Montana Rail Link cab radio

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PJH

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Kind of a cross breed between Jem, Motorola and that other one that IAIS uses with the super large speaker.

I kind of like it, but with the Wabtec name, I am sure it costs more.
 

JPSan

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MRL GE cab radio

Another radio type used by Montana Rail Link.
Photographed by my brother, an engineer with the MRL.
He says that this GE is a very good radio over the others.

 

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byndhlptom

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Montana Railink

The Wabtec radio has a Kenwood NXDN radio inside, programmed for wideband/narrowband/NXDN freqs (hence Triband). Wabtec designed a new "frontend" to control the kenwood.
 

burner50

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And their new front end looks eerily similar to a JEM.

In fact, almost identical.
 

JPSan

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More MRL cab radios

Here are some more cab radios in the power that my brother has come across.

The JEM is a mediocre radio.

The Ritron has very good and loud audio. It was in a BNSF unit he used this past week.

He said that nothing has been mentioned to date about the NXDN mode.

 

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W9BU

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There are a couple of buttons on these radios that I don't quite understand.

They all, except for the Ritron, seem to have a button with a starburst symbol. What is its purpose?

They all have a button labeled "DISP". Again, what is its purpose?

Thanks.
 

byndhlptom

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Montana Railink

Actually, the TriMode was physically modeled after the old Motorola Cab radio (Motorola opted to not support narrow band in the cab radio). Designed to be a Form/Fit/Function replacement.

The DISP button forces a TX on the pre programmed Dispatch channel reguardless of channel displayed if my memory serves correctly.....
 

radioman2001

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Motorola had nothing to do with any of the newer CC radios. Motorola abandoned the RR industry when the AAR didn't make the Motorola Astro Spectra their prefered radio, and that's the reason the AAR partnered up with Kenwood/Icom and the NXDN/IDAS format to spite them.This info is from conversations I had with higher ups in the AAR back in 2008.
The STAR button is display brightness control, the DISP button can be pre-programmed for a specific command such as Frequency, PL and or DTMF digit. The other radio not the JEM is a GE transportation ( now QuEST Rail LLC ) built on a Kenwood RF chassis and using 2 4meg Rabbit controllers with custom programming. I also noticed the display has the same freqs we use. We have about 200 of them in different configurations, both CC and Cab car versions. Very stable radio, the only problems have been an occasional scrambling of the Rabbit controller (train power issues), easily fixed with a re-flash. I can't count water damaged or burned up because of 13K problems.
 

PJH

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The chasis is a AAR standard size that the radios are built to with a common format. It wasn't that motorola abandoned the rail industry - but more motorola didn't want to pay for nxdn format when the communications industry was heading towards P25 and AAR went NXDN.

It was really a lose situation when AAR chose NXDN as there was already a large selection of P25 radios in the market and being an open standard - may have brought the price down more.

Most of the clean cabs out now (just like the motorolas) are stock mobile radios interfaced with the front panel. That front panel typically reprograms the radio on the fly. If you were plug that mobile radio into the programming computer you'd see that there is only one channel in the radio.

Again, it's usually an Icom or Kenwood inside.

The Motorola clean cab astro spectra does support narrowband and does trunking and p25 if flashed or those options. The original moto clean cab does not for obvious reasons.
 
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radioman2001

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I'd say Motorola abandoned the rail industry, you don't see any rail products made by Motorola. Whether it was they didn't want to pay for NXDN/IDAS format or didn't get their way with P-25 the results the same, and the customer rules. They could have paid the small fee, it's not on the scale of P-25, but chose to leave the RR market since they couldn't control it. They could of even kept the Astro Spectra in the line or built an analog radio without NXDN/IDAS, as most RR's are not anytime soon going to digital. As far as only one channel programmed in a RR radio that's BS, all RR radios come with the basic 99 channel plan now in Narrow Band or the expanded plan if digital. The only exception is if they are on a closed RR with no other agencies operating on it or if they don't travel outside their own territory.

We contacted Mother M for a bid of over analog 100 base stations and they declined, then complained after the bid was awarded to Harris, not Kenwood or Icom. Motorola still thinks it's the 70's when they controlled the market, and granted the RR is a small market, but they chose to not stay in it, and the AAR wasn't happy with them over it, and by the way the NXDN/IDAS decision came ofter Motorola left the market, not before.

It's the same way with MOTOTRBO, they have to HAVE a product that cannot be made by another vendor. Sure you can get a basic DMR radio, but Motorola is pushing their trunking which isn't even licensable to other vendors.
I like Motorola products, always have, but their sales technics have always rubbed me the wrong way. Stories I could tell you, sheesh.
 
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PJH

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Oh I agree with the basic premise, but that was the story told to me by Moto at IWCE a few years back. There is (and always was) our way, or no way when it came to standards and the such. Also you have to remember at the time, there was some serious push for P25 industry wide and DMR was just kind of hanging around here. It was also stated they did have an XTL5000 based radio in the pipeline for a clean cab railroad radio, but that too was getting sidelined as they were going moving away from the SB9600 protocol as they introduced the CAN interface for all the new radios, and the APX series was in the testing phase.

Really wasn't just one reason, but several different factors and one good excuse. Getting rid of people and restructuring about 10 different times didn't help either.

Open up a JEM radio, read the radio, and you will find that there is only one channel programmed. The JEM & Nexterma radios are programmed "on the fly" by the interface, and reprogram that one channel as whatever AAR channel you enter.

In fact, as part of rebanding, the radio isn't touched by the computer, just the interface port. Enter 5353 and the radio will automatically go to 053053.

