Use of the TYT TH-UVF-1 radio by a blind person


The TYT Electronics TH-UVF-1 radio is a nice, and inexpensive, dual band two way handheld radio with a cool feature not found in many other Ham radios. It can talk. I know that radios talk if set to the right frequency, but this radio also can read the menus and the keys that are pressed, making it a good radio for blind people. It will not read everything, but with a few tricks it is almost completely accessible.

Physical Description

In this section I will describe the radio in terms that are not listed when you look for specifications of the unit in websites like Amazon. For a detailed description, look for th-uvf-1 in Google.

In terms of size, this unit fits nicely in the palm of your hand. In the left side of the unit you have the PTT button near the top. Below the PTT button you have the Monitor button, followed by the Call button. On top of the radio you find the Power / Volume knob in the right side, and the antenna on the left side. On the right side of the radio you can find the jacks for a speaker and a microphone. The jacks are covered by a piece of rubber that you remove with your finger nail. The front of the radio is the more interesting part of it. From top to bottom you will find first the speaker / mic of the radio, followed by a LCD screen, and below that you will find a key pad. In the top row you have 4 keys. From left to right they are: Menu, plus, minus, and u / v. immediately below that the radio have a numeric keypad arranged like a phone keypad.

Use of the radio

First thing you need to do is to turn the knob in the top of the radio clockwise to turn the radio on. You should hear a beep followed by a “Power On “voice prompt. If you don’t hear anything, turn over your radio, and check if it seem that something is missing there. Did you installed the battery that came in the box with the radio? You should put it in the back, and slide it until you hear a click. If you need to remove it, near the top you should press the release button of the battery, and it will slide off. If you feel two small holes between the release button and the battery, they are for attaching the belt clip to the radio with the screws that are included in the package. If you have time and a small phillips screwdriver, this is a good time to attach the belt clip. In the top of the belt clip you can find a hole that I think is for attaching the wrist strap. At least, this was the only place that I found available.

Back to the operation of the radio, if you hear the beep, but no voice prompt, then the voice feature is turned off, and you will need to ask for sighted assistance. If no one is available, follow this instructions as quickly as you can once you start the procedure, because if you stop for a few seconds, you will be taken out of the menus: Press the Menu key followed by the 0 key. Press the plus key 11 times, press menu, then the plus key and menu again. The radio should now be speaking to you in English. If you don’t understand the message, probably the radio is set in Chinese, and I have no clue of what you should do other than returning the equipment to the place you bought it. 😉

The radio can operate in two different modes. The first is frequency mode, on which you enter the frequencies directly using the keypad. For example for entering the frequency 162.400 MHz, you press those six digits, without the decimal point. that frequency is the NOAA weather Service in San Juan, PR. I used that frequency, because it is on the air all the time. I then saved that frequency on memory so that I can distinguish between the frequency mode, and the second mode, which is memory mode.

In memory mode you select between the saved frequencies only. You can check all the stored channels using the plus and the minus keys, or you can enter the number of the desired memory. The TH-UVF-1 have 128 memories available. The voice prompt will tell you the number of the memory selected, but will not read the frequency or the name of the channel. It is possible to store names in memory, but this option is not accessible for blind people. My tip here is to prepare a list on your computer with the information of the frequencies stored including the memory used.
To switch between the two modes, keep pressed the u / v key for approximately 2 seconds until you hear a beep. In the memory mode you will hear the memory channel number. In the frequency mode, you will only hear the mentioned beep.

Since there are 128 memory spaces, you have to remember to add some zeros to the left of the desired channel, if it is a number less than 100. For example, for channel 6 you will press 0 0 6, and for channel 51 you press 051.
Now it is a good time for you to play around with the menus, which I will be discussing in the next section.

