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Thread: First post - looking for general MOT info first...

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    Question First post - looking for general MOT info first...

    Hi all... Happy to find this forum.

    Long story made short, I'm tired of the poor poor P25 simulcast performance of the consumer gear (e.g., GRE, Uniden, etc), and I'm looking to buy a suitable MOT portable or portables to fit my needs.

    The initial problem I have is figuring out what models and options I need to look out for. The systems I'm looking at are a mix of VHF, UHF and 700/800 P25, with some 9600 baud and some with 3600 baud CCs. The number of models and options available are... large. I really don't even know where to start, honestly. Number of channels, modes, frequency range, flashed for rebanding, tags, banks, zones... If there's a primer on buying used Mot gear, I'd eat it up, but I've never found anything really comprehensive. If there is such a thing, a pointer to it would be highly appreciated.

    I guess the very first question I have is this: I've assumed that Motorola radios will receive the simulcast P25 audio fine. Right? :^) (don't want to ass*u*me...) Also as my user name indicates, I'm clear on the need for no affiliations. Not looking to spill out any RF at any time - look, no touch.

    As a followup to that, I was wondering if I could post my general requirements on the buying/selling thread, or if that's really meant for specific requests with model numbers, etc.

    I'm motivated to do this... just not sure how to get bump-started.

    Ideas, help and pointers very much appreciated!

    - noaffiliatefan


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    Welcome to the site. You have asked a lot of questions and require a large range of options to cover everything.

    Here is the best advice I can give generally untill you are able to ask specific questions.

    The hardware I would recommend a APX radio if you have the buget. If not I would recommend XTS2500 ASTRO25 portables or the ASTRO Spectra for the mobile. An AStro Spectra Plus would be better but they are a bit hard to find.

    For the firmware options you want the Q806 option in the radio this gives you P25 operation. you should also look for the Q361 option this gives you both 3600 baud and 9600 baud trunking. If you dont know what Im talking about you will have to look up the flash decoder at batlabs or elsewhere to see what these options are.

    The programming of the radio depends on the options insatlled but yes they can be set not to affiliate with the systems.

    Fianlly the buy/sell forum works better if you can request a specific model such as VHF xts2500 with 50000-000000 flash. NOTE this is not a valid flash its just an example.

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    thanks much!

    Yeah, I realize I asked some questions that have exceedingly large answer sets, but I need to start somewhere, this should help me get started!

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    NP we are here to help.

    I recommend you look at ebay for some of the XTS untis on sale there. Not to buy but to see what options are generally in the radios. this will give you a good feel for what is what.


    A note we will not recommend you buy any radio from any one. that decision is yours but from your posts I gather you already knew that

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    Yep, been around the radio and cellular industry for... a while. Never delved into Moto 2-way stuff though.

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    Once you get used to the terms it isnt too much different from cellular. think of the features as apps, you need a radio with the correct apps .


    I know someone in the cellular industry too.

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    The idea to look at existing eBay auctions was a good one, I can see the options and their codes listed, as well as the flash code for radios. I'll have to start decoding those next.

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    Making some good progress here - but a few specific questions:

    * Do feature descriptions exist anywhere? My Google-fu is actually pretty good, yet I'm not finding much in the way of feature descriptions. Q387 Conventional Voting Scan - maybe I want it, maybe I don't... (this is just an example...). Should I avoid radios with "G170/H43 Remote Monitor and Radio Trace" (I suspect it's not actually applicable for what I want to do)...

    * What's up with the eBay listings that show a flashcode that isn't anywhere close to what they say is on the radio?

    * What's up with people obscuring the flashcodes on the labels? I've seen this a couple of times where a piece of tape hides the last few digits. Yeah, I can decode the flash by hand OK up to where the tape covers the last few digits, but I'm not sure what the purpose of doing this is.

    Sorry, lots of questions here, I know. But once past a certain point I should be able to keep bootstrapping myself. At least that's what I keep telling myself... :^)

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    Those are all good questions.

    Here are some answers.


    Many of the feature descriptions do what they say. in some cases you have to figure out what the words mean in "Motorolaeese" the conventional voting scan for instancethe critical word is voting without knowing what this is you are lost. Voting in the radio community is the ability of a radio to scan the freq in a given area and then to lock into the strongest. Cellular does exactly the some when it powers up. it scans the band and stores the strongest signal then signs on to that site. This is a feature you wont use exept in special circumstances. The remote trace can be enabled and disabled in the software so it is not important.


    The posted ebay flash codes are often different because someone has "jail breaked the radio" to use a term you may be more familiar with (thanks Lynnie). This is the same reason the flash code is covered up what is in the radio nolonger matches what is on the label.


    Dont worry about the questions we are here to help.

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    I do know from experience that features - and this is all across software, I'm not referring to just MOT - sometimes sound really lame but are absolutely critical, and some features sound really very cool but aren't worth a hill of beans. Hopefully I can ID the ones I need. It is good to know that even if something is included in the flash (flashport?) I can still turn it off. This tells me I shouldn't necessarily steer clear of a radio that has more than I want.

