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Railroad/Railfan Monitoring Forum - This is the place to discuss monitoring railroad communications.

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 02-13-2016, 5:34 PM
   
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Question NXDN

What radio do I have to get to hear NXDN transmissions?

Or will NXDN end monitoring railroads?
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Old 02-13-2016, 6:39 PM
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DSDPlus – Digital Decoder
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Old 02-13-2016, 6:54 PM
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Yeah dsd with a dongle or a tapped scanner will be the cheapest way.
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:52 AM
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DSD is a nice solution, but I prefer to just pack around a single portable radio. I bought an Icom IC-F3161DT, and have loaded it up with ham, plus receive-only for everything I want to be able to scan.

Mine has the RR (railroad) firmware, which allows direct-entry of the AAR channels, whether wide-band, narrow-band, or NXDN, The AAR channels do not take up any of the 512 memory channels. However, if you want to "scan", you WOULD have to program them into your memory channels and set up a scan bank. If you don't get one with the RR firmware, no big deal.

Or you could get an IC-F3161DS, which is the limited-keypad version, and not available with RR firmware.

D=digital module installed - required for NXDN
S=limited keypad
T=full keypad

Can be found for under US$200 to over $400 on eBay, generally in mint condition. Just make sure it doesn't have a programming password installed, because you can't get around it. And it's cheaper to buy a D radio rather than a non-D and try to add the digital module later.

I recommend getting a genuine Icom full-size antenna, not the compact antenna, and not the Chinese copy.

Kenwood makes NXDN radios as well, but I don't know anything about them.
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Old 03-07-2016, 9:38 AM
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I would have to agree with Cognomen on this one!

I too picked up one of the ICOM F3161DT radios but unfortunately didn't do all my homework before making the purchase, finding out after the fact that the radio didn't include the RR option. As discussed above, this was no big deal as I am able to program the radio to my liking adding frquencies and scan banks as desired. Adding the local area railroad frequencies was a breeze and being that the radio has a nice alpha-numeric display I was able to label the channels to my liking as well for ease of scanning use. Being that the radio is NXDN then I also have no worries as to whether or not they transmit in plain voice or NXDN :-)

Hope this helps.

Muffin
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WWE4907 View Post
What radio do I have to get to hear NXDN transmissions?

Or will NXDN end monitoring railroads?
The portables in use by the railroads are mainly Kenwood NX-210s, though I have seen Amtrak conductors with ICOMs. Mobile-wise the Kenwood NX700 is pretty wide spread, but I think the ICOM F5061D is also used. In fact the guts of all contemporary locomotive radios are the above two models.

It's pricey, but the AOR AR-DV1 can decode NXDN. AOR AR-DV1 Wideband Communications Receiver

Keep in mind NXDN in mainline use is still many years away and probably by that time Uniden and Whistler will make scanners that can decode NXDN without the use of software.

I say this monitoring my local line with a 30 year old Regency HX1500.
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Old 03-08-2016, 4:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
I would have to agree with Cognomen on this one!

I too picked up one of the ICOM F3161DT radios but unfortunately didn't do all my homework before making the purchase, finding out after the fact that the radio didn't include the RR option. As discussed above, this was no big deal as I am able to program the radio to my liking adding frquencies and scan banks as desired. Adding the local area railroad frequencies was a breeze and being that the radio has a nice alpha-numeric display I was able to label the channels to my liking as well for ease of scanning use. Being that the radio is NXDN then I also have no worries as to whether or not they transmit in plain voice or NXDN :-)

Hope this helps.

Muffin
You can flash the RR firmware yourself to replace the standard firmware.
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Old 03-08-2016, 5:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n1oty View Post
You can flash the RR firmware yourself to replace the standard firmware.
Correct me if I'm wrong but it is my understanding that it's not as simple as just flashing the radio with the railway firmware. Apparently the radio has an additional eprom that is required. I am running the latest software.

Muffin

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Old 03-15-2016, 9:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n1oty View Post
You can flash the RR firmware yourself to replace the standard firmware.
Can I just run the same .exe from Icom that I used to update my RR radio?
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Old 03-20-2016, 7:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong but it is my understanding that it's not as simple as just flashing the radio with the railway firmware. Apparently the radio has an additional eprom that is required. I am running the latest software.

