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AstroTAC 9600

This forum is for discussions regarding System Infrastructure and Related Equipment. This includes but is not limited to repeaters, base stations, consoles, voters, Voice over IP, system design and implementation, and other related topics.

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motorola_otaku
Posts: 1833
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:03 am
What radios do you own?: 2 turntables and a microphone

AstroTAC 9600

Postby motorola_otaku » Thu May 04, 2017 3:05 pm

I am now the proud owner of an AstroTAC 9600 comparator. Silly me, I had no idea there were different flavors of the AstroTAC.

I'm getting conflicting information on whether or not the 9600 is capable of conventional operation. I see that it programs with CSS and communicates via the rear Ethernet port so I'm guessing it runs an EPIC IV/V control card. So my questions are:

-Can it or can it not function as a conventional comparator?
-If not, can it be downgraded to an AstroTAC 3000 with a control card swap? I have EPIC 1/II control cards and spare codeplug/firmware SIMMs aplenty.

TIA
When exposed to Rapid Fire Growth or Thermal Emergency, two things are lost:
1. Ability to use fine motor skills
2. Presence of mind

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MotoFAN
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Re: AstroTAC 9600

Postby MotoFAN » Tue May 09, 2017 1:18 am

Looks like Quantar so old that most sysops are gone. I remember a lot of very professional discussions here about Quantar era stuff, but now it's not easy to get any good info. So sad.
I am biggest fan of XTS2500 and ASTRO Digital Saber.

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d119
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Re: AstroTAC 9600

Postby d119 » Tue May 09, 2017 8:08 am

As I recall these do NOT do analog. If they are ethernet based, it is unlikely they operate conventional. No idea on swapping out cards.

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motorola_otaku
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Re: AstroTAC 9600

Postby motorola_otaku » Mon May 15, 2017 7:38 am

After rooting around on MOL I found a sufficiently old version of CSS that would talk to the box (7.4, version R012.00.010). It will only run in WinXP, and only on a 32-bit platform.

The Hardware Configuration screen only has options for the comparator name and battery type. Under the Site tab you have options for Simulcast, Simulcast with RX-Only Sites, and Single TX/RX Voting. The third option only allows you to set up a single active port.

Given that there are no apparent options to change the hardware/system type as there would be in Quantar RSS I'm inclined to agree that the ATAC 9600 firmware package only supports Astro25 simulcast trunking. So my next question for the Quantar/AstroTAC hardware gurus is: can ATAC 3000 firmware run on an EPIC IV controller, or do I need something older... and if so, is the controller ATAC-specific?
When exposed to Rapid Fire Growth or Thermal Emergency, two things are lost:
1. Ability to use fine motor skills
2. Presence of mind

wa6ylb
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Re: AstroTAC 9600

Postby wa6ylb » Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:53 pm

OK - Here is the skinny. The AstroTac9600 can be converted to an AstroTac3000, to do conventional analog*, mixed mode or just digital if you do a couple of things.

1. Add the 4 wire analog interface cables - the cable with one end orange and the other end white - this interfaces 4 wire audio to the
wireline card(s). This is the same wireline interface cable you see on the back of Quantars. If your going to do conventional P25 only, you
won't need this interface cable to the wireline board.
2. Change the firmware out on the SCM card, for AstroTac3000 firmware. While the SCM firmware is for trunking P25 in an ATAC9600, the
AstroTac3000 firmware will cause the card to come up as a ATAC3000. The 9600 SCM card does have an ethernet cable connector on the back of
the card - just ignore it. When the SCM card fires up with the Atac3K code, it will send new firmware to the wireline boards. You will
see the wireline cards blink back and forth indicating the firmware in these cards is being updated. You will need an AstroTac3K code plug to
initially load into the SCM once the software has been changed.
The firmware simm on an AstroTac3000 / ATAC9600 is a double sided simm, with twice the amount of memory vs a Quantar / AstroTac receiver.
However, the SCM code in the simm doesn't even use all of the memory on the front side of the simm, so the back side can remain blank ($FF).
3. Check the SCM card ID code - I don't recall if this "really" needed to be changed or not - the newer SCM cards have a 16 pin white block, that has
punched out ID holes. This allows the program to "read" this 4 bit port, to tell the software what kind of card is running. I have changed this
on SCM cards before, to allow the card to become a different "SCM" card. I can look this code up, and or go look at the one I have to see if I
modified it or not.

I did receive an AstroTac9600 in the mail a couple of years ago. I added the orange cables, changed the firmware, and its been playing with 9 receivers to this date in ham radio service. BTW, the AstroTac3000 uses the came radio configuration software as a Quantar.

BTW, 8 wire Quantar wireline cards can be made to work in an ATAC3K, if three chip resistors are changed, and the firmware is changed on the 8 wire card. I have a couple of them running on my Atac3K now.

* Analog voting still requires the V.24 connection from AstroTac receivers and or Quantar base station. Its not like a digitac with audio only voting.

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motorola_otaku
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Re: AstroTAC 9600

Postby motorola_otaku » Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:24 pm

Thanks for the info! This confirms a lot of what I already suspected.

I did end up finding AstroTAC 3000 firmware on the 'bay here, but after plugging it into the EPIC IV SCM the station would still not boot. Based on what you've told me I probably have a bad Flash SIMM... the RX Active light comes on green, Link Fail comes on red, the Fail light rapidly flashes, and the station won't communicate via RS232. :( If it means anything the firmware version on the SIMM is OC_R03.12.00.

Of course I discovered all this AFTER desoldering the 68040 processor from the EPIC IV board, plugging it into a spare EPIC II SCM I had, and changing the jumper settings at S701 you mentioned only to have it behave exactly how the EPIC IV SCM did (which also has the same jumper settings at S701 as a CLN7361 board.) I did find your post on the S701 jumper settings here which was very helpful... thanks!
When exposed to Rapid Fire Growth or Thermal Emergency, two things are lost:
1. Ability to use fine motor skills
2. Presence of mind

wa6ylb
Posts: 164
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:33 pm

Re: AstroTAC 9600

Postby wa6ylb » Thu Jun 15, 2017 3:41 pm

I am running R03.19.01 in my ATAC3K now. It was R03.18.06 for a long time. Send me a PM.


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