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Author Topic: Cheapest / Smallest P25 compliant radio?  (Read 2125 times)
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,101

« on: September 09, 2018, 10:43:13 PM »

Wondering what the cheapest and smallest, respectively P25 compliant radio is today.

My Visar's batteries are shot, so it's time to look for something else.

I've dragged around a mortgage payment 5100 for 15 years and would prefer something
that doesn't kill the budget or my belt.
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radioguy
Recruit

Posts: 27
Unit: MER-NC-019

« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2018, 11:23:38 PM »

Here are some possibilities... Scroll down the page:

https://www.discounttwo-wayradio.com/products/portable-radios/public-safety-portables
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NovemberWhiskey
Recruit

Posts: 16
Unit: NER-NY-301

« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2018, 09:01:47 AM »

From my personal perspective, the sweet spot of P25 + reasonably priced + reasonably sized is a second-hand Motorola XTS2500 acquired on eBay. That model is also on CAP's NTIA compliance list.

You will need someone who is able to program it appropriately.
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Nick
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 519
Unit: SWR-TX-001

« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2018, 07:37:44 PM »

From my personal perspective, the sweet spot of P25 + reasonably priced + reasonably sized is a second-hand Motorola XTS2500 acquired on eBay. That model is also on CAP's NTIA compliance list.

You will need someone who is able to program it appropriately.
Yeah, I would tend to agree. Although in terms of belt wear itís about as bad as a 5100 (maybe slightly less), but thereís a pretty decent supply on eBay.

A Visar comparable would be something like an APX2000/4000 or 6000 with a normal cap (short) battery. The 7000 is a beast (5100-grade brick throwing capability) and the 8000 is way too expensive.

And as a bonus, Iíll program any APX you get for you. I donít have any XTS gear anymore so I canít help you there.
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Nicholas McLarty, Lt Col, CAP
Texas Wing Staff Guy
National Cadet Team Guy
Nick
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 519
Unit: SWR-TX-001

« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2018, 07:44:09 PM »

Fun fact, the National Comm guys were showing off an APX at the national conference this year. I thought that was rather interesting to see.
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Nicholas McLarty, Lt Col, CAP
Texas Wing Staff Guy
National Cadet Team Guy
SarDragon
Global Moderator

Posts: 10,426
Unit: NAVAIRPAC

« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2018, 07:46:00 PM »

Fun fact, the National Comm guys were showing off an APX at the national conference this year. I thought that was rather interesting to see.
Yeah, I saw that, too. It seems Motorola will be the source for the next generation CAP radios.
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Dave Bowles
Maj, CAP
AT1, USN Retired
Mitchell Award (unnumbered)
C/WO, CAP, Ret
NovemberWhiskey
Recruit

Posts: 16
Unit: NER-NY-301

« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2018, 08:15:17 PM »

I checked the specs and I was surprised to see an XTS2500 is actually heavier (11oz without battery) than the EFJ 5100 (10oz).

None of the APX gear is much available in secondary market; where you do see it, it's pretty expensive and/or dubious provenance stuff as far as I can tell.

The newer features in the APX are not so very interesting (P25 Phase 2 etc). In the CAP context, I'd find it hard to justify $1,500++ for a basic, used APX radio vs. maybe $500 for a good condition XTS5000 with a new Li-Ion battery.
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Nick
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 519
Unit: SWR-TX-001

« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2018, 09:02:41 PM »

The newer features in the APX are not so very interesting (P25 Phase 2 etc). In the CAP context, I'd find it hard to justify $1,500++ for a basic, used APX radio vs. maybe $500 for a good condition XTS5000 with a new Li-Ion battery.
Sure but youíre at least investing in a current production radio (Iíve seen them down to $1k BTW) vs. the XTS series that has been out of production for 5 years, which means parts and supplies will be more readily available in the mid to long term. Also, depot support for the XTS ends after this year so if you have a component failure it really is a throwaway. If you have the ASTRO CPS (which I canít believe I donít have buried somewhere) then you can continue to support yourself down the road. I just like to have a current product that I know is backed by support.
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Nicholas McLarty, Lt Col, CAP
Texas Wing Staff Guy
National Cadet Team Guy
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,101

« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2018, 09:09:14 PM »

It seems my steak and you're guys' come from different ends of the cow.

I'm a 2-3 times a year radio guy - once a year I have an earpiece in almost 24x7 for a week, then
maybe a mission or two  - this last week was an airshow and I picked up a VXA-150 on eBay
for $130 to talk to the tower & ground, and used an HT1000 to liaison w/ CAP.

