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Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

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Jim202
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Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:56 am

Have a number of VHF Syntor X9000 mobiles that are range 2. The problem is the VCO won't lock on the 2 meter band. I found only 2 postings on the Internet that had any clue as to what to do. Both indicated that the jumpers on the range 2 VCO board need to be changed. But so far no one has come out and stated just exactly which pads need to be jumped and which ones need to be open.

I know someone has gone down this road before and hope they will come forward with some help here.

So far I have managed to get the RX VCO to work. Haven't done any extensive testing to see over what frequency range it will cover yet.

No luck so far in getting the TX to function below the 150 MHz. area.

Any feedback would be very welcome. These are a great radio. It's just to the point they are a wide band radio and no longer can be used on the Public safety or Commercial frequencies. So the Ham frequencies are a great place to use these radios. Yes they are big and heavy. Control cables are kind of getting hard to find. You can use just about any of the Spectra control heads on these radios.

Jim


Jim202
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:46 pm

Astro Spectra wrote:http://www.repeater-builder.com/motorola/syntor/syntor-vco.html

http://www.onfreq.com/syntorx/syntorx/e ... l#top_extn


Those are the 2 web sites that I have been to. In trying to understand what both have said, I have dug into them. But there is no specific details other than what the current jumpers are for a type 2 VCO board. That is the wrong frequency range. Like both documents have mentioned, it is hard to solder to the substrate pad connections. I would rather have what needs to be done than trying it blindly and then find out what you did, did not work.

Been there and have done that with the UHF Spectra VCO changes. Those require some skill and effort. It is easy on the VHF range, but so far I have never managed to be able to take VCO on the low UHF split and make it work on the UHF ham band range. I have had good success using a high UHF spit and modifying it to work on the UHF ham region.

Jim

George
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby George » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:30 am

Here's what you do. And I would know because I have been with X9000 since 1988.

First, look at the little red LED on the RF board. That is the indicator when the VCO is unlocked.
If it's not lit, that is good. if it is solid lit, that's unlocked and that's bad.
If it's low level lit, that means the radio is scanning.

Okay, knowing that, what you need to do is add capacitance to the strips to pull the VCO down.

What you do is solder a piece of wire across where the jumpers have been cut.

You have two strips in the VCO housing. One is for receive and the other for transmit.

Add cap pads to both. Depending upon your needs, if you are doing 2M only, then add in all of the cap pads.

Just solder in the jumper to make one continuous strap from end to end and you should be fine.

Then you need to touch up the front end alignment. If you have a service monitor just pick your lowest channel and turn the screws in for max sensitivity. On 145.11 you should see .25 with a preamp front end. If you don't have a preamp, it will not be quite that good.

That's it.

WB6NVH
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby WB6NVH » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:58 pm

You might check back and let us know how adding tabs back to the VCO substrate strips worked as far as lock. I think I added them all back in and still couldn't get a lock. It needed more capacity than that, which then required an added chip cap at the VCO circuit end. As in your case, my receiver VCO worked fine but it was the TX that would unlock. If you detest soldering due to the difficulty of getting it to flow with the ceramic base draining all the heat away, you might try that copper paint they sell to fix car window defroster wires. Or the silver stuff they sell to fix PC boards.

Regarding the receiver helical resonator assembly, I think I found that only one resonator was in need of retuning to get great sensitivity down to 144. It was one close to the mixer end rather than the antenna end. As I recall, the network analyzer said this was making kind of a hole up above 150 but I only wanted the ham band anyway. If you look at the explanations on some of the Syntor X pages on the web, the resonators each cover a chunk of the design spectrum. You can move the one whose chunk is closest to 2 Meters, into 2 Meters, and stop with that. I had no issues with any commercial channels either as none were affected by the change I made, and you don't need a spectrum or network analyzer.

com501
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby com501 » Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:37 pm

The schematic has cap changes for the Range 1 VCOs, might be easier to find and replace those caps. If you can't get low enough, that usually works.

George
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What radios do you own?: X9000, HT1550XLS, MTS2000, etc

Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby George » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:04 am

Get a meter on the steering line and report the voltage as you move down in frequency.

