An acquaintance gave me a Motorola XPR 7580, and his gift forced me to expand my knowledge and understanding of RX and TX operations in the 800 and 900 MHz frequencies with a hand-held transceiver. As I mentioned in my previous BLOGs, I’m really a believer in the Motorola transceivers for emergency preparations and social communications via the HAM networks.
So, here are my thoughts about the XPR 7580…unless you have access to repeaters in the 800 and 900 frequency bands, you really don’t need to purchase the XPR 7580; but, it is a technically sound and capable transceiver.
The transceiver is like my XPR 7550e except for two things…the XPR 7580’s maximum power output is 2.5 watts; and, it is definitely not HAM friendly, which is the characteristics of Motorola transceivers; but, this particular one is extremely not friendly to HAM operators — you will need to hack the transceiver with a hex code in order to input amateur 900 MHz frequencies.
The hex code software isn’t complicated to use; it’s just another arduous barrier to get the XPR 7580 to work on the 900 mhz HAM frequencies. I don’t know if the hex software is available online; I got mine directly from the developer.
The other thing you MIGHT have to get is the entitlement key to open up the frequency to HAM 900 mhz frequencies. Most of the transceivers are locked up; so, you have to contact Motorola Online to let them know you are a US resident and not a Canadian resident. You will get an entitlement key, which will unlock the XPR 7580 to work in US 900 mhz HAM frequencies.
I realize you can purchase other brands of transceivers that cover 900 MHz; but, this BLOG is for operators that wanna use Motorola transceivers; and, as I mentioned in my past Motorola BLOGs, once you overcome the front-end barriers of a Motorola transceiver, you are richly rewarded with some awesome features and high quality RX and TX activities.
The XPR 7580 maximum operating wattage is 2.5 watts; but, Motorola seems to make their transceivers work really well with only 2.5 watts. No doubt…I was definitely concerned about the reduction of wattage in the XPR 7580; but, I was surprised that I hit a repeater in Vacaville, California from my Eagle’s Nest; and, my modulation was “loud and clear,” according to the HAM operator with whom I spoke. He was my first contact on the 900 MHz frequency. The Vacaville repeater is ~40 ground miles Northeast of my Eagle’s Nest.
The connection to the Vacaville repeater with Motorola’s 2.5-watt XPR 7580 definitely erased my concern about the 2.5 watt power issue — it goes back to the saying, “spend a dollar on the transceiver, and spend thousands of dollars on the antenna.” Of course, a good LOS always helps with low power transceivers; and, of course, the 900 MHz isn’t affected by the PAVE PAWS restriction that’s presently on UHF repeaters; so, all these factors all help the 900 MHz to be an appealing option to several HAM operators and helps Motorola transceivers make the trip with 2.5 watts.
VHF is also not affected by PAVE PAWS; but, it’s also heavier in traffic, which also adds to the appeal of going to the 900 MHz — not much traffic on those 900 MHz repeaters; so, there will be less of chance that you will get stepped on or having to wait for a HAM operator finishing his rag chew.
In my previous BLOG, I spoke about the upfront barriers of owning and using a Motorola transceiver — one of the barriers I wrote about is getting and using the CPS (Customer Programming Software). Well, the additional hex hacking software that’s needed to utilize the XPR 7580 in the HAM 900 MHz frequency band will most likely turn off many HAM operators from using the Motorola XPR 7580 — but for I received the XPR 7580 as a gift, I definitely would not spend $700 to purchase one, especially when the nearest 900 MHz digital repair is located ~40 ground miles away from my Eagle’s Nest.
As I worked with the XPR 7580 hex software, I was thinking to myself, “This is really a pain in the ass — I’m really glad I got this as a gift — I would only use this transceiver if the 900 MHz was the only repeater available to me — no fun!”
After I learned the XPR 7580 hex code to write to my transceiver, I was happy. It all worked, and I was able to hit a 900 MHz analog repeater in Oakland, which is ~15 miles away from Eagle’s Nest. I also hit the 900 MHz DMR repeater in Vacaville, which is ~40 miles Northeast of Eagle’s Nest, and both my RX and TX were crystal clear. The things that made me happy were hacking the code, having my code function as I intended, and making a 40-mile contact to analog and DMR repeaters with only 2.5 watts and sounding, “loud and clear.”
In conclusion, I’m all about learning and expanding my knowledge in and out of acting, HAM operations, survival operations and so on. I love to learn and challenge myself to do things I’ve never done before and things that most people can’t do. I am fortunate to have met N6MVT and N6JOA. Charlie (N6JOA) taught me the way to hack the XPR 7580’s code, and I’m grateful and thankful to him.
Bottom line…you don’t need to purchase this transceiver; it ain’t worth the upfront challenges — stick with the Motorola VHF and
Motorola UHF (my XPR 7550e, pictured above); and, once 900 MHz repeaters begin to populate the towers, then consider purchasing the Motorola XPR 7580.
/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)