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Old December 19th 03, 07:31 PM
 
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Default stuff for all hams

Some additional background: APCO 25 Phase I refers to 12.5 khz
bandwidth with QPSK-C (C for compatible) modulation. Phase II will be
6.25 khz with QPSK, and possibly a two slot TDMA in 12.5 khz bandwidth
as an alternative technology. The 6.25 khz scheme is defined as QPSK
(same as Phase I) but the TDMA approach is still under review by TIA.
There are no Phase II 6.25 khz systems deployed anywhere, and no Beta
tests scheduled by any vendor. Everything to date is Phase I 12.5 khz,
so this is not a Phase I vs. Phase II situation. However, there are
two different flavors of Phase I APCO 25 modulation currently in use.
Initial deployment for conventional and non-simulcast APCO 25 systems
used C4FM transmit and receive, but with a QPSK compatible receiver in
the subscriber. QPSK was specified for APCO 25 Phase I but the
technology was not ready and C4FM was selected for the initial roll
out, with subscribers that could decode either. C4FM is still the
uplink modulation for all subscribers on all Phase I systems due to
battery drain issues still to be worked out with the linear QPSK
modulation. The Minn Metro system which shipped in late 2000 (and all
other Motorola P-25 simulcast systems installed in the last 2-1/2
years) use QPSK in their linear simulcast stations for the downlink
modulation and C4FM at intellisite (non simulcast) sites (2 sites for
Minn Metro).

It appears that the GRE pro96 receiver was optimized for the older
interim C4FM modulation but not for the true Project 25 Phase I QPSK
modulation used on all simulcast systems shipped since 2000. Someone
in Japan missed the boat big time on this one because simulcast is
where all the big metro areas are going.

E.F. Johnson and Kenwood have figured out a QPSK/C4FM receiver in
their lower cost subscribers, so one would hope that the GRE team can
come up with new firmware in a short time frame.

---------

CQPSK vs C4FM -- Merits
OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.

For example, it could be:

Better signal propogation
Better weak-signal performance
Better operation in an area with many reflected signals...


__________________
paul34



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09-23-2003 07:36 PM



JerryNone
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Jan 2003
Location: O H I O
Posts: 64

Maybe because current scanenrs cannot scan QSPK-C?





__________________
Radio Scanning. Hey it is Y O U R tax dollars.
Why not listen to see how they are spent. :-)



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09-23-2003 07:45 PM



ianw
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: May 2002
Location:
Posts: 22

Hello

These newer complex modulation types are used as they are more
spectrally efficient (i.e more data per KHz) and are supposed to be
more tolerant of interference. The trouble is they can't usually be
demodulated by analogue electronic circuit but require a DSP running a
fairly complex program.

Over here in Europe TETRA uses a similar type of modulation called
DQPSK where the D stands for differential.

Ian



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09-23-2003 09:16 PM



wa8pyr
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 86
CQPSK vs C4FM -- Merits

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by paul34
OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



C-QPSK is being used as it works better (better audio, more spectrum
efficiency) on newer 9.6k simulcast sites.


__________________
Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
www.qsl.net/wa8pyr



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11-14-2003 04:14 PM



blantonl
Webmaster and Admin

Registered: Dec 2000
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1304
Better audio ?

It's the same vocoder, so I'm assuming the better audio feedback from
users is a result of the signal being simulcasted vs. actually "better
audio."

Am I correct in this assumption??

Maybe better signal ?



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11-14-2003 04:18 PM



wa8pyr
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 86

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by blantonl
Better audio ?

It's the same vocoder, so I'm assuming the better audio feedback from
users is a result of the signal being simulcasted vs. actually "better
audio."

Am I correct in this assumption??

Maybe better signal ?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Both, as it I understood it. Something to do with C-QPSK means better
audio because it handles simulcasting better. I'm a little thin on
details yet because our radio techs are just now learning the ins and
outs of this stuff, in preparation for changing our local system over
to P25 C-QPSK in a couple of years.

Tom WA8PYR


__________________
Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
www.qsl.net/wa8pyr



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11-14-2003 11:32 PM



batdude
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Jul 2002
Location: NORTH FL
Posts: 11
better audio?
if you want to hear smokin' hot audio....

go to the DVSI home page and look up AMBE....


AMBE came around some time after IMBE was chosen for APCO 25... and it
really puts it to shame.... both in required bandwidth,
intelligibility... etc...



oh well.


i suppose the only solution to all this is the true "SDR".... so i can
carry my iPAQ and decode everything....



