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Programming Laptop Suggestions

wradar

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Jan 27, 2007
Messages
25
I've been using an old Eee PC with Windows XP on it for programming radios for years, and the screen is on its last legs. Time for a new programming laptop! Below are the programs I'm using for programming (most are Kenwood-related, so that's why I posted in here...if it belongs elsewhere, please advise). My questions:
  1. Which version of Windows is required to run all of these (will Win11 work, or do I need something older)?
  2. Any recommendations on a cheap laptop that will only be used for programming?
Software used:
  • KPG44D v2.03
  • KPG95D v6.21
  • SVR200CPS v 4.0.11 (Pyramid)
  • TYT TH-8600 programming software v1.7
  • FreeSCAN v2.18b6
Thanks!
 

wa8pyr

Technischer Guru
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Ohio
I've been using an old Eee PC with Windows XP on it for programming radios for years, and the screen is on its last legs. Time for a new programming laptop! Below are the programs I'm using for programming (most are Kenwood-related, so that's why I posted in here...if it belongs elsewhere, please advise). My questions:
  1. Which version of Windows is required to run all of these (will Win11 work, or do I need something older)?
  2. Any recommendations on a cheap laptop that will only be used for programming?
Software used:
  • KPG44D v2.03
  • KPG95D v6.21
  • SVR200CPS v 4.0.11 (Pyramid)
  • TYT TH-8600 programming software v1.7
  • FreeSCAN v2.18b6
Thanks!
Get a CF-53 Toughbook. They generally run around $150-200 on eBay and will work very nicely for what you need to do. They have a real serial port too, which is almost a necessity.
 

wradar

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Jan 27, 2007
Messages
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Great idea, thanks, Tom! Should Win10 work on these apps? (I'm glad I'm not still using anything that needs a DOS shell!)
 

wa8pyr

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Ohio
Great idea, thanks, Tom! Should Win10 work on these apps? (I'm glad I'm not still using anything that needs a DOS shell!)
Win10 should work; you might have to use compatibility mode for older apps, but I haven't had any trouble running any programming apps on the Win10 desktop at work.

The only issue I ever experienced (a few years ago) was the mandatory forced updates, when the Micro$oft Mothership decides their driver is better than the radio manufacturer's driver.

I had enough trouble with this that I went back to Win7 Pro for my CF53 programming laptop, and haven't had a problem since. My Win10 desktop at work hasn't had this problem, so it may be that M$ and the radio manufacturers finally got on the same page. I'm perfectly happy with Win7 Pro on my laptop, so I don't plan to "upgrade" it to Win10 unless I'm forced to.

For a DOS shell, I have a thumb drive loaded with Rufus DOS and my DOS radio software. Boot the CF53 from that, and it works like a champ.

I run a CF53 at work and home for my programming machines. Both have windows 10. I do have a DOS boot stick. No issues with either. I maxed memory on both and added SSD drives.
Ditto. Go the SSD route and max out the RAM (the CF53 takes up to 16gb); between the SSD and 16gb RAM, it'll just sail right along.
 
Last edited:

N5XPM

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Jul 29, 2011
Messages
200
Location
Texas
I have a Dell Latitude D620 laptop. Has a real RS-232 serial port. Still running Windows 7. I've replaced the main battery a couple of times. I also replaced the hard drive with an SSD. It works fine.
I have the Dell 630 which is a very slightly new model of the D620. Both are great options with built in serial ports, affordable batteries, rugged and reasonably fast to boot and program radios and scanners.
 

wd8chl

Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2007
Messages
156
All of those programs will work in win10. I have them all except the TYT in a HP running a core i5 8th gen. No problem.
Kenwood s/w is much more forgiving about OS than most, especially motorola.
A few customers still have 890's out there. No problem.
Now, CDM and CP200's? Nope. Gotta use XP on an old toughbook.
 

KK4JUG

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GA
For years, I used a decade old Acer Netbook with Windows 7 and it served me faithfully. It had everything from Sentinel to Chirp to RT Systems on it. When Microsoft stop supporting Windows 7, I loaded 11 on it. It took over 4 hours. Well, it only has 4 megs of RAM and it's not upgradeable so it runs verrry slowly. It takes 3+ minutes to boot up. It works for programming but it stays in Xanax mode. I finally switched to a Walmart Motile (brand). It was $198 with free shipping. I upgraded it to 12 megs and it has an SSD so, once again, I have a programming-only computer. I said all that to say this: Nearly all programming programs will just about run on anything above an abacus so don't spend a lot of money if it's only gonna be used for programming.
 

wradar

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Thanks, all! I think I'll go the CF-31 or CF-53 route. Appreciate the input!
 

paulears

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Oct 14, 2015
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Lowestoft - UK
Programming is such a low level task for any computer now, I've discovered ANY computer that runs windows 10 is not even going to notice the workload. The killer, for me is antivirus software. Clearly writing files is an activity the virus software insists on blocking - preventing you using it till the file has been uploaded, queued, tested and then released. It's a real pain.
 

AM909

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SoCal
OTOH, CPS2 and KPG-D* are pretty bloated, so you'll want some horsepower if you want to run this newer stuff on the same machine and don't want to spend your time drumming your fingers and swearing at it :). Of course, that horsepower could create timing problems for the older stuff. We just keep two tiers of machines – ancient Pentium x00 Mhz with "real" RS-232 ports and WinXP, and newer Win10 xGHz multi-core.
 

