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Just starting, equipment question


TheDan
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So I am about to jump into GMRS and I am looking for advice on equipment. I am currently looking at Motorola since they are spoken highly of here. The XPR 7550e and the XPR 7580e are the top of the line for handhelds. Just starting out these seem like a bit much for me. My question is would the XPR 3500e be a better fit for some one starting out. I don't have much of a background in radios, some experience with ICOMs and MBITRs but that was a while ago. I understand the "buy once, cry once" concept but the XPR 7550e seems way above my skill level. The XPR 3500e looks like a better fit. Am I wrong in thinking this way? Any advice would be appreciated. Oh and for portables I'm looking at the 5550e and the 5350e. Any direction there would be great too.

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I'd go with the 7550e, as it has a numeric keypad.  The radios are all pretty much push-to-talk once you have them programmed, and you can do it with software that makes it very simple.  

 

You can learn all the direct entry features as you go along.  

 

They all seem like very good radios, Motorola doesn't really make junk.  It will last a very long time and take a beating.  I will note that the 7580e is not a GMRS radio, so there's that.

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What specific models should I look at for the ICOMs and the Kenwoods? Handhelds and portables. I have some familiarity with ICOM but that seems like a lifetime ago at this point. Thanks for the advice you two.

For Kenwood handheld radios I would also recommend the TK-370G-1 and the TK-3170. Both are part 95 certified.

 

https://mra-raycom.com/wp-content/uploads/simple-file-list/Specifications/portables/TK-270G-370G-Product-Brochure.pdf

 

https://5.imimg.com/data5/MT/AL/MY-2136226/tk-3170-handheld-portable-walkie-talkie.pdf

 

Make sure you get the type 1 radios. For UHF there are 2 or more models available. You want the one that includes 462 to 467 MHz in its operational ranges.

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Its not above anyone's skill level: Get a 2nd hand XPR7550e... buy once, cry once. The cable can be found for dirt cheap on eBay, I own two cables, one OEM and one that was made by a ham guy who sells them on eBay... both appear to work just fine. Legacy CPS can be found on eBay as well. Make sure the radio has 2.09 or lower firmware, anything higher than 2.09 will require a 3 year MOL subscription to get the latest CPS.

 

Setup all the GMRS freqs, the UHF itinerants, moto UHF radio channels, throw a few 70cm ham repeaters in case of emergency... load several of your area EMS, hospitals, public safety, etc, etc frequencies and you'll be a very happy camper. Try looking for one that has the RX Audio leveling feature, either free (enabled model) or has it already purchased. RX Audio Leveling is the best feature I've ever encountered on a radio.

 

Radio is waterproof, MIL-SPEC to boot, has screen is probably the nicest screen I've seen on a talkie, and the receiver is certainly the best in its class. The 3.65" stubby antenna is great, looks awesome and beats all other radios I own with it, even if the other radios have a longer UHF antenna.

 

The 5550e is another awesome radio, can be connected to your desktop so it can run as a control station (like mine) and can be remote controlled via desktop (so the 7550e btw). The codeplugs you use for the 7550e will mostly work on the 5550e. Will need some cut and paste, but it will transfer just fine. 5550e has the best effective sensitivity of any radio I've tested to date.

 

G.

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Its not above anyone's skill level: Get a 2nd hand XPR7550e... buy once, cry once. The cable can be found for dirt cheap on eBay, I own two cables, one OEM and one that was made by a ham guy who sells them on eBay... both appear to work just fine. Legacy CPS can be found on eBay as well. Make sure the radio has 2.09 or lower firmware, anything higher than 2.09 will require a 3 year MOL subscription to get the latest CPS.

 

Setup all the GMRS freqs, the UHF itinerants, moto UHF radio channels, throw a few 70cm ham repeaters in case of emergency... load several of your area EMS, hospitals, public safety, etc, etc frequencies and you'll be a very happy camper. Try looking for one that has the RX Audio leveling feature, either free (enabled model) or has it already purchased. RX Audio Leveling is the best feature I've ever encountered on a radio.

 

Radio is waterproof, MIL-SPEC to boot, has screen is probably the nicest screen I've seen on a talkie, and the receiver is certainly the best in its class. The 3.65" stubby antenna is great, looks awesome and beasts all other radios I own with it, even if the other radios have a longer UHF antenna.

