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Old 01-03-2018, 2:36 PM
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Default Newbie question about becoming a licensed programmer

I'm probably just not looking in the right area, but can anyone help steer me in the right direction or offer advice?

I'm trying to learn what steps I need to take to become a licensed Kenwood Programmer. I'm not as concerned with selling the radios or repairing them. My main goal is to be able to program radios for Public Safety. Specifically, NX5700/5800. Our agency recently purchased a few of those radios and the guy they let set that up didn't know much about our agencies radio needs.

That's not the sole reason I'd like to become a licensed programmer. I do enjoy programming radios, but I see that I could benefit my agency as well as others.

Is that something that's even a possibility or do I have to be a full-blown dealer? Are the costs involved in becoming licensed so outrageous it wouldn't be practical to do to occasionally program my agency's radios and neighboring agencies?
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Old 01-03-2018, 3:31 PM
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"Licensed" implies that a government agency, such as your state Department of Professional Licensing, or some other one, like the FCC, issues you a "license". So yes, you are barking up the wrong tree.

You want to become a Kenwood authorized programmer, and I'd expect there's no such thing, that they only that as an incentive to authorized dealers. The fast way to find out what they are allowing now?

Well, yeah, call Kenwood-US directly and ask them what you have to do to buy programming software from them. Sometimes, a company will just say "sign up, pay up, buy it" and there's no other restriction besides your wallet.
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Old 01-03-2018, 3:36 PM
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until there is a liability issue and you are sued off the planet
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Old 01-03-2018, 3:37 PM
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I programmed an Alabama VFD set of hand-me-down radios. The only thing I needed in order to program their radios were a cable, and the software for the radio.

I'm not too sure how Kenwood licenses out their software, perhaps someone more familiar with Kenwood can drop in on that part, but for Motorola you have to request the access to it on their online catalog, then you order the desired programming software for $300 or so bucks. I didn't need to become a dealer or anything special like that, just sent a support ticket and bam.

I think the price is a little crazy, but you can't really do much about it. There are alternative resources for acquiring the software without paying, but I'm not going to go into that.. Good luck, us know how it goes.
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Old 01-03-2018, 3:41 PM
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i like to know the whole story i feel theirs something BIG missing in this post?? or is it just me when the flag went to the top
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Old 01-03-2018, 4:06 PM
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There is no licence required to program radios except if you charge money, then you need to satisfy your local and state Govt by getting an appropriate business license. If you get an FCC GROL license, you could then advertise you are an FCC licensed radio technician, which is a little misleading but people do it all the time. You would be a radio technician programming radios and with an FCC GROL you would be FCC licensed, so use that to your advantage if you get a GROL.
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Old 01-03-2018, 4:55 PM
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So, as prcguy said, there is no such thing as a "licensed programmer".

The NX-5x00 radios are fairly complex, so getting some training is a real good idea. Many of us just learned by doing. I had a guy sit down and run me through the old Motorola RSS so I could program the radios for my old analog trunked system about 20 years ago. After basically locking myself in the shop for a few days and doing nothing but working with the software and radios I was able to do it successfully. Over the years as the radios were updated, I got better at it. When I moved up to newer radios, there was a bit of a learning curve, but I was building off existing knowledge. When I switched over to a Kenwood digital system, the basics were there, but I went down to Kenwood in Southern California for a few days to learn more.

And, that might be a good idea. If you are working for an agency and they want you to start programming public safety radios, then they should be able to fund some manufacturers training for you. You'd need to contact Kenwood directly and see if they have anything currently offered. If not, you might be able to tag along with someone else's training. When I did mine, I went, one of my co-workers and a guy from one of our support vendors. While Kenwood doesn't have a "school" so to speak, they do have a guy that does training, and he is very knowledgeable on the product line, features, technology, etc.

I'd be reluctant to tell you to just grab a radio and the software and teach yourself. The issue is that since this is public safety stuff, making a mistake can have some pretty high consequences.

Your dealer will probably not be willing to help since they see radio programming as a revenue stream. You'll need to work above them to make this happen.
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Old 01-21-2018, 8:28 PM
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Let me share an example that happened recently to me.

Local police department bought NX-5300s from another vendor or Kenwood directly, not sure, they wouldn't say.

One of the Sergeant's is the "radio guy". He programmed them up and they worked okay. Until the day their repeater had a bad power supply and I had to shut down their dispatch repeater to replace it. They switched to their backup repeater and the new portables were garbled.

Why?

The programming officer decided to enable "scrambler" on their backup channel for "extra security". Why was this a problem? The dispatch console wasn't equipped with the scrambler/descrambler. Neither were their fleet of TK-3180s. So only the five officers with NX-5300s were able to talk to each other. To make matters worse, the menu option/button option to disable/enable Scrambler was not programmed.

Further issues arose when I determined the channel knob was acting wierd. Someone programmed 20 channels in zone 1, and unchecked the box for 16-channel selector. They then failed to remove the channel stop. This resulted in further problems.

This is what happens time after time when someone who "knows radios" gets busy with something they don't fully understand.
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Old 01-21-2018, 8:42 PM
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Yeah, there is so much that cannot be "taught", it has to be learned. Knowing how to program a radio is one thing. Knowing how not to program one is another.
Learning the difference takes time and experience. Experience comes from making mistakes. Making mistakes with public safety radios gets dangerous.
Not really a good discussion for a hobby radio site, though. There are good resources out there where you can learn. Manufacturer is one. Experienced techs are another. DHS has a few resources.
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Old 01-21-2018, 9:09 PM
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I am impressed KK6ZTEs experience with the radio guy had the correct frequencies.
Similar folks in the past have brought me radios they programmed “that wouldn’t activate the repeaters”
They were transmitting on other, unintended repeaters instead.
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N5XPM View Post
I am impressed KK6ZTEs experience with the radio guy had the correct frequencies.
Similar folks in the past have brought me radios they programmed “that wouldn’t activate the repeaters”
They were transmitting on other, unintended repeaters instead.
UHF is great because it’s hard to screw up the input frequencies when they’re all +5MHz

It also helps when they just read their existing radios and transfer info over.
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Old 01-22-2018, 8:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KK6ZTE View Post
UHF is great because it’s hard to screw up the input frequencies when they’re all +5MHz

It also helps when they just read their existing radios and transfer info over.
Most of my public safety customers are VHF...about half of them are P25 trunking on VHF. PITA setting up a service monitor to test trunking subscribers on VHF...especially when sites don't follow the split in the bandplan.
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Old 01-22-2018, 9:47 PM
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Ah yes. Thankfully we keep it conventional and simple here.
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Old 01-23-2018, 3:21 PM
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xpm-
Believe it or not, if an agency is too small to have a real full-time multiperson IT staff with formal documentation and such? Yeah, a "radio guy" often has incomplete information to go on and as they change, things fall between the cracks.
I know a county agency that is FCC licensed only for simplex use of a certain frequency, but their "radio guy" set all the radios on their repeater. Not simplex. Not licensed. But since it worked so well for one of their other agencies...they just figured, why not do it for this one as well?
"Trust but verify". Documentation is a lost art.
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