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11-15-2003 01:25 AM



wayne_h
**Trunking Master**

Registered: Dec 2000
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 728
Previously there was a method called "WIDE" that was used for
Simulcast because C4FM was for narrowband and couldn't be used in
Simulcast applications because of bandwidths (or maybe not, I do know
RSS recommends C4FM for non-Simulcast). And I think it was here where
I read that WIDE wasn't totally APCO-25 compliant so Moto started
using LSM.

At least that's how I understand it. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

-Wayne




CQPSK vs C4FM -- Merits
OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.

For example, it could be:

Better signal propogation
Better weak-signal performance
Better operation in an area with many reflected signals...


__________________
paul34



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09-23-2003 07:36 PM



JerryNone
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Jan 2003
Location: O H I O
Posts: 64

Maybe because current scanenrs cannot scan QSPK-C?





__________________
Radio Scanning. Hey it is Y O U R tax dollars.
Why not listen to see how they are spent. :-)



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09-23-2003 07:45 PM



ianw
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: May 2002
Location:
Posts: 22

Hello

These newer complex modulation types are used as they are more
spectrally efficient (i.e more data per KHz) and are supposed to be
more tolerant of interference. The trouble is they can't usually be
demodulated by analogue electronic circuit but require a DSP running a
fairly complex program.

Over here in Europe TETRA uses a similar type of modulation called
DQPSK where the D stands for differential.

Ian



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09-23-2003 09:16 PM



wa8pyr
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 86
CQPSK vs C4FM -- Merits

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by paul34
OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



C-QPSK is being used as it works better (better audio, more spectrum
efficiency) on newer 9.6k simulcast sites.


__________________
Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
www.qsl.net/wa8pyr



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11-14-2003 04:14 PM



blantonl
Webmaster and Admin

Registered: Dec 2000
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1304
Better audio ?

It's the same vocoder, so I'm assuming the better audio feedback from
users is a result of the signal being simulcasted vs. actually "better
audio."

Am I correct in this assumption??

Maybe better signal ?



Report this post to a moderator | IP: Logged

11-14-2003 04:18 PM



wa8pyr
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 86

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by blantonl
Better audio ?

It's the same vocoder, so I'm assuming the better audio feedback from
users is a result of the signal being simulcasted vs. actually "better
audio."

Am I correct in this assumption??

Maybe better signal ?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Both, as it I understood it. Something to do with C-QPSK means better
audio because it handles simulcasting better. I'm a little thin on
details yet because our radio techs are just now learning the ins and
outs of this stuff, in preparation for changing our local system over
to P25 C-QPSK in a couple of years.

Tom WA8PYR


__________________
Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
www.qsl.net/wa8pyr



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11-14-2003 11:32 PM



batdude
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Jul 2002
Location: NORTH FL
Posts: 11
better audio?
if you want to hear smokin' hot audio....

go to the DVSI home page and look up AMBE....


AMBE came around some time after IMBE was chosen for APCO 25... and it
really puts it to shame.... both in required bandwidth,
intelligibility... etc...



oh well.


i suppose the only solution to all this is the true "SDR".... so i can
carry my iPAQ and decode everything....



Report this post to a moderator | IP: Logged

11-15-2003 01:25 AM



wayne_h
**Trunking Master**

Registered: Dec 2000
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 728
Previously there was a method called "WIDE" that was used for
Simulcast because C4FM was for narrowband and couldn't be used in
Simulcast applications because of bandwidths (or maybe not, I do know
RSS recommends C4FM for non-Simulcast). And I think it was here where
I read that WIDE wasn't totally APCO-25 compliant so Moto started
using LSM.

At least that's how I understand it. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

-Wayne
CQPSK vs C4FM -- Merits
OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.

For example, it could be:

Better signal propogation
Better weak-signal performance
Better operation in an area with many reflected signals...


__________________
paul34



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09-23-2003 07:36 PM



JerryNone
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Jan 2003
Location: O H I O
Posts: 64

Maybe because current scanenrs cannot scan QSPK-C?





__________________
Radio Scanning. Hey it is Y O U R tax dollars.
Why not listen to see how they are spent. :-)



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09-23-2003 07:45 PM



ianw
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: May 2002
Location:
Posts: 22

Hello

These newer complex modulation types are used as they are more
spectrally efficient (i.e more data per KHz) and are supposed to be
more tolerant of interference. The trouble is they can't usually be
demodulated by analogue electronic circuit but require a DSP running a
fairly complex program.

Over here in Europe TETRA uses a similar type of modulation called
DQPSK where the D stands for differential.

Ian



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09-23-2003 09:16 PM



wa8pyr
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 86
CQPSK vs C4FM -- Merits

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by paul34
OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



C-QPSK is being used as it works better (better audio, more spectrum
efficiency) on newer 9.6k simulcast sites.