Frmn85

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Jun 3, 2022
Messages
20
Yes, go with what everyone above has suggested: laptop with multiple usb type 2/3 ports Windows 7, ram upgrade 8GB and SSD. SSD will make a significant difference esp. when using in the field- you drop your laptop and your SSD should be safe- no moving components and provides quick bootup times. Windows 10 has the potential to screw you over with their sneaky stealth updates. If your laptop is put in a back pack make sure you cushion the bottom with foam- cut with razor blade to fit.

For over 7 years I used a Lenovo T410 (i5 processor for energy efficiency) with above h/w for commercial field and shop use. I was able to program all Kwood, Moto, ICOM, Hytera, VX systems and etc. I also had the laptop docking station and every time I went back to the shop I would dock the laptop and it would automatically upload the contents of the new field radio config files to another regular computer acting as a file server. Physically turn off laptop at end of shift to prevent any hacking attempts.

Thinking back, its crazy how much I was able to squeeze from that single ancient laptop- Many times I would program for different budget tight clients who had 9 different NX radio models in various depts. I would go around the campus/bldng with the laptop, open and make on the fly configurations and program 9 different k wood Motorola radios and system. Often times I would have 9 software's open at the same time. When juice was running low, I would hibernate and swap batteries and continue the field task at hand.

Eventually I got another Lenovo T420 with a separate dock and mirrored my older field laptop just incase the T410 gave up the ghost.
If your doing 2 laptops you will need different license keys and system keys. I was able to get separate system keys with blessings from SMR dealers for both laptops.

With regards to Windows 7- Ive been hammered by commercial IT contractor for sticking with same laptop for Windows 7 while they upgraded all our company computers to Windows 10. I told them I will keep my trustworthy laptop since I do not want any issues while in the field and do not want to deal with compatibility issues during migration to newer windows laptop. The IT contractor suggested using multiple laptops to solve the potential issues- I told him to beat it.

And if anyone gives you the windows 7 "virus amd reliability" pep talk- you can think of it this way. I've used the same laptop for over 7 years and programmed more than 6000+ radios for hundreds of different clients(garbage,SMR, realestate, schools,transit, hotels etc) and systems and never had an issue with virus's or malware. No bs, the laptop just booted up and worked 99 percent of the time-just dont drop it and bang it around. Physically the USB port became worn out over time and I just used the expansion port and added a USB card into the laptop. Only go to trusted and work related websites. Get antivirus software if your concerned.

If your reasonable with what you download you should be safe. Also most users have migrated away from Windows 7 to 8,10 and 11. Most hackers are looking for a bigger pond to fish in where the Windows 7 pond is supposedly relegated to the dust bin of history.

I would say the only issue where I saw a slow down was D1N program for NX5000 series. It took a minute or more to start up and Ive been told its because the software checks all ports on laptop ( this was security feature). For most modern computers, I've been told D1n will run slow on boot up but that was a year ago, it could be different today.

As for the 2 prong Kwood programming cable, bring a pair of pliers with you just in case you need to deal with programming 1200 series radios, most models of those programming ports are very tight and can be a pain to pull the programming cable out if your doing dozens at a time. A pair of pliers will make it very easy to pull out.

This is just a suggestion and enough of my rant and good luck .
 

wwhitby

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Autauga County, Alabama
I have a Dell Mini 9 netbook running Windows 7 that I've used to program multiple models of Kenwood and Icom radios. So far, no problems using it.
 

PACNWDude

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Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
1,160
Get a CF-53 Toughbook. They generally run around $150-200 on eBay and will work very nicely for what you need to do. They have a real serial port too, which is almost a necessity.
Have and very old Panasonic CF-72 for DOS/XP CPS and programming, A CF-53 running windows 7 for NXDN/IDAS Kenwood/Icom, Motorola Trbo and some P25 gear. then recently bought a former military CF-19 MK8 running windows 10 for newer radios. Great computers and having some rugged aspects they have outlasted everything else in the field. Still use some old Del D810's in the office though.
 

Project25_MASTR

There's stuff I can't tell you...
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I have two computers that I use for programming. I don't field anything that I mess with on a regular basis that can be programmed with 64 bit Window's 10 (I use Professional for everything). My EFJ issued laptop is a 10th gen i7...my personal laptop is an 8th gen i5, no issues. Most of the four number Kenwood radios, I've not had any issue programming with a modern setup. For the older stuff, I run a Core 2 Duo that dual boots Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit and MS-DOS 7.1 (the true 32 bit version of DOS that Windows 98 ran on top of).

In terms of Armada...Armada doesn't need much, really just a currently supported version of Windows.

As far older Motorola software goes, completely disagree with @wd8chl...Windows XP is very rarely needed. What is needed is a 32 bit version of Windows for a good chunk of software. Professional CPS, Windows based RSS, etc all runs fine on Windows 7 and Windows 10 as long as it's 32 bit versions (Microsoft did make some permissions changes to 10 that require some programs be ran as an Admin).
 

BMDaug

I am licensed…
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Central Colorado, USA
One thing to keep in mind with something older is that, while the latest Windows will run, sometimes driver incompatibility will keep things from being fully operational using the newest version of windows. I had to disable windows update on my ToughPad FZ-M1 to maintain compatibility with the cellular card and other peripherals. I run RPM14/2 on it and it flys, and it’s about the size of a paperback book, making it excellent for field work. With hot-swappable batteries and WWAN, plus a dock, it’s perfect for me.

-B
 

Fixitt

Novice listener and retired mechanic
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Collinsville, Illinois
Dell Latitude D620 laptop
That is the exact laptop I use for ProScan, ARC536 PRO and Sentinel.

My oldest son grabbed two from the recycle pile for me when the company was upgrading their software that wouldn’t run on these. I added a BT module (easy to do by popping off the cover over the power button).
 
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