Viking Handheld control head operation

EM36

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Any feedback on people that use these? Any dual or triple deck vm7000 with handheld head users? Any comparisons to the M 03 apx head? Drawbacks?
 

PSEhub

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They are super easy to use, the parity between the control head and portable is actually really nice. Can almost use muscle memory for some functions.

You have to get a PHD to figure out the different part #s when putting together vehicles, whereas Motorola only requires 2 Masters degrees for flex and cabling parts ID. Both mobile platforms have annoyances with cabling, programming, and keyloading and require some studying.

The only advantages to Kenwood and EFJ setups is less failure, low band support, and being able to have multiple speakers listening to different things. (if one brick blows PA, others keep working, and overall less heat buildup)

Also, the first thing people do with APX8500s is install a multiplexer to re-separate the bands to different antennas.
 
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EM36

EM36

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They are super easy to use, the parity between the control head and portable is actually really nice. Can almost use muscle memory for some functions.

You have to get a PHD to figure out the different part #s when putting together vehicles, whereas Motorola only requires 2 Masters degrees for flex and cabling parts ID. Both mobile platforms have annoyances with cabling, programming, and keyloading and require some studying.

The only advantages to Kenwood and EFJ setups is less failure, low band support, and being able to have multiple speakers listening to different things. (if one brick blows PA, others keep working, and overall less heat buildup)

Also, the first thing people do with APX8500s is install a multiplexer to re-separate the bands to different antennas.
Thanks for that!
 

TRENT310

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The only advantages to Kenwood and EFJ setups is less failure, low band support, and being able to have multiple speakers listening to different things. (if one brick blows PA, others keep working, and overall less heat buildup)

Also, the first thing people do with APX8500s is install a multiplexer to re-separate the bands to different antennas.

Downsides are lack of true cross-band trunking support with a single logical ID, which is something which is possible with the other manufacturers' single-brick multi-band options. So the decks have to be configured with their own unique ID otherwise strange results with occur with cross-band roaming.

Also the multi-speaker monitor tends to be annoying and distracting to users and that's when we have to tell them about the Unselected Deck Mute option, also needed to avoid feedback if they are in an area where both decks are set to the same talkgroup and in range on each respective band, hearing calls twice or hearing itself because of the above limitation. The need to install enough speakers per deck is also a factor with the KCH-21RV because typically on other control heads remote like the KCH19V+KRK14HV or the KCH20RV you would use the remote side audio output which is "first in" or "priority deck" multiplexed audio (not mixed) and you can run one speaker. And it mutes audio while transmitting. If you only put a speaker on the rear output of deck #1 you will only hear deck #1's receive audio, it won't pass audio from the other decks over the bus into deck #1 to play back.

Multi-deck can be challenging for users to understand (if they aren't already coming from another multi-deck configuration) especially since there is no concept of unified zone/channel with mixed channels either. I have to explain basically it's similar to a KVM switch you're using your control to switch between radios that otherwise run completely independently of each other and aren't operating in lock step with one another.

Features have to be purchased and installed for each deck, firmware needs to be upgraded independently as well; The little Micro USB whip from each KRK-17B needs to be used to connect to each deck separately, it will not act as a IP "LAN" with multiple decks accessible from one USB connection - even though it's all USB RNDIS. Armada lets you have them all hooked up to the same computer at the same time for batch processing though.
 

mpron

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Multi-deck can be challenging for users to understand (if they aren't already coming from another multi-deck configuration) especially since there is no concept of unified zone/channel with mixed channels either. I have to explain basically it's similar to a KVM switch you're using your control to switch between radios that otherwise run completely independently of each other and aren't operating in lock step with one another.
Supposedly the firmware rollout in December will have support for mixed channeling like APX or olde timey 90series
 

TRENT310

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Supposedly the firmware rollout in December will have support for mixed channeling like APX or olde timey 90series
Yes, I've been in touch with EFJI and heard they have some enhancements along those lines on the list for 21.1 - but I'll believe it when it gets released for real and doesn't get pushed out to the next one. (Maybe along with some adjustability for the TX audio AGC, especially in the attack/release time sections.)
 
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EM36

EM36

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Downsides are lack of true cross-band trunking support with a single logical ID, which is something which is possible with the other manufacturers' single-brick multi-band options. So the decks have to be configured with their own unique ID otherwise strange results with occur with cross-band roaming.

Also the multi-speaker monitor tends to be annoying and distracting to users and that's when we have to tell them about the Unselected Deck Mute option, also needed to avoid feedback if they are in an area where both decks are set to the same talkgroup and in range on each respective band, hearing calls twice or hearing itself because of the above limitation. The need to install enough speakers per deck is also a factor with the KCH-21RV because typically on other control heads remote like the KCH19V+KRK14HV or the KCH20RV you would use the remote side audio output which is "first in" or "priority deck" multiplexed audio (not mixed) and you can run one speaker. And it mutes audio while transmitting. If you only put a speaker on the rear output of deck #1 you will only hear deck #1's receive audio, it won't pass audio from the other decks over the bus into deck #1 to play back.

Multi-deck can be challenging for users to understand (if they aren't already coming from another multi-deck configuration) especially since there is no concept of unified zone/channel with mixed channels either. I have to explain basically it's similar to a KVM switch you're using your control to switch between radios that otherwise run completely independently of each other and aren't operating in lock step with one another.