__________________
Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
www.qsl.net/wa8pyr



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11-14-2003 04:14 PM



blantonl
Webmaster and Admin

Registered: Dec 2000
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 1304
Better audio ?

It's the same vocoder, so I'm assuming the better audio feedback from
users is a result of the signal being simulcasted vs. actually "better
audio."

Am I correct in this assumption??

Maybe better signal ?



Report this post to a moderator | IP: Logged

11-14-2003 04:18 PM



wa8pyr
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Sep 2002
Location: Ohio
Posts: 86

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by blantonl
Better audio ?

It's the same vocoder, so I'm assuming the better audio feedback from
users is a result of the signal being simulcasted vs. actually "better
audio."

Am I correct in this assumption??

Maybe better signal ?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Both, as it I understood it. Something to do with C-QPSK means better
audio because it handles simulcasting better. I'm a little thin on
details yet because our radio techs are just now learning the ins and
outs of this stuff, in preparation for changing our local system over
to P25 C-QPSK in a couple of years.

Tom WA8PYR


__________________
Tom Swisher, WA8PYR
www.qsl.net/wa8pyr



Report this post to a moderator | IP: Logged

11-14-2003 11:32 PM



batdude
Trunked Radio Enthusiast

Registered: Jul 2002
Location: NORTH FL
Posts: 11
better audio?
if you want to hear smokin' hot audio....

go to the DVSI home page and look up AMBE....


AMBE came around some time after IMBE was chosen for APCO 25... and it
really puts it to shame.... both in required bandwidth,
intelligibility... etc...



oh well.


i suppose the only solution to all this is the true "SDR".... so i can
carry my iPAQ and decode everything....



Report this post to a moderator | IP: Logged

11-15-2003 01:25 AM



wayne_h
**Trunking Master**

Registered: Dec 2000
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 728
Previously there was a method called "WIDE" that was used for
Simulcast because C4FM was for narrowband and couldn't be used in
Simulcast applications because of bandwidths (or maybe not, I do know
RSS recommends C4FM for non-Simulcast). And I think it was here where
I read that WIDE wasn't totally APCO-25 compliant so Moto started
using LSM.

At least that's how I understand it. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

-Wayne


OK. We've established that newer APCO 25 systems incorporating
simulcast use CQPSK on the downlink and C4FM for intellerepeater sites
and for the uplink. New question:

Why?

What are the relative merits of using CQPSK vs. C4FM. It seems that
CQPSK is more expensive/difficult to implement, so there must be a
performance improvement that offsets the costs.

For example, it could be:

Better signal propogation
Better weak-signal performance
Better operation in an area with many reflected signals...


__________________



I am not very well versed with Apco at all. Well not YET anyway. I
have my Astro Saber Model III VHF and am wanting to put in some stuff
locally with RX only, (didnt wana buy a scanner with digital
capabilities, so i got a 2-way) My question is, How hard would it be
to just take a frequency i know is Digital, Apco 25, and put it in the
Radio, with RX only enabled and have the radio do what the scanner can
do. I have noticed there are many varialbes i didnt count on in the
RSS..

Thanks in advance.

--------
OK well did some research, its bad when your a moto tech and this one
slips by you. My clash code is for covnetnional only.
i have an astro Saber VHF model III and what threw me off, the astro
capabilities are enabled in the software, how ever it wont decode
digital signals. Leading me to believe its not fully astro capable as
of yet. Now do i need a board or a simple flash upgrade dunno.. here
is my current flash code, 000001-000000-9 any Experts care to tell me.
ahaahh I am versed in MOTo stuff just not very good on any
digital/apco stuff as of yet. But hey we all have to learn..

---------
Post your Host/DSP firmware. If it's old host version 3.x.x crap, then
I'm sorry to say, but your radio is VSELP based. If the firmware is V
4.x.x, 5.x.x, or 7.x.x, then you're a lucky guy, because it's IMBE.

To get the firmware, simply read the radio and go in to the F9 menu.
Or you can power up the radio, press the ".." button 5 times within
the first 10 seconds of powering it up, and all of that info will
scroll across your screen. May take a few times, as it goes quick.

There are ways of "adding" Digital operation to a radio without
sending it to Motorola. But before you even consider doing that, we
must know your firmware versions. I'm all for a company making money,
but Motorola asking $1000+ for some "option" that is a bit toggled
on/off in a codeplug is a little much..

Shaun

-----------
Ok, here's a LITTLE pity..