Menu Codes

Below you will find a list of all the menu codes available in the radio. Different to other radios, you can’t access them directly by entering the code number, but you will have to browse around using the Menu key and the plus and minus keys. Once you find the desired menu item, pressing the menu key will act as an Enter key, taking you to the available options of that menu item. To return to the previous level, you need to press the u / v key, which will act as an Escape key. Some of the menu items have a shortcut with the numeric key pad. For example, the first ten items in the list can be accessed using the the combination of pressing the menu key and then pressing the number of the item. For item number 10 you press the menu key and the 0 key.

For some items in the list, I will add some comments which will be shown as notes. Please read carefully this section, because the radio have some items that the voice prompt will say something that is not what is shown in the display.

Allows operator to scan through all channels that were chosen for the scan group by software program: See #19 below.

2. TX-SEL (Voice prompt = Priority Transmit)
Busy= the radio receives both channels listed on the screen. When you transmit, you will transmit on the channel where the last incoming transmission was received.
Edit = the radio receives both channels listed on the screen. The radio will only transmit on the channel chosen. This channel is denoted by the small [^] to the left of the frequency
Note: Having the dual receive on can be problematic for a blind person, since you don’t have a way to identify the received frequency. I will show how to deactivate this function below. Also, this menu option don’t have a voice prompt for alerting the different settings.

3. VOX/Voice Operated Transmit
Numbers determine the amount of modulation required in order for the microphone to activate for “hands-free” transmission. 8= requires the least amount of volume to activate.

4. POW /Power
High = 4 watts in UHF and 5 watts in VHF output transmission power
Low = 0.5 watts output transmission power.

5. SQL Squelch
Numbers determine the amount of received signal required before the radio will provide audio for you to hear the signal.
Note: You can open the squelch, you can do it by pressing the Monitor key. This is the button under the PTT.

6. SCR. (Voice prompt = Scrambler)
This is the Scramble code used for APRO listed above. Allows the operator to make the transmission unintelligible to anyone that is not using the same code.
Note: Radio Amateurs should not use this option.

7. LED / Light Emitting Diode. Lamp
On = remains on at all times
Auto = remains on for a limited time after transmitting or receiving a signal
Off = remains off at all times.

8. LIGHT /Color (Voice prompt = Display Color)
allows operator to choose the most pleasant LED color.

On = produces a loud “beep” when a button is pressed.
Off = OFF
Note: My recommendation is to keep this setting On, because you will need to hear the beeps as you will find out below in my tip on how to be able to select a CTCSS tone.

10. ANI (Code ID)
The radio is capable of transmitting a digital signal that identifies your radio to other radio. Turning this feature off turns off the Automatic Numeric Identification.

11. D.Wait (Dual Receive) (Voice prompt = Mode set)
Off = the radio will only receive the channel with the [^] to the left of the frequency.
On = the radio will receive transmissions from the first channel to receive a carrier. The radio will not receive transmissions from both channels at the same time.
Note: I turned this feature off, because it was difficult to identify which frequency I was receiving when it was On. My other problem was finding this option, since the voice prompt is labeled incorrectly in my opinion. I think that “Dual Receive”should be a better voice label than “Mode Set”.

12. APRO (Voice prompt = Set)
Off = standard transmissions received

SCR = Scramble code that is listed under (#6. SCR.No) will be used to scramble your transmission and reception.

Comp = Compresses your transmission. Used only with other radios that use the same mode.
Note: Keep this option Off.
13. TOT [time out timer]
When set, this will limit the amount of time that the transmitter will continue to transmit without “unkeying” the microphone. Prevents excessive transmissions when the transmit key is accidentally activated. Best used when the VOX is actively being used.

14. BCLO/ Busy Channel Lock (Voice Prompt= Busy Lock)
Off = Standard Transmissions received

Carry or Wave = The radio will not transmit if a carrier is present on the channel being used.

QT/DQT = The radio will not transmit when a CTCSS or DCS signal is present on the channel.

15. VOX. SW
Voice Operated Relay Switch.
Turns on the Voice Operated Relay feature for hands free use: see VOX above.. Be sure to use the TOT for this function.

