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Thread: Some Astro Spectra Plus questions...

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    Default Some Astro Spectra Plus questions...

    Hi there,

    I am planning to buy an Astro Spectra Plus radio for the VHF band ('K' split). The radio is a trunk-mount 110W rig (with two D25 ports on the front). I took the time to search this forum (spent 4-5 hours with it) for information about the AS+. I have found some answers to my questions but I'm still a little bit confused...


    Q1: Can I program the radio using the two D25 connectors on the front (like the analog Spectra or the non-Plus Astro Spectra)?

    Q2: I have the Astro25 CPS and the Astro25 Tuner applications on my PC. Can I read/write the radio with these apps?

    Q3: If the radio is flashed for W7 head, how can I change that option in the CPS to use the radio with W9 head?

    Q4: Is it possible to swap the AS+ Vocon with a regular Astro Spectra Vocon and use the radio as an Astro Spectra?

    Q5: Can I use the regular Astro Spectra cables (what is connected between the radio and the control head) with this radio?

    Q6: Is there any chance to make the radio to transmit in P25 (with normal 2.83 kHz deviation) below 146 MHz? In my country the VHF ham band ends at 145 MHz



    I think this is all for now. I hope someone can help me. I have already asked the biggest Motorola dealer here in the capital, but they told me to hit the road... They don't support Astro Legacy and Astro25 radios here (nor the XTL / APX series).


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    Quote Originally Posted by HA5BRG View Post
    Q1: Can I program the radio using the two D25 connectors on the front (like the analog Spectra or the non-Plus Astro Spectra)?
    No. You will need the AS+ Programming cable, and it plugs into the KVL port on the remote brick. The part number is HKN6155A.

    Q2: I have the Astro25 CPS and the Astro25 Tuner applications on my PC. Can I read/write the radio with these apps?
    You will need ASTRO25 Mobile CPS and ASTRO25 Tuner.

    Q3: If the radio is flashed for W7 head, how can I change that option in the CPS to use the radio with W9 head?
    You can't. You'll need to get someone who has access to ASTRO25 Mobile Depot to re-provision the radio as a W9.

    Q4: Is it possible to swap the AS+ Vocon with a regular Astro Spectra Vocon and use the radio as an Astro Spectra?
    Yes. But you'll need a proper codeplug and realignment after that.

    Q5: Can I use the regular Astro Spectra cables (what is connected between the radio and the control head) with this radio?
    No. See answer to question 1.

    Q6: Is there any chance to make the radio to transmit in P25 (with normal 2.83 kHz deviation) below 146 MHz? In my country the VHF ham band ends at 145 MHz
    Yes. It requires two things: CPS modification for extended range, and you'll also need to get someone who REALLY KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING, to use a proprietary piece of software to modify the tuning partition at block 4399, offsets 0-3, to change the lowest softpot reference frequency to something lower than 146.0000 MHz. This is a false-limit set by Motorola, which prevents proper deviation/operation below 146.00000 MHz.

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    bonusmalusturpis No Longer Registered

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by HA5BRG View Post
    Q5: Can I use the regular Astro Spectra cables (what is connected between the radio and the control head) with this radio?
    No. See answer to question 1.
    Why not?

    0000000000

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonusmalusturpis View Post
    Why not?

    0000000000
    Because it's a different ****ing cable. Stop asking stupid questions.

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    Actually I think he means can you use the hkn4356 control head cable. That answer would be yes that is the same.

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    JMR061: You raise a realistic possibility, and I apologize for any perceived rudeness if that's the question -- and *I* misinterpreted it.

    Yes, control head cables are identical. I thought he was asking about programming through the DB25. Sorry about that. We just get a lot of really stupid questions these days and my patience is running out. Again, sorry.

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    bonusmalusturpis No Longer Registered

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Because it's a different ****ing cable. Stop asking stupid questions.
    Your apology is accepted.

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    Thank you Mars for the quick and absolutely professional answers Now I am getting to understand things related to AS+...

    So I need a different programming cable, but I can use the regular Astro Spectra cable (the thick black one with the green and orange wires) to connect the head to the radio itself...cool!

