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Are these good radios for HAM use/RSS versions?

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:18 am
by n3sir
Hi All,

I'm getting back into radio after a hiatus of a few years and just recently discovered that folks are using LMR stuff for ham use. I know Motorola is the way to go as I did do a short stint in 2-way service in a former life and was always impressed with big M's radios. I'm looking for HT's and Mobiles eventually but would like to not spend a fortune and would like to keep some consistence to avoid have to buy a bunch of different RSS's. I'm looking for 2m/NOAA/MURS and 70cm capability. I've done some reading here and at other sites and here's what I've come up with:

HT: GP300

Mobiles: GM300 or Maxtrac

These seem to be readily availble and fairly inexpensive as are the accessories. From what I've read as well they use cheaper RSS.

So here are my questions:

-Am I on a good track here?

-Can anyone ballpark the cost of the RSS for these radios?

-Do the GM300 and Maxtrac use the same RSS? If not is there any advantage to one over the other?

-Any pitfalls I should watch for with my plan?

-Do RSS for these radios all require a 486 machine? (I think so but want to be sure)

Thanks so much for any help or advice, I really appreciate it.


Take care,

Jim

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:52 am
by Max-trac
Maxtrac-GM300 have different RSS
The latest maxtrac RSS ver7.x will run on a pentium.

Re: Are these good radios for HAM use/RSS versions?

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:12 am
by kc7gr
n3sir wrote:Hi All,

<snippety>

I'm looking for 2m/NOAA/MURS and 70cm capability. I've done some reading here and at other sites and here's what I've come up with:

HT: GP300

Mobiles: GM300 or Maxtrac

These seem to be readily availble and fairly inexpensive as are the accessories. From what I've read as well they use cheaper RSS.

So here are my questions:

-Am I on a good track here?

-Can anyone ballpark the cost of the RSS for these radios?

-Do the GM300 and Maxtrac use the same RSS? If not is there any advantage to one over the other?

-Any pitfalls I should watch for with my plan?

-Do RSS for these radios all require a 486 machine? (I think so but want to be sure)

Thanks so much for any help or advice, I really appreciate it.


Take care,

Jim


Nothing at all wrong with the Maxtrac or GP300. The only thing I would suggest, Maxtrac-wise, is try to get one with a 16-pin logic board as they are much more flexible.

Cost-wise: It's not just the RSS. You need to factor in a RIB (about $100 and some soldering, if you go the Sandy Ganz route, possibly less on Greed-bay to find an RLN4008 series) and programming cables (which, granted, you can build yourself).

With that said: Allow about $175 for the Maxtrac RSS, and I have no idea what the GP300 stuff would run. Probably pretty close to the same.

GM300 and Maxtrac will use different RSS. As others have pointed out, the current version of Maxtrac software will run on Pentium systems. HOWEVER -- The stock version does not permit entry of amateur frequencies on the UHF side without doing either the "shift key" trick (doesn't work in all cases) or some hex editing of the .MDF file that comes with the software.

If you don't feel like tackling the programming yourself, drop me a PM and we'll chat.

Happy hunting.

What radios?...

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:41 am
by Tom in D.C.
About the GP300, it's a great radio but it is:

1. Only 16 channels in its fanciest version, and not known for
it's ability to stand up under heavy long-term use.
2. Has no VFO, of course.
3. Has no display, so you have to have either the memory of
an elephant or a sticker stuck to the radio to know what channel
is what.

A better buy, as long as you're willilng to buy the RSS for it, would
be a standard Saber, preferably a Saber 3. You have 120 channels,
alpha display, a huge battery capacity is available, and you can
use the radio as a club, which you won't need to do of course
but it gives you and idea of how the Saber is made. Saber 3s have
come 'way down in price recently but you have to be extremely
careful, even buying one for VHF, of what you're getting. Many of
the sellers are dumb as a box or rocks and won't be able to
tell you the bandsplit (you want the full split that does 136 to 174 mHz) or much else about the unit they're sellilng.

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:27 am
by AEC
As Tom pointed out, the GP300 has no display, and the second thing is that in order to enable scan on it, you lose one memory channel.

But it will do MDC, QC-II and more, and they are able to take far more beatings than your standard hammy radio(unless yours are mil-spec rated).

The Sabers are band split segmented radios and the two splits best suited to hams in both UHF and VHF are:

UHF: 440-470

VHF: 146-162/174(this split allows FULL band usage, from at least 140 to 174 Mhz. (your 'best buy') Plus 6 watts(no reason to program to this level though)
Excellent receiver, rugged as Mt. Everest and makes a good secondary weapon if the need arises.