    At this point, I'm assuming that each feature stands alone by itself. That is, if you get the 9600 baud trunking feature, that doesn't mean that you'll be able to monitor 3600 baud systems. If you want both, you'll need both. P25 CAI is another.

    Just a note, I'm actually pretty familiar with radio systems - in theory. Comparators, voters, satellite RX, LPAs, duplexers, TDMA, FDMA, etc are old hat to me - again in the theory area. As I mentioned before I've never gone hands-on with any Mot gear. My hands-on experience is in the cellular side - base stations, central controllers, etc. As noted, a lot of the operation is pretty similar in nature.

    Am I smoking something if I lust after a dual-band APX? Obviously very spendy and over the top, but... I wants one.

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    As a general rule most of the ebay radios are "whored" out to the most available options. The big issue currently is that the radio may bnot be exactly what it says it is. To clarify there are some "BN" radios that are in reality "AN". this is bad news if you try to upgrade the firmware as a BN. Another issue is recasing radios the radio may not be a XTS but may be an PT or other series that has been force fed a XTS codeplug. With demand high for these radios you really need to be carefull. A ham flea market is a good place to look for radios, the same with the WTB/WTS (buy/sell) forum here. Dont get discouraged on this issue.

    Usually things like the 9600 baud go on top of the 3600 baud feature. so having both is the more desirable. The P25 CAI is just a fancy way of saying P25 operation. Beware of the option Digital raedy it is just an analog radio (moto being confusing).

    Ok on the background I wont dumb it down for you


    Yes you are smoking something me i would be happy with a business dispatcher. Just kidding.

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    I'm baaaaaaaack.... :^)

    Again, sorry for some of these questions, they may be obvious to many here but not to me (yet).

    Let's say I want to start small before going for a APX. There is a 800 MHz (rebanded) 3600 baud CC system here, simulcast P25. It's going away in less than a year, but I think I see some models on eBay that would work on this system for not a lot of money. That way I could get my chops with the software and the programming process first before diving into a more extensive/expensive radio.

    * If a radio comes with 3600 baud trunking, does that include conventional operation? I ask as it looks like you need to program a conventional freq for no-affiliate scanning to work.

    * If a radio isn't rebanded - how do you know, and how do you fix it?

    * Is there one CPS SW package from Mot or does the CPS SW package vary by radio type?

    * Same question for the programming cable - radio-specific, right?

    * I buy the CPS direct from Motorola, right? Anything to keep in mind here when ordering? Should I get the programming cable from them as well?

    Thanks, this is a very helpful board!

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    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    ....

    Let's say I want to start small before going for a APX. There is a 800 MHz (rebanded) 3600 baud CC system here, simulcast P25. It's going away in less than a year, but I think I see some models on eBay that would work on this system for not a lot of money. That way I could get my chops with the software and the programming process first before diving into a more extensive/expensive radio.
    This is a good Idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    * If a radio comes with 3600 baud trunking, does that include conventional operation? I ask as it looks like you need to program a conventional freq for no-affiliate scanning to work.
    Yes it does include conventional coverage, tho for the system you described above you don't need it...a simple TX inhibit is all you need and you can directly trunk the system talkgroups...if your using a portable, it is a simple CPS programing step...if its a mobile you will need to move a couple jumpers on the back of the control head in addition to the CPS step.
    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    * If a radio isn't rebanded - how do you know, and how do you fix it?
    by the firmware in the radio...or by reading it with CPS and looking to see if its enabled in the codeplug. A firmware bost will solve the isseue.
    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    * Is there one CPS SW package from Mot or does the CPS SW package vary by radio type?
    Differs by radio type
    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    * Same question for the programming cable - radio-specific, right?
    Yup, different cables for different radios.
    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    * I buy the CPS direct from Motorola, right? Anything to keep in mind here when ordering? Should I get the programming cable from them as well?
    I beleve if you go with Astro radios the software is now available for download on this site for free....Astro25 or APX will mean $$$ to motorola.

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    Thanks for the quick reply!

    Will the older radios that are on eBay do a decent job on the simulcast P25 system? IIRC there's a setting in CPS for CQPSK vs.. C4FM (?) modulation on the RX side?

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    Quote Originally Posted by noaffilatefan View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply!

    Will the older radios that are on eBay do a decent job on the simulcast P25 system? IIRC there's a setting in CPS for CQPSK vs.. C4FM (?) modulation on the RX side?
    By older radios I am assuming you mean Astro series such as the XST3000 or Astro Spectra?...they will work great on the system you described above(assuming proper flash). CQPSK is not used on 3600 systems. the correct modulation for an 800MHz 3600 simulcast system will be WIDE or C4FM...CQPSK comes into play on the large statewide 9600 systems like Michigan, Virginia Colorado ect.

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    Thanks - very helpful.

    Unfortunately, I can't find the radios on eBay any more - either they're gone, or I mis-read the descriptions when I originally looked for them.

