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Thread: W3 100w astro spectra P25 issue

  1. #1
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

    Default W3 100w astro spectra P25 issue

    folks

    I have a 110w w3 astro spectra 453-488mghz the problem i am having is that when operating in the P25 mode on a repeaterized MIXED Mode narowband channel close to the radio's bandsplit ie: 487.98xxx the radio wil not access the repeater. I can talk simplex to an astro 25 portable however the w3 mobile even when xmitting on p25 simplex close to 488 limit has an awful; delay before the portable will decode audio. The radio will talk conventional on the same repeaterized channel crystal clear. The radio will also talk p25 simplex and repeaterized Very well on channels in the 472.000mghz range.
    I was told by a reliable motorola guy that these astro spectras did not like going "out of band" in p25 However the radio really is not yet out of band (which is 488.000mghz. I am wondering what exactly the problem is here will the radio have to be tuned to pass p25 audio close to this 488 limit or am i just out of luck. The frustrating thing is i am close to but not quite over the radios band limit. I have had 3 people check the codeplug so i am positive i have no errors there. I have access to all the legit software and have a buddy with a local MSS. Any suggestions on what to try or adjust would be appreciated.
    I purchased the radio on flea-bay and it was N.O.S still sealed in the box, I am wondering if it needs to be tuned/or tweaked to something other than the factory standard to pass audio onthe fringes of its bandlimit. Ohh one more thing i noticed On one of the repeaterized freqs in the 485.6xxx ish range the radio will transmit and I can see the blinking red rx led on the control head blink as if the repeater tail is kicking in, however the radio will not pass audio. if i go to simplex 482.6xxx on that repeater pair I get clear p25 audio


    thanks all


    thanks


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    Hi,

    The split for that radio should be 450-482. So I would think you're operating out-of-band. But maybe my info is wrong.

    There's an interesting problem with the ASTRO Spectra, and it can be corrected...

    The tuning blocks, which are stored in the codeplug, contain soft-pot values. Those values control all sorts of things, including reference warp, deviation, deviation balance compensation, power output, etc. There's also an artificial "soft limit" which controls the lower and upper frequency operating limits. (Keep in mind there are also hardware limitations.) These soft-limits are Motorola's way of ensuring the radio performs like crap, when operating outside of the specified frequency limits. Your radio ignores the soft-pot values when operating outside of normal frequency limits, and the deviation will be all screwed up. This explains why your other radio cannot demodulate the P25 transmissions without significant difficulties.

    I never did track down the location of the "soft limit" in the s-record, but it IS in there and can be modified.

    I have successfully modified the ASTRO Spectra Plus to operate properly on the UHF ham band. I tracked down the soft-limit value in the tuning partition and once corrected, the radio operated flawlessly without packet loss. I had the EXACT same problem as you, when I was transmitting at 449.995 MHz, but not at 450.000 MHz.

    This "soft limit" needs to be tracked down. Those who use the "K" split ASTRO Spectra have problems operating below 146 MHz, as deviation and other alignment parameters are not referenced. If we can shift the soft-limit down to 140 MHz (or thereabouts) then things will be fine.

    And again, to clarify, what I am talking about has nothing to do with hardware limitations in the radio itself. This soft-limit is definitely software-controlled and referenced inside of the s-record.

    Another moderator (Alpha) and I have done extensive testing and work on this soft-limit project. Hopefully we can all get on the same page and post the fix for the ASTRO Spectra. (My experience is limited to the PLUS vocon; but the regular vocon will be the same hack -- just a different location in memory.)

    Hope this helps. More to come.

  3. #3
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

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    Mars
    most informative reply! I completely understand the hardware aspect The radio literally was still sealed in the origional container when i got it, that being said the outside factory box/sticker clearly says 453-488mghz BUT in the cps the bandsplit reads out as like 4533-482. When I try to prog the chasis the cps throws a out of band warning but takes the codeplug. So I would assume M built in the 488 limit But mabee there was an SRN ir something instructing an MSS how to "tweak: the radio to get to the 488 limit for coustomers that need it ?? I have a good freind that worka @ a big city PD and he is willing to try to allign the radio when his schedule allows, I will provide him with this post and any other responces to it incase he has problems/questions.
    PS
    I do have a saved s-record available incase anybody has any questions/curiosities

    thanks all

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    I can create you a UHF 3.5 s-record to try. That would give the radio a 453-490 rating. If you are interested let me know.