 

The 5550e is another awesome radio, can be connected to your desktop so it can run as a control station (like mine) and can be remote controlled via desktop (so the 7550e btw). The codeplugs you use for the 7550e will mostly work on the 5550e. Will need some cut and paste, but it will transfer just fine. 5550e has the best effective sensitivity of any radio I've tested to date.

 

G.

I can vouch for the Ebay Cable guy it's BlueMax49ers I bough all my programming cables (iCOM, Kenwood, Motorola) from him (Mark KJ6ZWL)  all his cable are FTDi Chip fast shipping too. My latest purchased from him was the programming cable for XPR8300 and as what gman1971 say all cable works just fine.

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Awesome, thanks for all the help guys. Just one more thing if you don't mind. During my trip down the rabbit hole I came across this radio: Hytera PD482i G BT. Any thoughts about it? Am I getting too lost in the weeds? Motorola is still my top choice, but I'm just looking around while I collect my pennies saving up for them. I like the Bluetooth option and from what I can see DMR format seems to be the way digital radio is going so it looks nice on paper. Just wondering if anyone had any experience with them.

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I asked around back in the day b/c they had some nice features, but the Hytera audio isn't as good as the Motos, and receivers are merely a slight step up from the CCRs derelicts.

 

As for Bluetooth, all my Motorola XPR/SL radios have Bluetooth too, and the e models have WiFi as well. 

 

Then there is the fact that Hytera was caught stealing tech, patents, employees and who knows what else from Motorola...  after I found out about that it became a "dead before caught with a Hytera..."

 

G.

 

Awesome, thanks for all the help guys. Just one more thing if you don't mind. During my trip down the rabbit hole I came across this radio: Hytera PD482i G BT. Any thoughts about it? Am I getting too lost in the weeds? Motorola is still my top choice, but I'm just looking around while I collect my pennies saving up for them. I like the Bluetooth option and from what I can see DMR format seems to be the way digital radio is going so it looks nice on paper. Just wondering if anyone had any experience with them.

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Awesome, thanks for all the help guys. Just one more thing if you don't mind. During my trip down the rabbit hole I came across this radio: Hytera PD482i G BT. Any thoughts about it? Am I getting too lost in the weeds? Motorola is still my top choice, but I'm just looking around while I collect my pennies saving up for them. I like the Bluetooth option and from what I can see DMR format seems to be the way digital radio is going so it looks nice on paper. Just wondering if anyone had any experience with them.

Hytera look nice but Mototrbo Hands Down! You gonna learn quick with Moto's also you need extra $$$ for the CPS but always worth the money. Unfortunately you need HAM License to play and talk around the world with DMR but Tech. exam is just a walk in the park. 73!

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I appreciate the heads up on Hytera, I will put them in the "do not do business with" list. I am keeping an eye open for the ham test online. I hear they are doing it but every time I look it is always full. Either way I need to save up for the radios even if I do find them used. I better start looking for a side hustle, not sure what's worse, high end radios or high end rifle scopes and barrels. Man I need to find cheaper hobbies. 

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I appreciate the heads up on Hytera, I will put them in the "do not do business with" list. I am keeping an eye open for the ham test online. I hear they are doing it but every time I look it is always full. Either way I need to save up for the radios even if I do find them used. I better start looking for a side hustle, not sure what's worse, high end radios or high end rifle scopes and barrels. Man I need to find cheaper hobbies. 

Radio is plentiful off Ebay while gun parts and ammo is always out of stock if I were you barrels and scope first... :lol:

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Radio is plentiful off Ebay while gun parts and ammo is always out of stock if I were you barrels and scope first... :lol:

Barrels aren't so bad, unless it's a Proof Research. Glass isn't so bad either, they are just real expensive if you want quality just like radios. Just to get it back to radios, I'm guessing the antennas that come with the Motorola's are fine to start with. Should I look at other antennas or are the stock ones that come with the radios are fine. 

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No I wouldn't buy an airsoft barrel because it won't shoot .338 Lapua or 6.5 Creedmoor. Leave it to my addled brain to not fully understand what you mean with your ebay comment. Are you suggesting that I don't buy from ebay? I was probably going to buy new for warranty reasons but wouldn't mind second hand if the price was right. 

Cheaper hobbies? LOL, there ain't such a thing as cheap hobbies, otherwise it wouldn't be a hobby wouldn't it?

 

Radios on eBay are plentiful b/c most are airsoft toys... would you buy an airsoft barrel b/c its cheaper? .... 

 

G.