16. ROGER (Voice Prompt = Transmit Beep)
ON = Provides an audible tone at the end of your transmission to indicate that you have completed transmitting. Same as saying, “Over”.
Note: This tone is a little bit annoying, and I turned it Off.

17. DW or Dual Watch (Voice Prompt = Advance Set)
Continues to listen for transmissions on the VHF/UHF channels while the radio is being used to listen to FM radio. The radio will immediately return to the VHF/UHF monitoring when a carrier is present and will go back to the FM Radio when carrier stops. FM radio can be access by pressing the [MENU] button and then the Monitor button between the transmit key and orange call button on the left side of the radio.

18. RX SAV/ Battery Save. (Voice Prompt= Receive Set)
On = Will turn off receive function for approximately 1 second. Periodically checks to see if there is a carrier. Saves and increases battery life.. Could cause a failure to receive the beginning of a transmission.
Off = Decreased battery life.

19. SCAN Mode
Time = Scanning will stop for a period of time when a carrier is received.. Then will return to scanning.

Seek = Scanning will cease when a signal is found.

Carry = Scanning will stop when a signal is found. Scanning will resume when the signal stops.

20. AUTOLK / Auto lock
Radio can be locked manually by pressing and holding the [* LOCK] button. With Auto lock, the radio is automatically locked to prevent accidental changing of the frequency or menu functions during operation. Transmission keys are not affected by Auto lock.

ON= This feature is used for visually impaired operator. Allows for a digital voice to announce the key that is being activated.

22. OPN. SET (Voice Prompt= Display Set)
sets screen message when radio is turned on.
Off = no screen message displayed when radio is turned on.
MSG = Screen message displayed that is chosen by software or manual input.. Can be set to display license number or unit number
DC = Screen message displays current battery voltage available.

Note: I haven’t used this setting, since I can’t read the display, but maybe it would be a good idea to set a message with a phone number to call if someone find the radio in case you lose it.

23. VLT – Voltage
Displays the current battery voltage.

24. PON. MSG (Voice Prompt= Display)
Message to be displayed when radio is turned on. Can be input manually or with software. See OPN.SET above.

25. DIS.NM (Voice Prompt- Display Name)
Displays only in memory function.
OFF = Channels are displayed by the frequency of that channel.
ON = Channels are displayed by the name input by software or manual input..

25a. OFFSET (Voice Prompt= Shift)
Allows the operator to set the frequency offset for the repeater operations. This option only is shown in Frequency Mode.
Note: The offset value should be entered as a 5 digits number. For example, an offset of 600 KHz should be entered as 0 0 6 0 0 , and an offset of 5 MHz should be entered as 0 5 0 0 0. The direction of the offset is selected in a different option to be discussed below.

26. CH.NAME (Voice Prompt- Channel name)
The name input for the channel. i.e. Fire, Rescue, Police. If left blank, only the frequency will be displayed. If input, but the DIS.NM is set to off, only the frequency will be displayed.

27. C-CDC (Voice Prompt= Code)
The CTCSS or Digital code squelch used to isolate the transmitted channel from users that are not apart of the group. When set, this activates both the Transmit and Receive codes used. When activated, this will set both the R-CDC and T-CDC listed below.

Note: The radio have a shortcut for this item by pressing the Menu key, and then pressing the * key. The Settings of this item don’t have a voice prompt that will let you select the desired code. In the next section of this article I will indicate how I work this item without reading the display.

28. R-CDC (Voice prompt= Decode)
This activates only the Receive CTCSS or Digital squelch codes for groups. When activated, and the C-CDC is off, the radio will not transmit the code to activate other radios, but must receive the code in order for you to hear other radios.

Note: The Settings of this item don’t have a voice prompt that will let you select the desired code. In the next section of this article I will indicate how I work this item without reading the display.