    JMR061

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    JMR601, yes I believe a 3.5 S-record may help radiogeek97. I have a 3.5 on my bench right now, the VCO and RF frontend have both range 3 and 4 markers, and SP01 suffixes to the part numbers, so it looks like a R3.5 was the "missing S Split" mobile radios, an SP version for the T band folks. If the problem is an "artificial P25 limit" at the upper end of the band, at least a quick test with a 3.5 S-record will tell you if that's the case or not, if it fixes the problem then it's an artificial limitation. If not, your VCO might be running on the edge of unlock there; in analog mode there it sometimes sounds like a freight train in the background,that's residual FM from the VCO running unstably at the edge of it's range.

    As Mars was saying M as built artificial limits into the P25 operation, so that if you go below a certain hard cutoff frequency the deviation drops to about 1/4 the proper value. I think these limits only exist at the bottom of the bands, from what I have seen I think there is no corresponding upper limit value, I believe it makes proper P25 up until the VCO loses lock at the upper end of it's frequency range. I could be wrong, there is no digital stuff where I live above 478 MHz. If I'm right, then your VCO is just running out of juice at the frequency of interest, if I'm wrong, then the 3.5 S record should have that upper limit raised and will be a good test.

    With most radios, and models, the radio firmware is able to extrapolate the tuning values and project beyond the end of the published range to still allow proper deviation and operation out of band. This is why I refer to the lower "don't do P25 properly" limit as "artificial", there is no reason the firmware can't also extrapolate tuning values for out of band at the lower end as well, and in fact it does for analog operation just fine. It seems like a deliberate FU from Mother M to the Ham community, which is ironic because Hams designed this crap, and it was tested and developed in the Ham bands, then had the Ham band operation deliberately prohibited. Thanks! One notable exception is the Lowband MaxTrac - it goes apesh*t in the 6 meter Ham band, 50-54 MHz but there are hardware mods to compensate, IIRC.

    What I have done is for UHF 450-482 radios, I usually just put in a Euro/Canadian/Motorcycle 438-470 codeplug. For VHF R2, I use an R1 codeplug for 136-162; but in both cases the VCO usually requires hardware modification to ensure lock over the entire frequency range. I have been doing this for so long, I don't even know if I have an American 450-482 codeplug around anymore.

    This is actually a timely topic. I was approached by a member here who wishes to remain anonymous, but he informed me that the later firmware doesn't have this "artificial" limit - either it ignores the tuning value for "don't do P25" or it give it a wider margin (uses the lower hard band limit value instead?). I was hoping to test and confirm this - but I simply don't have the time right now - perhaps someone can test this theory. Here's the procedure: Take a radio with early R7 or R11 firmware in it (or earlier) and make sure the APCO P25 deviation drops off below 450.000 (like 448 MHz or so) to about 1.5 kHz. Then, update the firmware in the radio to the latest R7.71.07 or R11.71.07 and see if the deviation at 448 MHz comes back to 5 kHz (assuming wideband). A similar test below 146.000 for VHF also needs to be done, to see if this correct or not. If this proves true, then our "artificial P25 limit" problems are moot. While doing this it would also be informational to find out of there in fact is a similar limit at the upper end of the band where stops making P25 deviate properly, I suspect there isn't such a value, but there may be.

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    Just a quick note: ASTRO deviation should be 2.83 KHz, not 5 KHz. Most analog service monitors will show it bouncing around 2.9 - 3.4 KHz.

    If you are testing analog deviation and have AGC enabled, you may not be able to achieve 5 KHz due to the AGC activation -- 3.5 - 4.5 KHz is likely. (Whistling into the mic)

    I also found the "artificial limit" affected analog deviation, too, but it's not as noticeable because of the nature of analog. But as Alpha says, this whole issue could be firmware-specific. The artificial "soft limit" was one of the most bizarre things Moto ever did. None of us could ever figure out its purpose -- other than to dick with hams.

