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Author Topic: Motorola Spectra Discussion  (Read 12763 times)
KD8HMO
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Posts: 228




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« on: July 28, 2012, 05:56:15 PM »

Hi all,

I just picked up a very nice, almost mint Motorola Spectra radio. It is the VHF trunk-mount model with the System 9000 control head and the HMN1061A microphone. It is rated for 110 watts output. Im in the process of rounding up the manuals, software and cable to program it. My goal is to put all the standard repeater frequency pairs in it, along with 146.520 and as many other simplex voice channels as will fit. I want to be able to add a PL tone to any repeater pair as needed as I drive across the county from the control head, if possible. Any hints or tips on this radio would be appreciated. Will these radios make good 2-meter radios? It sounds like there will be a flood of them on the market soon..
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 06:25:58 PM by KD8HMO » Logged
KCJ9091
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2012, 07:13:35 PM »

Some Spectra radios are capable of MPL, multiple private line.  You program the mode with the frequency information and set up a PL table for the mode.  If memory serves you can put up to 8 PL tones per mode.  Then you have to set a button on the control head as MPL.  That will let you selecto one of the PL tones in the list for that mode.  That is about as close as you are going to get to being able to do what you want to do.
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K4JJL
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 05:18:36 AM »

Make sure you change the electrolytic caps before they leak and ruin the boards.  There's 4 on the command board, 5 on the RF board, 2 in the PA, and 2 in the head.  All are 10uf except for one 47uf on the RF board.  I replace all mine with tantalum caps.
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AA4HA
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 05:03:32 PM »

Those deadly caps look like tiny silver colored pencil erasers with a plastic base and are surface mount soldered to the board. On the CPU board you will see an odd looking chip package, that is the audio amplifier module. Some of those caps are for the audio amplifier. what the bad chip will do is to corrode off the traces and or blow that audio chip.

That cap problem is all part of the worldwide capacitor problem that happened in the 90's where they were using contaminated or misformulated electrolyte in the capacitor manufacturing process.

With the Spectra we used to have an auxilliary head that allowed you to select nothing but PL tones (we used that to talk to different hospitals on the MERCI radio network in an ambulance). Each button was labeled for a different hospital.

Look up a web site called "Batlabs", they have extensive information on the Spectra (mods, functions in certain firmware versions) including what sub model numbers will work down into the 144 MHz band (not all VHF Spectra radios can, you need to interpet the individual serial number to find out what will work.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 05:07:07 PM by AA4HA » Logged

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
KC2KMJ
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Posts: 89




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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 01:50:15 PM »

At the very least check the capacitors, as others noted, to see if they were already replaced. If not, here's a very good site with lots of Spectra info, mainted by Robert W. Meister WA1MIK: http://www.repeater-builder.com/motorola/spectra/spectra-index.html   There are two sections pertaining to recapping Spectras on that site. Spectras cannot do narrowbanding so with the FCC deadline coming you'll be seeing them flood the market. Most of the times these radios have not been recapped. They are great radios but those capacitors are little ticking timebombs and if they're already leaking then the acid is pro'lly damaging the board(s) and/or other components and the radio will soon be toast. BTW, after recapping you should realign the radio for obvious reasons, and sometimes realignment will need to be done if you get the dreaded "Fail 001" pll unlock error.
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KI4OIU
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2012, 06:59:03 AM »

I run the Spectra drawer units in my mobiles. 
I consider them to be "bullet proof" - especially here in the Florida heat.
They are MPL changeable from the control head.
I do, however, program one of the buttons on the head for HI/LO power - I have dialed the transmitter down to about 35 watts on low and 80 on high.  110 watts in my case was a little over kill and I didn't want to stress out the units any more than I needed to.

The only antenna I have found to handle the power has been the Wilson 2Meter Mag Mount - not the best choice I know, but it works and the Wilson stuff is heavy duty.

Just my 2 cents worth!
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 09:11:09 AM »

I run the Spectra drawer units in my mobiles.  I consider them to be "bullet proof" - especially here in the Florida heat.

Yep. They are one of the best transceivers ever made, but the capacitor leaking can be a big or little problem...you might just get lucky after doing the recap that the VCO and everything else still works fine. Still, an alignment should be done but most don't do that as long as the radio appears to be working fine after recapping.
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KC2KMJ
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Posts: 89




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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 02:30:32 PM »

They are MPL changeable from the control head.
I do, however, program one of the buttons on the head for HI/LO power - I have dialed the transmitter down to about 35 watts on low and 80 on high.  110 watts in my case was a little over kill and I didn't want to stress out the units any more than I needed to.

MPL is not in all Spectras, just like Zones. It depends what features the MLM has. You can add features to a Spectra but that takes special s/w and the know-how. As for that Hi-Low power button, I'd like to know how you did that because there is no Hi-Lo feature that can be assigned to any button on the Spectra.
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KS4VT
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2012, 05:21:38 PM »

I like the Astro Spectra's that I have in the house.  I have one in V and the other in U and they are on pretty much 24/7/365 scanning all the local stuff.
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2012, 09:07:10 AM »

I like the Astro Spectra's that I have in the house.  I have one in V and the other in U and they are on pretty much 24/7/365 scanning all the local stuff.

Yep, the Astro Spectra's are great. The only drawback for some is that scan lists are limited to 15 modes and the selected mode. The analog Spectra's can have greater than 16 modes. I don't know what the limit is but I've seen guys have 40+ modes in a scan list. For amateur use being able to scan a lot of modes (freqs) is really nice to have.
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KS4VT
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 03:45:06 PM »

I like the Astro Spectra's that I have in the house.  I have one in V and the other in U and they are on pretty much 24/7/365 scanning all the local stuff.

Yep, the Astro Spectra's are great. The only drawback for some is that scan lists are limited to 15 modes and the selected mode. The analog Spectra's can have greater than 16 modes. I don't know what the limit is but I've seen guys have 40+ modes in a scan list. For amateur use being able to scan a lot of modes (freqs) is really nice to have.

I believe there is a hack that allows more in both models, but I never had the need to go past the 15.
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2012, 11:55:15 AM »

I believe there is a hack that allows more in both models, but I never had the need to go past the 15.

Not for any of the Astro models, there isn't, but for the analog Spectra it isn't a s/w or h/w hack at all. Search on the Web and you'll find it. Basically you're just fooling the RSS with how many modes are in the list.
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K4AX
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Posts: 33




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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2013, 07:30:33 PM »

Just keying in here wanting to know how a hi/low power button was programmed.  Currently I just have my local in town repeaters with programmed for for low power, then another set of them for high power when I'm in another part of the state or whatever.   

I just use NMO quarter wave whips, they have no trouble taking power, and is what came in the box when they were new.

I picked up a new UHF Spectra at Dayton a few years ago, sealed in the box! I was like opening a time capsule when I bought it Smiley   

I've got two VHF units, and one UHF, none show any issues with the caps, but I new ones ready to go just in case. 
''''
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