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Motorola Radius SP50 Programming Help

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ScubaJungle

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I have an old Motorola Radius SP50 that I would like to update (still has NYPD UHF frequencies on it - family has had it for a long time), however, I can't really find a definitive answer of what exact software I would need.
I know I need the cable to connect the rib, and I have the original charger (which I believe can be used to program it also - it has the 4 side contacts, although Im not sure how I would connect it since it has an AC adapter), but what is the software version I would need, and where do I get it?
Thanks!
 

MTS2000des

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SP50 is DOS based RSS. Long NLA from Motorola. You need a DOS machine with a real serial port. As far as where to get it, beyond something discussed on this forum but Google is your friend. You'll have to build out your charger using pinouts here.

Keep in mind, these are wideband only radios, and have limited out of band capability, so don't expect miraculous performance. These radios weren't that great when they were new in the early 1990s.
 

ScubaJungle

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Welp, that's a lot of work for something that is old and out of spec. Looks like it'll just stay where it is until I head up north for vacation.
Thanks for the response!
 

mmckenna

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If someone gave me a box full of these that were used, I'd toss em. Maybe if they were NOS, I'd keep a pair for "shelf queens" if an era of Motorola gone by. For most of us, these products were ones we'd rather forget.
I used those at a job for about 2 years. Not great radios. We had some P110's also, they were a bit nicer. But, yeah, old radios, wide band, DOS programming software. Your battery is probably shot. New battery will not be cheap.

We used them for cable install crews. At the time they were one of the cheapest Motorola portables.
 

MTS2000des

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I cut my teeth on "repairing" these at the first shop I worked for in the mid 1990s. A local college had these POS'es, some GE MPI-II's (the Ericcson synthesized made ones), and they had a TKR-820 repeater. The GE's were fairly decent and didn't see us that often. The SP50s were such crap, the battery covers easily came off, the radio itself had poor build quality and the two pin accessory connectors broke off the boards, bad volume pots, mediocre RF performance. Junk radios for people to cheap to buy a P110/GP300, which had it's own share of issues but miles above the SP50 series.
 

6079smithw

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Don't get involved with that model unless you enjoy being a$$-deep in aggravation. Had a few in the mid-90s at a tour company I worked
for. Totally worthless even when new. We replaced them with HT600s which were virtually indestructible. Still have one and it still works.
 

mbnv992

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Ha I’ve got an old SP50 that I just sent out to program 10 frequency’s into ( all analog RX only local PD stuff ) since I found it digging through my old radio box figure I’d put it though some use.
I’ve had this radio since the very early 2000’s and for field use, it’s an absolute POS. Battery door kept falling off / breaking, volume pods would crap the bed etc etc
I don’t know why but during that time ( 1998-2002ish ) this was a VERY popular radio. It’s been in many movies too for some odd reason ( US Marshals comes to mind and The Negotiator ). Figure the prop department would at least not let federal agents use a cheap bottom of the barrel radio for their main source of comms haha
 

MTS2000des

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It was a cheap radio, that's why it was so popular in the late 1990s. Motorola saw the offshore radios like the Kenwood ProTalks gaining popularity, and low rent Kenwood models like the TK-260/360/etc and this was their competition. Cheap, disposable. The only redeeming value is the 2-pin accessory connector shared commonality with the Spirit jobsite radios. RSMs and headsets/earpieces were widely available for those at the time, and thus, they worked with the SP50s. Same thing with the stupid blister pack batteries. Cheap radios, cheap accessories. That's where it started and ended.
 

mmckenna

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2-pin accessory connector shared commonality with the Spirit jobsite radios. RSMs and headsets/earpieces were widely available for those at the time, and thus, they worked with the SP50s.
Yep, I remember buying some speaker mics for those at Home Depot. Back then they sold the Spirit radios en-mass to contractors. They were the bubble pack radios of the day. So many of them sold that I firmly believe that it triggered MURS. Just too many unlicensed users, turned into a free for all.

At the time having a good 4 watt UHF radio for running cabling install crews was an amazing tool. I think I was the only one with a cell phone, and it was huge. It could do some cool stuff, like make phone calls. That was it. FRS hadn't kicked off yet, so having those radios was an amazing way to keep everyone working together. Made the job a lot easier. I liked my P110, though. A bit more durable and I'm pretty sure it had a larger battery pack. I set up a charger in my truck so I could charge it as I ran between job sites.
 

MTS2000des

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the size to the SP50 was key. 10 channels and scan in a slim form factor. Compared to a P110/GP300/GP350 which had more "girth" (and were 20 times better radios RF and build quality wise), the SP50 could be ordered as a high power (just more cells in the blister pack) and still be slim. I can see where guys on film crews, cable shucking, etc preferred this, along with "T-Shirt" security folks at clubs and such needing more than one channel (lots of the ones I worked on came from those kinds of places). I just hated them. FWIW, the Kenwood TK-250/350 and later 250G/350G were miles above the SP50 in build quality, RF performance, serviceability, superior battery life with easy to change slid on batteries with a metal battery rail and latch, and 32 channels with scan, two tone decode, etc. Lots of radio for around the same price as SP50s, and many of those 250/350s are still around today.
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, the SP-50's stuffed into the tool belts well. Most of the guys preferred them for that reason. I didn't have to wear a tool belt most of the time, so the 110 worded out OK.
Pulling hundreds if not thousands of miles of Category 5 and fiber with those things really showed their worth. Have one guy at the spool, another guy doing the pulling.
 

