“Using commercial radios on the ham bands”
The big question…heard on this subject is WHY and How do I do it?
I will be the first to admit that putting an old commercial radio on the air isn’t as easy as picking a radio up at Gigaparts or Ham Radio Outlet, pluging it into your computer and use RT systems to enter the frequencies you want in the radio…that’s why it may not be for everyone.
- QUALITY (Construction, parts)
- LIFE EXPECTANCY
- ACCESSORIES AVAILABLE
- USED PRICES
- PROGRAM CAPABILITY
- ANALOG & DMR
- CREATABLE ZONES TO MANAGE THE 1000 CHANNELS
- LACK OF MANUFACTURERS SUPPORT
- LACK OF ACCESSORIES
- LIMITED NUMBER OF CHANNELS
- LACK OF SERVICE PEOPLE
- ON ONE BAND ONLY (THERE IS AN EXCEPTION)
- NUMBER OF CHANNELS
- PROGRAMMING SOFTWARE
- USES CRYTALS ( CURRENT PRICE $100 MIN.)
A little background…
#1 XPR4550 (bottom) and XPR5550 (top)
#1B Older Motorola HT’s
These radios required crystals for the frequency determining element and are no longer used because of that. These radios were often called a “brick”, very durable under fire.
The MX series ( second from the right) was manufactured with a life expectency of 15 to 20 years. These radios were a favorite with local government (Police, Sheriff, Marshall) as well as Federal government agencies ( FBI, DEA, DOJ, Corrections at Prisons) and survive where conditions were not always pleasant on the radios, the customer always wanted to get the most out of their ROI.
#2 XPR6550 (Very popular among hams)
#3 Motorola XPR6550 & Standard Vertex
#4 Mobile Chargers & other Accessories
#4A HD Motorola Speaker Microphone
OEM Motorola $35-45
Chinese knock-off $13 ( you get what you pay for)
#4B Are there Dual band VHF/UHF commercial radios?
Absolutely! This an APX7000 VHF/UHF radio, they are available on the used market for $1,800.00 or more. New they are over $5,000.
#5 What $100 will get you. (your brand and price may vary)
Quality components- (drop test)
Performance- (drop test)
Price- $30.00 to $100.00 (or more)
Service ability- (after drop test)
#6 Spurious emissions ( typical especially after 3 foot drop test)
#7 MX300 series spurious emissions (photo from QA lab during drop test results)
#8 XPR 6550 that has seen some rough use, so customer fixed it.
The bottom line for me has been that using a commercial radio in Amateur service must be like “Baby’ing” it in comparison to what they were designed to go thru 8+ hours a day for years on end…your wear may vary!
The customer complaint when brought into the shop was “battery doesn’t hold a charge”, he never mentioned any of the other things about this radio!
Probably, because it still got the job done!
Bottom line is depending what you want to get out of your radio will dictate what direction you should go.
Accidents do happen all the time, no matter how good you treat your equipment.
If your interested in used commercial gear, talk to some of the folks that have them and see what they have to say.
Tonight’s audio clip of the net is provided by Dave W3QQQ