Everyone, except Riton (last I heard, haven't really checked) are using a commercial mobile radio as the transmitter. I want to say JEM has (had) a choice of Kenwood or ICOM based radios, and I believe GE radios are based on the Kenwood. I know their distributive power radios are Kenwood based from what I have seen.

GE and Harris both used Motorola spectra's back when DP was introduced, but also have been replaced as railroads took out the Harris boxes and integrated them into the operator screens.
 
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radioman2001

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I have to say that Mother M would never admit to anyone that they got their you know what smacked by such a large customer as the AAR. Similar to what happened with NYPD and their purchasing of the Vertex radio after Motorola refused to make a radio to NYPD specs to keep their accessories.
I havn't played with a JEM, but the GE-12R has all 99 channels programmed in it from the factory, just as the Spectra CC did. The front panel interface just selects the frequency by entering the channel number, a neat trick, but only used in RR that I am aware of. If you read a Spectra the channel frequency is paired with that channel number, and you could if you want to change the frequency to channel number if you wanted to.Thinking about it, the CC Spectra programming reminds me of an A-3 Head programming.
The Spectra and I have to assume the Astro Spectra also had the option of 4 home channels, programmed by computer prior to use. It's unfortunate that the XTL 5000 version never made it out of testing, I definitly would gone with those if I could.
 

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Both of you are correct on some statements, Motorola demanded of each RR to purchase a certain volume of AAR Radios or they would no produce ANY, The RRs declined and there went the Motorola AAR Radios, They Left the market

As far as the radio channels programmed, yes the package has all the AAR Channels in it, but if you remove the Icom of Kenwood RADIO from the PACKAGE, there is only one channel progrmmed it at a time, the programming comes from the package as what is selected by the operator.

As far as NXDN vs P25 with the RRs, it was simply a matter of cost, the NXDN were half or more of the P25 price, This was after Motorola left the industry with no Motorola AAR option, and several others started making AAR Radios with NXDN.
 

PJH

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Motorola did make some (essentially custom) radios for the NYPD, known as the SSE5000. It was a XTS5000 in a Saber style radio. Not a whole bunch were made, but they did do it... unfortunately in one narrow UHF split. Like the XTS4000, if they made them in more bands and splits, it would have been a really good seller.

They (NYPD) did go with Vertex, but then Motorola also bought Vertex and still thus had NYPD as a customer again.

Motorola's sales stragies of late are becoming very annoying and demanding. Harris is starting to gain a little inroads with their Unity line based on cost and options, and seems to gaining some traction with the P25 P1 trunked systems. When you compare the cost of a Unity vs a similarly configured APX radio, they are not that far off. I've also heard that recent improvements with the Unity have them performing quite well.

Maybe we will see a true Harris AAR radio (but doubt it).

Anyone remember the really sucky COLT radio interfaces that Santa Fe used?
 

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radioman2001

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Again we are all in agreement, Motorola couldn't control the RR market and chose to leave, they could have continued the Astro Spectra CC and cab radios at very little cost. Now as far as the SSE5000 radio, I know that was built after a very embarassing situation with NYPD. Motorola thought NYPD would buckle under when told they would not build or continue to build a radio that could use existing accessories and more importantly more PL/DPL codes than the Standard Saber could do forcing them into the XTS3000 line. NYPD was fighting a serious problem with the bad guys buying Icom U-16 radios and programming them up on Precient channel's and then send out fake 10-13 (Office needs assistance) or 10-85 forthwith messages.
Guess again NYPD went out and purchased about 4000 SP model Vertex's for about 40% the cost. Now Motorola couldn't have NYPD their premier showcase run around with Japanese Vertex radios, so besides buying controlling interest in Vertex for 40 mil, they made this very limited production version radio to appease NYPD. I believe there are less than 500 of these radios out in the field, which is less then even the 800 mhz model Saber SI which was another bastard radio.
When Motorola is faced with situations like this they will build an SP product, and most times it's a bastard child. The same thing happened in the mid 80's with NYC Transit. After losing the bid to GE on 4000 portables as well as the rest of thew infrastructure they made a very special MX with 2 transmit buttons. Motorola is very protective of large city bids for their showcasing of their products.
I wouldn't mind a Harris CC radio, they build to Mil spec on THEIR products not the old GE line. BTW Harris did make all the RF boards,component and chassis for 1980's version of the Aerotron's CC Alpha.
 
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timkilbride

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The CC Spectra could do more then 4 home channels. We had around 16ish home channels when we were using them.

Some Ritron's have gone into a dead key when a locomotive is starting up. Probably a power cycle issue when the engine is cranking. The display would stay blank and the red TX light would be lite up. The first time it happened, it created quite a mess due to nobody thinking it could be a actual radio causing interference. The second time it happened, I physically went through every locomotive in the yard, with my luck it was the last motor that needed checked. I just tapped the PTT and it the display came on and it stopped TXing. The radio was to hot to touch and the whole control stand around the radio was fairly warm, so it must have been keyed down for some time.

The GE 12R radio's have some problems as well. The first one is the PTT will stick even though the PTT switch physically doesn't stick. if you don't notice it, the radio will time out and make a loud beep. This has created some dangerous situations during switching. One guy had to resign ( or he probably would have been fined and fired) because he was on the phone while the PTT stuck and he didn't know it. The second issue is the radio will display "NO RCB DETECTED" at random. When this happens, the radio will not RX or TX unless you reset the breaker for it. Since the radio isn't positioned in front of you, you may go several miles before you notice it.

Tim
 
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