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    noaffiliatefan: If you can wait a couple of weeks, I have 8 XTS3000 800 MHz Model IIs on the way in for resale. They'll be flashed for ASTRO25/9600 trunking operation. The price will be $350 CAD/each + shipping. Will also have 6 W5 ASTRO Spectra 800 MHz, flashed as same. Includes mic, speaker, bracket and power harness. $375 CAD + shipping.

    Further discussion about this can be directed into my PM inbox. I'll also list the items (properly) in the For Sale forum, once they're in.

    Meantime, if you find ANY 800 MHz XTS3000, ASTRO Saber or ASTRO Spectra (saber/spectra must be 1M vocon), and you want the radio done up for ASTRO25/9600bps trunking, I offer the conversion. PM me for more information.

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    PM sent, thanks for the heads-up!

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    (Yes, I realize I mis-spelled "affiliate" in my user name.)

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    I'll fix your username for you. Just remember it's changed, the next time you go to log in to the forum.

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    Just a quick heads up - I have two mobiles for sale of the type you're looking for, I think... If you want portables, you'll have to wait

    See: http://www.p25.ca/threads/651-Motoro...unking-Capable

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    Might as well use this thread for my follow-ups...

    So, courtesy of Mars, I have a really cool XTS 3000 and I'm listening to non-garbled P25 audio right now. I'm totally impressed with the radio's performance.

    However...

    Work has been kicking my rear quarters and all I've been able to get to is programming conventional personalities to the trunked system. Which, surprisingly enough, has not been as lame as I would have thought - the two systems I'm listening to are actually slow enough (traffic-wise) that I'm easily able to follow dispatches through. I also messed up and got my C4FM and CPQSK settings exactly backwards and the performance was still not bad for either system. Once I set the correctly I haven't heard a touch of garbled audio since.

    Nicely enough, the radio will not unmute on encrypted transmissions (does flash the red LED quickly though) and also even though I have some control channels programmed in, the radio skips over those as well. This I did not expect, but obviously it's welcome.

    But now I'm looking to enter the world of no-affiliate trunking monitoring. The amount of screens and options in CPS (using R05.03.00) is high - but I assume (ohhhh... there's that word) that not much actually needs to be entered to configure a trunked system.

    Can anyone share Cliff's Notes for minimally configuring a trunked system?

    For that matter, does anyone have any advice or strategies for using CPS in general? I have to say I don't know if CPS sucks or if I'm not approaching it in the right way. For one example, I've seen screenshots of CPS where there's an alias (text tag) available for conventional personalities - I don't see any such animal on the version I'm using, which means I have to write down WFT personality 13 actually is so I can give it a text tag in the Zone area.

    Normally I'd figure this out on my own but a) I've been working 60-80 hour weeks and 2) the penalty for doing it wrong could be a bricked radio...

    Oh, one other thing - I just found out the other day that none of my PCs have physical serial ports! Imagine my surprise...

    Which leads me to a question on "Radio Tuner" - it only wants to access COM1 - any way to change this? I have no problem communicating to the radio on COM5...

    Thanks for your patience...

    (Updated to add - what's the timeout on this site? It seems a bit short... or maybe I'm slow or write too much. Hard to tell)

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    I'm back (OK, I've never really left)...

    Still happily using my XTS3000, it's working *great* and am super happy with it.

    Now I'm eyeing more bands, and that brings up a specific question: if I see a radio that looks good but is not quite right in the flashcode department, can that be fixed? Many times I see a radio with P25 CAI and Smartnet but not P25 9600 baud CC, for example.

    I did a quick Google search and just about everything I found was from RR and I'm unsure as to its accuracy.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Just to be clear - I mean in a legitimate way.

    So, to re-state the question - is there a legitimate way of updating flashcodes?

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    You have to order options from Motorola or a dealer, and you will receive an iButton FlashKey that is a special type. It is like a "Refresh Key" with a counter, but it will also have an "Option Set" defined in it. The "Option Set" consists of a radio model number to match to, an old flashcode to match to, and a new flashcode that reflects the upgraded options purchased. Like the simpler software refresh key that just counts firmware uplifts, this also counts the number of option upgrades purchased, assuming you have to upgrade a fleet of radios. Options vary in price from about $75.00 for little things like MDC or MODAT, and go up to $500 for things like secure on through $1200 for trunking. Keep in mind that these were options for a radio that cost $1600 (model I) to $2200 (model III). These prices were from 2005, so I'm sure they probably cost less now that the radio is obsolete. Here is a copy of a "options list" for the XTS3000 from 2005-2007, this will give you an idea of how options are "legitimately" selected and ordered.

    xts3000800iii.pdf

    For comparison, here are some of the more modern radio option sheets. Remember these are also from 2007 or so so prices are most likely lower now....

    xts5000uhfiii.pdf
    xts5000vhfiii.pdf
    xts1500800iii.pdf
    xts2500800iii.pdf
    xts5000800iii.pdf