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Astro vs. Non-Astro Spectra

This forum is dedicated to discussions pertaining specifically to the Motorola ASTRO line of radios (those that use VSELP/IMBE/AMBE), including using digital modulation, digital programming, FlashPort upgrades, etc. If you have general questions please use the General or Programming forums.

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Astro vs. Non-Astro Spectra

Postby Jimfire » Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:56 pm

Don't laugh. I'm new to this.

Is there a simple explanation of the difference between an Astro Spectra and a regular non-Astro Spectra?

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Postby MattSR » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:01 pm

Yep. One does ASTRO, the other doesn't.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Sorry, couldnt help it :wink:

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Postby jmr061 » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:06 pm

I guess I would have to ask what you mean by the regular non astro spectra?

Astro Spectra - Capable of analog and vselp or imbe. The dsp and flash determines what it has. Yes they make analog only astro spectras. You can't have vselp and imbe. VHF is narrowband compliant with the proper RF board.

Spectra - analog only, no chance of vselp or imbe. Also not narrowband complaint for vhf.

There are other differences as well such as max # of modes and so forth.

We could go on for a while.

What I really like about my astro spectras versus the spectra is being able to have MDC1200 PT ID Decode and Encode. The spectra will not decode.

Let us know if you have other questions.


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Astro vs non

Postby Jimfire » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:31 pm

Well, crud.

I need my radios to be VHF narrowband compliant. I do some contracting work for the government and they mandate narrow band capability. Looks like I better visit Ebay and start looking again.

Is/was the Astro just the newer line of radios with the Spectras or at some point was there a choice between purchasing a plain-jain non astro Spectra and purchasing an Astro Spectra?

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Postby Pj » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:17 pm

Spectra's were the high tier radio introduced around 1988ish.

The Astro Spectra's were introduced around 1994ish which were capable of digital modulation. Eventually the ASTRO Spectra's replaced the Spectra line.

About 3 years ago the ASTRO XTL series started to replace the ASTRO Spectras as the current high tier radio.

Astro Spectra's physically look identical to the Spectra's. The spotting difference is the "ASTRO" name on the control head and on the radio itself will have a different model tag number and will usually say ASTRO on it somewhere and have a "Flashcode" or "MFG" number that looks like xxxxx-xxxxx-x.

The early XTL control heads look the same as the Spectra/Astro Spectra heads but the radio chasis received some "styling". Current XTL heads look like ham radio heads with full LCD displays.

You can tell if an Astro spectra is narrowband complainat by the "2.5k" sticker on the radio. If looking at the used market, you will need to open up the radio and verify the part number on the RF board unless its from a reliable source.
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Postby Jimfire » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:26 pm

So not all Astro's are Narrowband compliant, only some of them.

And none of the non-astro Spectras are narrowband compliant at all?

This is too many-double negatives for me.

I'm starting to see the light.

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Postby Pj » Thu Jul 20, 2006 1:35 am

Yup...all Analog spectra's are not narrowband. Speaking of the 2.5k stuff, came across this tonight...

SRN: 1266
APC: 412
DATE: October 1998
DEADLINE: October 1999 (Informational Only)

Memo To: SRN Mailing List

From: Astro Spectra Product Group

Subject: Astro Spectra Mobile VHF - 2.5kHz Capability

On June 15, 1995 the Federal Communications Commission released document 95-255, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making. The report included a new channelization plan for Private Land Mobile Radio Services operating below 800MHz. This plan authorized new frequencies in the 150 to 174Mhz range which could not be synthesized by the Astro mobile VHF subscriber radio. The purpose of this notice is to announce that all Astro mobile VHF radio models shipped from the factory on or after Sept. 17, 1998 will be hardware ready for operating on new frequencies which are evenly divisible by 2.5kHz. This change has no effect on operating bandwidth, it merely allows setting of channel center frequencies to values previously not allowed. All channel frequencies that were previously available (frequencies divisible by 5.0 or 6.25kHz) will continue to be available.

New radios will be referred to as 2.5kHz capable. Radios shipping within the U.S. will bear a unique marking, 2.5kHz printed on the radio identification label to the right of the FCC ID. Radios shipping outside the U.S. will not have the marking until 12/31/98 but will nevertheless be hardware capable as of 9/17/98. In addition to being hardware capable, radios must be using host firmware version R09.51.00 (This firmware is IMBE vocder type only. VSELP radios cannot be upgraded to support 2.5kHz capability), or later version. To determine the firmware version of a radio, press the HOME button quickly five times soon after turn on. The display will show the word "SERVICE" followed by the host version number.

Programming of new frequencies will require RSS version R06.50.00 or later.

Upgrades: Older Astro Mobile VHF radios may be upgraded to add 2.5kHz capability. All of the following is required:

RF board kit HRN6014C or HRN4009C depending on the radio model (see list below).

One Meg VOCON board (HLN6458D or later)

Radio Host Flash version R09.51.00 (IMBE).

Models requiring HRN6014C: D04JHF9PW4AN








Models requiring HRN4009C: D04KHF9PW4AN


Follow instructions in the Astro Digital Spectra Basic Service Manual 68P81076C20 to replace the RF board.

After replacement, it is necessary to tune the reference oscillator and check transmit deviation balance as described in the Basic Service Manual.

To order board kits contact Motorola Accessories and Aftermarket Division at 1-800-422-4210. For firmware upgrade or update contact your local Motorola sales representative.

Use RSS version R06.50.00 or later to add channels. You will now be able to enter frequencies which are 2.5kHz multiples. Potential Problems: When attempting to write codeplugs containing 2.5kHz frequencies to the radio, the following error message may appear:

!!! Warning!!!
The target radio does not support
Frequencies with a 2.5kHz spacing.
Please upgrade this radio's FIRMWARE

This indicates that either the RF board is not 2.5kHz capable, or the firmware is earlier than version R09.51.00.



If applicable, enter this information or note this bulletin number and subject material in the appropriate equipment instruction manuals and make necessary schematic diagram changes. Enter this bulletin in the correct MASTER and CLASSIFIED INDICES for future reference. Labor or parts warranty reference is limited to products sold and in use in the United States, for products sold or in use internationally this bulletin is for informational purposes only. Radios that are Agency Approved must follow designated agency guidelines.

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Postby Hartley » Sat Jul 22, 2006 5:10 pm

Hi Gents,

Just a comment - the "2.5 kHz" mark on the Astro Spectra does NOT indicate whether it is narrowband or not, only the frequency step it is capable of. ALL Astro-Spectras are capable of narrowband modulation (TX & RX) and are NTIA compliant, but may (or may not) actually be settable to the channel you need depending on what it is. An early Astro-Spectra without the "2.5 KHZ" mark will only be capable of 5 or 6.25 kHz steps.

The Feds use mostly 12.5 kHz channels with few exceptions, so even an older one SHOULD work (YMMV :-)). If you know what freqs you need, then you'll know.

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Postby cfd1736 » Sat Jul 22, 2006 8:18 pm

This may help you in your search of a radio that will fit your need. I know it helped me.


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