• To anyone looking to acquire commercial radio programming software:

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Kenwood/Motorola/P25/NexEdge/MotoTRBO

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I've searched and haven't found what I'm looking for. Forgive me if I've overlooked it.

I'm with a small law enforcement agency and we're looking at purchasing digital radios. Prior to starting with this agency, they acquired 3 Kenwood radios. We're currently using analog, but there are neighboring agencies using digital. My knowledge of digital radio is limited.

What I'm finding is we have 2 agencies in our county that are using MotoTRBO. The county east of us is on P25. The bordering county north of us is NXDN. (For specifics, I'm with Westmoreland Police Department - Tennessee in Sumner County. Macon County, TN is east of us, Allen County, Kentucky is north of us, and Robertson County, TN is west of us). Hendersonville Police and Gallatin Police in Sumner County, TN are using MotoTRBO, but still have an analog repeater we can access. Macon County, TN law enforcement is using P25. Allen County, KY is using NXDN. Robertson County, TN is NXDN on a trunked system (Tennessee Homeland Security District 7 NXDN).

The 3 radios we have that are digital capable are (I think) Kenwood NX-5800 & NX-5700 with a single control head. (There are some separate programming issues we're having with them that I'll touch on later in this post).

My QUESTIONs are:
What radio (if any) is capable of working on all of these systems should we end up needing to speak to any or all of these agencies? I have been told that NXDN and MotoTRBO are not compatible (much like PC and Mac), but P25 will work on both Kenwood and Motorola.

Secondly, the quotes they received from previously installing these radios listed a digital license key fee. Is that just a fee paid to the programmer or do we have to purchase a license to be able to talk on these digital frequencies? (I'm confused on that)

Given that I was told we can't have a radio that will work on all the different types of digital, my solution was to go with a Kenwood NexEdge, such as NX-800 & NX-700, to cover the P25, NXDN, and NXDN trunked systems and rely on being able to speak to the MotoTRBO agencies via their analog channels. However, I see that the NX-5800 & NX-5700 can do DMR. Is DMR the same as MotoTRBO? Someone please break it down for me.

The programming issues we're having with the NX-5800 & NX-5700 is that with using the single head, we can't adjust the volume on either of the radios separately. If we turn up the volume, both the VHF and UHF radios are equally as loud. Surely there is a way to program it to allow each radio to be adjusted individually even with the single head.

Any help is appreciated.
 

mmckenna

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I've searched and haven't found what I'm looking for. Forgive me if I've overlooked it.
Nah, this is a tough one, you didn't overlook it.

My QUESTIONs are:
What radio (if any) is capable of working on all of these systems should we end up needing to speak to any or all of these agencies? I have been told that NXDN and MotoTRBO are not compatible (much like PC and Mac), but P25 will work on both Kenwood and Motorola.
At this time the Kenwood NX-5000 line is the only radio on the market that will do analog + P25 (1&2) + DMR + NXDN
Keep in mind that while MotoTrbo is based off the DMR protocol, the tier 3 stuff is Motorola proprietary.

Secondly, the quotes they received from previously installing these radios listed a digital license key fee. Is that just a fee paid to the programmer or do we have to purchase a license to be able to talk on these digital frequencies? (I'm confused on that)
The Kenwood NX-5000 line comes including basic features: Analog, NXDN and P25 phase 1. Adding features like DMR, P25 phase 2, etc. all require the feature to be added. Since these radios are basically computers with an RF section, adding features isn't something mechanical that's done, like upgrading the engine in your car. Adding new features to the radio is just a case of telling the radio to turn that function on. That's done by purchasing feature licenses, and it's handled by using USB or software based keys.

Not to be confused with FCC licenses, which is a whole other issue that you'll need to consider. You will need either a written document from the other agencies to use their frequencies (required by the FCC) or you will need to license those frequencies on your own.

Given that I was told we can't have a radio that will work on all the different types of digital, my solution was to go with a Kenwood NexEdge, such as NX-800 & NX-700, to cover the P25, NXDN, and NXDN trunked systems and rely on being able to speak to the MotoTRBO agencies via their analog channels. However, I see that the NX-5800 & NX-5700 can do DMR. Is DMR the same as MotoTRBO? Someone please break it down for me.
NX-800 and NX-700 will not do P25. It'll only do NXDN and Analog. There is a firmware upgrade you can buy ($700+ from Kenwood) where the NX-x00 radios can be re-flashed to support P25 phase 1, but then it loses its capability to do NXDN. -not a good option for what you are doing-

As I mentioned above, Motorola MotoTrbo is a modified DMR standard. The basic DMR features will work with MotoTrbo radios, but if they are using the higher tier stuff, the NX-5000 series won't work with it.

