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Can somebody help this noob?

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mayfieca

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Hey everybody! I'm trying to get into the HAM radio world. I purchased a "Motorola Astro Spectra VHF 225 channel P25 Narrow band ASTRO P25 DIGITAL and analog works from 146 to 174 mhz, 50 watts with A 1 MEG Board and will program the VHF 2.5 channel spacing as well as 12.5 to and wide band programming" from a seller that offered to include some programming. I rounded up some VHF freqs to use as rx only (fire and ems) and wanted to have some of the police channels also. The police in my area use the P25 system around the 700 range....but I'm not sure how to list those for the guy to program. Can this radio receive those? I think I stepped to far out on a limb...but we'll see what happens. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

mayfieca

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I figured as much but I'm not familiar with P25. Seems like it's not something I want to mess with anyway. But are there P25 bands in the spectrum of my radio? I haven't seen any that low.
 

N4CYA

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To be honest you'll need a Motorola XTS 2500, 3000 or a 5000 that does 700/800 mhz band. Also it's more difficult cause you'll need the system key from the administrator that maintains the system for department you're wanting to hear on your handheld radio.

For now you can only hear what is being used on the 146 to 174 band some government and federal governments still use around the 160 to 170 frequencies but still you'll need a system key from the mainter but I doubt you'll get it from the person.
 

mayfieca

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To be honest you'll need a Motorola XTS 2500, 3000 or a 5000 that does 700/800 mhz band. Also it's more difficult cause you'll need the system key from the administrator that maintains the system for department you're wanting to hear on your handheld radio.

For now you can only hear what is being used on the 146 to 174 band some government and federal governments still use around the 160 to 170 frequencies but still you'll need a system key from the mainter but I doubt you'll get it from the person.
Thank you for the response.
 

SteveC0625

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I figured as much but I'm not familiar with P25. Seems like it's not something I want to mess with anyway. But are there P25 bands in the spectrum of my radio? I haven't seen any that low.
P25 is an emissions standard. It's in use on Part 90 frequencies from VHF all the way up to 800 Mhz. It's becoming more common all over the US. There's plenty of info on P25 in the Wiki.

The only way to monitor P25 on a radio like yours is with the system key (as already mentioned) which system administrators won't give out. There some sophisticated hacks out there, but unless one really knows what one is doing, they are a recipe for disaster. And in your case, your radio is VHF 146-174 only and can not possibly operate in the 700 MHz bands.

Thus the friendly and extremely well-intentioned suggestion to get a scanner if you want to monitor 700 MHz P25 systems. A modern scanner will be able to listen in on many different frequency bands and different types of digital transmissions without the potential for interfering with whomever you are listening in on. It's the smart move.
 

mikewazowski

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For now you can only hear what is being used on the 146 to 174 band some government and federal governments still use around the 160 to 170 frequencies but still you'll need a system key from the mainter but I doubt you'll get it from the person.


The only way to monitor P25 on a radio like yours is with the system key (as already mentioned) which system administrators won't give out.

Monitoring VHF P25 conventional does not require a system key.
 

SteveC0625

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Monitoring VHF P25 conventional does not require a system key.
My bad. The previous poster offered the same advice.

However, I think the intent here is to point out to the OP that he's on really, really thin ice given his very limited understanding of radios in general, and in particular, the radio that he purchased without understanding it's abilities and limitation.
 

Rred

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I would submit that Astro is totally useless for "trying to get into ham radio". If anything, it will only confuse you, mislead you, and is you transmit where you aren't entitled or allowed to? You could be barred from ever receiving any FCC license.

Study first, buy radio second.
 

Sconnick

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But are there P25 bands in the spectrum of my radio? I haven't seen any that low.
As someone else pointed out above (and it may seem like semantics, but these things matter when trying to help solve a problem), P25 is not a band. HF (3-30 MHz), VHF (30-300 MHZ), and UHF (300 - 3,000 MHz) are examples of bands within the radio spectrum.

RRed brings up a good point in that the Astro probably isn't an ideal starting place if amateur radio is what you're interested in. It was great for me for years in the PS industry, but its not really a ham radio. In fact, if the bottom of it's band coverage is 146 MHz, then you've lopped out half of the 2-Meter amateur band.
 
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jimyhatt

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Although those that suggest "go by a scanner" may seem to come off harsh, the scanner is really is a good way to go.

1. You can monitor a lot of different bands (HF, VHF,UHF 700/800/900, etc) depending on what you buy. One good scanner will cover what three or four commercial radios would.

2. You can monitor many different emissions within the bands. AM/FM/P25 I think there are a few that are even starting to do DMR/DSTAR/ETC

3. You don't have to worry about setting them up to not transmit on a P25 system. Plus they are WAY easier to program that most commercial gear. Remember each series of commercial gear is going to require ITS OWN specific program, and likely programming cable. Money and headaches.

