tk8500 - Computer Control Software for
the ICOM IC-R8500 Receiver

Copyright 2004, Bob Parnass

IC-R8500 photo


tk8500 is open source software designed to control and program the ICOM IC-R8500 receiver. An introductory article about this software appeared in April 2002 Monitoring Times magazine. tk8500 was favorably reviewed by Peter Bond in Britain's Short Wave Magazine, November 2002.

Though tk8500 is intended chiefly for Linux, MacOS X, and BSD users, it will work on Microsoft Windows (95 and later), too.

tk8500 is distributed free of charge, but it is neither shareware nor in the public domain. tk8500 is a copyrighted work released under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. tk8500 is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

Most IC-R8500 controls are available in tk8500's Main Controls, Adjustments, and Secondary Controls windows. Less frequently used parameters may be accessed using the Scan Options pulldown menu, which may be "torn off" and used as a separate window (fig. 3).

You can only scan one bank at a time while operating the IC-R8500 using the radio's front panel controls. tk8500 lets you scan multiple memory channel banks. You can designate a special volume setting to be used when receiving selected frequencies (no sound card required). The louder audio can alert you to signals on important frequencies while scanning or can compensate for undermodulated transmitters.

tk8500 can be used to load the IC-R8500 memories or read memory data from the radio and store it in a file. Channels may be sorted by frequency or by label, within any bank or all banks.

Data files are in csv (comma-separated values) format, so users can create or edit them using spreadsheet or text editor programs.

tk8500 software provides a facility to log and timestamp active frequencies and relative signal strengths to a log file in csv format. For example:


Memory Channel Files

tk8500 can read files containing memory channel data. Using the mouse, you can click on a particular entry and tk8500 will tune the radio and set the mode, skip and select flags accordingly (fig. 4).

You can also download the memory data from a file to the IC-R8500, thus programming its memories.

A memory channel data file must be formated in csv (comma-separated values) format. The first line of the file should be this heading:


All the other lines should contain these fields:

	Bank number (0 - 19)
	Channel number (0 - 99)
	Frequency in MHz
	Mode (am, amn, amw, usb, lsb, cw, cwn, fm, fmn, wfm)
	skip (optional)
	select (optional)
	attenuation (optional: 0, 10, 20, 30)
	Volume (optional: vol2 )
	Label (an optional 8-char name which should not
		contain a comma or quotation marks.)
	Note (an optional variable length comment which should not
		contain a comma or quotation marks.)

This is a sample memory data file:

0,1,460.525,12.5,FM,,select,,vol2,"KNCOM P1","Kendall County Sheriff 1"
0,2,460.575,9,FM,,select,,vol2,"KNCOM F1","Kendall County Fire 1"
0,3,460.375,12.5,FM,,select,20,vol2,"KNCOM P2","Kendall County Sheriff 2"
0,4,462.975,12.5,FM,,select,,vol2,"KNCOM F2","Kendall County Fire 2"
0,6,154.71,10,FM,,select,,,ExecProt,"IL Excecutive Protection"
0,7,155.46,5,FM,,select,,,"ISP HF4"
0,8,145.17,5,FM,,,,,IHARC,"IH repeater Naperville"
0,9,155.58,5,FM,,select,10,vol2,Oswego,"Oswego Police local comms"
0,10,146.52,5,FM,,,,,SIMPLEX,"2 meter simplex"
0,11,148.6,5,FM,,select,,,"ARMY JL","Army Elwood firing range"
0,12,154.95,5,FM,,select,,vol2,CPAT,"CPAT police surveillance"
0,13,145.77,10,FM,skip,select,,,CARMA,"CARMA 2m simplex frequency"
0,14,419.65,12.5,FM,skip,,,,"USPS INS"
0,15,52.525,10,FM,skip,,,,"6M smplx"

You can use a separate text editor or spreadsheet program to create, edit, and print memory channel files. You cannot create or edit memory channel data files within tk8500.

Downloading and Installation

tk8500 is undergoing development. To download a beta test version, including source code, click on the appropriate link on the left.

Revised August 31, 2009