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Thread: Astro Spectra vs. Astro Spectra Plus

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    aqua9ted No Longer Registered

    Default Astro Spectra vs. Astro Spectra Plus

    I wanted to ask the group a random question that I have and for some reason I just can't find a real good answer (so I appreciate whoever might have one)

    What is the difference between an Astro Spectra and a Astro Spectra plus? I know the Astro Spectra has its own CPS and the "Plus" uses the ASTRO25 Mobiles CPS. Is the "plus" maybe just a newer version of the Astro Spectra?

    Also, I'm sure others have seen these XTL 5Ks with an Astro Spectra head? Would that be considered an XTL or Spectra? (I'm sure Ma M wouldn't sell them that way?) I appreciate all of everyone's help! Just some thoughts in my head!


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    The ASTRO Spectra Plus is simply a vocon replacement for the ASTRO Spectra. Anything before the HLN6837E was a 4MB version, the E is 8MB.

    The vocon runs the ASTRO25-family firmware and programs with the ASTRO25 Mobile CPS.

    The benefit to having the PLUS vocon is that it supports ASTRO25 (9600) trunking on bands other than 800 MHz. It also supports ADP encryption.

    512 modes (channels) are also available, compared to 255 from the non-PLUS vocon.

    Audio is also nicer from the PLUS vocon, as it has a newer DSP.

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    aqua9ted No Longer Registered

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    Thanks for the clarification Mars! This well help when doing radio shopping on eBay. So in a sense, an actual "Astro Spectra Plus" is nothing more than a vocon upgrade for regular "Astro Spectra". With this upgrade, then it would be a "Plus"... If I got that correct.

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    yes you are correct. Infact you can buy a astro spectra and change the vocon to make it a astro spectra plus.

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    Also if you are going to be using it for the no affiliate scan method you get 20 scanlists for the spectra, 60 for the plus, and 200 for an XTL.

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    Excellent info, gjhamilton.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aqua9ted View Post
    Also, I'm sure others have seen these XTL 5Ks with an Astro Spectra head? Would that be considered an XTL or Spectra? (I'm sure Ma M wouldn't sell them that way?)
    Those were the very first XTL 5000s, from the factory like that. For some reason, they didn't release the Odyssey heads when the XTLs came out.

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    I think it had more to do with compatibility with existing control groups. M has a history of doing that, they made the Mitreks pin to the old Motrac heads, the first Syntors could use the existing Micor control heads and cables. The X9000 head and cable are nearly identical to the Spectra W9 and it's later Astro cousins. They tried to keep some backward compatibility to the older legacy systems they were replacing at several points in history.

    Either that, or they had a crap-load of old W-series heads to use up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aqua9ted View Post
    Also, I'm sure others have seen these XTL 5Ks with an Astro Spectra head? Would that be considered an XTL or Spectra? (I'm sure Ma M wouldn't sell them that way?) I appreciate all of everyone's help! Just some thoughts in my head!
    An XTL with a W7 head is still an XTL. My agency has a bunch of XTL5000s installed with W7 Spectra heads and the control head will display "XTL 5000" on powerup. I wonder if /\/\ meant for this to be a cost-cutting feature or if this was discovered on accident?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 808_Guy View Post
    An XTL with a W7 head is still an XTL. My agency has a bunch of XTL5000s installed with W7 Spectra heads and the control head will display "XTL 5000" on powerup. I wonder if /\/\ meant for this to be a cost-cutting feature or if this was discovered on accident?
    Back in 2002'ish when the XTL came out, they didn't have the O5 heads yet. That was an afterthought/creation. Same deal with the O3 (HHCH). They originally used the W3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Back in 2002'ish when the XTL came out, they didn't have the O5 heads yet. That was an afterthought/creation. Same deal with the O3 (HHCH). They originally used the W3.
    Interesting. I guess my agency did the transformation in reverse then. We've gone from Spectra/ W7 to XTL/ 05 in 2008, and then the XTL/ W7 combination didn't start appearing for us until 2011.

    The more you know....

