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Programming Motorola SABER Radios

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OneSixActual

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Hello all, I apologize if this is the wrong section, but you seem like a knowledgeable sort!

My unit uses commercial/off the shelf FRS/GMRS radios to talk to each other during field problems, and while they're OK they're not exactly useful over distances (at all) or anywhere there's vegetation, metal objects, or outdoors. As a result, I've recommended to my COC that we switch to commercial UHF radios for garrison training, since our manportable military radios consist of two MBITRs for an entire company.

I'm looking at several COTS programs, including buying old Saber radios in bulk as well as the XTS3000 options, in addition to Yaesu and Kenwood radios. I'm setting up a test program right now where we look at the options available. Because this is coming out of unit funds, and not Big Army money, we can't afford to go to vendors for nice things just to test so I've purchased one of each radio from our sample pool out of pocket. The only problem is that the Motorola Saber 1E I bought isn't programmed. Are there any commercial places that can program the Saber, or anyone local willing to help? If we do go with the Sabers or XTS3000s we'll buy them from a place that can bulk program them for us, but for now, I'm kind of up a creek.

I'm stationed on Ft Campbell if that helps, and have no problem shipping the handset around. For backwards compatibility we're looking to operate on standard FRS/GMRS freqs, there's no guarantee about how long this whole process will take and there's no sense in running two commo freqs.

Thank you!
 

bezking

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XTS3000s are definitely overkill if you aren't using P25 or a trunking system.

I would recommend you take a look at Icom America's offerings. Their rugged F4001 UHF handheld can be had new for under $150* per unit and the programming software is extremely inexpensive (like $30), unlike Moto's stuff which costs an arm and a leg. Don't get me wrong, I love my Motos, but when budget and software availability are a factor they aren't always the best choice.

I would stay away from the analog Sabers just because they are really old and Motorola provides zero support or parts for them anymore.

*If you actually create an account with that website and log in, you will see that their price for those goes down to $131.95 each. They show a higher price if you are not logged in.
 
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OneSixActual

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Excellent recommendation, thank you! Unfortunately I still have to test all these radios, and I still need someone to program the Saber. ;) It seems that my shenanigans have caught the attention of my 6 shop (commo) and they want to get involved, but of course they can't program Sabers either.
 

RodStrong

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It is my understanding GMRS Outlet GMRS Outlet LLC, is a good authorized Icom dealer (and it looks like he just started selling HYT). May I also suggest you consider Red Dog Radios Red Dog Radios, also an authorized Icom dealer and an authorized Vertex dealer. Vertex has some good choices too at comparable prices.

I deal with a lot of different radios/brands from low end to high end, and based on the info given, I am gonna suggest either Icom or Vertex for your needs.

And I agree with bezking.....I would not fool with older (especially larger and much heavier) used radios in various states of health and personality when you can buy a small, modern radio with a 2 or 3 year warranty in the $100-$200-ish range.

Whatever you do, if you do buy new, buy from an authrorized dealer, and stay away from the flea market and cut rate (not authorized) types. They might save you a couple of percentage points up front, but you are rolling the dice on getting hosed with warranty service and customer service in general. Good luck.
 
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W2NJS

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My memory isn't as good as it used to be, but I'd almost swear that the Army had in the past established vendor specs etc. for what they called "squad radios," and the usual units supplied were Icom "F" series portables.
 

OneSixActual

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Feb 25, 2012
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Well, it seems that despite your help and my efforts I've hit an immovable force - Big Army. My Division commo shop has told us that we are not to purchase COTS Radios, since Big Army put a moratorium on their purchase in favor of the MBITR (PRC148/PRC152) radios. $3000 vice $150? Sounds like victory to me!

I appreciate all of your help and recommendations.
 

W2NJS

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While it's apparent that your hands are tied in your particular situation, the fact remains that the Army is currently using many current models of FM portable radios, be they Motorola, Thales, or other makes. I see them regularly in news clips from overseas, and these are not the cheap (relatively) F model Icom units but Motorola XTS units and their equivalents.
 

OneSixActual

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Feb 25, 2012
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That's true - we have lots in legacy inventory. Unfortunately Big Army has prohibited us from buying more (or parts for them). I'm trying to locate some from another unit and 'borrow' them.
 
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