Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

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AL7OC
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Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by AL7OC »

I've looked at some older threads, and still am wondering if there is any problem getting Mother M to update ROS/DSP/EMC firmware on second-hand XTS3000 and XTS5000 radios?

I have consulted the local M dealer, and haven't gotten a straight answer yet. They don't know if they can sell me the updates and install them because these are "high tier" radios. Questions about whether they have the equipment to do it... I got a number to call of another M "uber-rep" with a "253" area code. He told me that he'd look into it, but never called back.

It appears that some other members have purchased the firmware updates and gotten them done at the depot. Can this still be done, and who arranges this? Can I buy the updates with my MOL account and send the radios in? Any dealers out there who can perform the service, or is this strictly a depot item? Hate to send my stuff to Juarez if I can get it done locally.

Thanks for any advice. Hoping that they will update radios for other than original owners.

As a side note, the reason that I like dealing with Thales Communications is that if you own one of their radios, even second hand, and register with them as a customer, you can download the latest firmware updates from their secure customer site and install them with your regular programming cable. No buttons, smart RIBs, or "Mother-May-I notes" reqired. Ditto for charger firmware. I wish that you could do the same with Motorola! The more that I deal with Thales, the more I like their service model. They are very customer responsive and pleasant to deal with.

-Pierre
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by desperado »

OK, a bit on Motorola sales structure. Shops have different service levels with Motorola and can only sell and service product lines within their partnership level with Motorola.
ONLY a Motorola dealer can sell Motorola radios and products.
Not all MSS'es are created equal. A shop that is a small mom and pop outfit but is an MSS can sell tier one radios. Basically the Mag One's and the Commercial Series portable and mobile subscribers.
This would include the Radius line, the CP line and the CM line. Mag One's are at this level too.

The second tier allows sales and service of the Commercial Series as well as the Professional Series radios. The CDM mobiles and the NT portables.

Tier 3 is the Premier Partners, they sell everything from the Mag One's to the APX high tier subscribers. They are also at a level to do support and service of all types of trunking systems, console systems and the other big boy toys. There are specific requirements that have to do with training of the tech's, yearly sales numbers and a whole host of other things.


All that being said. the tier thing is why your local MSS can't update your radio. They simply aren't provided with the abilities from Motorola to have the software and hardware to do it.
Now, there are a couple other things that need to be taken into account.
First is where did your radio come from. GSA radios, that is federal government models, although the same as a high tier unit sold my a Premier MSS, are handled through a totally different sales group.
Some say it's all done at Motorola, some say there is a fourth tier. At that level it's speculation. But back to your radio. They keep good records of who got what when it comes to high tier equipment. they know who got it, what flash code it shipped with, what upgrades have been done and when. GSA radios are NEVER suppose to never hit the public domain. We know that's not always the case however. There was even a case of someone getting a type 1 encrypted radio at one point. The government basically ask for it back, and the buyer complied after learning that even having that radio was a federal offense. I am not saying that you have a radio that has this stuff in it. If you did, the feds would have came and seen you by now. But if you got radio that was sold on a GSA contract, yuo are out of luck. They may not demand it back, and probably will not, but there is NO support for it at all through the factory channels.

If it's an 800 radio, it may get run through the update process during rebanding, if it's a valid subscriber on a system. If it's your unit bought from a hamfest or what have you, chances are that you have what you have and that's it.
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AL7OC
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by AL7OC »

Thanks for the explanations. That may be why there is problem, but you'd think that the dealer would know what they could and couldn't do.

One of the XTS-3000s came via the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They have a prison work program where they take in all sorts of gov't surplus electronics, sort them by type, and then sell them off through outside surplus houses. No T1 encryption modules, fortunately! I ran the serial number on MOL, and there was no record of who owned it. The warranty ended in 1999.I called the MOL number, and they said that it was too old to find warranty registration. Go figure. It may have been used off-shore as the frequencies didn't jive with FCC or NTIA allocations. Mint condition, though.