29. T-CDC (Voice prompt= Encode)
This activates only the Transmission of the CTCSS or Digital squelch codes for groups. When activated, and the C-CDC is off, the radio will receive all transmissions, but can only be heard by radios that are set to the appropriate code or are not set to any code.

Note: The Settings of this item don’t have a voice prompt that will let you select the desired code. In the next section of this article I will indicate how I work this item without reading the display.

30. S-D (Voice prompt= Shift Up)
Identifies the offset direction of the Transmit Frequency from the Receive Frequency. Used for repeaters. This menu item does not display in memory function.
Off = Simplex or direct transmission between radios.
[+ ]= indicates that the Transmitted frequency is offset higher than the received frequency.
[- ]= indicates that the Transmitted frequency is offset lower than the received frequency.

The shortcut for this item is the sequence of Menu key and the # key.

31. STEP
Indicates the Frequency spacing of frequencies chosen. This is automatically chosen when frequencies are input by software. VHF are usually 5 KHz while UHF are usually 10 MHz. When using modified software for Part 90 approved radios, this feature defaults to the next higher level. (i.e. 7.5k is actually 10k and 12.5k is actually 25k… 5k is 5k). This is an error in the software programming and may be corrected in future additions.

32. N/W ((Voice prompt- Bandwidth)
Narrow = Narrow Band radio operations.
Wide = Wide Band Radio Operations.

33. SEEK CTCSS (Voice prompt= Scan CTCSS)
When this feature is chosen the radio will continually seek an unknown CTCSS tone squelch for a frequency in use. When the correct tone is found, the display will continually display the number for that tone for reference. If none is found, see SEEK DTS below.

34. SEEK DTS (Voice prompt- Scan DTS)
When this feature is chosen the radio will continually seek an unknown Digital tone squelch for a frequency in use. When the correct tone is found, the display will continually display the number for that tone for reference. If none is found, press the [#T-R] button in the lower right to change from D023N to D023I digital tone squelch search.

How to set a Tone squelch Tone without reading the display

Sometimes it is necessary to set a Sub audible tone to be able to use a repeater. The first thing you need to know is if you need to use the tone when transmitting and receiving, or just to receive, or to transmit. When the code is necessary to transmit and to receive, you will use the menu code number 27 discussed above and named “Code”by the voice prompt. the fastest way to get to this item is by pressing the menu key followed by the * key. If you need to use the code just when receiving, you need to activate the menu item number 28, named “Decode”by the voice prompt. The shortcut to this item is pressing the Menu key followed by the * key, and then pressing the + key one time. If on the other hand, you only need to use a tone code when transmitting, then you will need to select the menu item number 29 named “Encode”. Of the 3 options, this is the only one that I have used. The shortcut for this is pressing the menu key followed by the * key, and then pressing the + key two times.

Once you select the proper setting, you have to press the Menu key to access the different options available. The options are the same for 3 menu items, and I will only detail what I do when selecting a code for the Encode item. Once activated it is necessary to select some other options that do not have voice prompts, making it difficult for blind people, but not impossible, if you follow my procedure.

You will need to select if you want to turn off the use of the code, or if you want to use a CTCSS tone, or a DTS tone. To select one of this 3 alternatives, you can cycle through them by pressing the * key. The order on which they appear is OFF, CTCSS, and DTS. Every time you press the * key you will move to the next option, and when you end the list, it will start again. As you can notice, you can keep pressing the * key many times without knowing which option is selected. The trick for setting your desired option is being able to identify when the Off option is shown in the display that I can’t read. What I do is that after each time that I press the star, I also press the Plus sign several times to hear the beep produced. For one of the three options the sound of the beep will be different to the sound produced in the other two options. When you hear that option that produce the beep that is different to the regular beep, you are in the Off option. If you don’t want to use a squelch sound, you only have to press the Menu key to save this option, and you are done

