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Astro spectra

CLC98

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Alright. Let’s start this over. Life really likes to get in the way of my projects, it doesn’t help I forgot my login for this group lol. But about a year ago I joined and made a post looking to gather information on the Astro spectra systems as I am working towards restoring a retired police car back to its in service look for car shows, special events etc. The department the car belonged to used the spectra vhf systems from the mid 90’s and I believe upgraded to xtl5000 systems somewhere in the late 2000’s. Even the departments last remaining 2011 crown vics have the old w9 head radios in the console.
I know support for the older spectra systems is harder to find but they are a lot cheaper. I’d like the setup to be functional, fully programmed, just like it was in service with the exception of no mic just so there’s no mishaps of talking on air. Also, the w9 keypad was setup to control the spectra siren functions. I know it’s a long shot but any help regarding where to start looking or any general info I need to know is greatly appreciated.

1. would I be better off with an older spectra vhf paired with the siren unit? Or upgrade to the xtl5000 with the siren unit?
2. I can’t find any sort of wiring or installation diagrams, but how would one connect the siren unit to the main remote mount radio? I know the functions have to be programmed to avoid using the separate dek keys.
3. Where would I begin to look for help on programming at least the basic functions of the w9 head and siren features? Those are a must. I’d love to have channels programmed in too but they are not a must. I do however work for the railroad (or did until I got furloughed) so even having railroad channels would be nice.

I will include a picture of the w9 head so you guys n gals can see what I mean by keypad setup. Additionally, were there separate siren units? Or were they all the same as in compatible with the older to newer radios?
 

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a417

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. I’d like the setup to be functional, fully programmed, just like it was in service with the exception of no mic just so there’s no mishaps of talking on air.
This is where your plan runs into trouble.

You will probably not be able to make that hardware work on whatever current iteration of infrastructure is in place for that department. You are talking about 20 to 30 year old hardware (in the cases of the analog spectras) which will not work on digital infrastructure at all. You might find it easier to hide a modern scanner in a trunk with a remoted speaker, and pipe that audio out a hidden speaker, but if that dept went digital...you will not be able to take an old spectra and make it monitor, much less transmit.

I have some friends who do exactly what you are trying to do. They have an analog period radio programmed up with some dummy channels that have the names of the departments on the screen, but no actual channel information stored...so it looks the part, but it can't be the part.

If the department was running W9 spectras, you can get a VHF spectra trunk mount deck for a pittance, program it with the siren and make it look great. Programming them can be a little daunting, depending on the vintage of the radio and the availability/hardware requirements of programming them...so this can be a significant rabbit hole that some people might not want to go down.

Good luck!
 

CLC98

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Nov 25, 2019
Messages
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This is where your plan runs into trouble.

You will probably not be able to make that hardware work on whatever current iteration of infrastructure is in place for that department. You are talking about 20 to 30 year old hardware (in the cases of the analog spectras) which will not work on digital infrastructure at all. You might find it easier to hide a modern scanner in a trunk with a remoted speaker, and pipe that audio out a hidden speaker, but if that dept went digital...you will not be able to take an old spectra and make it monitor, much less transmit.

I have some friends who do exactly what you are trying to do. They have an analog period radio programmed up with some dummy channels that have the names of the departments on the screen, but no actual channel information stored...so it looks the part, but it can't be the part.

If the department was running W9 spectras, you can get a VHF spectra trunk mount deck for a pittance, program it with the siren and make it look great. Programming them can be a little daunting, depending on the vintage of the radio and the availability/hardware requirements of programming them...so this can be a significant rabbit hole that some people might not want to go down.