If limited features/options are no bother, then look into the MT1000 or even the HT600/P200, they come in both UHF and VHF.

But be mindful of the actual band splits of the radios as the VHF models have some real oddballs, but the UHF has theirs as well, but most are in the 438-470 range which is the best.

The HT600/P200 are known as the 'Genesis' series.

The later radios such as the HT1000 and MT/MTS2000 are known as the 'Jedi' series, and also come in UHF and VHF as well as 800/900.

There are newer models out known as the 'Waris' series, but are more costly.

All have their own version of RSS, so you also have to be aware of this when making your decision.

While older model radios do not have the bells and whistles of the newer models, they have not lost their ruggedness or functionality either and are perfectly suitable for amateur use and will hold up to just about anything you can throw at them as well.

The design of the Saber will always be near and dear to me, it was the flagship radio for many years and is STILL the model by which all others are judged, even to this day, so that tells you about how respected the Saber has remained after all these years.

Do the research, study the models, look over the specifications and make your choices based on what you need and want, as well as how and where the radios will be used.

And: Welcome back to radio!

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:00 am
by N4KVE
There is a company in PA selling MTS 2000's on EBAY. These are UHF low split 403-470 mhz. They work perfectly in the UHF ham band. They are top display & 48 freq. They are rugged [ cops use them every day] & work great. I have purchased 3 already & all were great. Paid $51, $65, & a real mint one for $100. They must have got a ton of them because every day they put 2 or 3 for auction. Be careful because the serial tag on sabers don't indicate the band split & you could end up with a useless 403-433 mhz radio. [for your purpose.] I'm not connected with them. Just a heads up for a fellow ham. 73's GARY N4KVE

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:03 am
by MTS2000des
a note about the Maxtrac/GM300 worth mentioning: you should back the power down a bit if you want to use them for "ham" ragchewing. The radios have enough heatsink for the 5/5/90 duty cycle commercial user. Having long QSO's at full rated power will lead to PA failure, and the PA's aren't cheap to replace.

You could always add some other sort of cooling system. If it's any indication of what these radios are really capable of at a high duty cycle, the repeater "versions" are rated at 10 watts out continuous duty.

Just a thought from someone who learned the hard way.

Other than that, the Maxtracs and GM300 are super radios. Not really a fan of the GP300, it's not a bad radio at all, but as others have pointed out, in the same price range today a Saber III analog is a better choice. More channels, much better performance (so long as they're tuned proprerly) and built like a battleship. Accessories and batteries are cheap and plentiful.

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 5:14 am
by n3sir
Thanks for all the great info folks and the welcome back to radio. Interestingly enough the reason I got out of radio was from burnout on it. I did hammy sales and ham/2-way service and by the time I got out of that job I didn't want to have anything to do with it anymore. I'm glad I got over it, I forgot how much fun it can be.

I'll take a gander at the Saber's, I agree that the display would be nice vs, the cheet sheet on the back of the radio with packing tape but we'll see. I'm mostly looking for something that can take a daily knocking about in my backpack and allow to get NOAA and my local Skywan nets. The only turnoff I see for the Sabers is the one's I've seen pics of look pretty large. I did work on a fair number of GP300s so I do remember them being of a nice size. I'll also check out the MTS2000.

As far as the mobiles go, what do you all think of the Spectra's for hammy stuff?

Thanks again and take care,

Jim

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:50 am
by fogster
n3sir wrote:The only turnoff I see for the Sabers is the one's I've seen pics of look pretty large.


I've got several Sabers, and have come to look at other radios as really small, as opposed to the Sabers as really big. ;) But yeah, it is is a bulky little radio. (Nice and thin, though.)

As far as the mobiles go, what do you all think of the Spectra's for hammy stuff?


Never used one personally, but I've never heard of someone not liking them. The Sabers and Spectras went together in a sense. Spectras are still pretty pricey even on eBay, though; I seem to recall people recommending Maratracs or the like instead (which can use a Spectra-like head). Probably best to defer to someone else on this one though. ;)

People mentioned bandsplits on the radios as being somewhat important; I'd like to stress something else about bandsplits--the government had lots and lots of radios that came on the 403-433 MHz bandsplit. They're now all over eBay, and they're utterly useless for US hams. (Or really, everyone in the US except government users...)