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    Personally, I prefer the older W-series heads to the O-series heads. To each and their own I guess Nothing like a nice W7 head with the dim profile enabled, in the dark. They're also superior for nighttime driving. I find all the O-series heads (especially the O3 HHCH!!!!) very distracting, even in their dimmest settings, while driving. Anyone else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Personally, I prefer the older W-series heads to the O-series heads. To each and their own I guess Nothing like a nice W7 head with the dim profile enabled, in the dark. They're also superior for nighttime driving. I find all the O-series heads (especially the O3 HHCH!!!!) very distracting, even in their dimmest settings, while driving. Anyone else?
    I thought I was the only one! With custom colors, I'm able to dim the display as low as it will go/ turn off the backlight on the mic, but that does nothing for the contrast. Unless you look at the display head on the text seems to really dim out.

    The W7 heads really take the cake when it comes to readability. The only thing I miss are the button controls on the O5 mics. It's nice to be able to switch channels and talkaround from the mic without taking my eyes off the road.

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    That enhanced mic is nice, but the most common complaint from users is they end up pushing a whack of buttons when they take it off the mic hook. Our provincial ambulance users had the "enhanced" XTL mic on a number of the trucks and they'd engage the private-call menu, interconnect, etc., when picking it up to reply to dispatch. They ended up requesting HMN1090As (the standard potato mic for GCAI) instead.

    Might be a nice mic for ham use, but for simplicity/foolproof it fails

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Personally, I prefer the older W-series heads to the O-series heads. To each and their own I guess Nothing like a nice W7 head with the dim profile enabled, in the dark. They're also superior for nighttime driving. I find all the O-series heads (especially the O3 HHCH!!!!) very distracting, even in their dimmest settings, while driving. Anyone else?
    I'll second that.. I still have a W7 head on an XTL, and have no plans on changing it.. Maybe it's just a little of my old school habbits still hanging around..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    That enhanced mic is nice, but the most common complaint from users is they end up pushing a whack of buttons when they take it off the mic hook. Our provincial ambulance users had the "enhanced" XTL mic on a number of the trucks and they'd engage the private-call menu, interconnect, etc., when picking it up to reply to dispatch. They ended up requesting HMN1090As (the standard potato mic for GCAI) instead.

    Might be a nice mic for ham use, but for simplicity/foolproof it fails
    We actually had most of our fleet reprogrammed to disable those buttons for the same reason you mentioned. I was lucky and got to keep mine with the mic buttons active. With proper training the buttons come in handy....especially when you're going 110+ after somebody who decided that a friendly chat with their local po-po just isn't on their list of things to do.

  17. #17
    aqua9ted No Longer Registered

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    Very great and valuable information everybody! I appreciate it. I never stop learning

    I've personally never had any experience with the enhanced mic, but come to think of it I would have to bet that it could be a problem with accidentally pressing buttons. Good to know for later. All things to consider when radio shopping

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    Motorola just recently stopped shipping the W9 dual head configuration for the XTL5000. They still support it in some fashion, particularly the NPD heads at least for a little while.

    I agree about the heads on the XTL. I have three XTL5000s in my POV all with W7 heads. They take up less room, and I prefer the display under all conditions over the O5 display.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfire39 View Post
    I'll second that.. I still have a W7 head on an XTL, and have no plans on changing it.. Maybe it's just a little of my old school habbits still hanging around..
    VFD is sexy!
    I think the old style heads are more rugged, anyone else notice the Odyssey heads with cracking, peeling LCD windows?

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    Yes. And they take way longer to boot up. Anyone notice that? Nothing like the old W head. Hit power button, and it's on within 3 seconds.

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    Just like my 3920, its a computer. I can go get a cup of coffee while it boots. My old service monitor you just flipped a switch. O5 heads take forever, there is no excuse for it, they should have all that stuff preloaded in flash and boot instantly. You want to change a parameter? Fine, THAT should take a little write time, but this nonsense of booting the control head OS and waiting for it to stabilize and begin comms with the radio computer over USB is BS. Too many things can go wrong with booting a computer. Transients, RF interference, all kinds of bad things in a mobile environment. This stuff should be rock solid and FAST, like a milspec radio. We pay enough for them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Yes. And they take way longer to boot up. Anyone notice that? Nothing like the old W head. Hit power button, and it's on within 3 seconds.
    So long in fact when I got my first one I though I had done something wrong on the install.

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    Are the APX heads any faster?

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    I don't own any.

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    You need to ask Obama for a grant. I'm sure he'll go for it. Yes we can!