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Use 800Mhz Radio as scanner

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kc9rzj

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#1
I am curious to know, due to the wide availability of radios, if I could buy a Motorola 800Mhz radio and program it to use as a scanner. I know that I probably would not be able to transmit on the frequencies due to the radio not being in the system. I am looking at monitoring the Indiana Safe-T system. I have looked and searched for information about using a radio, but have not been successful in finding anyone even asking about it. Thank you in advance for the response.
 
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#2
I am curious to know, due to the wide availability of radios, if I could buy a Motorola 800Mhz radio and program it to use as a scanner. I know that I probably would not be able to transmit on the frequencies due to the radio not being in the system. I am looking at monitoring the Indiana Safe-T system. I have looked and searched for information about using a radio, but have not been successful in finding anyone even asking about it. Thank you in advance for the response.
Be safe, don't try using a Motorola to access a P-25 system. A scanner is a wiser move. It doesn't have to affiliate with the system to work, and it gives you more to monitor.
I would suggest getting a Whistler WS-1088 HT, or, a WS-1098 base/mobile. They are both around the $400 price point. They do Phase I, like the Safe-T system, Phase II, and DMR, without having to pay for an upgrade like Uniden.
I own the 1088 and love the radio.
HTH,
Larry
 

Ishmole

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#3
Stick with the scanner. I do not believe the commercial trunked radio will receive if it is not registered with the system
 
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#4
Just to add one more selection, the Whistler WS-1040 HT, or the WS-1065 which are around $250, and both do Phase I. Neither do Phase II or DMR.
Larry
 
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#5
Another option new to the market is the Unication G4 or G5 pager. I picked up one a while back and have been very happy with it.
Its more of a future proof device as its not backwards compatible with older analog systems.
P25 Phase 1 works excellent on it and it can be upgraded to Phase 2 sometime soon.
Its a bit more expensive but for me it has the receiver of a commercial radio with options similar to a scanner since it wont transmit.
 

kc9rzj

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#6
How is the battery life on the Unication? That is one of the big drawbacks for the scanners to me. When I am on shift, our Moto radios last a whole 12-24 hours. I have read that most of the portable scanners only last 4-8 hours on a set of batteries

Another option new to the market is the Unication G4 or G5 pager. I picked up one a while back and have been very happy with it.
Its more of a future proof device as its not backwards compatible with older analog systems.
P25 Phase 1 works excellent on it and it can be upgraded to Phase 2 sometime soon.
Its a bit more expensive but for me it has the receiver of a commercial radio with options similar to a scanner since it wont transmit.
 
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#7
I have mine programmed for the screen to turn on for 10 seconds each time RX happens and on a busy system i get about 8-10 hrs use.
On a conventional P25 channel for a small fire dept i get almost 2 days.
But i rarely see it die during usage as i tend to charge it at night. It uses a micro usb charger so works with all my phone chargers.
Better battery life then my BCD436HP but then again my BCD has a lot wider range of usage.
The unication pager would be perfect for someone who is getting a lot of multisite interference or has a need to monitor P25 Phase 1 (soon hopefully to be Phase 2 as well) systems.
 

ofd8001

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#8
I agree the "cleanest" option is to go with a scanner. That said using an old radio set up as receive only, etc., has been done by others to deal with 800 systems successfully. Programming it can be a challenge however as there is certain software needed and certain settings for the system.

On the plus side, the radio may deal with simulcast systems better than a scanner. On the negative side, a radio/Unication pager is confined to monitoring only the programmed system. A scanner gives more flexibility in travel or monitoring other things.
 

natedawg1604

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#9
I agree the "cleanest" option is to go with a scanner. That said using an old radio set up as receive only, etc., has been done by others to deal with 800 systems successfully. Programming it can be a challenge however as there is certain software needed and certain settings for the system.