If you want to set a CTCSS tone, after finding the Off option, you have to press the * key once, but don’t press the Plus or Minus keys to hear the sound of the beep. Once you select the CTCSS option, by default the 67.0 Hz tone will be shown in the screen. Every time that you press the Plus Key you will be moved to the next code in the list. If for example you need to use the 127.3 Hz code, this is the 20th code in the list. Since by default you start in the first code of the list, to get to the 20th code you will need to press the Plus key 19 times. Once you get to the desired code, you press the Menu key to save it, and the U / V key to exit the menu. I know that you are now thinking, how to know the position of the desired code in the list. In a later section I will provide the list of the possible CTCSS codes. Copy it to a place that you can access easily. I have it in a file in my phone.

If you need to set a DTS code, the procedure is similar, but you need to press the * key two times after detecting the Off option. The bad news is that I haven’t used any repeater with this kind of tone, and I don’t have the list of the codes.

How to save a preset

First thing you need to know is that you can’t edit an existing preset. Once a preset is saved, if you made something wrong, you will need to start the whole process again.
1. Set the radio in frequency mode. If you are in this mode, and you press the plus key, you will hear the word “Plus”. If you are in memory mode and you press the Plus key, you will hear the number of the selected memory. When you are in memory mode, you need to press and hold the u / v key a few seconds until you hear a beep

2. Enter the desired frequency. For example if you want to save 447.650 MHz, you will enter 4 4 7 6 5 0.
Set the tone squelch using the procedure described above.

3. Set the offset by selecting the “Shift “menu item and entering the desired value as a 5 digits number. For example if you want to select a 5 MHz offset, you need to enter 0 5 0 0 0. Remember to press the Menu key after the number so that the setting is saved, and then press u / v to go back to the main menu.

4. select the direction of the offset by selecting the “Shift Up” menu item. Remember that you can use the shortcut pressing the Menu key followed by the # key. After you hear that you are in the “Shift Up”item, you must press the Menu key to be able to select the desired setting. For Simplex, select Off. If you want a negative offset, press the menu key several times until you hear “Minus”. Then press the menu key to save this setting, and the u / v key to get back to the menu.
4. Now you are ready to store the information in a memory channel. You can select a value between 1 and 128 that is not currently in use,since if it is used, the information will not be stored. Press the menu key followed by the u / v key and then enter the 3 digits code of the memory. If you want to save the information in channel 51, press 0 5 1, and then press again u /v to store it. Be careful not to press instead Menu. To accept the information you must press u / v. After pressing this key, your information will be saved, and the radio will enter in memory mode. If you want to save other information, you need to return to frequency mode, and start all the process again. If you are not changing some values like tone, offset or direction, you can skip the step associated with that information, since it will be in the memory of the radio.

How to delete a memory preset

1. Turn the radio off.
2. Press and hold the u / v key and turn the radio on. You will hear the phrase “Delete Channel”
3. Select the desired channel by using the Plus and Minus keys, or by entering the channel number, and press the menu key.
4. Repeat the previous step to delete other channels.
5. Once you finish deleting channels, turn the radio off and on again.

Enjoy your radio!


Carlos M Contreras

Appendix A: List of CTCSS Codes

Id Code

1 67.0
2 69.3
3 71.9
4 74.4
5 77.0
6 79.7
7 82.5
8 85.4
9 88.5
10 91.5
11 94.8
12 97.4
13 100.0
14 103.5
15 107.2
16 110.9
17 114.8
18 118.8
19 123.0
20 127.3
21 131.8
22 136.5
23 141.3
24 146.2
25 151.4
26 156.7
27 159.8
28 162.2
29 165.5
30 167.9
31 171.3
32 173.8
33 177.3
34 179.9
35 183.5
36 186.2
37 189.9
38 192.8
39 196.6
40 199.5
41 203.5
42 206.5
43 210.7
44 218.1
45 225.7
46 229.1
47 233.6
48 241.8
49 250.3
50 254.1

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