The TCB-R2000 is the flagship model in TTi’s CB Range. News of this new radio was first announced back in 2010 but it has only just started to officially hit the shelves of dealers around the EU. The radio promises something different from other remote-head radios and the adverting literature promises no less than 5 different ways in which the radio can be installed and used.
The biggest problem with mobile CB radio in recent years has been the difficulty in finding somewhere convenient to mount a radio. Many rigs are far too large to fit into a modern small car and many end up sat on the passenger seat or mounted somewhere way too low down to control successfully or safely for that matter when mobile. It’s a fact that many new cars have odd shaped dashboards and not even a compartment where a radio could be mounted. This is where the TCB-R2000 could come in useful. The kit comprises of a remote “head unit” with large LCD Display, remote microphone with long cable, remote PTT controller with up, down channel keys and menu controls, a hands-free microphone in the same style you would find in a hands-free car kit system and finally the TTi “black box” containing the radio electronics itself.
This kit is very flexible, in fact it has more in common with some mobile ham radios than its CB counterparts. Looking at the “black box” containing the radio this is a standard DIN size unit and is key to the various mounting options available. If you have a spare DIN slot the radio will quite happily fit into this with the mounting kit provided in exactly the same way a stereo system would mount. The beauty of the TCB-R2000 is that connections from the remote head unit and controller unit are duplicated on both the front and back of the box meaning you can make a really tidy job of installation and tuck the cables out of the way. Of course if DIN mounting isn’t possible the black box could fit underneath one of the car seats and you could use the rear connections to achieve this option. Connections for an external speaker and even an MP3/AUX input are provided on both front and back panels to keep things as tidy as possible. TTi have even included an external s-meter socket should you wish to add a proper analogue style signal meter. As you can see from the options you have available you can be very creative with mounting this radio and you don’t have to use all the options provided, the radio still works well with only the remote microphone if that is what you want but the options for VOX with the mini external mic are available or using the traditional style CB microphone. All things considered there isn’t much else out there that comes this close for flexibility or mounting options. There are a few other radios offering similar features but not quite the same level of customisation such as the Lafayette Venus or the Albrecht AE-6890 but it is good to see manufacturers considering the needs of the modern motorist and addressing potential safety concerns when using a radio mobile.
The build quality of the radio and the accessory components feels well made. The LCD unit is quite solid and looks the part and the supplied hand-mic has a positive feel in the hand unlike the microphones that Albrecht supply with their recent transceivers. The remote control unit does feel a little lightweight but does the job satisfactorily as it is supplied with a self-adhesive holder too. The main transceiver unit has an all metal casing similar to that of a car stereo.
One notable feature of this radio is that it can accept an input voltage of 12v or 24v meaning that it is car and truck friendly. No need for any voltage droppers so one less thing to worry about when installing.
Looking at the large format LCD head unit you would be forgiven for thinking that this is more of an amateur radio. The LCD display is massive and very clearly back-lit. A choice of red, green and blue LED lighting is available at a push of a button on the remote controller unit. No messing with the menus for this, just one simple click of the “BL Colour” button and it’s changed, job done. For me the green lighting was most effective when reading the screen at a distance but if you want the illumination to fit in with the rest of your dash then you have that choice. The cool blue lighting looks very impressive but I found this the least usable in practice. The mounting provided to slot the LCD unit into is similar to other remote “fan style” mounts on other ham radios such as the Kenwood TS-480SAT, it comprises of a fan shaped plastic mount with strong adhesive pad underneath so once installed on the dash it could be considered a permanent mount. The LCD screen can be quick released from the mount and also adjusted in height with minimal effort. It’s worth mentioning that the “black box” portion of the radio contains a built in front mount speaker which is fine if you are DIN mounting the kit but if not you’ll need to consider an external speaker as an essential purchase at the same time as the radio unless you fancy listening to sound coming from under the seat of your vehicle or in the glove compartment!