Gwinnett County GA, where I am, had to build 7 simulcast sites, tower
heights varying from shortest at 400' to 2 800 guyed towers, the rest
around 500' self support Rohns. There are STILL dead spots w/
portables. Nowhere close to flat. The county is about 50 miles N to S,
E to W. PA outputs 150 watts, 9db gain antennas, but varying coaxial
loss factors due to different tower heights(YOU look up the
attenuation per ft., 1 1/4" Andrew Heliax) Tower top preamps. All
combining and multicoupling gear TX RX Systems, which is the best
there is IMHO. 3 TX, 1 RX antennas, figger around 3db insertion loss
thru the combiner.

Motorola engineers designed it using topo maps and RF surveys, which
is basically an RF propagation guesstimation overlaid on a topo map.
They were trying to accomplish 90/90 coverage including in-building.
They shoulda gone to crack rehab instead.

Hey Alex you got a soft copy of 1 of the RF maps for Douglas?

Had they built it with 450 MHZ it woulda kicked major ass---800 in
hilly areas and in concrete/steel buildings equals so much multipath
you don't know from 1 day to the next if you can talk just down the
street from a site on a portable.

900 is even worse, next to useless here. I built 3 900 LTRs a long
time ago, they sucked so bad we couldn't load em. Customer hears the
demo, na thanks, that's lousy.

OK, crayola, define multipath, relative to "spectulative
extrapolations"...

-----------
To put it in a nut shell, the coverage will depend on the terrain,
foliage, antenna height of both the TX and RX, antenna gains and
feedline losses. In a different view, here in the New Orleans area,
you can look at the 800 cellar system coverage for your answer.

Most of the antennas here are about 200 feet high, tall long needle
pine trees and plenty of rain. The towers are placed about 2 miles
apart for decent coverage. The few towersa that are higher give a
slightly greater coverage. For a 400 foot tower, it makes about 5 to 8
miles tops.

In the more urban areas where there are fewer trees and more houses,
they are less than a mile apart. This is more for capacity than for
coverage. The towers are in the 100 to 150 foot height.

If you add in rolling hills or northern up and down hills, you get
into line of sight paths. Once you go behind a hill or large building,
the signal is gong to go away. You may be lucky and get some
reflections from multiple buildings or mountain walls. But don't
expect this to help much. It sually make multi path issues crop up.

Digital modulation doesn't like multipath. The receiver has a hard
time trying to figure out which signal it should be listening to. Best
to stay with analog if your in the mountains.

Not sure this answers your question directly, but it's not an easy
question to answer. The system design is not an easy thing to do when
you throw in a bunch of variables.

Jim

----------
aye .. it does.

It is because all of those variables that you cannot possiably account
for is why I was looking for general comments on currently working
equipment.

What started this all for me was tromping through the FCC database. It
lists all kinds of different ERP's and twr heights listed. So I got to
wondering what the relationships were.

Antenna height, antenna gains, feedline losses, et. al. is brass
tacks.

n4voxgill was a perfect post:

Hey we got a 300' antenna with erp of 100 Watts and with our equipment
we get 15 to 20 miles.

I was gonna put a dig in on alphacom here but .. naaa.

Anyone else out there care to check in with twr/erp/range?

------
A local city bosts 100watts and has a tower at maybe 50' in the air
off the police station. System is a reapter/stand by mode. Erp is at
75, and coverage at times just blows period. The portables are used on
the reapter only and the squads have direct to the base (simplex).
Whille a local city has there antenna of the water tower, I say at
least 100' in the air. Not sure on the erp issue though. But wattaged
is far munch lower then the tower at 50'. The prolbem on there end is
the siginal loss, leaky coalaxle cable because of the weather weird
and tear. Whille the hs that operates in there city pulls 10watts on
there repater easily covers both citys and more and only sitts two
stories off the ground, but the difference you ask is that the hs is
vhf and the others are uhf. Guess where? Near the city of chicago, go
firgure. Whille uhf reapters of cpd work great.

Now the trunked issue's
Local business opeaters a ltr system and is right down the block and
cant be heard inless your inside the property and even then it has its
prolbems in the 400Mhz range.

Whille a ltr system off the sears tower works great in every
directional imagable, 800Mhz, 900Mhz, Well you get the idea.

Meanwhille there are serveral other 400mhz ltr systems that work
great, that has tx sites at 50' off the ground and go great.