Good luck!
Well my view on that part is that the department still runs in the digital vhf range. As far as I’ve known they’ve had the xtl5000 since they first came out. They still run Motorola’s but I believe it’s the apx now. Might have that wrong but it’s been a while. But this is also where y’all’s advice comes in. If the analog system won’t work with the newer digital then a newer digital system is what I need. Do any of the older spectra models run digital? Or just the newer xtl5000’s? I know I can get just about everything I need, it’s still just the programming. I am a railroad employee (on furlough, but still holding on) so having some department channels to listen to when at car shows and events but railroad stuff when I’m on my own time would be nice. They both run vhf so it’s a win win if I can.
I at least want the radio and siren to be functional, wether it can actually transmit or receive isn’t a must but if it’s getting programmed for the siren functions then might as well.
I’m going to do some searches online, mostly eBay and see what I can find. I will be asking around so y’all please let me know how pricing is or if it’s a good deal on an item. Now there are a few sellers of complete radios online who will program channels for a fee, but none that I know of mess with siren options. I’ll keep yall posted
 

a417

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When you say older, exactly how old are you talking? Analog spectras are just that, analog. I believe the Astro Spectras will work on some forms of digital - (albeit earlier protocols - that many(most?) depts have transitioned away from. (I am not a true Astro guy, I only have a basic understanding of it in operation. My dept at the time jumped ship to LTR, and then back to p25 after the astro stuff was taken out of the rotation. There are a great many members of the hive mind here that live and breathe moto astro stuff). Here's a quick link to a forum post from 12 years ago about digital compatibilities, and this might enlighten you as to how muddled the digital waters got around that time.

You could get a portable digital scanner (this way you could bring the scanner out of the car when you're not using it) , pipe the audio out thru a moto vintage speaker via the speaker plug, set up a w9 spectra head with siren driver that has a channel programmed with the name that matches the dept you are recreating and no one would ever be the wiser. This will also make it easier for antennas as you could put a dummy antenna anywhere on the car and not have to worry about it.

This would very simply give you the most flexibility out of the setup with the least amount of issues, as I see it.

Again, I'm not an astro god, but I'd hate to see you pull your hair out over minutiae trying to get a parts built junker radio work on something that it just can't.

Keep us posted, some of those restorations look truly magnificent when completed, hope yours is one too! (y)
 
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FFPM571

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When you say older, exactly how old are you talking? Analog spectras are just that, analog. I believe the Astro Spectras will work on some forms of digital - (albeit earlier protocols - that many(most?) depts have transitioned away from. (I am not a true Astro guy, I only have a basic understanding of it in operation. My dept at the time jumped ship to LTR, and then back to p25 after the astro stuff was taken out of the rotation. There are a great many members of the hive mind here that live and breathe moto astro stuff). Here's a quick link to a forum post from 12 years ago about digital compatibilities, and this might enlighten you as to how muddled the digital waters got around that time.

You could get a portable digital scanner (this way you could bring the scanner out of the car when you're not using it) , pipe the audio out thru a moto vintage speaker via the speaker plug, set up a w9 spectra head with siren driver that has a channel programmed with the name that matches the dept you are recreating and no one would ever be the wiser. This will also make it easier for antennas as you could put a dummy antenna anywhere on the car and not have to worry about it.

This would very simply give you the most flexibility out of the setup with the least amount of issues, as I see it.

Again, I'm not an astro god, but I'd hate to see you pull your hair out over minutiae trying to get a parts built junker radio work on something that it just can't.

Keep us posted, some of those restorations look truly magnificent when completed, hope yours is one too! (y)
Very few Astro spectras were VSLEP most were P25 that is still the common form that is still in use. All of the siren programming is done in the CPS for Astro Spectra also the RSS for the standard spectra And No analog spectra will not do any form of Digital
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Very few Astro spectras were VSLEP most were P25 that is still the common form that is still in use. All of the siren programming is done in the CPS for Astro Spectra also the RSS for the standard spectra And No analog spectra will not do any form of Digital
Just to correct the record. There is a Digital mode the "analog" Spectras can use.

12 KBp/s Securenet is a Digital mode. It has a rudimentary vocoder called CVSD. It actually sounds pretty good, in my opinion sounds better than P25 and with the DES-XL mode, the range is about same as analog. Securenet won't work in VHF/UHF narrow band mode.
 