  7. #7
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

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    If i "get a a new s-record" will that mess up my current flashcode, this current flashcode was not factory installed if you all get my drift i just checked the firmware it 11.2400

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    Beautiful! You can be our Test Subject #4432512520!

    From what I was told the "fix" for OOB P25 was starting at 11.25! So even before you try a different S-Record you should try a firmware upgrade. See if that fixes your problem. If not, then try the S-Record.

    In answer to your question, yes you will take on whatever flashcode, model and serial number the S-Record has in it. Even worse, you will need to retune the radio because all the tuning values will be wrong. However, they will probably be close enough to the ballpark to work for a quick test to see if the deviation problem goes away. If the new S-Record fixes your problem and has a suitable flashcode, keep it and get the radio retuned.

  9. #9
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    Knowing the lower band limit hack for the Astro Spectra+ VHF 146-174 to get it to do P25 below 146 would be great if that is possible.


    JMR061

    Quote Originally Posted by Mars View Post
    Hi,

    The split for that radio should be 450-482. So I would think you're operating out-of-band. But maybe my info is wrong.

    There's an interesting problem with the ASTRO Spectra, and it can be corrected...

    The tuning blocks, which are stored in the codeplug, contain soft-pot values. Those values control all sorts of things, including reference warp, deviation, deviation balance compensation, power output, etc. There's also an artificial "soft limit" which controls the lower and upper frequency operating limits. (Keep in mind there are also hardware limitations.) These soft-limits are Motorola's way of ensuring the radio performs like crap, when operating outside of the specified frequency limits. Your radio ignores the soft-pot values when operating outside of normal frequency limits, and the deviation will be all screwed up. This explains why your other radio cannot demodulate the P25 transmissions without significant difficulties.

    I never did track down the location of the "soft limit" in the s-record, but it IS in there and can be modified.

    I have successfully modified the ASTRO Spectra Plus to operate properly on the UHF ham band. I tracked down the soft-limit value in the tuning partition and once corrected, the radio operated flawlessly without packet loss. I had the EXACT same problem as you, when I was transmitting at 449.995 MHz, but not at 450.000 MHz.

    This "soft limit" needs to be tracked down. Those who use the "K" split ASTRO Spectra have problems operating below 146 MHz, as deviation and other alignment parameters are not referenced. If we can shift the soft-limit down to 140 MHz (or thereabouts) then things will be fine.

    And again, to clarify, what I am talking about has nothing to do with hardware limitations in the radio itself. This soft-limit is definitely software-controlled and referenced inside of the s-record.

    Another moderator (Alpha) and I have done extensive testing and work on this soft-limit project. Hopefully we can all get on the same page and post the fix for the ASTRO Spectra. (My experience is limited to the PLUS vocon; but the regular vocon will be the same hack -- just a different location in memory.)

    Hope this helps. More to come.

  10. #10
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

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    the s-record fix would be easier as i dont have to ship out the radio to somebody, if I write down the current softpot values I assume they still will be N.G because the radio will have to be tewaked/tuned to get the right p25 performance no matter what s-record or firmware gets into the radio.

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    If Alpha and I are able to track down the soft-limit in the ASTRO Spectra, we'll definitely post the mod for all to use. No problems there, guys.

    The ASTRO Spectra Plus is a much different method (to accomplish the same thing), and I can't post the tools online to get the job done. But I am happy to post the information/instructions to do so, should anyone come across the tools on their own.

    It might also be possible for the P25 Technical Team to write a "patch" into the CPFix utility (which we've done numerous times already) to fix the AS+ tuning partition. This is something we will look into.

