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Used DTR550 Need advice

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ElGordito

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Hello everyone,
This is my first post. I have done quite a bit of searching, but have not found the advice I am looking for. Please be gentle if I have missed finding the answers during my search. :)

I just purchased a couple of Motorola DTR550 radios (made in 2007). I am going on a cruise in a few weeks and I bought these based on all I read here on the forums. They didn't come with any accessories or antenna and I was hoping those of you, in the know, could help guide me in buying what I need to get them up and running.

Questions:
- Antenna:
-- Should I go with a 1/4 wave or 1/2 wave?
-- Will I really get that much more range with a 1/2 wave so it is worth the extra inconvenience?
-- How good are the ebay cheapies (please see links below)
-- What antenna do you recommend (link please)?

- Will the DTR650 (1 hour) charger charge these DTR550s in an hour, or should I get the DTR550 charger?

- I see in the manual the battery is a NNTN4655 but most resalers are saying it is a 53963. The NNTN4655 is quite a bit cheaper. Are they truly interchangeable and has anyone had luck with the NNTN4655?

- Programming software. I understand it is free from Motorola. I could not find a Mac version. Is there one (link please)?

Seems like that will cover it. I appreciate any help and advice you can give.

Thank you,
Gordon


* Antenna links for reference:
900MHz Stubby Antenna Motorola Radio DTR550 DTR650 MTX8250 MTX9250 MTX850 MTX950 | eBay

and

800 900 MHz Antenna Motorola Radio XTS5000 DTR550 DTR650 XTS3000 XTS3500 XTS1500 | eBay
 

ElGordito

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Well kinda bummed... Doesn't anyone have experience with this radio and could give me some advise?

Gordon
 

jonwienke

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I have no experience with those radios, so I have no advice there.

About eBay antennas, there are 3 categories.

1. Good quality antennas made in the US or by major name-brand radio companies.

2. Clones of category 1 made in Taiwan or China. Some of these are good, some are crap.

3. Fake versions of categories 1 & 2, mostly made in China. Most of these are crap.

Before buying an antenna on eBay, look at the seller's feedback for that item. If it's blocked, or there isn't any, stay away onless you're essentially willing to light the purchase price amount of money on fire.

Antenna size is generally related to performance--a physically bigger antenna will have more tx and rx range than a smaller one, assuming both are properly tuned for the freq you are using. The tradeoff between size and convenience is something you will have to figure out for yourself.
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, steer well clear of the e-Bay antennas, unless you know for sure it is a true OEM antenna. Plenty of stories of people buying these and putting them on an analyzer. Usually no where near resonate on the frequency they claimed to be.

While it will cost a bit more, get the OEM antenna for these guys.

No MAC version of the software, Motorola only deals in PC.

Can't help on the other ones...
 

ElGordito

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jonwienke, mmckenna,
Thank you for the advice! I found a reputable dealer and just ordered the original Motorola 1/4 wave. I think the trade-off will be in the Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF). I may purchase the 1/2 wave later and do some comparisons.

Bummer on the software. I will have to dual boot to get around that. :-/

I still cannot find anything more about the battery differences but I went ahead and bought the NNTN4655. I am hoping it will work out well. If not, it will be a lesson learned.

I went ahead and also bought the 1-hour charger. I guess it will be trial by fire (hopefully not literally ;-).

Thanks for your help... Your advice really pushed me the right way on the antennas. :)

I will reply back with my findings on the batteries and chargers.

Gordon
 

sloop

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I have never been on a cruise, but if the only thing your are going to use the radios for is to talk to members of your family....would it not be cheaper to buy a bubble-pack FRS/GMRS radios? By the time you purchase antennas, battery chargers (and possibly batteries) I am sure it will cost more than the $50 FRS set. I guess my question is will the 900mHz digital 1 watt radio be any better than the FRS? Having no experience with 900 mHz radios I don't know the answer, but would like too.
 

mmckenna

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I can tell you from experience that 800MHz penetrates heavy concrete/steel buildings quite well, and digital can help provide a cleaner audio.
900 MHz at 1 watt will probably work pretty well, better than an FRS or GMRS radio will at 1 watt. Also, keep in mind that most FRS/GMRS radios have horribly designed antennas, where these DTR's will have a much more efficient design.

One thing to add, if you are going to take these on a cruise ship, check with the company first. You also may want to put them in your luggage, and not carry on. Several years ago I had my 2 meter hand held in my carry on stuff, and it got pulled. It took a trip to the radio room to be checked out by the radioman, and made it back to me. Rules regarding use of two way radios on ships can vary, and there are no guarantees. Do your homework before you leave on the trip.
 

connscan

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Moto DTR 900 Mhz radios

Well kinda bummed... Doesn't anyone have experience with this radio and could give me some advise?