Thanks again!

Pierre
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by escomm »

Desperado is not exactly correct with the who's and how's

First, all that is needed to actually perform refreshes (and flash upgrades for that matter) is the appropriate cable and software. SmartRIB is needed as well for the Astro line but not Astro25. These items are all in the catalog and easily orderable, just damned expensive, as we all know. $500 for the SRIB, ~$230 for the jedi service cable, ~$240 for the xts USB cable.

Also needed is the flashkey. Any dealer can theoretically get the actual upgrades through the Above Price Book (APB) process. It requires submitting documentation to Motorola on the customer, and they will review to see if the customer is serviced by a direct rep, an MR or etc. If not serviced by the above, Motorola will generally approve the request... so long as the customer is in the dealer's territory. Outside territory is more difficult but it can be done, takes more time for the decision to be made.

The same also holds true for new hardware. A radius dealer can theoretically sell an XTS5000 so long as the process is followed and approvals are given.

Where the radio came from is irrelevant and in submitting hundreds of these requests nobody has asked where the radio came from. Only who the end user is.

Many dealers are either unfamiliar with or can't be bothered by the APB process. Given the hassle I can understand why. I see it as a way of providing a higher level of service to my customers. I don't mind the extra work. Other dealers may not see it that way.
AL7OC
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by AL7OC »

Thanks for all of the info. It seems pretty silly to have to go through so much hassle for a software refresh! I suspect that the high end Astro and Astro 25 stuff here is serviced by the state radio shop, or DoD shops. That may be why the dealer isn't familiar with the process. The equipment was purchased under GSA pricing, and maybe the dealer got bypassed on that too.

Pierre
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by mr.syntrx »

A couple of Australian statewide systems have recently dumped a massive number of UHF XTS3000s on the second hand market, and lot of these radios have found their way to the States. This might explain the weird frequencies; these systems are in the low end of the UHF band, from about 404MHz to around 418MHz.

If you get a compliance label on the back that looks like this, it's an Australian radio. Note the ACMA (FCC equivalent) "C-tick" followed by Motorola's supplier code (the N44), and no FCC ID. Exactly the same inside as a US radio though. Same guts, same firmware.

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If the Motorola text is blacked out with permanent marker like in this example, the radio originally saw service at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Another tell is the housing. On the left is a housing from a normal production radio, on the right is an Olympic radio. Note the bigger font for the XTS 3000 text on the Olympic radio, and the missing ASTRO logo on the bottom:

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The story behind this is that Samsung were the "communications sponsor" for the 2000 Olympics. As such, all the Sydney Olympic Radio Network (SORN) XTS3000s got Samsung stickers placed over the top of the Motorola decals on the front, and the Motorola logos on the back got blacked out. After the Olympics, the SORN radios ended up on the New South Wales statewide SmartZone OmniLink system, and recently got retired en masse when that system went full P25 with 9600bps control channel. A lot of those radios got very little use after the Olympics; many of them went into volunteer emergency services and spent the rest of their days cooking batteries in the gang charger.
AL7OC
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by AL7OC »

Cool beans. My 3000s are all high band. Outside of Anchorage, most systems in Alaska are on high-band, included the ALMR tstate-wide P25 trunked system which is shared by DoD, federal, state, and local public safety entities.

That's why I was puzzled at first as to why the local Motorola dealer had a difficult time figuring out how to get my radios "refreshed" to the latest firmware revs. It might be that the government radio shops are doing their own work, and the dealer seldom touches these items. I've seen Astro 25 portables in their shop, but I don't think that they do much with them, except for programming, and they most likely don't touch the ALMR radios. The codeplugs in them are pretty well locked down. Our state issued SAR radios are XTL-5000s and XTL-1500 portables for the trunked system, and 1250s for everyday tactical use.

