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Buying used GMRS radios


berkinet
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The Midland MXT275 discussion has drifted off-topic to include a discussion of used commercial quality radio equipment for GMRS use.  I thought, perhaps, there might be a benefit to have a listing of specific radios, accessory requirements (programming cables and software), availability and resources.  It would be nice to have this information in a database of some sort, but a thread, perhaps sticky, might also do the job. The goal would be to give people a place too look for options to buying new GMRS equipment.

 

The basic information, as noted above, would be:

  • Radio manufacturer, model, and, if applicable, variants.
  • Price range for used equipment, and potential sources (usually ebay)
  • Warnings or tips on what to look for or avoid.
  • Programming hardware requirements. (I.e. programming cables) and, if available, sources.
  • Software. Application name; most recent version; download location; and price. (for legally available software only) 
  • Any other usage and programming notes that would be helpful to users.
  • Part95 compliance information.

Recent radios discussed were: 

  • Kenwood TK880-1 (25 watt) or TK880H-1 (40 watt)
  • TK863G (25 watt) 
  • Motorola M1225
  • Motorola XPR7550
  • Motorola CDM1250
  • Motorola HT1250
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Kenwood TK-880-1 or TK-880H-1 series (RJ-45 8 pin mic)  uses the Kenwood KPG 49D software

Kenwood TK-863G  uses the KPG 76D software.

 

The programming cable for both of these Kenwood series is the same - just one example of many:

https://www.amazon.com/SUNDELY-Quality-Programming-Kenwood-TK-863G/dp/B00CW66KPE

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+1 for bluemax49ers on EBay. I've got a couple of his cables and they work flawlessly. His prices are very fair, too.

 

On the subject of cables, I purchased a CDM serial cable from RF Guys years ago. It has always worked well but knowing what I know now about the market, IMHO they are a tad overpriced. The one I have from bluemax49ers is of equal quality and performs just as well.

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I have been looking at doing the same and listing the resources with links or in a Wiki style page. Especially those brands where the discontinued models mean the vendors are giving the programming software away.

 

To add to that list:

 

Vertex EVX-531/534/539

They are "discontinued" by Motorola, but found CHEAP. I bought two, each with two batteries, for $120. Programming CAN be done through a $20 cable, and the CE-142 (7-segment model CPS) and CE-151 (dot matrix LCD CPS) are give-aways from Vertex/Motorola.

BE WARNED: Many of them were programmed with the US version CPS which means they are LOCKED narrowband. You CAN reverse that - but be prepared to spend $120 in the Vertex "Flash cable adapter", or find someone (like me) that has one now.

 

Motorola MTS2000

Discontinued by Motorola long ago - almost "throw away radios". Can find them "ready to go" off eBay for $40-50 all day long. Especially if you buy the 450-512 split which is "undesirable" to many.

Cable can be bought from bluemax49ers or other places for around $20, CPS is readily available free.

LIMITATION: Can only program on a 32-bit version of Windows. If you don't have a physical serial port, you need SPECIFICALLY a FTDI branded chipset USB-serial adapter.

 

Motorola XTS3000

Discontinued by Motorola - coming down in price rapidly. These are tanks just like the MTS series - I mean not only "duty ready" but can double as a weapon. Can find them for around $75-$125 if you hunt around. CPS again is readily available free... and uses the same cable as the MTS. 

LIMITATION: same as the MTS

 

Motorola XTS1500/2500/5000

Takes same accessories as the last 2 Motorola series - down to chargers in some instances. Requires a different programming cable - but again a serial cable and USB adapter is found by the eBay vendor mentioned in previous posts for $50. They are SOLID radios, bit more flexible programming and features, and can program up on a 64-bit Windows computer. They are MUCH more expensive - creeping into XPR7550 territory... $250+ with some fresh looking ones easily fetching $700. This is where I will put the limit of a GMRS radio - because they are inanely expensive for the purpose.

 

Motorola XPR6550

GREAT TRBO radio, "first generation". Lacking some of the audio enhancements and niceties of the "second generation" XPR7550 - but those limitations are mostly on the DMR side of the radio, and even then are still awesome radios. Can find them for around $200 if you look hard. CPS is pricey - $169 for a 3-year subscription. If you have a friend paying for the subscription that can program for you - you are SOLID. They're a bit more fragile feeling than the MTS/XTS series but I can confirm they will take a beating.

 

Vertex VX/VX-P 820/920 series

Awesome radios for the price and featureset. the "P" is P25 versions, others are analog. The 820 is my personal favorite - literally a pocket sized public safety radio. My VX-P820 stands at literally half the height of my MTS2000. They can creep up in price - but again free CPS, cheap cables, and parts support via Motorola for a few more years... as parts are available.

 

 

I will post some mobiles and other brands. But really... there's a ton to go through. I just chose to mention ones that I have personally used or owned, that were not mentioned yet.

