Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: Who remembers Spectra E (Spectra II)?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 24, 2012
    Posts
    123
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default Who remembers Spectra E (Spectra II)?

    The very last revision of the Spectra radio gives a significant technology upgrade to the usual spectra. It's seems to have been called "Spectra II" by the developers, but is more commonly known colloquially as "Spectra E" because these radios have an E near the end of the model number. Instead of a controller/command board with ROMs on the MLM, the Spectra E uses a flash based controller board with no mezzanine board for memory. The flash based controller has 1Mbyte of flash, 32Kbytes of codeplug EEPROM and 32Kbytes of SRAM; comparatively, the traditional spectra was seen with several memory configurations, the largest having 128Kbytes of ROM, 8Kbytes of EEPROM and 8Kbytes of SRAM.

    Legends on the internet mention that this was manufactured to support Smartzone. The examples in my posession were indeed in Smartzone service. Interestingly, the common firmware version to be found in this radio is 8.16, which is reminiscent of the traditional Spectra's common "latest" firmware version of 6.16. Some of my radios went to depot service which resulted in new command boards. Those radios have 8.18. All of mine are dash-mount units with integrated control heads.

    Flash-updating the Spectra E seems to be carried out through the usual RSS that services all other Spectra radios. The RSS contains code to wake-up the SRIB, and its help file mentions the RKN-4047A cable for flashing.

    I would like to see if anyone has any firmware file for this radio, or the RSS instruction manual, to scour for clues or obtain the bootloader. It's possible that this flashing was never really performed in the field: it is plausible that during the product lifetime there was no serious need for bugfixes or feature additions. After all the RSS is dated from the 90's, and some of my E controllers have 2005 dates marked on the parts. That's a long time.


  2. #2
    Alpha's Avatar
    Alpha is offline T S - Moderator
    CS Forums $upporter
    Join Date
    Feb 12, 2012
    Location
    Directly above the center of the earth.
    Posts
    2,780
    Thanks
    1,239
    Thanked 1,533 Times in 739 Posts
    Country: Christmas Island

    Default

    I have several Spectra-E controller boards in my junk box, ComEd in IL used them in a lot of their 900 MHz Spectras (which were SmartZone) before they went P25. They worked before I pulled them, so if anyone can extract the firmware I'd be glad to send them the boards for reading/extraction. They look like they have the same 256K flash ROM that the 512K Astro VOCON's have on them, but IIRC there is only one chip, perhaps is is a 1M ROM as you say, I haven't looked at them in quite a while.

    I have no idea what firmware version is in them. I believe only the very last released Spectra RSS supported them, I know the earlier versions did not. Is the RKN-4047 the same as the Astro Spectras use (mic to DB-25)?

    I never had any upgrade files like CVN or whatever the DOS equivalent packages were called (TCMS?) for them, but as I said I would be glad to donate the ones I have for firmware extraction if anyone is interested...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 21, 2011
    Posts
    4,948
    Thanks
    5,136
    Thanked 8,712 Times in 2,394 Posts
    Country: Canada

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    if anyone can extract the firmware I'd be glad to send them the boards for reading/extraction.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 24, 2012
    Posts
    123
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    I believe only the very last released Spectra RSS supported them, I know the earlier versions did not. Is the RKN-4047 the same as the Astro Spectras use (mic to DB-25)?

    I never had any upgrade files like CVN or whatever the DOS equivalent packages were called (TCMS?) for them, but as I said I would be glad to donate the ones I have for firmware extraction if anyone is interested...
    Correct about the RSS and the cable, Alpha. I suspect that the bootloader is similar to the Astro Mobile's. I have seen the TCMS acronym in the RSS, but I thought it was in reference to the codeplug, and I don't know what the acronym means.

    The Flash chip on the one I have here with the lid off is a 28F008, I believe I looked this one up before and confirmed it's 8Mbit.