I can get new batts for the Visar for about $40, which is probably 2xs what the actual radio is worth,
and my wing has 5100s I can latch onto under the TOA, but was hoping for something in the couple
hundred buckos range.

Anything that has 4 digits in the price is a non-starter.
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Slim
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 574

« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2018, 02:56:09 AM »

Honestly, in the "couple hundred" price range, you're not going to find much, mostly Moto XTS's and EFJ 5100s on eBay. 

The XTS-3000 is the oldest of that line, and you can find them anywhere from $100-300.  The 2500/5000 are in the $300-500 range.  If they have the right flashcode options, you'll get P25 and some other bells & whistles that you'll probably never need or use.  Then you have to get it programmed, which means either finding someone with the correct software and cable, or finding the software (google is your friend) and cable (readily available on eBay).  i have cables, software and computer capability to program all of my own stuff, and have been known to offer my services to other CAP members.

There may be other options out there by Kenwood, Icom and Relm that will offer P25, but you're back to getting them programmed.  Though nobody is/was as strict as mother Motorola when it comes to security and licensing of their software.  So it should be easier to find and/or cheaper to purchase.

Size/weight wise, the 3000 and 5000 are pretty much the same size, the 2500 is a little bit shorter (maybe half an inch), and weigh around the same as the 5100.  I wouldn't worry about not being able to find batteries or other accessories, just as you can still find them for the Visar and HT-1000 (the last of them left the factory in about 1999), XTS accessories and parts will be available for a long time.  True, as time goes by, it will become harder and harder to find them.  But, if you take care of it, it'll last you a long time.  Just this weekend, I had the need for a second VHF radio at an activity I was on; used my XTS-5000 on one channel with one mic, and my 1994 vintage Moto MT-2000 with another mic on the second.  For that matter, for all you comm old timers, I've still got HT-220s in working order that I can use, and they're about as old as I am.

The other option open is to get a couple batteries for that Visar (check eBay and Amazon, you can find aftermarket batteries there cheaper than $40), same with the HT-1000.  Unfortunately, if P25 or encryption are needed, you're back to using an EFJ.  Hey, even I had to leave my nice UHF XTS-2500 on my desk at INWG encampment, and use a beat up NESA XTS-3000 because mine doesn't have the encryption key in it.

And yes, the next generation CAP radios will be Moto APX mobiles and portables.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2018, 03:05:18 AM by Slim » Logged

Slim
Fubar
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 701

« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2018, 05:00:11 AM »

CAP's attempted move to P25 ensured cheap, member owned radios are becoming a thing of the past.

Just like the national comm guys had hoped for.

They have their reasons (they're not shy about this point), but it makes it tough in wings that either don't have an accurate TOA or don't adhere to it properly.
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Slim
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 574

« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2018, 05:29:40 AM »

CAP's attempted move to P25 ensured cheap, member owned radios are becoming a thing of the past.

Just like the national comm guys had hoped for.

They have their reasons (they're not shy about this point), but it makes it tough in wings that either don't have an accurate TOA or don't adhere to it properly.
P25 isn't the problem, inexpensive P25 radios are plentiful, and aren't much more than the amateur gear we used to use.  I own three P25 capable CAP radios (XTS 5000 and 3000 handhelds, and an EFJ 5317 mobile).  If anything is going to send personal radios to the wayside, it's encryption.  Which, AFAIK, isn't in the plans unless a customer requests it.
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Slim
Nick
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 519
Unit: SWR-TX-001

« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2018, 11:50:56 PM »

P25 isn't the problem, inexpensive P25 radios are plentiful, and aren't much more than the amateur gear we used to use.
Thatís true to an extent if youíre not shy of the condition or feature set of the radio. XTS 3/5000 Model 1, with some wear, yeah you can get pretty cheap (sure you can buy refurb housings to clean them up

If anything is going to send personal radios to the wayside, it's encryption.  Which, AFAIK, isn't in the plans unless a customer requests it.
Yeah, this. But on the same token, I will be impressed if National manages to field a nationwide encryption program as a standard for all corporate assets. I just donít see it. So customer-specific, sure. And I hope it stays there.
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Nicholas McLarty, Lt Col, CAP
Texas Wing Staff Guy
National Cadet Team Guy
Fubar
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 701

« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2018, 12:37:33 AM »

That's a fair point, I hadn't seen how much cheaper the old Moto gear has gotten - although it stands to reason given how old they are.