Know here comes the nightmare, O'hare Airport Trunked must be within
two villages of the airport to monitor it, there are two antenna's
sites, but if you go the other direction you might as well forget
designed that way on purpose!!. Chicago Police Trunked Radio System,
works throughout the city and vastily out into a good portion of the
burbs in every direction. However it comes with serveral site towers
located throughout the city at really high heights. I say about 500"
to 1000" if nessacary. Heard a unit that was in ricthon park from
o'hare airport and seem like he was right next to me. Its about what
is meant to be broadcast wide vs. what instist. Land surrondings and
weather patterns have effects but the land surrondings get around by
buliding sites high enough to get through. Weather is kinda of hard to
avoid especially in chicago, lol. Oec for the techs is connected by
highily intergard cables that run throughout the city to connect there
sites from the smallest to the biggest. (aka fiber optics) Secondary
lines do exist as well if smothing should happen. Personally its a
test of what areas need to be covered and at what cost are you willing
to pay for it. Lots of money equals great radio systems with minor
bugs, no money gets you crap coverage. But then we apply the rule of
what area need to be covered and crete crap coverage on purpose. Rule
of thumb test it with a portable and then see how far it works. Nwcds
major malfunction that biting them in the, well you know.

These brand new shopping malls that heavily use concrete dosent help
any matters, along with the new walgreens that block the siginal and
diverted around the building, kinda of werid to see happen. Makes you
think on what materials were used in the wall structure.
-------
200 hundred watt mobile that would be pretty neat, coxical cable is a
huge prolbem on these public saftey systems. Rain seems to have quite
a big issue. Communication out here just dup itself out because of the
weather conditions. If its extremily cold or hot it seems to work
rather well for some reason. But a mobile a 110 watt can cover up to
55miles or more depending on height of vechile and hill that he or she
may be sitting on. Plus that fact of having a 20foot high antenna
brings in the siginal even stronger. Some systems use repeater antenna
that sit at a 100ft or more. ISP District chicago has a repeater off
of sears tower, yes that huge tall building-lol. Coverage is superior,
audio lacks though go firgure. The highest wattaged repeater that I
have heard about is 1,000 Watts, know imagine that at 200ft in the
air. Here a hint these business deliver covarage to serval millions of
people just in IL allone. 900Mhz trunked system simulcast with almost
perfect audio. Site locations also will make a huge difference, my mag
mount at 6ft works a whole lot better then at 3ft off the ground.
Complete metal card or strong metal that travels through the car makes
it receive audio even more but it also get business alarm systems to
bleed through constainily. Site location is what is key at any time,
plus the issue of coxical cable, then wattage. You be surpised how a
30watt repeater can travel at about 80feet in the sky. Now just amp
certain things and your in the next county hear the siginal great.
Used the fcc data to help you determine systems plus and downsides to
make the siginal come in better.
---
---

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

- r0f's guide to ASTRO radios - What you need to know to have a clue -

Lately, there have been several Ebay ads, and other questions asked on
the board,
that finally motivated me to write an ASTRO "guide" for newbies. When
people ask
questions, we should be able to point them somewhere. The main site
(batlabs) has
a lot of info, but not nearly enough to guide newbie/lamers through
the woods

Let's start off with the basics.

Currently, there are 7 ASTRO portable models on the market.

- ASTRO Digital Saber (Models I, IR, II, IIR, and III)
- XTS3000 (Models I, IR, II, IIR, and III)
- XTS1500 (16ch only, no keypad/display)
- XTS2500 (Models I, IR, II, IIR, and III)
- XTS3500 (Models I, IR, II, IIR, and III)
- XTS5000 (Models I, IR, II, IIR, and III)
- SSE5000 (SP Radio, NYPD Only. Looks like a model I ASTRO Saber, but
grey)

The lowest tier ASTRO portable is currently the XTS1500. This is an
entry-level
portable, designed for utility companies and public works users. It is
16 channels
only, and does not support encryption. It supposedly is FLASHport
upgradeable, but
there is no mention of this on Motorola's website. It is dual band,
700/800 MHz, and
supports ASTRO25 and APCO16 trunking. (3600/9600bps control channels)

The ASTRO Saber has long been a favorite of batlabbers. It is the last
"real" radio
that Motorola released, before going to the XTS series radios, which
just aren't
built the same. One could easily use the ASTRO Saber to beat down a
bad prisoner,
or get revenge on a locker thief (personal story, I won't go there).
There are 2
versions of the ASTRO Saber available -- One with a 512K flash memory,
and one with
1-meg. The 512K ASTRO Sabers are the most popular, but do not support
9600bps
(ASTRO25) trunking, or firmware higher than Host R05.60.00 / DSP
DSPN06.05.02. The
512K ASTRO Sabers support nearly every FLASHport option.
Unfortunately, if the user
wishes to use one of the newer UCM Encryption modules with EMC R03.xx
firmware, the
radio MUST be upgraded to a 1-meg vocoder board, as EMC R03.xx
requires Host firmware
of R07.xx.xx to function. The ASTRO Saber comes in VHF, UHF-low,
UHF-high, and 800
MHz flavors. The ASTRO Saber has 2 lines of 14 characters for the
display.