    I have only 2 questions left:

    Q7: If the radio is flashed for W3 by the factory, can I place the JU2 jumper to the place of JU3 on the front interconnect board (like I did at Astro Spectra), so the radio would turn on with the W3 head attached directly onto the radio's front panel D25 (and I didn't need the extra cables)? If I am correct, the Astro Spectra and the Astro Spectra Plus has the same interconnect board when they are manufactured with W3 head. Right?

    Q8: I have searced the net for a few hours for the HKN6155A cable, but I have found: NOTHING. Where can I buy this cable?


    P.S.:

    If I take an old KVL adapter (or mic cable) apart and connect it to a RIB, can I program the radio using the KVL port? Do I really need that HKN6155A cable? Why is it so special? I have the HAM spirit, I wanna build Is it possible? Does anyone of you know the pinout for the AS+ KVL port when programming?


    Thanks in advance and I hope I did not ask stupid questions. You are my only help, as my local Moto dealer is a dum**ss. They know nothing about US radios.




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    The AS+ programming cable is ribless. It contains a proprietary bubble of goo with electronics in it. I am assuming it is a level translator of some type. Since AS+ radios are so rare and precious as assets, I never messed with anything but a factory cable.

    I ordered the HKN6155 cable from MOL parts a while back, as I wanted a spare. Not sure whether they are still available, I am pretty sure they are.

    Since the AS and the AS+ share the same accessory group and the only real difference is the VOCON board and the operating system, I would assume that the front interconnect boards are quite similar. You should be able to download the manuals from MOL or they might be available right here on this site for a side by side comparison. I have several AS+ radios, but never bothered with the W3 config.
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    I feel like an idiot, 'cause I didn't find the place where I can get my hands on a HKN6155 cable.

    And what you said is absolutely true: it is a level translator between radio and PC. That is what the RLN4008 RIB does. The HKN6155 has all the eletronics inside the RS232 housing and nothing in the KVL connector end. The RLN4008 has all the eletronics inside the box and if I could put a KVL connector to it, I'd have the same result. Or am I wrong?

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    You are partially correct. The connector on both ends of the cable is generic, the electronics is housed mid-cable in a bulgy looking potted plastic molded thingy. (How's THAT for a technical term?)

    As far as the actual pinout is concerned, not sure *exactly* which pins do what, but carefully examining the schematic of the AS+ interconnect board and the outputs of a RIB box should give you the correct relationships. Getting a connector with the correct pins populated might be difficult, but you should look at the KVL AS+ to HiRose adapter which as pins that are removable and can be restaked where you need them. Then its a simple matter of building a HiRose to DB25 cable for the RIB.
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    Unfortunately I don't have the proper pinout for the AS+ KVL port fro programming. I think I will just test the radio with a regular Astro Spectra Vocon. I have 1 spare in my drawer for a VHF unit with P25. But that 135 USD is reaaaaallyyyyyy expensive for me to pay for a HKN6155 cable (found at wiscomm.com)

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    You will need a different cable to flash the radio also. Last time I checked, Motorola had 9 left. I bought 2.
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    Flash the radio? That's a good joke Where I live, Moto dealers doesn't even know what kind of radios these are :P Ha-ha

    Do you have a link to Moto where I buy the cable?


    And one more thing:

    If I put an Astro Spectra's Vocon into an AS+, do I still have to use the KVL port or can I use the front panel D25 connectors?
    Last edited by HA5BRG; Aug 16, 2013 at 08:19 AM.

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    Hmmm, not sure on what changes when you swap the vocon. There are several folks on this site that will sell you the cables. Moto is real touchy about selling out of the country but I know there are several dealers on here that don't have a problem. Perhaps someone reading this thread will pitch in.
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    I have posted comment at the "Wanted to buy" topic about the HKN6155. I hope someone will help.

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    FWIW, the AS+ cable works both for flashing and for programming. The older Astro Spectra had a different cable for flashing vs. programming, but not the Plus.

    Once you put the Astro Spectra VOCON into the radio it acts just like a regular Astro Spectra, it can program by the back DB-15 or the front DB-25 if it's a remote head model.