4. A scanner truly is a one stop shop for a majority of your radio needs.

5. Once you know what your looking for (or what you want to receive) THEN you can go start buying radios!

6. Lots of people say, "well I don't want a scanner I want a radio". The reality is they are both tools that do different things, but work extremely well together Kinda like a computer and a router - you need both to access the internet.... I would be willing to bet MOST folks here have BOTH scanners and radios.

7. You can save yourself money in the long run. If you are not authorized to transmit in a band, or on a frequency, whats the point of a radio anyway?

The Whistler WS1065 is a good mid-level scanner and will probably do 90% of what you want. You can find some of the Radio Shack or GRE versions on EBAY for less. A scanner is a good place to start.
 

mayfieca

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Waldorf, Maryland
Thank you guys for the responses. I appreciate the information. As an update...the deal I had for the Astro fell through...which based on the responses...is probably a good thing. I used to have scanners (back in the day) and had a lot of fun with them and will probably invest in one later. But my current intention is to have a long range backup communication set up and not just a scanner. I spend a lot of time in my vehicle and in areas that don't have reliable cell coverage which is why I was looking at mobile (vehicle mounted) radios in the first place. I understand the cautions, but I'm still not clear on how I could inadvertently transmit on a frequency I'm not authorized to transmit on...if the radio is set to receive ONLY for that frequency. Hopefully I'll figure that part out much later. In the meantime, are there any suggestions for the type of set up that I'm looking for that will offer some expansion from the technician license realm and not "break the bank" as entry level gear? I don't know anybody that has a HAM radio setup that could help me with any of this...so any support would be appreciated.
 

Sconnick

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The most common mobile rigs are probably going to be your single and dual band (2m, 70cm) radios. There are a few tri-banders and quad-banders (which usually add 1.25m and 6m). You can find a good dual band radio (like the Keyword TM-V71A) for as little as $335 new right now. A little less if you go with something gently used.

Once you get into mobile HF, which would put you in the realm of "beyond technician," you're looking at radios like the Yaesu FT-857, which is about $850.

The other thing to keep in mind is the fact that you're going to need an antenna for anything you run in the vehicle. 2m/440 antennas are plentiful. Running HF is another story.
 

MTS2000des

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I would submit that Astro is totally useless for "trying to get into ham radio". If anything, it will only confuse you, mislead you, and is you transmit where you aren't entitled or allowed to? You could be barred from ever receiving any FCC license.
Inaccurate statement.

That radio is fine for HAM radio and won't get the user into any trouble IF it is programmed correctly by someone who knows what they are doing.

If anything, a commercial radio like the AS he bought is a SIMPLER to operate radio with preprogrammed repeater pairs and simplex frequencies in his/her area. No need to wade through multi-level menus or press tiny button combinations.

That AS if in good working condition is far superior than any Chinese garbage pail junk (which most of come wide open to transmit on unauthorized frequencies including part 90 stuff), and is built to last for decades.

Now getting it programmed may take a little more work, but if he/she's in a populated area, chances are there are plenty of fellow amateurs who can assist.

Commercial rigs like this can be a great first radio for 2m/440. Superior performance which means a new ham won't get discouraged because their $30 Baoturd can't hit a repeater or have muffled/low audio, easy to use when programmed logically, foolproof as the user cannot change programmed data, and THEY WILL SOUND GOOD ON THE AIR!

Study first, buy radio second.
Not always the case.

Nothing wrong with LISTENING to LEARN. If someone already has a radio, I encourage more LISTENING and LESS TALKING.
 

N4CYA

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I agree with Erik on this. As long the radio of any commercial brand such as Motorola, Icom and Kenwood is programmed right the user/customer will not get in to any problems with the people he or she is trying to listen to. I use my Motorola XPR 5550 and 7550 UHF everyday and XTS 5000 UHF they are both programmed right so far no issues.

Always could to go to you're local Motorola shop dealer in you're area or find a local repeater owner to get their opinion and some will help out and some will be close minded.



Inaccurate statement.

That radio is fine for HAM radio and won't get the user into any trouble IF it is programmed correctly by someone who knows what they are doing.

If anything, a commercial radio like the AS he bought is a SIMPLER to operate radio with preprogrammed repeater pairs and simplex frequencies in his/her area. No need to wade through multi-level menus or press tiny button combinations.

That AS if in good working condition is far superior than any Chinese garbage pail junk (which most of come wide open to transmit on unauthorized frequencies including part 90 stuff), and is built to last for decades.

Now getting it programmed may take a little more work, but if he/she's in a populated area, chances are there are plenty of fellow amateurs who can assist.

Commercial rigs like this can be a great first radio for 2m/440. Superior performance which means a new ham won't get discouraged because their $30 Baoturd can't hit a repeater or have muffled/low audio, easy to use when programmed logically, foolproof as the user cannot change programmed data, and THEY WILL SOUND GOOD ON THE AIR!



Not always the case.

Nothing wrong with LISTENING to LEARN. If someone already has a radio, I encourage more LISTENING and LESS TALKING.
 
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