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Thread: Should I migrate from Astro Spectra to XTL5000? Why?

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    Default Should I migrate from Astro Spectra to XTL5000? Why?

    Excuse the ignorance, but I'm not familiar with the XTLs.

    I'm standardized on Astro Saber and Astro Spectra, but I'm seeing XTL5000s with remote control heads coming down to reasonable prices at ham swaps.

    My primary use will be ham radio hobby and emergency services in a rural area, 2 meter and 70cm. I like P25, and maybe sometime I'll find the cash to set up a P25 repeater. The Astro Spectras have been working fine for me.

    Are there enough advantages to the XTL to make it worth migrating, or would it be more cost effective to stay with that I have?

    One thing that interests me is the apparent ability to have two control heads -- does this require a special (rare) model, or is this fairly common?

    Is it by any chance possible to have two radios on a single control head (one for each band)?


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    Easier CPS, nicer control heads with more characters than 8, more memory space, etc. They're pretty nice units. I'd recommend not paying more than 400 for one though unless it's in impeccable shape, they're not really worth much more than that. Only you can say if it's worth it to upgrade.

    Dual control heads is fairly easy to set up, it's a few options in CPS and an extra cable plugged in to the brick.

    Dual radios is a complicated topic. I've only ever seen one type of XTL5000 dual brick setup, and that was with a single W3 head and required a custom cable and custom firmware that Moto made for one agency years ago.

    If you wanted a "trial run" of Astro25, you could find an Astro Spectra Plus vocon and install it into your spectra. You'd get a lot of the newer Astro25 features and be able to play around with the CPS and see what you like.

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    You should also seriously consider moving to something newer than XTLs if you can, XTLs are now end of life and parts are getting scarce in the repair end.
    Apparently NOT a radio professional.

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    Okay, sounds like it will be worth at least trying an XTL -- I'm converting an ambulance into a radio truck, and it would be good to have a control head at the front and one at the radio operator's station. The trial run would be good, but it's probably more cost effective just to get one and work with it.

    Next question: I see XTL5000s with various AS and with XTL heads, and W3. Are they interchangeable, or is the brick different for each?

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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    You should also seriously consider moving to something newer than XTLs if you can, XTLs are now end of life and parts are getting scarce in the repair end.
    I'm cheap, so the only way I can get P25 is out-of-date stuff. I prefer Ma Batwings over the alternates. I remember spending horrendous amounts for new Astro Sabers about 25 years ago (someone else's budget), but bought one in beautiful shape, with charger and a couple of batteries, for $40 at a ham swap two weekends ago. It's no less useful, and a lot more cost effective.

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    I operate both the Astro Spectra and a couple of XTLs . The Astro Spectra is easier and cheaper to repair and modify . The XTLs look nicer but if they fail or you mess up a head swap it can be difficult to fix. The modular construction of the spectra is a nice feature for showing new hams what each bit of a transceiver looks like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    You should also seriously consider moving to something newer than XTLs if you can, XTLs are now end of life and parts are getting scarce in the repair end.
    I think we all know that the repair procedure for an XTL is to dump it in the trash and go buy another one...

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    Only if you can't get the parts. I still have a stock of PA modules. I haven't had an XTL I couldn't fix yet, except for one with a bad processor I couldn't get.
    Apparently NOT a radio professional.

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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    Only if you can't get the parts. I still have a stock of PA modules. I haven't had an XTL I couldn't fix yet, except for one with a bad processor I couldn't get.
    Hmmm, how cheaply you gonna let that AS go? UHF? Model? Does it have hardware encryption, IE securenet? Hmmm...

    Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by com501 View Post
    Only if you can't get the parts. I still have a stock of PA modules. I haven't had an XTL I couldn't fix yet, except for one with a bad processor I couldn't get.
    Oh so you can fix all of these FAIL 01/90 units people have? I should start sending you radios. Seriously. Cost for repair for amateur use?

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    Quote Originally Posted by d119 View Post
    Oh so you can fix all of these FAIL 01/90 units people have? I should start sending you radios. Seriously. Cost for repair for amateur use?
    I got one I resurrected with a W7 head and the HKN6155 cable and force-feed it my archived codeplug. Finally came back to life after lots of fighting.

    As for repairs... I am interested as well. I have one 100w VHF deck with seemingly bad PAs (only puts out 28w max), and a 50w with what I assume is at minimum a bad antenna switch... puts out 0.1w TX but receives just fine - PA bias is junk but driver is good... I have just gotten to the point where I can't throw them out, but can't be bothered adding them to my pile of repair jobs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoloCDR View Post
    Next question: I see XTL5000s with various AS and with XTL heads, and W3. Are they interchangeable, or is the brick different for each?
    The Bricks are the same, but there are different TIBs for the W,4,5,7 and 9 also the W3 TIB is different than the other W head TIBs, there is a completely different TIB and flex for the O3 and O5 heads.
    Unfortunately you cannot tell which W series TIB is installed without taking the TIB off of the radio and looking at the part number. (at least that is the only way I know of.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mogman View Post
    The Bricks are the same, but there are different TIBs for the W,4,5,7 and 9 also the W3 TIB is different than the other W head TIBs, there is a completely different TIB and flex for the O3 and O5 heads.
    Unfortunately you cannot tell which W series TIB is installed without taking the TIB off of the radio and looking at the part number. (at least that is the only way I know of.)
    There shouldn't be any difference in the TIB between the W4,5,7, and 9 heads. They all use identical communication as far as I'm aware. The only reason you need a different TIB for W3 operation is because of the way power switching is handled with the soft power button on the W3.