The XTS3000. Released in 1996, it was Motorola's second ASTRO Portable
to hit the
market, and is the most common ASTRO portable in use, to this day. It
comes with a
1-meg vocoder board, and supports encryption. How could you go wrong
with this? It's
shorter than the "HUGE" (As ASTROMODAT puts it) ASTRO Saber, but the
XTS3000 is a
FATTER radio, even with the Lithium Ion battery. The XTS3000 supports
3600/9600bps
trunking, and any other FLASHport option you wish to have added in. It
does not
require a vocoder upgrade. Like the ASTRO Saber model, certain
features/hardware
are firmware dependant. The XTS3000 and ASTRO Saber share the same
host/dsp firmware
releases. Example: R05.51.00 / DSPN06.04.11 can be found in both ASTRO
Sabers, and
XTS3000's. The XTS3000 comes in VHF, UHF-low/UHF-hi, and 800 MHz.

The XTS2500 and XTS5000 were released in early 2002. While the XTS2500
is a nice
portable with 160 modes, it does not support encryption. It hasn't
been hacked yet
either, meaning if you buy a "featureless" XTS2500 on ebay, it's going
to stay that
way. It's a medium-tier radio, supporting 3600/9600bps trunking and
conventional.
It's nice eye candy, but that's about it.

The XTS5000 is Motorola's "top of the line" digital portable. It
supports 512 modes,
encryption, and 3600/9600bps trunking/conventional. It hasn't been
hacked yet, and the
only portables floating around on Ebay at the moment, all appear to be
alpha-series
developmental models. Their serial numbers are 123ABC1234. Keep away
from them! They
require special Alpha CPS to program, and are not supported via "R"
CPS. The XTS5000
supports 8-meg's of FLASHport memory, and supposedly IP-data features.
The "r0f"
opinion of the XTS5000, is that it's a recased XTS3000 with a new
display and more
memory. Motorola didn't put a lot of effort in to the XTS5000, and it
is overpriced
and currently does not support anything that the XTS3000 or ASTRO
Saber is capable
of. Do not be fooled in to purchasing an XTS5000 thinking it's "the
bomb", because it's
just not!

The XTS2500, XTS5000, and SSE5000, are all programmed with the RVN4181
software
package.

The XTS3500 is an XTS3000, with a faster CPU, and supposedly it
supports higher
levels of encryption -- however this has never been confirmed. It
looks identical
to the XTS3000, but it's only available in VHF and UHF models -- No
800 MHz. The
3500 is programmed with RSS. As far as I know, no CPS exists and the
radio has
not been hacked.

The SSE5000 is an SP radio developed for the NYPD. It looks like a
Model I ASTRO
Saber, in a grey case. It's exact features are unknown at the moment,
and Motorola
does not list it on their website. It's most likely got 1-meg of
FLASHport memory,
a faster CPU, and a few custom "one touch" buttons. Any information on
this radio
would be greatly appreciated!

So now I've covered, in a somewhat brief way, all 7 portables, and
what they are.
Now it's time to talk about what makes a radio worthy of an Ebay
purchase, or just
flat out hacking. I will only cover the XTS3000 and ASTRO Saber, as
they are the
most popular models, and are easily "reconfigured" for the intended
use.

First, when looking at an Ebay auction, or making a deal with someone
to buy an
ASTRO Portable, you MUST have the below information provided to you.
If the seller
is too ignorant or clueless to give you this information, then DO NOT
chance your
hard earned money! This information is obtained via 2 methods.

1. Via the F9 menu after reading the radio in RSS (or equiv in CPS)
2. Via SERVICE mode. To enter SERVICE mode, press the ".." button on
the side
of the radio 5 times, within the first 10 seconds of powering up the
radio. The
information will scroll across the screen. This process may have to be
repeated
a few times to get everything.

First, ask the person selling the radio if it's IMBE or VSELP. If they
don't know,
then they are just stupid and ignorant. I'd be tempted to just not
deal with them
at this point, but sometimes you can "steal" the radio for under $500
from these
people simply because they're too stupid to know what it is they're
selling.

VSELP = Vector Sum Excited Linear Prediction
IMBE = Improved Multi-band Excitation

VSELP was Motorola's first attempt at a digital voice codec. It's
inferior to IMBE,
and is proprietary. The City of Baltimore uses VSELP on their 800 MHz
trunked system.
Other than that, it's almost extinct. IMBE is made by DVSI, and is the
APCO-25
codec. 99% of the time, you'll want an IMBE radio.