But they did also say at the national conference, for the past two years according to our comm guy, that encryption is coming due to a customer requirement that they can't tell us about because it's a big secret. From my understanding, the reason driving encryption became a big secret once people started complaining there was no need for the added expense and how it freezes out personal gear and nobody could provide a rational explanation as to why we needed it. Suddenly the explanation became "reasons" and we weren't allowed to be in the know.

Tis what it is.

As long as we have aircraft flying with old radios that can't do the digitals, we get a reprieve. But it won't be long now.
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Slim
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 574

« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2018, 02:54:18 AM »

A few years back, we had to get all of our wing's corporate radios reprogrammed , and while doing that, they also loaded AES encryption keys into all of them.  So, the capability is there, at least in my wing.  But we had to borrow a keyloader from a neighboring wing to do it, and I understand that that wing was subsequently told by NTC to eiither destroy their keyloader, or return it to NTC.

The cache of UHF radios that NESA uses was sent back to NTC at some point after the 2017 school was over, and reprogrammed with encryption keys, and with encryption on full-time; it's usually programmed to be user selectable.  From what I understand, when the new Motorola APX radios start shipping from NTC to the wings, they will come with encryption keys loaded as well, but IIRC, will be selectable. 
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Slim
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,101

« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2018, 01:33:15 PM »

I wound up just getting a new battery on eBay for $20 and moving on.

Humorously, I found the Visars with the dual charger and accessories for not much more then a
new battery, but my assumption on these is they'd have the same battery issues.

The battery has an 18-month+ warranty, and I can't imagine I'll have much use for it beyond that,
but I decided to keep it in use for a little while longer as we used analog channels for local comms
at a recent activity.
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Brad
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 804
Unit: MER-SC-020

« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2018, 12:37:15 AM »

The cache of UHF radios that NESA uses was sent back to NTC at some point after the 2017 school was over, and reprogrammed with encryption keys, and with encryption on full-time; it's usually programmed to be user selectable.  From what I understand, when the new Motorola APX radios start shipping from NTC to the wings, they will come with encryption keys loaded as well, but IIRC, will be selectable.

NESA radios had keys already in that year, we turned them on when we issued them out, but yeah the constant-on was a new thing that was done after NESA I guess.
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Brad Lee
Maj, CAP
Assistant Director of Communications
SCWG
K4RMN
Slim
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 574

« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2018, 02:02:14 AM »

The cache of UHF radios that NESA uses was sent back to NTC at some point after the 2017 school was over, and reprogrammed with encryption keys, and with encryption on full-time; it's usually programmed to be user selectable.  From what I understand, when the new Motorola APX radios start shipping from NTC to the wings, they will come with encryption keys loaded as well, but IIRC, will be selectable.

NESA radios had keys already in that year, we turned them on when we issued them out, but yeah the constant-on was a new thing that was done after NESA I guess.
Could be, I was just regurgitating what the NESA guys told our LG when he picked them up, mostly because they couldn't give us as many as they usually do (think it was right around 40, and we were shy a few).  If there was another way to turn it off, I didn't find it, and rotating the concentric switch under the channel selector knob didn't do it.   
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Slim
Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,101

« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2018, 09:50:54 PM »

Well, my "problem" is solved via an issued GTL kit - A mortgage payment, mobile, and a bunch of ISRs.  YAY SAR!

I have to see if my Traverse has the same issue as my Sport Track with the windows
(metallic particles in the glass for the tint blocked through-the-glass antennas).

It's funny - I still consider these the "new" radios, even though these went into service over 11 years ago.
(New vs. my beloved VX-150 that the MP replaced 10 years ago when I was issued my first one).

Also humorous - these cycled around and came from the same unit I commanded 10+ years ago.
I have them on inventory records going back to 2009.

Why do I have inventory records from 2009?    :o
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Slim
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 574

« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2018, 03:46:40 AM »

I have to see if my Traverse has the same issue as my Sport Track with the windows
(metallic particles in the glass for the tint blocked through-the-glass antennas).

I used mag mounts for years, until Ford introduced the "Tin truck" in 2015.  My solution was a 1/4 wave antenna, with an NMO mount on an L bracket.  Backed out one of the screws on the upper stop/bed light (over the white bed light, I use a tonneau cover and the box has built in LED lighting) and put it through the bracket.  Worked just fine on my 2015, and the 2017 that replaced it.


Quote
Why do I have inventory records from 2009?    :o

Packrat.   >:D
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Slim
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