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    Sorry, I did not write that correctly, yes the W,4,5,7,9 TIB is the same. the W3 is different because of the power switching circuitry.

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    I would also recommend switching to XTL over the astro for just the multitude of parts that are available.

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    For the Hammy stuff : How often do you deal with over-deviated analog audio?

    I ask because : The Astro Spectra handles it just fine. For the XTL, anything over that 5.0kHz mark really pisses off (technical term there lol) the DSP in the radio and the resulting RX'd audio sounds super distorted. If you've got old gasbags that like to run DC-to-Daylight radios with their gain jacked up because they want their FM audio to sound like SSB, or folks that have zero operating discipline and swallow the mics on their CCR's, you will find the listening experience less than desirable.

    That said - If you primarily operate on newer repeaters that have DSPs of their own to get that above-mentioned lovely audio packed into that 5kHz windows properly, you'll be fine.

    If you're in my situation, and primarily operate on a repeater that's an old GE MASTR III that will happy pump back out what it took in... not so much.

    As a result, I've got a bunch of XTL's that I don't use for HAMmy stuff, and older XTS3000's and Astro Spectras for HAM.

    That's my $0.02

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    XTL covers 380-470. A 438-470 Astro Spectra is rare as hen’s teeth if you need 440-450. While a 450+ Astro Spectra can be hacked to work at 440, the receiver is not happy at 442. GARY.

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    Quote Originally Posted by N4KVE View Post
    XTL covers 380-470. A 438-470 Astro Spectra is rare as henís teeth if you need 440-450. While a 450+ Astro Spectra can be hacked to work at 440, the receiver is not happy at 442. GARY.
    Those issues can be fixed.

    Speaking from a practical standpoint, I canít remember the last time I had to receive anything below 440 MHz. There are some trunking assignments in Canada, in the 410-414 MHz area, but theyíre LTR or DMR. The Astro spectra not functioning there is of no consequence.

    I would take an Astro spectra over the XTL any day. XTLs are a nightmare for servicing. Fail 01/90. Need I say more?

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    Love my AS's. Just wish you could still get upgrades. I am on lookout now for another VHF that will do trunking.

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    I too love my Astro Spectras. I will use the Spectras before I use my APX any day. Also the spectras missed out on a lot of the BS upgrade issues other lines are suffering from. Set up hardware for CPS 20.01.00 and firmware 20.50.09 or .10. You will have a bulletproof reliable radio that functions properly and sounds great.

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    The big advantages to XTLs over Astro Spectras are memory capacity (1000+ channels versus 255) and expanded displays (2x14 on an O5 versus 1x11 on a W9.) As others have mentioned the out-of-the-box wide bandwidth (136-174 and 380-470) is also a plus. 450-520 radios will also go down to 440 with no loss of RX sensitivity or TX deviation. But you're still stuck only being able to scan 15 channels unless you go all the way up to an APX, and even then you only get 30 conventional channels to scan.

    Consider thinking outside of the Motorola box. Harris MA/COM radios will let you scan every channel in a zone/system, and Kenwood radios will let you scan every channel in the radio. I got a NX-5800 for UHF DMR and P25, and I'm seriously considering swapping my VHF XTL5000 out for a NX-5700 for the expanded scanning capacity. There are lower-cost alternatives if you only need analog and P25.
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    Wow, I go to a science fiction convention for a week, and everyone gives me great advice while I'm gone!

    Considerations:

    I only need analog and P25.

    I'm mostly on 2m, do some on 440. Currently, the only Moto 450s I have are XPR7550 and 5550 (both going on the block at the next ham swap) and an Astro Saber which I've only used in commercial work.

    I'm CHEAP. With too many things that I need to spend money on. Staying with what I have is attractive, unless there are enough good reasons to make changing the better option. I've been on the Astro platform since the early 1990s, and hate to think what I paid then for stuff that is now $35 on Fleabay!

    I'm 61, and figure that whatever I do will be The Final Decision -- the platform that I'm on next year will be the standard that I stick with.

    If any of the repeaters that I'm using were built in a year starting with 2, I doubt that there were more than two other numbers after it. Losing the great audio quality of the Astros would not be a benefit.

    I'm in rural Nevada, and 256 memories are plenty.

    "I would take an Astro spectra over the XTL any day." That is the kind of info that I was looking for. As I said, I'm not an XTL expert, which is why I was asking for the help.

    All in all, it seems that the XTL has some flaws which aren't in the Astros, and not many reasons to change to XTL, so I guess the main thing I'm seeing here is that I should stay with what I have.

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    Well, being in Northern Nevada myself, I went from X9000 (still have a few, including my lowband) to AS, then to XTL and now running APX6500, 7500 and one brand new 8500 110w, which, aside from the stupid RF connector and having to add a triplexer to get decent antennas, appears to meet my needs. I have pretty much any county and agency in NV in my rig as I do radio maintenance for darn near everywhere. For your purposes, I would stick with the AS platform but definitely update capacitors and set aside a couple of the audio PA ICs before they go obsolete.
    Apparently NOT a radio professional.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoloCDR View Post
    All in all, it seems that the XTL has some flaws which aren't in the Astros, and not many reasons to change to XTL, so I guess the main thing I'm seeing here is that I should stay with what I have.
    Being able to have more descriptive channel names (and zone names at all) was my big motivation to switch from Astro Spectras to XTLs back when. But I also travel a lot and live in the 4th largest metro region in the US so things like expanded memory and large scan lists are must-haves for me.
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    Rog on the capacitors.

    I can keep the freqs straight enough.