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    Thanks for the update I took a note about that, this is an important info!

    By the way, do you have any info about the CPS programming procedure when I put an old Astro Spectra vocon into an AS+? Can I use the Astro Spectra's D25 programming cable, in this case (or do I have to still stick with the KVL port?)

    I know that getting a HKN6155 will be very painful and expensive for me


    Some update on programming connections (as far as I know)...


    When programming an AS+ the following pins are used on the KVL port:

    1 - GND
    2 - RX DATA
    4 - SWB+
    6 - MIC PTT / PRG RESET
    7 - MIC LOW
    10 - KEYFAIL / TX DATA


    When programming a regular Astro Spectra the following pins are used on the front panel D25 port (110W radio):

    5 - BUS+
    14 - BUS-
    18 - BUS SHIELD
    22 - SWB+
    23 - BUSY


    How can I convert an RLN4008 to use with the KVL port (for that case if I can't buy an original HKN6155)?
    Last edited by HA5BRG; Aug 16, 2013 at 10:33 AM.

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    You can't.

    Tthey are TOTALLY different animals, as you are finding out from the pinouts. The older Astro Spectra / RIB uses something called SB9600 protocol which involves a "BUS" and a "BUSY" line for BI-DIRECITIONAL signalling. The newer ASTRO25 line (of which the Astro Spectra Plus is a member) uses a simpler separate RX and TX data line scheme.

    The AS+ cable is probably a simple Maxim level translator, but no one has taken theirs apart to figure it out yet, at $130 apiece it will be a while until one breaks... It may involve some other logic on the RESET pin or some other crap, maybe not.

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    This sounds very sad to me. So I have to start sparing some money again to buy a cable that is more expensive than the radio was Funny

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    Well if you feel bold, try making up a Maxim level converter (single IC plus 4 'lytic caps) or a 1488/1489 circuit to convert RS-232 to TTL and see if that works. You might make radio history, fame and fortune by pioneering the first-ever "homebrew AS+ cable mod".

    The ASTRO25 line cables that have USB interfaces have proven too complex to easily reproduce due to their use of a Dallas/Maxim 1-wire device to indicate the presence of the cable, but as far as anyone can tell there is no such chip in the RS-232 cables, but no one is quite sure since no one has ever admitted to trying to make one...

    I'm sure you can breadboard up a circuit easily that contains the level converter. Making a plug is more difficult since it uses the outer 4 pins not normally used by a microphone, so you need a KVL adapter to provide the proper connector and those aren't cheap or common, either. There is another thread on here were a user made his own connector using a small PCB and long precision machine-lead sockets.

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    I'll try to solve the issue...can you please provide the link for the page, where that user made his own interface with that small PCB thing?

    Worst case scenario: I'll buy the cable from Wiscomm Radios. I have bought several stuff from them and I am 100% satisfied with their services!


    PS:

    And what if I place a regular Astro Spectra's Vocon into the AS+ ? Can I use the old SB9600 bus to access the radio's codeplug?
    Last edited by HA5BRG; Aug 16, 2013 at 02:40 PM.

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    Believe pin 4 and 6 gets jumpered so it detects the programming cable ...detector on PTT for over 8volts ...believe this is in the AS+ DSM
    The data lines RX & TX and go the the MAX232 TTL levels out & in and the PTT low would be the ground connection.
    Should be able to power the MAX232 from the DTR DSR lines with a simple VR ...would use the MAX232 version that has internal caps and 5V powered

    Just a guess and going from recolllection but that would be my first pass

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    Yeah, my bad. I was thinking of the flash cable for the Astro Spectra.

    You are correct, the Astro25 AS+ uses the same cable for flash updates, but, like all Astro25s, requires an iButton for auth.

    Silly me, after I ordered an Astro Spectra flash cable, I found my original. Now I have TWO factory flash cables.
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    Just a FYI: I checked MOL and the HKN6155A is now replaced with the HKN6155B. The price (on my account) is $110.25 CAD.

    I know for a fact if you contact Jeff at Sandy's Communications, he will be able to get it for you for much less than my price. jeff (at) sandyscomm (dot) com.