    If Mars wants to dump the rom I think that would be great since I'm "afriad" to solder on this stuff. I am curious to look!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 08, 2012
    Posts
    280
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 177 Times in 77 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    I never had any upgrade files like CVN or whatever the DOS equivalent packages were called (TCMS?) for them, but as I said I would be glad to donate the ones I have for firmware extraction if anyone is interested...
    Not TCMS. TCMS is Trunk Code Management System... from the old days, when Motorola managed the IDs programmed into every radio around the world (theoretically). Requests were generated and a TCMS file was downloaded via modem (eww) which was then merged into the codeplug, giving you your trunking data. In some instances, the system owner didn't even have a key. This system was shut down in the mid-90s.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 06, 2012
    Location
    Wrong side of the tracks
    Posts
    54
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 52 Times in 21 Posts
    Country: United States

    Default

    The firmware was upgraded in the Spectra E with a utility called SpectraPro. The last firmware was 8.20. You needed the special cable that plugged into the port on the front of the radio under the rubber plug. (same port for keyloader). Since this is a very old radio I have supplied the utility and firmware.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 06, 2012
    Location
    Wrong side of the tracks
    Posts
    54
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 52 Times in 21 Posts
    Country: United States

    Default

    There was also a special version of RSS that let you set one of the control head buttons for RSSI. The cool part was that the RSSI button worked regardless of whether the mode was trunked or conventional. I have also used this RSS to program regular Spectras with no ill effects and the regular 6.05 RSS will still work with them.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 24, 2012
    Posts
    123
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    y85csm - Thank you very much!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 23, 2012
    Posts
    148
    Thanks
    110
    Thanked 124 Times in 54 Posts
    Country: Canada

    Default

    Thanks Y85csm! I have some Spectra E's with custom firmware that make them impractical, can't wait to try this out!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 23, 2012
    Posts
    798
    Thanks
    467
    Thanked 924 Times in 379 Posts
    Country: United States

    Default

    Did anyone ever get anywhere with this?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 19, 2013
    Location
    In Your Network
    Posts
    2,754
    Thanks
    3,171
    Thanked 2,011 Times in 1,014 Posts
    Country: Holy See

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by y85csm View Post
    The firmware was upgraded in the Spectra E with a utility called SpectraPro. The last firmware was 8.20. You needed the special cable that plugged into the port on the front of the radio under the rubber plug. (same port for keyloader). Since this is a very old radio I have supplied the utility and firmware.

    I had this software sitting on my dos laptop in the FTR folder and wondered what it did. Does it use the Astro Spectra Plus programming cable or a different one that goes in the KVL port?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 06, 2012
    Location
    Wrong side of the tracks
    Posts
    54
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 52 Times in 21 Posts
    Country: United States

    Default

    The cable goes between the SRIB and the KVL port on the chassis. See the manual.doc in the zip file for part numbers. Most likely you will need a sloooow PC to et it to run correctly. This software was written in the 80386 days.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 21, 2011
    Posts
    4,948
    Thanks
    5,136
    Thanked 8,712 Times in 2,394 Posts
    Country: Canada

    Default

    Would it be this cable?

    https://www.p25.ca/threads/684-Sourc...able-connector

    It connects to SRIB and the microphone (keyload) port on the ASTRO Spectra, for firmware updating.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 06, 2012
    Location
    Wrong side of the tracks
    Posts
    54
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 52 Times in 21 Posts
    Country: United States

    Default

    Yep - that is it. I never got to work on ASTRO Spectras or Pluses. Made the jump from Spectra E to XTL/XTS stuff.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 19, 2013
    Location
    In Your Network
    Posts
    2,754
    Thanks
    3,171
    Thanked 2,011 Times in 1,014 Posts
    Country: Holy See

    Default

    Yup, the part number sounds right. Now to dig through the footlocker of cables. I found a Micom programming cable in their the other day I didn't know I had....