Mike B
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Mike B » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:17 pm

Some things to understand about the SyntorX/X9K VCO are:

The VHF VCO generates the Tx frequency directly. There are no VHF Tx multipliers or mixers. The IF frequency is 53.9 MHz. So the receive VHF VCO frequency is 53.9 MHz higher than the exact same simplex transmit VCO frequency.

http://www.onfreq.com/syntorx/syntorx9k ... tml#x9kefm
http://www.onfreq.com/syntorx/syntorx/e ... l#top_extn

See this page; Byte B section. This shows how the V0 and V1 digital VFO steering lines inside the VFO hardware creates 4 distinct frequency ranges:

http://www.onfreq.com/syntorx/syntorx/S ... _Plug.html

These VHF 4 ranges are paired into 2 ranges close in frequency. One pair for receive and the other pair for transmit. The physical VCO actually has some overlap capability where the pair of frequencies meet. This scheme was needed get full VCO coverage. You can see one single VCO range alone will not cover 150 to 174 MHz like the radio actually does.

A really important thing to realize is the radio hardware knows if the VCO locks on the RSS programmed frequency, but the RSS has absolutely no way to tell if the physical VCO is locked or unlocked! If the physical VCO tuning is wrong for the RSS, the RSS has no idea what is happening. The only way for the operator to tell is the red unlock LED (you have to open the radio drawer lid) and maybe notice the radio is not working correctly on that frequency.

So, the RSS simply assumes the radio will lock on any programmed frequency and BLINDLY selects the V0 and V1 hardware steering line ranges. This is why the factory aligns the VCO tuning strips too match what the RSS blindly assumes to be true. If the physical VCO is not capable of matching the RSS blind assumptions then there is no VCO lock. The radio hardware is aware when the VCO is not locked and prevents any Tx activity, but it doesn't tell the operator unless you open the radio drawer top lid and look for the unlock LED.

Be aware the unlock LED will blink on frequency changes. When the radio Rx is scanning it can create the illusion the unlock LED is solidly, but dimly lit.

This all means any physical VCO frequency that does not match the RSS blind coverage assumption will create unlock gaps in the frequency coverage. When needed for a Syntor X/X9K (150-174 MHz) high range HAM conversion, simply bridging the cut on both VCO tuning pad gaps "usually" works. The "usually" is from experience and not guaranteed to work. This may or may not create other coverage unlock gaps above or below the HAM band. If needed you can also try changing other VCO tuning components (usually not needed).

http://www.onfreq.com/syntorx/syntorx9k ... k.html#vco

The matching variable in the equation is the RSS and it really matters. There is the factory stock RSS, some hacked RSS that simply expands the frequency input numbers without changing the RSS blind frequency ranges, some unknown effects hacked RSS and a legendary HAM RSS that supposedly changes the RSS blind frequency ranges. Please read the Batboard RSS rules before making the mistake of possibly asking for copies of RSS.

Fortunately the Syntor X/X9K hardware and firmware is not aware enough to reject RSS that is NOT for its factory frequency range. You can create code plugs from scratch or put a 136-154.4 MHz code plug into a 150-174 MHz drawer that has been modified. In the real world you can play around with different RSS settings to try and get a working match. The radio will simply not work when/where things don't match up. As you try different RSS and tuning pad modifications, measuring the VCO steering line voltages will help give you some clues about what is happening, only if the simple bridge the tuning pad gaps fix doesn't work. It may be helpful to measure an unmodified radio to get experience with the normal VCO steering line voltages. Also measuring the V0 and V1 digital control voltage values may be of interest.

One interesting thing is the low band Syntor X/X9K uses a Tx mixer to move the Tx VCO frequencies closer to the Rx VCO frequencies. So, all 4 V0 and V1 settings are all connected for continuous coverage in both the receive and transmit frequencies. This is why the low band radios cover such a huge frequency range. Typically 29-54 MHz. The IF was moved to 75.7 MHz.

Jim202
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:37 pm

Thank you Mike for the information.

There is a bunch of information to digest and understand. It will take some time to read through and highlight the sections that pertain to my specific issue.

I think it all boils down to just which pads on the VCO substrate to add back in to get the VHF radio to work on the 2 meter ham frequencies. If any tuning on the receiver is required, I can handle that using my service monitor and the information supplied.

Again, thanks for the efforts you have put into your web site. I have used it many times over the years playing with these radios and the Spectra family.

Jim

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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby syntor9k » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:07 pm

I too find this interesting and thanks everyone. Food for thought about my X9k on LB, that wont lock below 33 MHz or whatever it was...