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    radogeek97, too bad it would have been a dead-easy test if you could have gotten it upgraded first, but if you are to use the alt S-Record, then yes, I would believe copying down the softpots may help; however, the other S-Record may have different ones, they might have a different spread across the somewhat different frequency range. Since that both base at 450, I think you might be OK. When you write down the values, write down what the tuning freqs are too while you're at it. If the tuning freqs are indeed different in the higher range radio, then you may have to interpolate the values manually to come up with approximate values. Does that make sense?

  13. #13
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

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    alpha
    i wouldnt be opposed to get it uplifted, if anybody could reccomend the most trusted/reliable person to do it, i will look into it and communicate a bit with them. Its a time/cost/conveinence/trust kind of thing. thanks there is soo much good info that i almost have more questions and curiosity now than before lol

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    Several of the mods here are reputable radio techs, and all of them are trustworthy. Also, many of our members here are as well, a good place to look might be our feedback forum, those are comments from satisfied (hopefully!!) people who have successfully (again, hopefully!) done business with them. So far we haven't had any issues with untrustworthy individuals, happily - but people found to be scamming or nincompoops will be banned from the board, and to date we haven't had any such incidents. Perhaps someone capable of doing the firmware uplift will PM you about it.

    As for having piqued your curiosity, GOOD! That is precisely the intention of this board/forum! We want to encourage free exchange of information. That hopefully will further prompt people to learn more about the many subjects we cover here, and expand their knowledge and skill sets to the point where they can learn and maybe eventually someday become a contributor, perhaps. One of the primary objectives in Ham radio is advancement of the state of the art - maybe by encouraging a new generation to take up advanced knowledge like assembly language and debugging, we will help to expand the pool of competent software and hardware engineers. Who knows what wonders they will see and perhaps create in the future!

  15. #15
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

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    Fellas just a small update


    I think that srecord may work out. I programmed it into the radio and blew back in a saved archive. I tryied one of the T-band 483.8xxx p25 repeaters that had rx from the spectra but NO TX the spectra on that repeater pair seems to work great in repeat and simplex I tryied a few other p25 repeater pairs that had the same issue One of them had no change. The other repeater pair was transmitting such that I got some p25 data being demodulated by my xts2500 (no audio) but it never had that before. The audio @ the speaker was just p25 data no recoverd voice
    I did not transfer over the old tuning values as they dont apply anymore because the refrence frequencies have changed. I think (HOPE) when my buddy at the radishop has a chance to allign it I should be ok. I am hopeful because of that one t-band repeater pair that started working with just the s-record.
    Thanks again to all I will be sure to update you all soon

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    That's great to hear. I figured the S-Record would probably help even if the firmware had the "don't do P25" limit still in it; the frequency that occurs at was simply raised in the higher split S-rec. You will still benefit from a firmware uplift so if possible you still should get that done.

    This unfortunately doesn't tell us whether or not there is an upper artificial limit, it's possible the tuning on the old radio might just have been way off, and the new S-Record is just a bit better, perhaps (but still not quite right). If you possibly can, save the old S-Record, and before your tech guy tunes the radio, have him observe the deviation of the digital raspy signal on the frequencies you were having trouble with, and see if they are very low, like 1.5 kHz instead of the normal 3.5-4 kHz it should be at. If they are low then you're seeing the artificial limit in action! If the deviation is close to normal, then it's more likely just a case of bad tuning. Then, go ahead and put the high range one in, and tune that up. Observe the deviation on your trouble freqs. and see if the deviation is back to normal.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: since the tuning values of these codeplugs seem dodgy, MAKE SURE YOUR TEST TRANSMISSIONS ARE SHORT!!! The high power radios can run up to 160-180W running balls to the wall, so they will rapidly cook themselves if improperly tuned!!

    What would make that a complete test of the theory is putting a firmware uplift into the mix, with the old codeplug observe the error, uplift the firmware WITHOUT changing S-Rec's and see if that alone fixes the problem. This is the reported behavior of the newer firmware as I was told it.

    BTW this person also mentioned it raises the 430 limit up on Q splits, too, someone might want to play with that!
    Last edited by Alpha; Jun 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM.

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    radiogeek97: Someone in your region (I'm way up north) will be sending you a PM to offer a firmware upgrade. If you're interested, you can take them up on it.