FFPM571

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Just to correct the record. There is a Digital mode the "analog" Spectras can use.

12 KBp/s Securenet is a Digital mode. It has a rudimentary vocoder called CVSD. It actually sounds pretty good, in my opinion sounds better than P25 and with the DES-XL mode, the range is about same as analog. Securenet won't work in VHF/UHF narrow band mode.
That is splitting hairs as it is not a form of modulation such as P25, VSLEP, NXDN ect... It's an encryption format
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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That is splitting hairs as it is not a form of modulation such as P25, VSLEP, NXDN ect... It's an encryption format
Not splitting hairs.

CVSD is a vocoder just as IMBE, AMBE, VSELP etc, are vocoders.

If you remove the encryption from Securenet it still remains a digital modulation. CVSD has been used commercially and by military for a long time. Many of the applications it is used for don't require encryption.

 

mancow

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Not splitting hairs.

CVSD is a vocoder just as IMBE, AMBE, VSELP etc, are vocoders.

If you remove the encryption from Securenet it still remains a digital modulation. CVSD has been used commercially and by military for a long time. Many of the applications it is used for don't require encryption.


Yup, he's correct. The RACAL/Thales units (some) have clear CVSD as an option, similar to the old GE voiceguard.
 

CLC98

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Joined
Nov 25, 2019
Messages
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When you say older, exactly how old are you talking? Analog spectras are just that, analog. I believe the Astro Spectras will work on some forms of digital - (albeit earlier protocols - that many(most?) depts have transitioned away from. (I am not a true Astro guy, I only have a basic understanding of it in operation. My dept at the time jumped ship to LTR, and then back to p25 after the astro stuff was taken out of the rotation. There are a great many members of the hive mind here that live and breathe moto astro stuff). Here's a quick link to a forum post from 12 years ago about digital compatibilities, and this might enlighten you as to how muddled the digital waters got around that time.

You could get a portable digital scanner (this way you could bring the scanner out of the car when you're not using it) , pipe the audio out thru a moto vintage speaker via the speaker plug, set up a w9 spectra head with siren driver that has a channel programmed with the name that matches the dept you are recreating and no one would ever be the wiser. This will also make it easier for antennas as you could put a dummy antenna anywhere on the car and not have to worry about it.

This would very simply give you the most flexibility out of the setup with the least amount of issues, as I see it.

Again, I'm not an astro god, but I'd hate to see you pull your hair out over minutiae trying to get a parts built junker radio work on something that it just can't.

Keep us posted, some of those restorations look truly magnificent when completed, hope yours is one too! (y)
You guys really took over the post lol. And if we’re speaking on age, it’s mid 2000’s. I know that not really considered old but the crown Vic has been phased out by just about every department around unless they’re low budget or held as reserve units. And policing has changed greatly since the early 2000’s. Most kids are afraid of Leo and not many people have actually had the chance to see a police vehicle up close and see how it works unless they were a back seat rider. This car is low mileage, in good shape and a perfect candidate. The original plan was to set the car up for off duty work, but that fell through. I already have the original console, switch plate, and gun rack along with a handful of w9 heads I have left that I didn’t sell. The antennas that are already on it are real functional antennas, and they’re exact for what would’ve been there. They just need a radio to belong to. I also have the correct lights and the department specific lightbar, all stuff I have left over from auctions I’ve bought and now sold. The intention is to have a functional exact replica. Not just because I can, but because I want to see what my capabilities are. I’ve done some lighting installs for people in the past and I want to do a full “build” from head to toe. Just to say yes I can in fact do it and do it right, but to also replicate a unit the right way and gain personal experience in upfitting retired cars for use in the off duty job world.