  16. #16
    Alpha's Avatar
    Alpha is offline T S - Moderator
    CS Forums $upporter
    Join Date
    Feb 12, 2012
    Location
    Directly above the center of the earth.
    Posts
    2,780
    Thanks
    1,239
    Thanked 1,533 Times in 739 Posts
    Country: Christmas Island

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by y85csm View Post
    Yep - that is it. I never got to work on ASTRO Spectras or Pluses. Made the jump from Spectra E to XTL/XTS stuff.
    FWIW, that cable is only for the Astro Spectras, the AS+'s are weird beasts and they take their own unique RIB-less cable for both programming and flashing, but like the regular AS's (non Plus), it's done through the mic port as well.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 24, 2012
    Posts
    123
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Munged the firmware file into a straight bin.

    Code:
    File header: Encrypted with metadata
    filename:       R820
    descr2:        0x02    host code
    descr1:        0x07    Unkown!
    comment:    SpetraE Host Code R08.20
    date:        Wed Feb  6 14:39:18 2002
    address:    0x00000000
    objlength:    0x00028000
    Attached Files Attached Files

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 19, 2013
    Location
    In Your Network
    Posts
    2,754
    Thanks
    3,171
    Thanked 2,011 Times in 1,014 Posts
    Country: Holy See

    Default

    Nice munging!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 11, 2012
    Posts
    1,134
    Thanks
    1,078
    Thanked 1,617 Times in 689 Posts
    Country: United States

    Default

    The state of Louisiana was another big user of these radios on their old statewide Smartzone system. I picked one up in 2003 for some obscenely cheap (at the time) price, like $150. It came from DWF (Department of Wildlife & Fisheries) and looked like it had been for a swim, though miraculously none of the internals were water-damaged.

    The TEMPRSS version of Lima Alpha Bravo software supported these radios. You could create trunking personalities with TX inhibit enabled, write to the radio, then read it with normal RSS and the option would still be enabled even though it wasn't present in the software.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 24, 2012
    Posts
    123
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by motorola_otaku View Post
    You could create trunking personalities with TX inhibit enabled, write to the radio, then read it with normal RSS and the option would still be enabled even though it wasn't present in the software.
    I have noticed through experiments that the RSS preserves "invalid/unknown/unassigned" data when unpacking/packing the codeplug. It would be nice to find the TX inhibit bit for a trunking system. Are any clues known?

  21. #21
    Alpha's Avatar
    Alpha is offline T S - Moderator
    CS Forums $upporter
    Join Date
    Feb 12, 2012
    Location
    Directly above the center of the earth.
    Posts
    2,780
    Thanks
    1,239
    Thanked 1,533 Times in 739 Posts
    Country: Christmas Island

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kw71 View Post
    It would be nice to find the TX inhibit bit for a trunking system. Are any clues known?
    You gotta remember THEIR idea of TX inhibit is not OUR idea of TX inhibit. "THEIR" trunked TX inhibit means the radio still affiliates, it just wont grant PTT requests. This is dangerous and generally a bad idea unless you are authorized. Setting the radio up for passive scanning is a much better plan that won't get you in trouble.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 24, 2012
    Posts
    123
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Well there is also the kind of TX inhibit that is accomplished by the ignition switch. Anyway knowing what a bit or byte is means it's not unknown.

    Despite the "impressive" expanded memory this is still an analog spectra. The maximum codeplug size is $2600 and only 256kbytes of the flash are usable as program rom. Much of the extra RAM is never used, and it appears that the F1's internal EEPROM is never used either.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 21, 2011
    Posts
    4,948
    Thanks
    5,136
    Thanked 8,712 Times in 2,394 Posts
    Country: Canada

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    FWIW, that cable is only for the Astro Spectras, the AS+'s are weird beasts and they take their own unique RIB-less cable for both programming and flashing, but like the regular AS's (non Plus), it's done through the mic port as well.
    Quick note about AS+ cable: I learned today the cable must be plugged into brick (KVL port) and not mic jack, on remote mount head.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 19, 2013
    Location
    In Your Network
    Posts
    2,754
    Thanks
    3,171
    Thanked 2,011 Times in 1,014 Posts
    Country: Holy See

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Quick note about AS+ cable: I learned today the cable must be plugged into brick (KVL port) and not mic jack, on remote mount head.
    Oh, yeah. Like the KVL lines, the program/flash lines don't carry through to the remote head. They are only available on the drawer.