Features have to be purchased and installed for each deck, firmware needs to be upgraded independently as well; The little Micro USB whip from each KRK-17B needs to be used to connect to each deck separately, it will not act as a IP "LAN" with multiple decks accessible from one USB connection - even though it's all USB RNDIS. Armada lets you have them all hooked up to the same computer at the same time for batch processing though.
So if you have a speaker on each deck scenario it still passes rx audio on the other bands while in transmit on the selected? Thinking that is going to confuse many users if so. 10-4 on batch processing, I did Armada class last week and I think the limit is 10 at a time.
 
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EM36

EM36

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Supposedly the firmware rollout in December will have support for mixed channeling like APX or olde timey 90series
They talked about this fw release in Armada class. Alot of things brought up were discussed as being worked on for this release. I can't pick one thing but had noticed this. I'm guessing it's done and they're regression testing it for probably the last month or so. Interesting to talk to the trainer. They do in fact completely test their firmware unlike mother M.
 
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TRENT310

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They talked about this fw release in Armada class. Alot of things brought up were discussed as being worked on for this release. I can't pick one thing but had noticed this. I'm guessing it's done and they're regression testing it for probably the last month or so. Interesting to talk to the trainer. They do in fact completely test their firmware unlike mother M.
Yep, out of all the manufacturers that offer a "fleet management" or "batch process" oriented radio programming software suite on a current radio product line, Armada has got to be the fastest and most usable implementation out there right now. In comparison to APX Radio Management, RadioCentral, or even Harris RPM2. And it blows KPG-D1 out of the water in usability (the closest thing you get there is "Consecutive Write" and no ability to auto-merge a list of MSN/ESNs to RSIs).

One deal breaker (for certain applications) is for now Viking only implements P25, V16, and FM analog. The other rumour mill was they would roll the Nexedge series (basically the same hardware platform) capabilities for DMR TII/TIII and NXDN into Viking and further simplify the product lines. Because that's one of the main reasons why I still have NX 5000s in an otherwise all-Viking fleet is because they wanted the ability to work with another DMR or NXDN system as well as retain P25 Trunking, accessible from the same user interface.
So if you have a speaker on each deck scenario it still passes rx audio on the other bands while in transmit on the selected? Thinking that is going to confuse many users if so. 10-4 on batch processing, I did Armada class last week and I think the limit is 10 at a time.
OK, so looking at this again I see this is a behaviour change and enhancement that was implemented possibly after me and others brought it up to EFJI about having to install multiple speakers for multi-deck.

Quoted from documentation:
Single Speaker Out - (VM5000, VM6000, VM7000) If this feature is selected, all control heads and the external speaker of Radio 1 (Primary option) play the same audio (External speakers attached to Radios 2, 3 or 4 are not supported in this configuration and will be muted at all times). The source of the audio is determined by the radio’s hardware address, where the lowest address has priority over the highest address. For example, if the radio at Address 3 is the only radio receiving audio, then all speakers will play that audio. However, if radios at Addresses 2 and 3 are receiving audio, then all speakers will play Radio 2’s audio and Radio 3’s audio will not be heard.
At the time of original installs this was not available in the firmware back then, and it's probably too late for me to randomly go in and change it all now, but perhaps on future apparatus replacement I think this would simplify things a bit. Typically I have Deck #1 as the primary operations deck and the subsequent decks are less often used, or for interoperability, roaming coverage, or backup system reasons, so it is appropriate for the lowest number deck to supersede any audio which may be occurring on higher number decks.

I would read and understand this section carefully (also quoted from documentation) to tailor the experience as necessary:
Unmute Receive Audio During Transmit - (VM5000, VM6000, VM7000 using Firmware Version 8.28.x or later, programmed by Armada 1.28.x and later) This feature allows unselected decks in a multideck group to play received audio while the selected deck transmits.

This feature gets programmed on a deck-by-deck basis using this check box. If a deck is programmed to Unmute Receive Audio During Transmit, that deck’s receive audio is not muted when another deck transmits. When a deck is playing receive audio during transmit, audio gets routed according to the following rules:


Single Speaker Out Enabled:
Received audio plays on control head speakers and the external speaker of Radio 1. The exception is if Radio 1 is the radio that is transmitting. In that case, received audio only gets routed to the control head speakers.

Received audio takes precedence over Tx Audio Monitor audio

If the selected deck is using the Mic-to-PA feature, all unselected decks get muted during transmit regardless of Unmute Receive Audio During Transmit setting.


Single Speaker Out Disabled:
Each deck plays its own received audio on its own external speaker.

If the selected deck uses the Mic-to-PA feature, all unselected decks follow the Unmute Receive Audio During Transmit setting.
So I may retract or refine my earlier comment based on the fact that EFJI did listen to their customers and made moves in recent firmware releases to address the frustration of audio routing challenges in multi-deck configurations and especially single KCH-21RV control which requires audio to be picked off ONE of the transceiver decks audio power amplifier outputs since there is no (handheld) control-head-side, speaker-level audio output on the KCH-21s. Thankfully Kenwood lets EFJ run mostly independently and they talk to the customers and they "get it" in terms of the applications and use cases whereas the Kenwood Japan developed NX-series seems a lot further out of touch with how people actually use the things.
 
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EM36

EM36

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Great info and some to chew on tnx!