 

EDIT:

Also a feature to mention with the Motorola line (XTS specifically) - if you buy one with a display and keypad (Model 2 or 3) - you can set the MPL list which stands for "Multiple PL". In my experience, I have all my general use repeaters in my radio for the areas I know I travel. I then have a zone with the "general GMRS" frequencies. I enable MPL on that zone, and set the default PL to 141.3 with CSQ receive. If you know you're traveling and don't want to constantly read/write your radio on a computer - you can just look up online and say "Hmmm this uses PL or DPL XYZ", hit the MPL button, browse to that entry, select. Boom - you're "programmed" for that repeater now. Caveat is MPL means you need to program EACH PL setting you want. If you want them - message me. I have a "sanitized" codeplug with all standard PLs and some common DPLs all done - all you have to do is drag-and-drop.

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Note for clarity...

 

Vertex is NOT Motorola.  The EVX line is (was) Motorola TRBO compatible, but Vertex is a Yaesu product, along with Standard.... ie, Vertex/Standard.

 

Also note: Any form of digital modulation such as TRBO or P-25 is not allowed on GMRS.  These radios will have to be programmed in analog-only mode for use here.

 

-EDIT:

WOOPS, I stand corrected:

 

December 28, 2011 -

Motorola Solutions is taking full ownership of the Vertex Standard LMR business. The effective date for the reorganization will be Jan. 1, 2012.

Jun Hasegawa, president and CEO of Vertex Standard, announced the corporate reorganization. “After four years of joint venture with Motorola, we have decided to transfer the Vertex Standard LMR business to Motorola and focus on Amateur, Marine and Air-band business,” he said in a letter to customers.

 

 

October 16, 2017 -

Motorola Solutions said it will combine the best of Vertex Standard's portfolio with its two-way radio product lines beginning Jan. 1, and all products will carry the Motorola Solutions brand.

Specifically, Motorola will rebrand the Vertex Standard entry-level radios as Motorola products. The radios, most of which are analog or Digital Mobile Radio (DMR), will keep their current model numbers.

Vertex DMR radios will not be rebranded as MOTOTRBO, Motorola’s DMR product line. The Vertex DMR radios are compatible with MOTOTRBO, but it is a higher tier portfolio, said Mike Petersen, Vertex Standard director and general manager.

“We’ve worked to have closer alignment over recent years,” Petersen said. “It’s a natural progression that stemmed from a lot of internal collaboration. Both businesses are doing well, but this just allowed us to better align and serve our customers.”

Vertex will continue to offer a few select models in specific markets under the Vertex Standard brand. Petersen said the VX1700, an analog single sideband radio, is one example.

 

--

 

I guess I was a bit behind the times in this area.

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Yeah I said "DMR won't matter" but should have clarified that for the newer licensees. But there's some that enjoy ham and GMRS like myself where you might want to stretch your legs a little.

 

And believe me - the Vertex-MSI merger has been a fun one. I ordered a new casing for my VX-P829... showed up in a week. Ordered two for my EVXs... I waited a month with them on "backorder" before canceling the order. Luckily the cases are still OK - just didn't like the smoothed down PTT button from use or the engraving.

 

I hope to sell all my Vertex stuff soon since we are moving to a vendor-locked system for work purposes which means our "Bring Your Own Radio" mentality is about to end.

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Kenwood TK-805D. I've bought a half dozen of these. 16 channel, making them ideal for GMRS. They do repeater splits (even non-standard splits), include PL and DPL, and have front-panel selectable talkaround. 

In other words, you can program a repeater channel and use the same channel for simplex on the output, just by pressing a button.

 

I program all the standard frequency pairs on channels 1-8, which also gives me the standard simplex frequencies.

They do scan all channels, or you can lock out individual channels from scan.

 

They are rated 25 watts, but mine generally run 35-40 out of the box. I've read that most of them do exceed the rated power. They're simple to turn down to as low as 3 watts. You have to pull the top cover, but that's no biggie.

 

They are Part 95 accepted.

 

And here's the best part: They are front panel programmable! You have to move a jumper under the top cover, but it's simple. And you can leave it jumpered so you can reprogram at will. That doesn't affect normal operation.

 

They show up on fleabay quite often, usually for $50-$75 with mounting bracket and microphone. And they are a bargain at that price.

 

One more thing: if you want to use one as the transmitter section of a repeater, a standard 4-conductor telephone cord that you can get for $3 at Walmart plugs right in the mic jack and works fine. :)

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There are currently 3 TK-805 available on fleaBay for $75. Programming cable for $12.24 and the KPG-9D software (floppy disk!) for $19.99 (OBO).

Of those three, one is $75 starting bid. I doubt it will get any bids. The other two are "buy it now" at $75, with multiple units available. If you buy from the one in Colorado, they will program it for you before shipping. Great people to deal with.

If you buy from the seller in Indiana (the one with a white mic), they are not in as nice condition as the one from Colorado, nor do they offer programming. But, they are in good usable condition and they have a "make offer" button on the listing. Insider tip: offer $40. They might offer to sell you their remaining stock of 7 for $40 each. If you don't want all 7, they will probably sell you one or two for $45 each. Don't tell them I tipped you off.  :ph34r: 

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