On the plus side, the radio may deal with simulcast systems better than a scanner. On the negative side, a radio/Unication pager is confined to monitoring only the programmed system. A scanner gives more flexibility in travel or monitoring other things.
Yeah, using a commercial radio as a scanner is quite doable and provides WAYY better audio quality than any scanner, especially on simulcast systems. You can get used radios on Ebay but you must buy programming software directly from Moto, Harris etc. However, there is VERY limited talkgroup capacity (particularly the number of talkgroups you can scan simultaneously, which is like 10-16). The Unication is a great alternative, although it would have similar talkgroup capacity limitations.
 

kc9rzj

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#10
Thank you for answering my main question.... I have no problem buying the software to program, Ebay prices on 800 radios is pretty cheap. I can get the same radios my departments uses for way less than I could buy a scanner for. Have you done this yourself?

Yeah, using a commercial radio as a scanner is quite doable and provides WAYY better audio quality than any scanner, especially on simulcast systems. You can get used radios on Ebay but you must buy programming software directly from Moto, Harris etc. However, there is VERY limited talkgroup capacity (particularly the number of talkgroups you can scan simultaneously, which is like 10-16). The Unication is a great alternative, although it would have similar talkgroup capacity limitations.
 

jaspence

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#11
Moto as scanner

I have both real scanners and a XTS3000 Moto. The scanners are far more flexible and no worries about interfering with the monitored agency. If you need more listening time, get one of the portable phone chargers. I have one by Uniden that is rated at 6000 mAh that cost under $10. I use it on several low voltage devices including charging my RC quads and copters.
 
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#12
Thank you for answering my main question.... I have no problem buying the software to program, Ebay prices on 800 radios is pretty cheap. I can get the same radios my departments uses for way less than I could buy a scanner for. Have you done this yourself?
So, the real trick is to know -exactly- what you are buying.

Some of those cheap 800MHz radios are priced that way for a reason.
The older MTS-2000's have issues with the displays failing. They won't do P25. Some of the older versions are not capable of being re-banded, so they get dumped. The newer version can be re-banded, but it's a flash, and you need to be absolutely sure it has it.
MTS-2000's are old radios, so many of them need a lot of TLC. They are no longer supported by Motorola, so parts/support can be an issue. IF you buy one, consider it a disposable radio. Make sure you can send it back if it isn't what the seller says it is. If it breaks, toss it and get a fresh one.

The XTS series are a bit better, but again, you need to be sure the radio has the correct flash code for what you want to do.

The flash code is very important when it comes to trunking systems. Just because a radio model is capable of doing P25 doesn't automatically mean it's got the right flash code to allow it. Re-flashign a radio with a new flash code isn't free.

Also, consider any radio you buy off e-bay is going to need a new battery, even if the seller says "it holds a charge". A decent new battery is going to run you an extra $30 to $40 bucks.

The programming software can be "found" online, but there are legal issues with that. Also, downloading radio programming software from the neither regions of the internet (.ru) comes with a fair share of risks. In some cases, the version of radio programming software you need for a particular radio can be linked to the radio firmware or what version it was programmed with last.

Programming cables can be purchased cheap if you go with after market. Make sure you do some research as there are good and bad ones out there. No need to brick a radio due to going cheap on the cable.

Lastly, some radios can have read, write and read/write passwords on them. Whatever you purchase make sure its ready to go. Do you research on the buyer.
 

kc9rzj

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#13
Thank you very much for the information! I do plan on probably an XTS3000. But yea, I am now learning about flash codes that go with them.

So, the real trick is to know -exactly- what you are buying.

Some of those cheap 800MHz radios are priced that way for a reason.
The older MTS-2000's have issues with the displays failing. They won't do P25. Some of the older versions are not capable of being re-banded, so they get dumped. The newer version can be re-banded, but it's a flash, and you need to be absolutely sure it has it.
MTS-2000's are old radios, so many of them need a lot of TLC. They are no longer supported by Motorola, so parts/support can be an issue. IF you buy one, consider it a disposable radio. Make sure you can send it back if it isn't what the seller says it is. If it breaks, toss it and get a fresh one.

