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Spectra worth my time / money?

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N4RMT

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Jan 21, 2013
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Hello all.
Sorry if I'm in the wrong forum, but this question could fit several.

I was given (Now I know why!) a TA9FW+078W radio. I like the unit because the control head mounts absolutely perfectly in the little car I use to commute to work without any real modification or unsightliness. There is just nowhere to mount a standard form factor box sensibly. Anyway, my son and I also like to go railfanning quite a bit, so my plan, having forgotten about the whole narrowbanding thing, was to have the tech program the usual repeaters, along with several AAR channels for monitoring. I then learned through researching that I may as well recap the unit also. I can program most CPS radios myself, but don't have a RIB, cables, or DOS PC to get into RSS programming. I have a tech who will recap, align, and program up to 25 ch for $50.00 plus two way shipping, then an additional per channel rate after that. I just want to know if you guys think that this whole venture is worth the time and money. I don't do much 2 meter talking. My original reasons were the fact that the radio would do both things i was interested in with a nice mounting appearance, and because I knew the radio would be much more selective and sensitive for monitoring AAR than a scanner. Will the fact that I'll be receiving NB on a WB receiver negate that fact as far as the AAR channels go? What would you do? I'm seriously leaning towards an HT1250 and external antenna HAHA! I would seriously lose channels and output power though. Decisions, decisions.

Randy
 

N4KVE

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2003
Messages
3,043
Location
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA
The Spectra is a great radio. Fortunately you're getting a great price for the work you are having done. [Free radio + $50 and shipping is a good deal] The fact that a wide band radio is receiving a narrow band only means you will have to turn up the receive volume a little more. I'd go for it. I have 2 UHF, & 1 900 Spectra's, & they are great radios.
 

jim202

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Messages
2,559
Location
New Orleans region
The model number you have provided is the wrong number from the name plate. There is another long number with a combination of letters and numbers. If this is a high power trunk mount radio, it might start with something like a T83xxxxxxxx or a T84xxxxxx depending on the band the radio is for. A dash mount will start with a D as the first character.

Bear in mind that the old Spectra radios are not a narrow bandable radio. They will only provide you with wide band operation. Now if you have an Astro SDpectra, then you have a radio that should be able to be set to narrow band operation. If you have one of the Astro Spectra radios, it will sat Astro right on the control head in light blue letters.

The Spectra software is floating all over the place. You can make your own programming cables real easy. Only thing you will need is some sort of a RIB to use between the radio and the computer. Yes you will need a slow computer with a working serial port. The computer needs to be run in a pure DOS operation. Not using a window inside of Windows XP. I have several computers that have a FAT32 format hard drive and Windows 98 on them. I use a floppy in the A drive to be able to boot it into pure DOS and run the Spectra software.

Just remember that DOS needs to have the hard drive formatted in the FAT32 format to be able to use up to an 80 GB hard drive. The upper limit size will also depend on the BIOS on the computer motherboard. Some of the computers I have run into won't work with an 80 GB hard drive. In this case I have used some 20 GB or smaller hard drives.

Start hitting some of the older computer support stores around you and ask them if they have any real old computers laying around. You might just luck out and find something that will work.
 

N4RMT

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Jan 21, 2013
Messages
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The radio is a 110 watt, VHF hi band non astro model. I'm not interested in being able to program it myself right now. Thanks for the advice, MOONBOOTS. I may just go ahead and do it. One question. Is the scan list even field programmable as far as adding / deleting channels or priority?
 

mikewazowski

Forums Manager/Global DB Admin
Staff member
Joined
Jun 26, 2001
Messages
11,047
Location
Central Ontario
Yes, you can have the programmer setup your scanlists as Operator Selectable which will allow you to program them on the fly. You can also set a couple of priority channels from the keypad as well.

I would invest in a RIB and a programming cable. Once you hit the road, you'll find things you want to change and you probably won't want to spend more money to have someone reprogram it.
 

jim202

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Messages
2,559
Location
New Orleans region
The Spectra is a very flexible radio. You can program a button on the W series heads to allow you to have up to 16 PL tones to select from. I set my radios up to have the "multi PL" on just the TX. Then go in and create the table with the 16 most common PL tones for the region I travel in.

Another feature you can set up is to have zones in the radio. Set the head up for a zone up and a zone down button. This way you can select the zone that contains the 15 channels you want in a fixed scan list or set the zone to have channels for a specific region you want to work in. You might have to get a copy of the software version that has "MOFLAGS" that you can set. This allows you to turn on or off features that you want. note: You will need to have the MLM memory board have a version of the firmware that allows zone operation. If I remember correctly, it needs to be above version 6.00 to work. You can go to the repeater builders site and it will give you a link to the mike b site that has all the good info on the Spectra.
 
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