George
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What radios do you own?: X9000, HT1550XLS, MTS2000, etc

Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby George » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:54 am

I have never been successful with putting a newly minted code plug for 136-150 into a drawer with a range 2 VCO.
I have pulled range 2 drawers down into range 1, but this was done only with using RSS 5.02 or one of the 4.X versions that had the range 2 ranges specifically expanded downward. That worked as intended.

I forgot to ask Jim that specific question. Is he using a codeplug built as range 1 in a range 2 VCO?

Range 2 will allow frequencies down to 145.0. I'll bet if he loads a codeplug built as range 2 with 145.0 in it, the radio will work and transmit on 145.0 with almost full power out. It will make 100 watts but not be as efficient as the true range 1 100 watt models.

Jim202
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:52 am

Just an update to those that may be following this thread on the VHF Syntor X9000. Thanks to a number of people pointing me in the right direction, the VCO lock problem has been resolved. I was trying to put lower 2 meter frequencies, 144 to 146 MHz. into the radio.

Basically it was a programming issue. When I say programming issue, it had to do with which version of the software I was using. I have 3 versions of the software for the Syntor X9000 radio. On low band it doesn't seem to be an issue. But on the VHF band, it did make a big difference.

I originally was trying to use the 5.02.00 ham modified version. This version was not allowing the steering lines to control the VCO correctly.

Next I tried to use the R8.01.00 version. I didn't expect this one to work as I knew it would not allow any out of band frequencies to be entered.

So on my last attempt, I used version 6.00.00SP to program the VHF radio. Other than putting up a message that the frequencies I was entering were out of band, it worked great. Only comment I have is you will have to tune the front end and filter coils to bring up the receiver sensitivity up to where it should be.

The lowest TX frequency I used was 144.530 MHz. The lowest RX frequency I used was 145.130 MHz. This is not where the radio stopped working, but just what I was looking to use. RX sensitivity is around 0.15 to crack the squelch open with a setting of 2. TX power out was where I had set it at 95 watts on the high end of 2 meters down at the 144.530 MHz. frequency.

Hope this information can help others from getting frustrated like I started to become. The Syntor X9000 is a fine radio, even though you can get a hernia trying to lift it. Motorola did a fine job developing these radios. I have a number of them I use on both 10 and 6 meter repeater frequencies. The problem I have with the low band radios is I need to switch antennas depending on what band I want to talk on.

Jim

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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby WB6NVH » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:03 am

Jim, is that an SP version of R6.00.00? If so, do you know what the SP mod was? I have the non-SP version of 6.00.00 and will have to try it. At least it doesn't say -SP that I can see. Previous attempts were using the ham modified version, R5.02.00 and that may have been the issue (works fine on 10 and 6 Meters as mentioned above.) I do recall that I programmed several 150-174 Range Syntor X's using the DOS software I purchased that was written by a ham, where you need an eeprom burner, and those VCO's locked just fine all the way to 144.5 and all that was needed was to touch up the front end on the receiver to move the appropriate segment down to 2 Meters. Never touched the VCO's at all.

Beginning to appear that the software is more of an issue than the strip segments in the VCO for a 2 Meter conversion. I wonder what people have found re: moving the UHF 450-470 MHz X9000 to the ham bands...

Jim202
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:32 am

WB6NVH wrote:Jim, is that an SP version of R6.00.00? If so, do you know what the SP mod was? I have the non-SP version of 6.00.00 and will have to try it. At least it doesn't say -SP that I can see. Previous attempts were using the ham modified version, R5.02.00 and that may have been the issue (works fine on 10 and 6 Meters as mentioned above.) I do recall that I programmed several 150-174 Range Syntor X's using the DOS software I purchased that was written by a ham, where you need an eeprom burner, and those VCO's locked just fine all the way to 144.5 and all that was needed was to touch up the front end on the receiver to move the appropriate segment down to 2 Meters. Never touched the VCO's at all.

Beginning to appear that the software is more of an issue than the strip segments in the VCO for a 2 Meter conversion. I wonder what people have found re: moving the UHF 450-470 MHz X9000 to the ham bands...



Have no idea what the SP is. Just know that it works. The low band Syntor X9000 radios are not that fussy. But it's a pain trying to set up the scan on the L.B. radio. You can't set the fixed scan in the radio with the ham version. So I have always used the R08 version I have. Put in dummy frequencies for all the channels (modes) that I plan to use. Set the scan up on the per channel basis. Then I have to load one of the ham version software programs and now go in to set all the frequency information I need.