- What is the Model #? H04UCH9PW7AN is an ASTRO Saber III 800 MHz. You
need this
to be sure of what you're getting. I've seen MONGOLIAN MORONS selling
800 MHz
radios as "VHF" on Ebay. These people are either retarded, or are
selling something
they know nothing about. i.e. STOLEN.

To decode the model #, visit this page:
http://www.batlabs.com/astromob.html#model

Next, you'll need the HOST and DSP firmware revisions installed in the
radio. This
is probably the most important part. If the MONGOLIAN RETARD selling
the radio
doesn't know if it's an IMBE or VSELP radio, you can obtain that
information from
the firmware revisions. Here's the breakdown:

Host Firmware R0x.xx.xx R= Release. If it's anything but "R" here,
it's a factory
test radio, and is probably stolen. Don't bother. Here is version
information:

Less than HOST R04.xx.xx Less than DSP DSPx06.xx.xx = VSELP KEEP
AWAY!!!
Higher than HOST R04.xx.xx Higher than DSP DSPx06.xx.xx = IMBE UNF
UNF! YES!

The latest HOST/DSP firmware (as of this writing) is R07.10.xx /
DSPN08.02.xx.

Now a few notes about the firmware that you need to know for certain
features to
work..

If you desire SmartZone Omnilink Q173/G173 in your radio, you'll need
HOST firmware
higher than R05.xx.xx. it is not supported in R04.xx.xx.

If you're using an EMC or UCM Encryption module, with EMC firmware
higher than
R03.xx, you'll require at the very least HOST firmware R07.xx.xx or
the encryption
module will not work. R07.xx.xx HOST firmware supports older R02.xx
EMC firmware,
just not the other way around.

The next thing you'll want to ask the seller is what the FLASHCODE is.
This lists
what features are installed in the radio. This even determines whether
or not your
radio will transmit/receive in ASTRO mode. This is VERY important.
Flashcodes look
like this:

540008-000400-3
591008-4F1E00-9 (Whored out Nick flashcode)

They are 12 digits long, with a checksum at the end. You can decode
the flashcode
by punching it in to Lindsay Blanton's flashcode decoder he

http://www.trunkedradio.net/modules.php?name=Flash

To see a list of all available FLASHport options, type FFFFFF-FFFFFF-F
in to his
decoder.

Next, if the seller says "Radio has encryption installed", you'll need
to ask what
algorithms are installed. Encryption comes in many flavors, and not
all algorithms
are compatible with each other. An excellent write-up on encryption
was made by
Batwing (Doug) and is available he

http://www.trunkedradio.net/trunked/stuff/encrypt.html

The encryption algorithms you may see in ASTRO portables are as
follows:

DES DES-XL DES-OFB DVP DVP-XL DVI DVI-XL AES-256

If you see FASCINATOR, your phones will be tapped and you better buy
some
preperation H, because you'll have a date with Bubba. FASCINATOR is a
classified encryption algorithm used to carry US Government
communications,
and is NOT available to the public. If you have it, chances are
it'stolen, or
stolen. Could also be stolen. Get the picture?

DES - 56-bit
DVP - 32-bit
DVI - 24-bit
AES-256 - 256-bit

While AES-256 may look appealing, there is a massive back-door in this
algorithm so that big brother can listen in. Do you really think the
boys would
release 256-bit encryption to the public to use, without a way of
snooping?
DES was developed for the US Government in the late 1970's. It is
still to this
day, considered "safe" from eavesdroppers. There are 72-quadrillion
possible
keys, and the amount of computing power required to brute-force the
prime
number the key is based upon, is not something joe-schmoe has access
to. DES
is not "secure" in the sense you would pass classified communications
over it,
but it's definitely a hell of a lot tighter than AES-256. There is no
known
back-door for DES.

DVP was developed by Motorola for business users. It's weak, and most
likely
is back-doored. Security companies and many police agencies in Canada
use (or
did use) DVP in the past, due to tight licensing/export policies back
in the
day. DES was restricted to the US only, but that's not the case any
longer.

DVI was also developed for Motorola for use by business and law
enforcement
users, overseas. It is 24-bit, has a back-door, and is weaker than
George
Bushes self-esteem. The "I" in DVI, stands for "International".

Anyway enough of my encryption rant. The next thing you'll need to ask
your
seller, is how big the vocoder board is. This is required when asking
about
an ASTRO Saber. Is it 512K, or 1-meg? Read above for the differences.

