV-3R uses a Prolific USB-to-serial chip, but users report that in Windows, you must use drivers from http://409shop.com. It works out of the box on Linux.

Icom Radios

VHF/UHF Mobiles

Nearly all of these radios use an OPC-478 (or similar) cable, which plugs into the speaker jack of the radio. The housing of the 9-pin connector has TTL conversion logic, which can be home-built but it is typically easier to buy one pre-made. Note that some of the mobile D-STAR radios can also use their data connection for programming, which uses RS-232 signalling and requires no conversion hardware. Models that can do this include the IC-2820H, ID-880H, and ID-80.

IC-91AD, IC-92AD, ID-1

These radios operate in "live" mode and require a full-duplex RS-232 serial cable connection. For the IC-91AD, the OPC-1529 cable is used (and can be easily built).

The 92AD uses a moisture-proof custom bayonet connection at the top of the radio, which is only available from Icom (OPC-1799) and only with their RS-92 programming software. Note that the OPC-1797 adapter cable will not allow you to use an OPC-478 programming cable with this radio.

The ID-1 is programmed via its integrated USB connection.

.h3 IC-Q7A

For some reason, this radio doesn't use the standard three-conductor plug on the OPC-478. The cable for the Yaesu VX-7 actually works perfectly though.

Kenwood Radios


These radios use a two-pronged cable that plugs into the microphone and speaker jacks simultaneously.

TH-D7, TH-D7A, TH-D7Ag

These radios use a three-pin 3/32" plug directly wired to an RS-232 port (easily home-built).


This radio uses a regular serial cable (Female-Female) to the 9-pin connector on the front of the radio.

TM-D710, TM-V71A

This radio uses a RS-232 cable (officially, PG-5G) directly cabled to a eight-pin Mini-DIN connector marked "PC" on the back of the radio. No level converter is required, so this can be easily home-made with the right connectors.

Yaesu Radios

Check the following recommended vendors for cables:

VX-2R, VX-3R, VX-5R, VX-6R, VX-7R, FT-60R

These handhelds use the same type of cable, which is a four-pin TRRS connector and a TTL voltage converter in the 9-pin housing.

3rd party cables:
  • KAWA Mall : Works for VX-2,3,5,6,7R, ICOM IC-Q7A
  • 409shop : 2-in-1 cable for these handhelds and FT-7/8xxx mobiles


The VX-8R and VX-8DR both use a moisture-proof multi-pin screw-on connector at the top of the housing. It is recommended that you find a third-party programming cable (not from RTSystems) for this radio. Note that the radio expects 3.3V signalling.

If you are interested in building a custom cable, see this guide.

3rd party cables:


The VX-8GR uses a three-conductor 3/32" plug directly to an RS-232 port. This is the same cable that Kenwood APRS radios use for the GPS connection, and almost the same as the Icom OPC-1529 type data cable, except that a null modem adapter must be used to switch the TX and RX pins.

3rd party cables:
  • VX-8GR from Valley Enterprises

FT-7800, FT-7900, FT-8800, FT-8900

These radios use a 6-pin mini-DIN plug and a TTL converter in the 9-pin housing.

3rd party cables:

Wouxun Radios

The KG-UVD1P and UV2, UV3 radios use the same cable as the Kenwood TH-F6A and TH-K2A listed above.