  18. #18
    radiogeek97 No Longer Registered

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    Thanks mars and EVerybody on here! I will figure out which way to go as soon as my buddy gets back to me with when he can squeeze me in at work

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    Hi there,

    Me and my friends are facing the same problems. We have R2 VHF Astro Spectra radios, 146-174 MHz (manufactured in 2001). When we transmit between 146-174 MHz, the digital deviation is normal, just about 2.8-3 kHz. We are using 1MEG VSELP radios with the newest HOST version and the newest DSP version. When we go below 146 MHz, the deviation acts like cr*p. This is true for these new 1MEG radios.

    For monitoring we use VHF 136-174 MHz Astro Saber VSELP radios.

    A few weeks ago my HAM friend from the US sent me an R2 VHF Astro Spectra. It was manufactured in early 1996, and it has a very very old HOST (amR5.04) and DSP (I04.02.11) version. It has an early, 512k Vocon-panel. And guess what.....works fine below 146 MHz with a normal level of digital and analog deviation.

    I have read in this topic that the difference must be in the S-record. But where?


    I am open minded to every ide you have about this!

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    Has there been any further findings with this and the "artificial limit"? I'd really love to have P25 below 450 in the ham bands on a astro spectra.
    Thank you all,
    -Troy
    Last edited by kb1bvf; Nov 30, 2012 at 09:17 PM.
    -Troy
    KB1BVF
    HF-ALE, P25 and Mototrbo.

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    For the time being you can put a "European/Canadian/Motorcycle" "R" split which is 438-470. The "American" "R" split is 450-482 now. Without modifying the VCO you will probably get down to about 442 MHz or so. With a quick mod you can get it to lock down to 438 or lower, I have explained that in detail in another post somewhere on the board here. This is the current solution, until someone figures out where that limit factor is hiding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    For the time being you can put a "European/Canadian/Motorcycle" "R" split which is 438-470. The "American" "R" split is 450-482 now. Without modifying the VCO you will probably get down to about 442 MHz or so. With a quick mod you can get it to lock down to 438 or lower, I have explained that in detail in another post somewhere on the board here. This is the current solution, until someone figures out where that limit factor is hiding.
    Thankyou Alpha. Very much appreciated.
    -Troy
    KB1BVF
    HF-ALE, P25 and Mototrbo.

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    If you have a 450+ Astro Spectra, or analog Spectra, you can lock the VCO to at least 440. Locate pin #4 on the VCO, (pin 1 faces towards the PA) ad a 220K 1/4 watt resistor to pin 4. Gound the resister and it will lock the VCO. I have performed this mod to 30 or so Analog Spectra, and 1 Astro Spectra.

    73's

    F

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    Quote Originally Posted by BIG-BOY View Post
    If you have a 450+ Astro Spectra, or analog Spectra, you can lock the VCO to at least 440. Locate pin #4 on the VCO, (pin 1 faces towards the PA) ad a 220K 1/4 watt resistor to pin 4. Gound the resister and it will lock the VCO. I have performed this mod to 30 or so Analog Spectra, and 1 Astro Spectra.

    73's

    F
    Great info, thanks. Mine locks good, just won't do the p25 below 450.
    -Troy
    KB1BVF
    HF-ALE, P25 and Mototrbo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    For the time being you can put a "European/Canadian/Motorcycle" "R" split which is 438-470. The "American" "R" split is 450-482 now. Without modifying the VCO you will probably get down to about 442 MHz or so. With a quick mod you can get it to lock down to 438 or lower, I have explained that in detail in another post somewhere on the board here. This is the current solution, until someone figures out where that limit factor is hiding.
    Quote Originally Posted by kb1bvf View Post
    Thankyou Alpha. Very much appreciated.

    Does anyone have a "European/Canadian/Motorcycle" "R" split (which is 438-470) s-record they are willing to send me? I am very grateful for any help and assistance. Please PM me if you are willing and able.
    Thank you!
    -Troy
    -Troy
    KB1BVF
    HF-ALE, P25 and Mototrbo.