Finally, I'll move on to "parts built radios". These radios are
EVERYWHERE!
Originally they were sold by a mysterious man named "Nick", aka
Watchbuddy,
but he has since disappeared in to the dark Motorola night. His radios
were
supposedly built from "parts" that he or somebody else had ordered
from M,
and then later constructed fully functional radios. They work fine,
look fine,
and even smell fine (heh heh). They just have one fault; NO SERIAL
NUMBER.
A parts radio is usually easy to identify. They all have the same
host/dsp
firmware revisions, and usually the same flashcode.

2002 Nick Radios

Host Firmwa R05.51.00
DSP Fimrwa DSPN06.04.11
Flashcode: 591008-4F1E00-9

2003 Nick Radios

Host Firmwa R07.08.00
DSP Firmwa DSPN08.02.02
Flashcode: 548008-000480-9

The 591008-4F1E00-9 flashcode has become known as the "Whored Out"
flashcode. This is because it supports nearly every option Motorola
offers,
except it has options that are not compatible with each other.
Examples
are Software Encryption, and OTACS and OTACR -- which are proprietary
to
the LAPD, UHF high band. Finding these in 800 MHz XTS3000's is messed
up.

In early 2003, I started bitching on batboard that Nick's radios had
old
firmware in them, and did not support new UCM modules, and described a
noted
bug when used with speaker mics. I'm not sure if this is why Nick
suddenly
started releasing newer host/dsp with his radios, but things changed a
few
weeks after. His second flashcode (less whored out) comes with ASTRO25
9600bps
trunking installed. Unfortunately, it isn't supported by R07.08.00
host
firmware, and caused grief for 3600bps trunking users, as they could
no longer
monitor without forced affiliation. After people started bitching, he
went back
to the 591008-4F1E00-9 whored out flashcode. Then suddenly, Nick
disappeared.
Nobody knows what really happened, but there are lots of stories.

If you come across a parts built radio on Ebay or elsewhere, don't be
afraid
of it, just pay attention to host/dsp and FLASHport options. Also be
aware that
if you send it in to the depot, it may not come back, due to the
serial # issue.

I'm almost done, but I think I should continue ranting about KVL's
(Key Variable
Loaders).

A few of us whores like running encryption on ASTRO. Doing so requires
encryption modules, AND.. a keyloader. There are a few keyloaders out
there. I
will talk about DES, since they are the most common. The same applies
to other
models.

T3011DX -- Works fine for all ASTRO portables/mobiles. NEEDS to be
"D". C will not
work. A T3011DX is a DES/DES-XL/DES-OFB capable keyloader. It has 16
key memories,
and 16 shadow-key (used for OTAR) memories. It's big and ghetto
looking, but it
works just fine. Don't pay more than $600US for one, or else you're
getting hosed.

KVL3000/KVL3000 PLUS. -- There have been a few of these on Ebay
lately. The
sellers I've seen, have NOT listed what algorithm is installed! Can
you believe
that? "DUh I have a KVL3000 for sale". And? When I've emailed them
asking what
algorithm is installed, they rudely reply "THEY DO NOT KNOW". That's
like putting
a car on Ebay. "Selling: a car". You need a little more info than
that! Buyer
beware! These vary in price, but don't pay more than $1500-1600 for
them. One just
went for $2100, and the dork selling it didn't even list the
algorithm(s)! I hope
the buyer wasn't scammed.

Well it's been a slice writing all of this, I hope it proves
entertaining and useful
to ASTRO lovers. Additions, comments, and arguments are all welcome.
Remember,
it's just a hobby

- r0f
10/28/03


-------
:
-----------------------------

- Frequency Picklists feature allows you to view or define frequencies
that
can be easily selected from many Conventional and Trunking receive and
transmit frequency fields throughout the CPS application. This feature
reduces
frequency entry time and frequency entry errors by changing CPS
frequency
field entry from a manual edit to a picklist style entry. This feature
gets
enabled in View-Options-Frequency Options page. This list must be
populated
before accessing it through the applicable dialogs.

- The Clone Wizard feature groups all fields needed to be updated when
cloning
to one or many radios, or to one or many archive codeplug files.

- Macro Record and Playback feature can be used to record a series of
interactions within the CPS and play them back on a different
codeplug.
Note that erroneous behavior can result from recording and playing
back
a macro on separate machines that have significantly different
performance
specifications.

- Drag and Drop Personality to Zone feature allows you to drag a
Conventional
Personality or a Trunking Personality and drop it on top of any Zone
Channel Assignment zone for easily addition of channels to existing
zones
-----

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