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Is a G5 right for me?

bitmorechoke

Newbie
Joined
Mar 30, 2018
Messages
15
Location
Deniliquin NSW
Hi all, I'm sorry this really is a noob question but I'm hoping you can steer me straight.

I'm a volunteer here in New South Wales (Australia) with both the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service. I believe both services use APCO P25 in the 410-470MHz band. In much of the state there's a large trunked "Government Radio Network', which I believe is P25 phase 2. The GRN hasn't reached where I am yet so there are still separate local PMR systems, which I believe are untrunked P25 phase 1. My understanding is that ultimately the GRN will roll out here and that at some point we'll all be on the same monster system using phase 2.

I want to listen in to local activity while off duty, and also have my own receiver while on duty, especially if it means I can listen in to other agencies nearby. I was seriously considering a SDS100, until I came across references to the G5. To my untrained eye it seems to meet all the right specs (as long as I get the right UHF range) and is a more compact and rugged device, easier to charge on the run etc.

So am I on the right track? Is the G5 a good fit for me? Can I just buy a unit online, from the US, and use it here? Are there pitfalls I need to be aware of? Will a moderately computer-literate newbie figure out the programming side of it? And will the G5 let me scan multiple agencies once they are programmed in?

Sorry for the WOT but obviously it's a significant purchase and my knowledge is weak so I'm keen to avoid doing something stupid!
 

Hit_Factor

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
1,746
Location
Saint Joseph, MI
The secondary reception (400-470) is a small internal antenna. It may not perform well. I think the SDS100 is probably a better choice. Just too many variables, sounds like your info may be correct, but if it's not, the G5 will be useless.

I sold my SDS100s and bought G5's. Sold my G5 with the 400-470 secondary. Down to just the one with VHF for secondary. Using firmware 1.3 there are limits on what you can monitor simultaneously. You really need to understand how the Unication pagers work, they are not scanners and are not as flexible.

Check with other Volunteers and find out what they are doing. The system admins of the GRN will probably talk with you, ask them what they think.
 
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boatbod

Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2007
Messages
2,405
Location
Talbot Co, MD
The G5 is a great device if you want to listen in on P25, either conventional or trunked. It is robust (I've dropped mine numerous times at it keeps on running) and it is almost as good with simulcast audio as a /\/\ subscriber radio.
 

N6ML

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
930
Location
SF Bay / Delta, CA
The G5 includes two bands - the 700/800MHz band, which is used for P25 public safety systems in the US, and one other band of your choice. Based on your requirements (including the NSW Government Radio Network), you would not have any use for the 700/800MHz band. You would want a G2. Not only should it be a bit less expensive, it should "hear better" on UHF, since it's the primary/only band, and uses an external antenna (as opposed to an internal loop).

You should be aware, though, that, at least with the current production firmware, the G-series pagers will not scan between a P25 trunked system and other systems - e.g. it could not scan between the GRN and your rural fire service channel (assuming it's still a separate system). You could scan between multiple P25 conventional (not trunked) systems, and have a separate "knob position" for the trunked system. The SDS100 could scan between all of them, but there's always some risk of missing traffic when doing that. Future G-series firmware may enable scanning involving trunked systems too.

I've never tried a G2, but I would expect its receive performance to (significantly) exceed that of the SDS100, because it's tuned for the band (whereas the SDS100 covers a wide frequency range).

As for picking one up in the US and using it down-under ... I don't know of any reason for it to not work, assuming the systems are standard P25.
 

bitmorechoke

Newbie
Joined
Mar 30, 2018
Messages
15
Location
Deniliquin NSW
That's awesome information, thanks guys. I'll touch base with Unicom here on Monday.

I've also noticed the U3 on their site too. That would be exciting if it can listen well to P25 phase 2 on the 400MHz band and operate simplex around 160MHz VHF, as we use this band for close range fireground comms. If they share an antenna obviously I'd get one optimized for 400MHz reception. If it uses an internal antenna for the 400MHZ then I may be better sticking with a G2.
 

astro_boy

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
27
Location
Sydney, Aust
G'day,
I run a G2 here in Sydney on the GRN and it works perfectly, better then my expectations actually, I assume you're on the far north coast due to you mentioning the GRN roll out.

With a background in scanning the programming was fairly easy, I'm sure you would pick it up over time and with understanding how the systems work allowing you to factor in how the radio should be programmed.

I think the biggest thing to understand with the G2 is that it's more a semi commercial receiver, it's more like a APX, it's made to be set on a channel and a tower for receiving (though it can scan channels)
it's not like a Uniden scanner & not customisable on the fly.
and just because the radio is on the tower doesn't mean you'll always receive the channel due to no affiliation.

It's a large investment, my scanner background ultimately made the choice for me & it doesn't disappoint.
But for a bit of listening it could easily be done cheaper with other Uniden models, UBCD536 or SDS100.
Both have their positives and negatives.

I think you'll find the G3 uses the internal antenna for the VHF side, so coverage won't be anything great, especially with users operating in simplex.
You can source these radios locally from the supplier above, just expect to pay the usual Oz tax!
 

bitmorechoke

Newbie
Joined
Mar 30, 2018
Messages
15
Location
Deniliquin NSW
Thanks astro_boy, that's all very encouraging. I'm actually on the southern border, much closer to Melbourne than Sydney. We're still a long way from the GRN, but my experiments today with an APX have led me to conclude that we are already using phase 2, as I simply cannot decode it with SDR#. I suspect it is also trunked, although I'm not certain.

What you describe sounds ideal - I really have no need for random scanning or on-the-fly programming, ideally I would set up all the local agencies and then just switch/scan between them as required. I'm sure the SDS100 would do the job, but I suspect the Unication would be better in the field.

You referred to the G3 in your post, did you mean the U3? The U3 looks particularly interesting as I could potentially have 2-way comms on the VHF fireground channels and still be able to monitor Firecom and other agencies on the UHF:


u3-brochure-unication.jpg
 
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LukeB

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 14, 2004
Messages
308
For what it's worth, I had an SDS100 and the UHF monitoring was quite poor, even for relatively local transmissions. As earlier mentioned, the SDS100 is not specifically tuned for any band and that may have been a cause for the lackluster reception I experienced. I have not tried any of the Unication products yet but you may be disappointed with the UHF monitoring of the SDS, unless the transmitter is strong. For the weaker signals, the radio was mostly silent.
 

bitmorechoke

Newbie
Joined
Mar 30, 2018
Messages
15
Location
Deniliquin NSW
Thank LukeB, that's disappointing to hear, but I'm now leaning strongly towards the G3 anyway. It uses its external antenna for the UHF band (so P25 and CB) and the internal loop antenna for VHF (fireground comms and possibly even our RFS pagers).

For the sake of completeness, I found out a bit more about the U3, and it isn't dual band as I'd initially thought - so I'd lose VHF Rx to gain UHF CB Tx. It's also double the price of a G3 and its scanning is slow and clunky, so it's not a great proposition.

The G3 looks tough to beat for my needs.
 
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