Pierre
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by N4KVE »

mr.syntrx wrote:A couple of Australian statewide systems have recently dumped a massive number of UHF XTS3000s on the second hand market, and lot of these radios have found their way to the States. Note the bigger font for the XTS 3000 text on the Olympic radio,
I have a few of the "larger XTS3000 font" radios, & they were made right here in Plantation. The larger "XTS 3000 font" decals came on older radios. 326AZU. My newer radios, 326ACU have the smaller font. GARY N4KVE
cbus
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by cbus »

mr.syntrx wrote:If you get a compliance label on the back that looks like this, it's an Australian radio. Note the ACMA (FCC equivalent) "C-tick" followed by Motorola's supplier code (the N44), and no FCC ID. Exactly the same inside as a US radio though. Same guts, same firmware.

If the Motorola text is blacked out with permanent marker like in this example, the radio originally saw service at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Another tell is the housing. On the left is a housing from a normal production radio, on the right is an Olympic radio. Note the bigger font for the XTS 3000 text on the Olympic radio, and the missing ASTRO logo on the bottom:

The story behind this is that Samsung were the "communications sponsor" for the 2000 Olympics. As such, all the Sydney Olympic Radio Network (SORN) XTS3000s got Samsung stickers placed over the top of the Motorola decals on the front, and the Motorola logos on the back got blacked out. After the Olympics, the SORN radios ended up on the New South Wales statewide SmartZone OmniLink system, and recently got retired en masse when that system went full P25 with 9600bps control channel. A lot of those radios got very little use after the Olympics; many of them went into volunteer emergency services and spent the rest of their days cooking batteries in the gang charger.
Your incorrect on the SORN XTS3000 part. The bigger font does not identify a ex SORN radio, plenty of other radios had this along with the missing astro decal on the bottom.

The SORN radios did not have a samsung sticker "placed over the top of the Motorola decals". The entire decal was/is Samsung, same goes on the rear of the radio, Samsung is also on the decal on the top rear of the radio. I took a couple pics below. N44 will be on the rear sticker and most SORN radios had the Motorola logo blacked out with texta. If you want better pics, i can upload in a few days. images are from my phone.

Not many radios are out there like this though, when Moto Australia "sold" them to the volunteer group that you are talking about the decals were swapped over to Motorola. (inc a PILE went into private hands for very cheap)

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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by mr.syntrx »

No, the bigger font didnt exclusively but it's been a pretty good tell on the .au used market; most of the other XTS3000s around are later examples with the small font.

I wonder what the story with blank ASTRO labels is though. My assumption was that it was a SORN thing based on the fact that the only radios I had come across with the blank labels were ex SORN.

Some did indeed have Samsung stickers over the Motorola stickers, I peeled up the edge of two and found Motorola stickers underneath, but I've only had that sort of close contact with a couple of Samsung labelled radios. Might've been radios supplied after the initial Samsung SP order that had to be done in the field? Could even have been in the minority too.
cbus
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Re: Flash Updates for Astro, Astro 25 Portables

Post by cbus »

mr.syntrx wrote:No, the bigger font didnt exclusively but it's been a pretty good tell on the .au used market; most of the other XTS3000s around are later examples with the small font.
Any replaced housings came back with this from moto australia within the warranty period back years ago plus when they removed the samsung tag and replaced with the moto one.
mr.syntrx wrote:I wonder what the story with blank ASTRO labels is though. My assumption was that it was a SORN thing based on the fact that the only radios I had come across with the blank labels were ex SORN.
I have a couple of blank ones ex SAPOL.
mr.syntrx wrote:Some did indeed have Samsung stickers over the Motorola stickers, I peeled up the edge of two and found Motorola stickers underneath, but I've only had that sort of close contact with a couple of Samsung labelled radios. Might've been radios supplied after the initial Samsung SP order that had to be done in the field? Could even have been in the minority too.
Have not seen one like this both in use back during the olympics and after, must have been done in the field or after the initial order as they all left the warehouse with Samsung decals. not common to find one like that.
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