MTS2000des

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Even with cellphones and PTToLTE being common, jobsite radios will never die. Kenwood's NXDN ProTalk radios are popular around here for some reason. I see guys doing aerial and buried fiber for AT&T (presumably) using them. Every guy on the crew has one.
 

mmckenna

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Even with cellphones and PTToLTE being common, jobsite radios will never die. Kenwood's NXDN ProTalk radios are popular around here for some reason. I see guys doing aerial and buried fiber for AT&T (presumably) using them. Every guy on the crew has one.
Yeah, I think Motorola blew it when they tried those God-awful Mag One radios. I think Kenwood moved in on that and did a good job.
Considering the price, the low end NXDN radios are pretty good. Kenwood has done a good job marketing them.
 

mbnv992

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One of our sites they gave us Retevis FRS radios. Man what a pile they are. Awful range and super cheap drop in chargers. Surprisingly loud audio though. I actually would prefer the Sp50’s to these sh—boxes.
 

mmckenna

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I actually would prefer the Sp50’s to these sh—boxes.
You make a very good point.

I have a site that's using a system of linked UHF repeaters. They were under tight budget and had to keep it as inexpensive as possible. Bridgecom repeaters have been ~ok~. The BaoFeng portable radios were mostly crap. Inconsistent deviation levels made getting good audio out of the repeaters impossible. I got them to buy a few Kenwood NX-3300 portables. To finally get rid of the last of the BaoFengs from daily use, I set them up with some old Kenwood TK-390's. Even though they were old radios, they still outperformed the BaoFengs by a large margin, and I can actually align them. So, a 20+ year old $50 radio out performed the brand spanking new CCR's.

But, alas, the TK-390's don't have a flashlight or pick up the local FM broadcast stations…..
 

mbnv992

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Hahaha yeah figure that out. A 20+ year old Motorola or Kenwood will outperform these crappy Chinese made radios.
I actually scored several XTS3000 radios for super cheap ( one with a codeplug that hasent been overwritten since the radio was brand new in 2000. Even came with a new condition rapid charger, with its original 2000 date codes battery and in new condition oem M antenna lol ). Trying to get the boss to trash those POS radios they are using and have us “upgrade” to the 3000’s. They will be miles above the Chinese garbage.

Anyway - man this got off topic haha
 

kayn1n32008

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the size to the SP50 was key. 10 channels and scan in a slim form factor. Compared to a P110/GP300/GP350 which had more "girth" (and were 20 times better radios RF and build quality wise), the SP50 could be ordered as a high power (just more cells in the blister pack) and still be slim. I can see where guys on film crews, cable shucking, etc preferred this, along with "T-Shirt" security folks at clubs and such needing more than one channel (lots of the ones I worked on came from those kinds of places). I just hated them. FWIW, the Kenwood TK-250/350 and later 250G/350G were miles above the SP50 in build quality, RF performance, serviceability, superior battery life with easy to change slid on batteries with a metal battery rail and latch, and 32 channels with scan, two tone decode, etc. Lots of radio for around the same price as SP50s, and many of those 250/350s are still around today.
A friend of mine picked up a pair of VHF 2 channel SP50’s back in the mid 90’s. They worked ok, we used them on the ski hill snowboarding. We both coached for a club 40minutes from where I grew up. They worked not bad. The ski hill had a mix of HT-90’s, P200’s and GP300’s. We may have taken advantage of the employee discount in the cafeteria a time or two when the cashiers assumed we worked for the resort when they saw the speaker mics. :LOL:

The GP300 has an amazing receiver. It has one of the tightest front ends of any radio that I have ever used. It’s too bad there was no key option to have talk around. Only option was to use a channel with the repeater output as a simplex channel. It was also dead simple to take apart as well. It was one of my favorite portables when I first got into ham radio. If I can find a working one for free, I would use it as a receiver mated with the spare NX700 I have kicking around to make a low power VHF repeater. I have a Q2330E duplexer I salvaged out of an oilfield repeater site that was decommissioned.

The P110 has one of the fastest DPL unmute times I have seen on any radio. Instant. The first survey company I worked for had a bunch. Pretty bullet proof, and loud. I preferred them over the TK260’s the company also had. They were super slow to unmute DPL.

All this old tech is only DOS programmable. Which sucks. I would carry a 16ch GP300 today if it had windows CPS rather than DOS. I just don’t care to ever deal With DOS programmed radios again. For example, Why use a Maxtrac when a CDM1250 is far more capable?
 
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