Muffin

Sent from my D6603 using Tapatalk
There is no additional EPROM. You can flash RR firmware into a standard Icom NXDN radio all day long. I don't know about the Kenwoods.
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Old 03-20-2016, 7:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n1oty View Post
There is no additional EPROM. You can flash RR firmware into a standard Icom NXDN radio all day long. I don't know about the Kenwoods.
You'll need RR firmware, RR version programming software and standard Icom cable.
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Old 03-20-2016, 7:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n1oty View Post
You'll need RR firmware, RR version programming software and standard Icom cable.
Perfect! Thanks

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Old 03-20-2016, 8:38 PM
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Thanks for the confirmation!
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Old 03-23-2016, 4:52 AM
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So I tried it... it didn't work for me.

The original radio firmware was 5.2. I ran the 4.6.3 RR updater. The updater said it was successful, but the radio beeped and flashed and then said CLONE NC.

I was able to flash the regular firmware back into it.

This is the same updater that I have already used to successfully update my existing railroad radio from 3.1.1 RR to 4.6.3 RR.

Any hints?
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Old 03-23-2016, 7:17 AM
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You should be able to put railroad firmware in any icom idas radio without any trouble. I've gone back and forth both ways... keep in mind the software for each set of firmware is different. I haven't messed around with them in about a year though but can't imagine much has changed.

As for those wishing to learn a bit about the Kenwood product line

Kenwood NEXEDGE radios are a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for. The build quality, receive selectivity and battery life (of the portables) trump the Icom, not to mention available/accessible features: ie Long press and short press programmable button features, a better menu, etc.

We were issued F3161DT radios here at work a couple years ago surrounding the narrowbanding mandate. Battery life was pretty abysmal, and I subsequently purchased a Kenwood NX200 portable. The slim battery for it had the same capacity as the so-called "hi capacity" icom, and the standard Kenwood battery gave me days of use between charges.

Not to mention that with the Kenwood, no matter what NX radio you buy, it will do NXDN digital. With iCom you need the additional board which may or may not be in there regardless of the packaging and description depending on how knowledgeable and trustworthy the seller is!

The mobiles are comparable, the NX700 vs F5061D in size and basic function. I had the 5061 mounted in my truck for a while, but couldn't get it programmed right as far as squelch went... it was either too tight or too loose. I had the latest railroad firmware in it at the time, but some of the squelch settings get a bit complicated.

The newest Kenwood series is the NX5000 line up, which is aimed more toward public safety as it features provisions for P25 and NXDN in the same package. Color screen, GPS and a bunch of other stuff as well. They work pretty well and have a lot of potential as more features are introduced, but the price-point and software restrictions make it impractical for the casual/average railfan to go out and purchase.

The latest icom I've seen around here is the F3261 portable, which I think has a continuous rotary knob allowing more than 16 channels be programmed in a zone, and GPS as well.

Last edited by Josh; 03-23-2016 at 7:23 AM..
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Old 03-23-2016, 9:43 AM
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What is special about "railroad firmware"? How is it different that non railroad firmware?
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Old 03-23-2016, 12:56 PM
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"Railroad firmware" typically allows the user to select any AAR channel for either receive and transmit.
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Old 03-23-2016, 3:19 PM
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Railroad firmware on iCom radios also allows a larger variety of carrier squelch settings since almost everything is Carrier Squelch. It doesn't make much of a difference, if you have a radio programmed and then decide to switch over to the different type of firmware, you have to reprogram your radio from scratch... that might be the problem the other poster mentioned about the error he had after changing the firmware.
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Old 03-23-2016, 3:20 PM
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Also the RR firmware gives you a second set of programmable buttons, the ability to have the first character of your alpha tag state the bandwidth (w, n, d), and probably other things that I haven't found yet.
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Old 03-23-2016, 3:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cognomen View Post
So I tried it... it didn't work for me.

The original radio firmware was 5.2. I ran the 4.6.3 RR updater. The updater said it was successful, but the radio beeped and flashed and then said CLONE NC.

I was able to flash the regular firmware back into it.

This is the same updater that I have already used to successfully update my existing railroad radio from 3.1.1 RR to 4.6.3 RR.

Any hints?
Hello,

I suspect that you did not use the RR version of the Cloning Software once the radio was converted to 4.6.3 RR firmware.

73 Eric
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