Forgot to mention that there was no playing with the jumper pads on the VCO board. Just program and go. But the pads had 2 cut loose on the right for the TX portion. The TX is the lower of the two jumper runs on the board or as some would say towards the center of the board. Never played with the RX jumpers either.

I use fixed scan lists with the priority channel set to the channel (mode )I have selected. If your hung up on user selected scan lists, just remember they go away when the radio gets turned off. So you would have to create them each time you powered the radio on.

BUT and it is a BIG BUT, you need to keep track of what frequency is going to go into what position (mode) in the radio. The only real way to do this is with an Excel spread sheet with all the frequencies, tone squelch and such. With the R08 and the 6.00 versions, you only get 16 multi PL tones in the radio. With the 5.01 or what ever it is, you can get all 32 PL positions programmed. But that version won't allow the VCO steering to be correct on VHF. Can't remember if the same issue is on the UHF radio. I haven't played with that one in a number of years. It's next on my bucket list of things to do.

Currently playing with a Vertex FT-1011H on the bench. But that is outside the scope of this conversation thread.

Jim

Jim202
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:14 pm

Another comment I forgot to mention is the selection of the scan. It get confusing, but you need to set the selection to operator scan. If you don't the button on the control head you made a scan button will not turn off the scan. The scan red LED will stay on and you won't be able to shut off the scan no matter how many times or how hard you press the scan button.. I will have to go back and look at where you set this.

The details get fuzzy as you age. The wife keeps saying I can't remember much these days. She jokes that I can find my way home when I go out to town in my truck. We have been married something like 43 years. So guess I can remember a few things.

Jim

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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby WB6NVH » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:07 pm

I will see what happens on my small fleet and report back.

I have always used the user-selected scan lists and at least on the low band radios, they are not lost when the radio is turned off so long as the radio remains connected to battery power at all times. I don't see why the VHF would be any different on that score but I will investigate.

At some point when everything is sorted I will put a 2 Meter conversion tutorial on my web page as I have already done with the 900 MHz conversion of the LTS2000 / LCS2000 HT's.

2 Meters is largely a wasteland in central California these days, hence a lack of motivation to finish the X9000 conversions.

Jim202
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Re: Syntor X9000 VHF conversion to 2 meters

Postby Jim202 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:22 pm

WB6NVH wrote:I will see what happens on my small fleet and report back.

2 Meters is largely a wasteland in central California these days, hence a lack of motivation to finish the X9000 conversions.


I thought that CA. was the reason that we went from 30 KHz. channels to 15 KHz. channels around the country. Last I heard there was a waiting list for repeater pairs there.

What changed for 2 meters to become non used? Find that hard to believe.

Around here in the New Orleans area, not every repeater pair is used, but most of them are taken up. That doesn't mean that some are off the air. With the hurricanes coming through over the last 5 years or so, a number of the repeaters in the area have taken hits. The owners or clubs are hard pressed to pay for tower work to repair antenna and coax cable damage. So we sort of understand why some of the local 2 meter repeaters are off the air.

Now if your talking about 6 meter repeaters, that is a whole different world. About 12 years ago or so, the proliferation of new computers, new Ethernet networks and routers, they tore up many of the tower sites where the 6 meter activity was located at. Even the local cable leakage was adding to the problem.

Solving the cable company leakage is manageable. Calls to the company generally can get the leak resolved. If they want to be a pain and not fix the leakage, then a call to the FCC causes remarkable fast repairs.

I enjoy both 6 meter FM and 2 meter FM activity. To each their own in what type of activity you enjoy. I do spend most of my time listening to the activity and many of the conversations going on. My shack has a number of radios listening to the 2 meter local repeaters. Have one of my low band Syntor X9000 listening to some of the 6 meter frequencies and all the 10 meter FM channels. There is activity on 10 meter FM showing up frequently. As the days get cooler, the skip seems to be getting more active and I hear more 10 meter repeaters coming in.

I do have several HF radios I fire up, but I don't care for all the nets that take up a number of frequencies all the time and don't seem to provide much of anything except for just a roll call and rambling nonsense. Now and then I do hear some technical conversation and find those very interesting.

Jim


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