Ideally your agency should get the help of a consultant (not a dealer) to set this up. There are a lot of ways of handling it and it takes someone with a broad knowledge of the technologies and what systems are available in your area.
While the NX-5000 line will likely do 90% of what you want, there may be easier ways of doing this. There are often interoperability frequencies available to your agency on a state or federal level that may be able to solve these issues. My own pet peeve is agencies that buy into proprietary protocols and completely ignore the need for interoperability. Adding a simple analog repeater or even a channel set up in their digital radios in analog mode would solve a LOT of issues like this. Unfortunately silos get built by agencies and they don't realize they are buying themselves into a situation where they can't easily communicate with others.

The programming issues we're having with the NX-5800 & NX-5700 is that with using the single head, we can't adjust the volume on either of the radios separately. If we turn up the volume, both the VHF and UHF radios are equally as loud. Surely there is a way to program it to allow each radio to be adjusted individually even with the single head.
Yes, there is a way to do this. Sounds like whoever sold/setup your radios didn't understand the requirements. The way it's done is to connect an external speaker to each RF deck. Using the single control head, you can individually control the different volumes.


So, a bit of advice, free, so take it for what it costs:
radioreference.com is a hobbyist website and not the appropriate resource for designing public safety radio solutions. While there are a lot of intelligent folks on here, there are also a lot of people that don't understand the unique requirements.
For the type of application you are looking at, you should be seeking professional assistance. The radio shop/dealer isn't the best resource as they may not have all the information they need to make a good decision. As well, they are usually focused on getting as much money as they can for the least amount of work. There are professional consultants that will work directly with your agency to design a proper solution. It's really important that a consultant that does this stuff understand all the various resources in your specific area. There may be a real easy way to solve interoperability challenges like this, but it takes someone having a full picture of all the resources available. Not something you are going to get on a hobby website.
 

slicerwizard

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At this time the Kenwood NX-5000 line is the only radio on the market that will do analog + P25 (1&2) + DMR + NXDN
Keep in mind that while MotoTrbo is based off the DMR protocol, the tier 3 stuff is Motorola proprietary.
The only Motorola proprietary features one need be concerned about are Basic Privacy (BP), Enhanced Privacy (EP), Restricted Access to System (RAS), Capacity Plus trunking, Connect Plus trunking and Capacity Max trunking; standard Tier III trunking would not be an issue if the Kenwood supports the complete DMR standard.

And since Gallatin PD appear to be using a single conventional DMR repeater on 460.475 with no encryption, there is likely no issue that would prevent interoperability.
 

otobmark

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Since he mentioned a nx-5700 & nx -5800 decks isn't it possible to use a different pair of digital formats in each? Say nxdn and dmr in one and nxdn p25 in the other? Or even another same band deck to get "3rd" digital format. Of course no help in use of portables. I was too lazy to look up agencies he mentioned to see what band used which modes.
 

mmckenna

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The NX-5000 can run all 3 digital modes in the same RF deck, so no need to split them up.
However, you can run different modes in each deck, they don't have to match.
Also, you can run more than one deck on the same band, so you could have two VHF decks, or two UHF decks, or 2 VHF decks and a UHF deck, etc...
 

KK6ZTE

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The NX-5000 can run all 3 digital modes in the same RF deck, so no need to split them up.
However, you can run different modes in each deck, they don't have to match.
Also, you can run more than one deck on the same band, so you could have two VHF decks, or two UHF decks, or 2 VHF decks and a UHF deck, etc...
All three at the same time? Is that new? I thought it was limited to two digital at a time.
 

mmckenna

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All three at the same time? Is that new? I thought it was limited to two digital at a time.
No, you're correct. I shouldn't post while sleepy.
Variations are: Analog plus any two of the following:
NXDN
P25 Phase 1 or Phase 1 and 2.
DMR

However, as I mentioned above, you can install two RF decks of the same band, so having all three digital modes on a band is an option.

The new NX-3000 only allows one digital mode at a time, radio wide: NXDN -OR- DMR.
P25 is not an option on the NX-3000, and you can't mix NX-3000 and NX-5000 RF decks.

The limitation of the NX-5000 is likely memory space. I'd hope that one day they'll address that, or at least have it as an option.


Still, there is probably a way to make this simpler. That is why I suggested a consultant (not a radio dealer) might be able to assist. Looking at all the ways to communicate and finding common ground. There may be mutual aid type radio systems that will address this, unless the OP really needs to be on the individual agency dispatch channels.
 

KK6ZTE

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No worries, got my hopes up there for a minute.

I'm still deciding what radio I'll be getting for myself.
 
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