Gordon
I have used them for several years. Absolutely love them! I find that they have incredible audio output. Far louder and clearer than those frs/GMRS radios. The chargers are I believe, either one or three hour chargers. I have both, no preference either way. There are two batteries, one std and one hi capacity. I use the high capacity and have never ran out of battery even after a long day of family activities. The antenna that you chose, 1/4 vs. gain (1/2 or 5/8 wave) is probably dependent on the use. If you are talking on a horizontal plane, go with the gain antenna. If you are talking on a vertical plane, (1st to the tenth floor) you may be better off with the 1/4 wave. The biggest advantage that the DTR's have over the bubble pack frs/GMRS radios is that you will NEVER have co-channel interference, never a busy channel! If you ever used a frs/GMRS radio in a crowded amusement park, you know that even if you still have a squelch code (CTCSS/DCS) set, the interference of others could block your comm's.

You will love your DTR's. In my experience, they talk just as far, if not farther than a 4 watt UHF portable.

One more thing. If the person you are trying to reach goes out of range, you will know. The radio will tell you. No frs/GMRS radio does that.
 
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ElGordito

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Wow, thanks for all the help. :)

My antennas arrived today via FedEX. Looking forward to trying them. I have a few new questions for the group:
- I bought the programming cable, but I understand there is a separate cable for flashing, is this true?
-- Does anyone have one they no longer need?
-- Does anyone know where I can get the latest flash?

- One of the DTR550s was flashed with DTR410 flash and now reports it is a 410. I have read where others had flashed a 410 with 550 flash and gained some features. I am hopeful I can flash my 550 back to a 550 and recover those features. Any help here is appreciated.

- I don't understand Public v. Private groups. I am going with my family and we do not want to talk to anyone else. That would suggest to me I want a private group consisting of just my family members. However, the public group has the notion of a privacy code not found in the private group. I am not sure which to use. Any clarification would be helpful. :)

- Of the radios I bought, several had missing volume controls. Upon further inspection, I found the switches inside the radio are missing. Would anyone happen to have a Digi-key, Mouser, or other part number for these switches?

Thank you for your help. This is fun. :)
Gordon
 

ElGordito

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Quick update:

The NNTN4655 battery seems to work great as do the 1-Hour chargers. So if anyone is in my same boat (going on a cruise, metaphor ;-), they will know they work. :)

The 1/4 wave antennas seem to reach pretty far. In my not so scientific testing around my neighborhood, I found them to go farther than my GMRS radios, with their stubby antenna, but not as far as my GMRS radios with the long whip antennas.

I think I have public vs. private figured out. Or at least far enough to hit my cruise confidently.

I am still looking for any information on the physical volume control switches inside the radio. I contacted a radio repair shop and they do not repair that model anymore and told me Motorola took down the detailed parts list, they once had up. If anybody has a part number, that would be great.

Also still looking for a used flash cable on the cheap. And hopefully someone has the latest DTR550 flash. I cannot find it on Motorola's web site.

Thanks for all the help!
Gordon
 

ElGordito

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Hello Everyone! Post-cruise update.

The cruise was great and I was able to keep up with the kids for the most part...

I found we had connectivity throughout the ship as long as we were either within 4 or 5 decks or roughly within the same half of the ship over all decks (13). The ship is 1004' long. The biggest problem came when I was in the cabin in the front half of the ship on deck 2 and wanted to talk to the kids in the arcade almost to the back of the ship 3 decks up. Since I was able to reach deck 14 above the arcade from that same cabin, I think the electronics from the games may have been causing some trouble. If I was in the back half of the ship the arcade presented no trouble.

Since I used the stubby antennas, no one found them too obtrusive and everyone was glad they had one to reach each other. In addition we all appreciated the ability to call just one other radio and talk privately to that individual.

I ran into several people using FRS (maybe GMRS) bubble-pack radios and they seemed a bit frustrated with the limitations. I asked one gal in the buffet line how they were working for her (FRS) and she said "lets try it!" She then tried to contact her significant other on the same deck out at pool side. She was unable to reach him, but did get an answer from someone she didn't know. I also noticed several folks would strain to hear a message they thought was for them only to find it was another group talking.

To sum it up I am very happy with these radios. If there were such a thing as a repeater for them, I would probably use nothing else for my family communications.

I hope this turns out to be useful to others. Than you for all your help!
Gordon
 

RayAir

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You're probably back from your cruise, but I took 2 DTR 550's with the smaller antenna (4" maybe?) And we had ship wide coverage aboard the Carnival Sensation.

I've used 2 watt Midland GMRS radios and 4 W Motorola Visar's about cruise ships before and only got a couple of decks coverage.

The 1W DTR outperformed 4W UHF radios.
 

ElGordito

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Hi Ray_Air,
Yes we are back. We were aboard the Magic. I couldn't get everywhere, but had coverage most of the time. If I couldn't get one of my boys, I walked 10-15 feet toward the middle of the ship and could get them.

I have not tried my GMRS radios on a ship, but met several folks on board whom had what appeared to be FRS, maybe the FRS/GMRS bubble pack combos and they didn't seem to love them. From the limited feedback I got, they didn't go very far, and they kept hearing folks whom were not in their party.

I really like these DTR550s. The form factor, the privacy, the ability to know if the radio on the other end broke squelch. All great to have!

Hope you enjoyed your cruise!

Gordon
 
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