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Motorola Saber II

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KJ6VIP

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I recently acquired a Motorola Saber II radio. Band split shown as being 136-174 MHz. I'm in the process of looking for a programmer willing to program this thing. Not much luck on that front yet.

I assume this unit is limited to 48 total channels. Twelve channels per zone, Four zones total, unless the unit has 8k memory or some kind of doohicky, (can't recall the word) under the faceplate, in which case might be 120 channels total.

Anyways my question is really this. Once I am able to find someone willing to program this unit, what are the best HAM frequencies to program in this unit, as channel space is limited. Or does it vary by county etc? Now I realize that this is not best suited for HAM use, however beyond the frequencies I do want programmed in here, I might as well fill the radio with something.

Any help and or advice appreciated.

-Rylak
 

MTS2000des

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a couple of points, the analog Saber was never manufactured for the entire VHF bandsplits. Programming one is possible, but some narrowband split versions were made in the 136-151 and 157-174 variety specifically. Only way to know the actual bandsplit is to read the radio with RSS or crack open the housing and get the module numbers of the VCO and PA modules.

The radios can be made to stretch their bandsplits a few MHz each way, but keep in mind these radios were designed in the 1980's and aren't the very wide band radios of today. They are excellent radios IF tuned properly and maintained. They are also some of the most difficult radios to program, require (by today's standards) antiquated computer hardware (nothing faster than a Pentium 100) and RSS that is long NLA from Motorola. You gotta be careful with them, using an unstable programming platform or cheap cable/RIB can result in a bricked radio. The Saber is notorious for throwing up during programming and can take hours to get working again.

That being said, if you find someone with the correct hardware and software to program, you'll need to be aware of some limitations. Even with an 8K EEPROM Saber, you'll still be limited to a maximum of 32 PL/DPL tones in the entire radio! So while your radio maybe capable of 120 channels in 10 zones, you only can have only 32 unique PL/DPL codes to choose from. Enabling other features in excess can cause you to exceed the 8K codeplug size. and the RSS won't tell you this until AFTER you attempt to write to the radio and it says "codeplug too big" meaning you have to go back and disable this and that to make it work.

I've programmed and serviced dozens of these. They are good radios, but personally I'd pick something newer and less headache. The MT2000 is a great alternative, an A7 model has 160 channels, unlimited PL/DPL's, does all kinds of signaling, VHF version covers the entire VHF band without degradation, accessories are abundant and affordable, and even newer versions of the radio support narrowband operation (2.5KHz synth steps and spacing on F/W version 2.11 and later).

As far as what 2 meter frequencies, this will vary greatly by location. You can put most of the 2 meter repeater pairs in one, but PL tones and offsets vary by location.
 

KJ6VIP

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appreciate your time spent writing all of this, and giving me something to think about. The Saber unit acquired has sentimental value, and would like to have it programmed for the other stuff I need it for. I can do without the HAM frequencies, or just get a few local repeaters programmed. But I need the radio for other uses, was just hoping as a bonus to add the other misc. frequencies assuming the bandsplit is correct.

I am in the market for a HAM specific unit however, and will look into the MT2000. I love working with Motorola radios, but I don't have any tools or software to do my own programming. I'm already having one hell of a time finding someone willing to help me with my Saber II.
 

MTS2000des

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I understand completely. The Saber II UHF was the first "real" Motorola portable I bought when I turned 18 back in 1993. Back then they sold for close to a grand on the used market, and I worked the entire summer of 1992 to pay for a UHF model II 8K in cherry shape that Christmas at the then bargain price of $750. Hard to believe the same radio barely fetches 50 bucks today. Thought I was the king of the world toting that bad boy.

Only reason I recommend the MT2000 is it is much easier to setup the way you want, has a better display, and getting it programmed will be much easier than the Saber analogs. It also doesn't have the limitations on PL/DPLs and such.

If you don't find anyone locally who is willing to program your Saber, I may be able to help you out. Keep in mind programming all 120 channels can be two to three hours of labor to do it RIGHT so it isn't gonna be free but I'm less than any shop would charge you (if they'll even do it, as many no longer have a computer that will run the RSS!)
 

KJ6VIP

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Right on, I will keep that in mind. Again thank you for your insight. Very glad to know that Motorola is an option to use. Although I may likely settle and use an consumer grade radio as my primary rig, having a Motorola programmed as a backup solution is very much a likely possibility.

Radio Reference has a wealth of information. This place is like my holy bible of general radio related odds and ends.

-Rylak
 

mrweather

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The Holy Bible for all Moto stuff is Batlabs. Lots of good info there.

I tend to the care and feeding of a set of VHF Saber II's (I have a well-preserved 486 IBM Thinkpad and genuine /\/\ rib also) and while they are getting old and can be temperamental, they have a hot receiver and super tight front end. And they're built like a tank and nice and thin so they can slip in a back pocket easily.

These radios are pushing 25 years of age and I'm surprised at how well they still work.
 
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kb0nly

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The Holy Bible for all Moto stuff is Batlabs. Lots of good info there.

I tend to the care and feeding of a set of VHF Saber II's (I have a well-preserved 486 IBM Thinkpad and genuine /\/\ rib also) and while they are getting old and can be temperamental, they have a hot receiver and super tight front end. And they're built like a tank and nice and thin so they can slip in a back pocket easily.

These radios are pushing 25 years of age and I'm surprised at how well they still work.
Forget Batlabs... That site is so outdated its not even funny, they don't keep it up to date and just have vague general info on there. The forums is just as bad, its died off severely since the admins got all hopped up on power and shutdown any conversation they don't like.

Motorola Saber Information Page

There is the Saber bible... I can't take complete credit for it, but i did compile a lot of the module number info and hex editing and programming information.
 

KJ6VIP

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Thank you for the additional information regarding this radio. Very nice documentation kbn0nly. I can't begin to fathom the many restless nights it likely took you and your partner(s) to assemble and verify everything recorded on there.

Indeed the Saber series is quite old. The condition of mine is in very good condition. If I, or anyone else who saw this didn't know better, I would be willing to wager that this Radio couldn't be older than say 3 years or so. Just more proof that older in this case is better.
 
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