So in all actuality, I don’t mind putting in the work to have the radio be fully functional. Plus it will help me gain the knowledge of that field. The car itself is a 2006 model so it could in theory run analog or digital because the department didn’t switch to the apx until around 2012 and still runs the same vhf frequency as they did in 2000 albeit now digital instead of analog.
I know I can get everything I need to run an xtl5000 setup with the siren box, I would just need help programming the siren and radio to the exact setup it was when the car was in service. After what everyone has said and what I’ve read, although analog is cheaper it is older technology and harder to work with since most shops or individuals are getting away from them. I’m just fine with digital, just really needed to know the route I should take
 

a417

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I know I can get everything I need to run an xtl5000 setup with the siren box, I would just need help programming the siren and radio to the exact setup it was when the car was in service.
Sounds like you've thought your end of this thru quite well.

Just remember that programming a radio the "exact setup it was when the car is in service" can be a fools errand.
  1. It'll be a police frequency (not even going to the legality/authorization/priv. aspects of this.)
  2. no one might be able to hear you
  3. you might not be able to hear anyone
  4. return on investment drops off very quickly.
I was just speaking from experience with guys who do restorations for show-piece retired cars. The couple I know will get a functional radio deck that powers on, program in some dummy channel names, hook a scanner up to the speaker and leave it at that. They don't want to get into trouble with the new chief who comes on after the old chief retires and wonders why a bunch of older cruisers still have access to their radio communications. It saves those guys some awkward moments.

If you decide to go the w9 astro spectra route, be sure to post some pics. I have a fond place in my heart for that big ol' w9 head with the VFD displays. ;)
 

CLC98

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Sounds like you've thought your end of this thru quite well.

Just remember that programming a radio the "exact setup it was when the car is in service" can be a fools errand.
  1. It'll be a police frequency (not even going to the legality/authorization/priv. aspects of this.)
  2. no one might be able to hear you
  3. you might not be able to hear anyone
  4. return on investment drops off very quickly.
I was just speaking from experience with guys who do restorations for show-piece retired cars. The couple I know will get a functional radio deck that powers on, program in some dummy channel names, hook a scanner up to the speaker and leave it at that. They don't want to get into trouble with the new chief who comes on after the old chief retires and wonders why a bunch of older cruisers still have access to their radio communications. It saves those guys some awkward moments.

If you decide to go the w9 astro spectra route, be sure to post some pics. I have a fond place in my heart for that big ol' w9 head with the VFD displays. ;)
The police frequency part is why I won’t have a mic hooked up. I want the radio to be functional, be able to switch channels and listen around just like you could on a scanner but without the mic it’s generally useless to transmit.

And as for the crown Vic, it depends on where you live and the local budget as to how many they still have. All the local departments have removed them from daily service. They have a handful left for reserve use and it’s been that way for a few years now. Even the state is slim on cars. The general public doesn’t even recognize these cars as police anymore. At least not around here. Everyone and there momma owns one and they’re usually in the same paint they were when in service.
The point of the car in my case is to preserve the originality for those to see in the years to come. It’s not going to be used for off duty jobs, or put back on patrol. It will be taken to car shows and events to show what 20 years of policing used to get around and how these cars were setup and ran. It’s mainly for kids too. Let the kids see it. This is what it is. Nothing big and scary. Hell I had the car setup in my driveway with the lightbar on and crime scene tape for a fake crime scene last night for Halloween and even the local pd thought it was nice to see let alone the 40 some odd wow that’s awesome remarks. Eventually, along with the crown Vic I’ll get my hands on an ssp mustang or an old early 2000’s impala to redo as well and take along with the vic to car shows. People love seeing the old police car. It may only be 14 years old but it hasn’t been produced in almost 10 years and people love it.
 

cmdrwill

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The point of the car in my case is to preserve the originality for those to see in the years to come.
Remember kids and even adults like to "push the button" and see the Red TX Light.
So you need the microphone also.

Astro Spectra can have transmit disabled in the CPS.
So that solves the problem as the radio will NOT transmit.

And there are several ways to setup the Astro Spectra radio so one would think it IS transmitting and the
radio is really NOT transmitting. Asstro programming 102..
 
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