Once you’ve decided how the whole kit is going to be mounted it’s time to turn on the radio. On the large LCD screen screen just hold down the power button and the radio comes to life with a beep. A welcome message appears on the display and I believe this can be customised to your own message through the programming mode which we’ll talk about later. Once the radio started up I was amazed at the amount of information displayed on the screen in one go. Not only do you get the large channel number but you get the frequency, band, mode, volume level, attenuator status and CTCSS tone status for both encode and decode if you are using these and there is still room to spare on the right hand side. Turning the volume control up or down momentarily shows a “graphical” representation of the volume control on the screen as a circle with a “dot” showing the current level, this is handy if you are turning the volume up or down remotely on the microphone or the handheld remote controller. The TCB-R2000 also comes equipped with two “traditional” controls on the head unit for volume and squelch so you have the best of both worlds here. Even using this radio at home on a desk opens up a world of possibilities for a tidy CB installation as there is no right or wrong way to use the kit. Underneath the LCD unit there is a number of buttons to control the lesser used features such as scanning, mode and ATT (attenuator) level and dual watch. Pushing down on the volume control knob on the head unit send the unit into “menu” mode and there are two options available out of the box here. There is a simple menu and one for advanced settings. For a beginner it might be best to leave the basic settings enabled only but when you want to experiment a little more then the advanced settings give total control over things such as the VOX (voice activated transmit) and other items.
This radio is designed to be used across the whole of the EU range of countries and it’s easy to change bands as required without restarting the set. All the usual EU norms are available and if you are in a country that supports AM that can be selected easily from the front panel mode button. As for the UK we are still awaiting the news on the new European AM/FM/SSB standard that is supposedly being implemented across all EU member states to allow a single legal CB block with access to all modes. Until that day we have the 80 channel EU/UK block of channels in FM only mode. Luckily the TCB-R2000 has these bands pre-programmed and it is easy to switch between EU and UK FM channels by pressing the mode switch once you’ve selected the correct region. Once the EU standard is approved the radio can be set to the “E” block of channels and this gives access to 4w AM/FM in common with most other radios on sale recently. It’s worth mentioning that when the UK does finally adopt this standard you’ll still need to switch back to UK mode just for the odd-ball UK 27/81 channels as these will still only be allowed in FM mode as they are exclusive to the United Kingdom.
After seeing how nice the radio looked illuminated it was time to connect an antenna. As my testing was done on the “bench” at home I hooked up the Solarcon Imax 2000 antenna on the roof and sure enough propagation was going crazy during the mid-afternoon. Nearly every channel seemed to have Russian taxi companies on them even right up into the higher end of the UK 40 channels. To say that this was annoying is an understatement as the squelch levels were up and down constantly. If you’ve been listening on the CB recently you’ll have noticed how the Russians seem to be “blowing smoke” into the EU and they don’t care about band plans too much either, generally they use a mixture of FM and AM and can be heard right the way through from the lower parts of 26MHz right up into 30MHz trampling all over the 10m ham bands too! I quickly reached for the squelch but was constantly having to reset this due to the varying noise levels. It was time to test the “DSS” feature on the radio. We’ve looked at DSS in previous reviews and this is basically the same as “ASC” on President radios. Turning the squelch knob fully counter-clockwise enables DSS and this is a clever invention that constantly monitors the “noise” level on the channels and adjusts the squelch to stop the “hash” breaking through all the time. It certainly works well and only allows proper signals through rather than random noise generated by distant stations and general interference. Of course, this stops you hearing weaker distant stations but if you want a quiet time without constantly adjusting controls then DSS might be the answer. It is particularly useful when mobile so you don’t need to keep reaching for controls when driving.
The audio receieved through the built in speaker was sufficient for most uses although I did connect up an external speaker to see how things sounded. Received stations sounded great and the tone quality was good too both in FM and AM modes. I skipped channels down to the “mid block” and listened to the “superbowl” coming in on channel 6 AM from the USA. Recently we’ve been hearing the States almost daily during the afternoon times and this has been great for testing radios. I noticed that the TCB-R2000 is very intelligent because when I plugged in the external speaker the radio knew about this straight away and some scrolling text appeared on the display to inform me that an external speaker had been connected. Very clever stuff! It also does something similar when disconnecting items too. It’s clear to see that the radio is very much microprocessor controlled. In fact on the side of the LCD head unit there is a “prog” port used for programming although the instructions do not say much about this other than a warning about not connecting anything into the port. I assume this is used for dealers or servicing updates such new firmware upgrades etc. I am unsure if this will ever be used to program the radio from a PC or if TTi will allow some type of connection in the future. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
As for the transmitted audio, I did some monitoring of this using another radio with headphones and the initial reports indicate that the TCB-R2000 is putting out some very clear TX audio in both FM and AM modes, in fact much cleaner than some previous TTi radios too. I had a couple of good reports back on air regarding the audio quality of this radio too so top marks to TTi for making a radio that not only looks impressive but sounds good on air too because this is surely one of the most important aspects of a radio – it has to sound good as well as look good. I was able to hold the microphone a few inches from my mouth and still get perfectly good reports back. I haven’t really used the VOX hands-free mic enough yet to make comments upon the audio from this device but initial finding indicate that this also works extremely well.