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No I wouldn't buy an airsoft barrel because it won't shoot .338 Lapua or 6.5 Creedmoor. Leave it to my addled brain to not fully understand what you mean with your ebay comment. Are you suggesting that I don't buy from ebay? I was probably going to buy new for warranty reasons but wouldn't mind second hand if the price was right.

I think his point was that there's both good used stuff and garbage on eBay, and it takes some dilligence to choose the good stuff.

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Maybe this deserves another thread but what would be the best way for someone new to radios to buy on ebay. I can look at positive seller rating and can confirm the information about the radio that is being sold but what else should be looked at? 

You need to look at EVERYTHING! And even then you may still get burned. You can get some very good equipment and deals on eBay but it takes time and research what you are buying FIRST before spending your money.

 

I was looking at what was advertised as a TK-3170 UHF radio. Some of the photos looked like they were lifted from the manufactures web site, had that "new" look, not what you expect from a "used" radio. Others showed obvious signs of usage. One showed a partial of the rear of the radio which showed the model as a TK-2170 VHF type, which I would not mind getting anyway, so I ordered it. Well it showed up and it was a TK-3170 alright, name plate didn't match the sellers photo, but for the totally useless band spread of 400 MHz to 430 MHz. It was now obvious the seller was completely dishonest in his listing and knew it, not a common mistake where some sellers get the model or description wrong. That's why I like seeing the name plate with serial number, FCC ID and model number. The seller had a 99.8% rating too, but not after I was done with the feedback. I finally got eBay to refund the cost plus shipping.

 

I've purchased plenty of handheld radios off eBay, have a good collection of them, so I know what to look for but still got burned. So if you don't have experience buying used, don't, or have somebody who does look it over and do your research.

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You need to look at EVERYTHING! And even then you may still get burned. You can get some very good equipment and deals on eBay but it takes time and research what you are buying FIRST before spending your money.

 

I was looking at what was advertised as a TK-3170 UHF radio. Some of the photos looked like they were lifted from the manufactures web site, had that "new" look, not what you expect from a "used" radio. Others showed obvious signs of usage. One showed a partial of the rear of the radio which showed the model as a TK-2170 VHF type, which I would not mind getting anyway, so I ordered it. Well it showed up and it was a TK-3170 alright, name plate didn't match the sellers photo, but for the totally useless band spread of 400 MHz to 430 MHz. It was now obvious the seller was completely dishonest in his listing and knew it, not a common mistake where some sellers get the model or description wrong. That's why I like seeing the name plate with serial number, FCC ID and model number. The seller had a 99.8% rating too, but not after I was done with the feedback. I finally got eBay to refund the cost plus shipping.

 

I've purchased plenty of handheld radios off eBay, have a good collection of them, so I know what to look for but still got burned. So if you don't have experience buying used, don't, or have somebody who does look it over and do your research.

 

Well, I don't think anybody really knows what to look for at first, but you usually get decent at it after a couple of purchases, especially if you get burned early. Also, keep in mind that If price is too low sometimes is not indicative of a dead/bad radio either, as I've purchased a couple of VHF 6550 for 60 bucks, in mint condition... with charger... it depends on a lot of factors.

 

One thing is for sure, most Motorola XPR radios will be in fairly decent condition electronically, even though the housing might be all beat up... also those radios are meant to be repaired too, and replacing housings, etc, on Moto radios is actually easy... and there are videos on YT that explain how to do it, etc. I don't know much about other brands besides Vertex and Moto...

 

I have now an extensive collection of second hand Motorola XPR7550e radios now, a couple of them have a slightly scratched display, but that doesn't affect how the radios work...  nothing cheap comes even close to the level of performance you get out of those radios.

 

Using the gun analogy, you buy quality guns, not something that might fail, jam, or stop working when you might need it the most. Here is basically the same, if you want a good radio for GMRS and potentially ham, I think the XPR7550 is probably the radio to get. And if you have money, an APX multiband is probably a better choice, but you're talking more $$$.

 

G.

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I have a few Ebay seller which I got my equipment from radios, programming cable to repeaters:

 

Bluemax49ers: Programming Cables-Got all my cables from him reliable very helpful guy.

 

bargain_broker (email Bill Keenan online shop:usedtwowayradios.com): Mototrbo's and Repeaters

 

erac1 (Used-Radios.com): iCOM, Kenwoods, Motorolas, Vertex and Harris Repeaters etc.

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