The XTS series are a bit better, but again, you need to be sure the radio has the correct flash code for what you want to do.

The flash code is very important when it comes to trunking systems. Just because a radio model is capable of doing P25 doesn't automatically mean it's got the right flash code to allow it. Re-flashign a radio with a new flash code isn't free.

Also, consider any radio you buy off e-bay is going to need a new battery, even if the seller says "it holds a charge". A decent new battery is going to run you an extra $30 to $40 bucks.

The programming software can be "found" online, but there are legal issues with that. Also, downloading radio programming software from the neither regions of the internet (.ru) comes with a fair share of risks. In some cases, the version of radio programming software you need for a particular radio can be linked to the radio firmware or what version it was programmed with last.

Programming cables can be purchased cheap if you go with after market. Make sure you do some research as there are good and bad ones out there. No need to brick a radio due to going cheap on the cable.

Lastly, some radios can have read, write and read/write passwords on them. Whatever you purchase make sure its ready to go. Do you research on the buyer.
 

KE4ZNR

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#14
Thank you very much for the information! I do plan on probably an XTS3000. But yea, I am now learning about flash codes that go with them.
Be very careful considering an XTS 3000. It appears as though the Indiana statewide system is on a P25 upgrade path. Meaning that the XTS 3000 would soon become a doorstop (alongside the MTS 2000) unless you were to have very specific P25 9600 rare firmware in the XTS3K.
Another drawback of the XTS 3000 is the fact you need to purchase a RIB box along with the programming cable and software. The RIB Box is "built into" the programming cable for the XTS 2500/5000 which makes programming less of a hassle.
For what you want to do I would consider an XTS 2500 or XTS 5000 with appropriate flashcode and forget about the 3000.

Marshall KE4ZNR
 

kc9rzj

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#15
Is there a central website that I could get more info on using one of these radios? That way I can do some further research without trying to ask every question that I never thought of (RIB box for example).

Be very careful considering an XTS 3000. It appears as though the Indiana statewide system is on a P25 upgrade path. Meaning that the XTS 3000 would soon become a doorstop (alongside the MTS 2000) unless you were to have very specific P25 9600 rare firmware in the XTS3K.
Another drawback of the XTS 3000 is the fact you need to purchase a RIB box along with the programming cable and software. The RIB Box is "built into" the programming cable for the XTS 2500/5000 which makes programming less of a hassle.
For what you want to do I would consider an XTS 2500 or XTS 5000 with appropriate flashcode and forget about the 3000.

Marshall KE4ZNR
 

KE4ZNR

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#16
Is there a central website that I could get more info on using one of these radios? That way I can do some further research without trying to ask every question that I never thought of (RIB box for example).
Batwing Laboratories

Batlabs has info about older radios (such as the XTS 3000).

Communications.Support has alot of good info HOWEVER do realize Comm.Supp is
for advanced radio professionals and does not tolerate beginner "newb" questions.
LURK BUT DO NOT POST!!!

Search the Moto Forum here for past questions.

Marshall KE4ZNR
 

milf

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#17
Also note the SAFE-T is not NON Affiliate Friendly during the upgrade.... You run the risk of being shut out or being bricked quickly using any radio that is NOT authorized to be on the P25 system, do so at your own risk!
 
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#18
Be safe, don't try using a Motorola to access a P-25 system. A scanner is a wiser move. It doesn't have to affiliate with the system to work, and it gives you more to monitor.

Larry
Not true. A Motorola radio can be used for monitoring only without affiliating with a system. Many people on this forum do it. But, you do have to know what you are doing or have somebody else set it up for you.
 
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#19
Stick with the scanner. I do not believe the commercial trunked radio will receive if it is not registered with the system
Not true. A commercial radio like a Motorola can be used for monitoring only without affiliating with a system. Many people on this forum do it. But, you do have to know what you are doing or have somebody else set it up for you.
 

milf

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#20
That is only if the system is not set for query if it is it will query your radio and bank or zap it.

Sent from my LG-K330 using Tapatalk
 
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