Amongst the radios’ more advanced options you have the choice of CTCSS. Just like on PMR-446 radios you can create a “closed” group of users with similar radios. What this actually means is that you can set the radio to use a CTCSS tone for both transmit and receive and you’ll only hear stations using the same CTCSS tones as others in your group. This is a highly effective way of reducing noise or unwanted signals coming through on the radio although it does mean everyone in your group must have a radio capable of generating the tones. At the moment there are only a few other CB radios that can use CTCSS but if you need this function it’s built in ready to use. Remember that CTCSS doesn’t give you any real privacy as others can still hear everything you say, it just stops unwanted stations and noise coming through on your chosen channel. CTCSS is also a useful function for accessing internet gateways. In some countries, particularly Germany, internet radio linking is very popular using tools like the FRN (Free Radio Network) and this radio would be great for that type of operation and indeed the TCB-R2000 could be used to set up an internet gateway thanks to the built in VOX feature and external connectivity. Here in the UK gateways do exist but they are few and far between partially down to the fact that not much CB gear has been available with CTCSS until more recent times although I could see this changing in the future with some of these nice new pieces of kit available to CB operators now. Flexibility of the TCB-R2000 is impressive, you can set receive and transmit CTCSS tones totally independently of each other so this is basically everything you could wish for in one box. All the information about CTCSS code in use is displayed on the large LCD head unit so again, top marks to TTi for thinking this through.
So many other options are available via the menu for this radio that it would be impossible to go through each one in a short review. Some highlights include 5 different call tones, just like on PMR-446 radios and a roger beep that can also be customised, dual watch allowing monitoring of two given channels at the same time and programmable memories to store your favourite channels so you can move around the band quickly. An attenuator feature is also offered in case you have issues with strong localised signals overloading the front end of the radio although I didn’t ever need to use this feature during the review as the radio performed perfectly well with no issues with “bleed-over” noted although I don’t have any very local stations near to my location. Other highlights include the ability to adjust back lighting brightness and also turn the beep noises for the keypad and microphone on and off. All in all, this is one of the most comprehensive feature sets seen in a modern CB radio and the TCB-R2000 genuinely offers something different from the rest.
So far I’ve not mentioned the multi-language instruction booklet provided with the package. The instructions only run to a few pages per language but cover all the features available on the transceiver going through the menu items and facilities available. It is well written in good quality English (I can’t really speak for the other languages) but it is sufficient to use as a quick reference when operating the radio and I found it easy to work with, for example when finding out how to changes the bands from one EU country setting to another.
A real feature packed CB radio and one of the most flexible kits seen to date. If you can’t manage to find somewhere in your vehicle to mount this radio in a neat and tidy way then you may as well give up! The kit includes everything you need to get started, the only additional purchase you might want to consider is an external speaker dependent on the mount option chosen. The large format LCD head unit is one of the biggest available on any CB out there and the lighting intensity is excellent. Currently priced around £150 at most retailers the package offers value for money when you consider the possibilities for a neat mounting when a normal CB radio wouldn’t look the part in your car or van. Even better the radio is capable of accepting voltages from 12v up to 24v to suit most mobile electrical systems.
My thanks go to Murli at Sharman Multicom for the loan of the transceiver. The TCB-R2000 should be available from stock straight away at all good UK and EU CB radio dealers.
YouTube Video of the TCB-R2000 in action (Not a TM1 video but shows radio operating)