Alfonso Faustino: Reasons I use Commercial Hand-held Transceivers (Motorola XPR 7550e)

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All you need to do is spend one night at the PAPA System DMR Round-table and listen to operators talk about their problems with their hand-held transceivers to appreciate the pride of owning a Motorola hand-held transceiver: Motorola XPR 7550(e).

I purchased ~95% of the most common hand-held DMR transceivers you will hear operators talk about on the airwaves; and, I returned all of them back to their distributors due to lack of build quality and lack of ability in RX and TX performance.

To date, I have NEVER heard a Motorola operator say, “my antenna connector broke.” Worse yet, I have NEVER heard a Motorola operator say, “my modulation chip or board burned out.” Nor have I heard this from a Motorola owner, “my firmware update didn’t work; because, I had to first update my firmware with an update before updating my firmware.” Finally, I have NEVER heard a Motorola operator say, “when I’m on analog, I’m getting reports that my modulation sounds weak and/or muffled.”

These statements of problems came from Anytone operators while I was listening to the PAPA System DMR Round-table; and, I empathized with these Anytone Operators; because, I experienced some of these issues when an acquaintance asked me to test out the Anytone products.

When I tested my acquaintance’s Anytone hand-held transceiver, I set the power to Turbo. I was trying to hit an analog repeater that was ~35 ground miles east of my location: CARLA System 5. After several attempts, I finally hit it, and Boss caught my TX. He told me my modulation was weak and muffled.

I pulled out my Motorola XPR 7550e, and I hit CARLA System 5 in one attempt. Boss caught my TX, and he said, “there you go — so much better — what did you do, move location?”

I replied, “didn’t move locations — I moved to my Motorola transceiver.”

I told my acquaintance to return the Anytone hand-held transceiver back to the distributor purchase one from different manufacturer.

I use Motorola hand-held transceivers; because, I want the best in quality, durability, reliability.  I use Motorola hand-held transceivers; because, Motorola is a company that specifically focuses research and development in providing excellent high-quality state-of-the-art RX and TX transmissions for many decades — THEY WON’T SACRIFICE RX and TX QUALITY and RELIABILITY for non essential features, such as, but not limited to, high wattage and having a capacity to handle ~100,000 HAM contacts.

In fact, there is an technical reason that Motorola limits their wattage in the handheld transceivers to 5 or 6 watts…the reason is, based upon their research, as you add more wattage to a handheld transceiver, among other problems, the transceiver’s RX and TX qualities degrades.

Unlike mobile and base station transceivers, hand-held transceivers don’t offer much real estate given their compact size for mobile activities; therefore, the use of state-of-the-art high-quality electronics and the utilization of that small real estate is key.  I need to be able to make contact but with smaller amount of watts, smaller speaker, and smaller antenna.  Not many hand-held transceivers can do the job well, except Motorola.

My weapon of choice is the Motorola XPR 7550e.

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When I need to use my hand-held transceiver on a amateur or commercial/professional level, I need my transceiver to work; if I’m in a rainstorm, I need my transceiver to work; if I’m in a dirt and dusty environment, I need my transceiver to work; if I’m in the snow and freezing temps, I need my transceiver to work; if I happen to drop my transceiver on concrete or a sharp tip stone, I need my transceiver to work.

If you search YouTube or Motorola’s APX Experience, you will see a Motorola XTS 5000 with a burned off face due to a fire.  The fire fighter donated his transceiver Motorola, and Motorola displayed it in their facilities.  The the caption below the Motorola XTS 5000 states that even with a burned off face (front panel) due to fire-ground damage, the Motorola XTS 5000 still worked for the firefighter.  He or she was still able to use that Motorola XTS 5000 to communicate in the fire-ground with command and his or her fellow team-mates.

Also, I buy top of the line equipment; because, in the long run, it is less expensive to put the initial capital up front in stuff that will last through time rather than buying cheap stuff and having to replace it through time.

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Motorola is the top of the line in professional/commercial hand-held transceivers and has been around for many decades.  They created the first car radio and home radio.  They have decades of research, development, and experience in refining the TX and RX operations of their one-way radios, hand-held transceivers, and mobile transceivers.

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My mentor, Tom Nasso, Boss, uses only commercial/professional hand-held and mobile transceivers. He was a Motorola technician years ago; and, he got me into using Motorola transceivers for my auxiliary operations and social communications.  He started me off with Yaesu and Kenwood, on the amateur side of communications, then, once he felt I had a good understanding of amateur communications, he said, grass-hoppa, it’s time for you to move into more advanced equipment — let’s get you into the best transceiver in the market…Motorola.

He showed me the stuff their Motorolas hand-held transceivers can do, and I heard the quality in my voice when using their Motorola hand-held transceivers, and I was hooked.  I learned all about Motorola toward my goal of making a purchase of a brand new hand-held Motorola transceiver: XPR 7550e.

With my Motorola I can:

  • store contacts via front panel programming or via CPS,
  • send text messages to hand-held transceiver or mobile phones (e.g., iPhones)
  • make private transceiver calls to other transceivers,
  • make cellular calls to mobile phones,
  • access the Internet via built-in Wi-Fi
  • send out my GPS information to other hand-held transceivers or to mobile phones,
  • reduce or eliminate background noise in my TX,
  • automatic volume control when background noise reaches a certain decibel,
  • text to speech,
  • wide frequency band (I have the UHF version which handles UHF Freqs.: 403-520 MhZ),
  • over-the-air firmware updates,
  • and so much more.

The journey to getting the pot of gold, which is using Motorola hand-held transceivers, was not an easy task; but, once I got past the up-front barriers, well, I was home free and was rewarded handsomely for the pain and suffering of having to break through the up-front tasks in order to get my Motorola hand-held transceiver working the WAY I wanted it to work for my specific HAM personality and commercial/professional personality.  I will detail my up-front challenges in this BLOG.

Nothing in Motorola’s existence was designed for the amateur HAM operator; but, HAM operators are creative people; and, always striving to get the best sound and best signal transmission out of their equipment.  So, began the venture of using Motorola commercial/professional hand-held transceivers, for my auxiliary communications network.

Man, that sound — you can’t beat that Motorola sound: rich and robust notes — one HAM operator told me, You must be using a Motorola; because, you have that radio-staion-broadcast voice.  Maybe, my voice naturally sounds like a radio-station broadcaster; maybe, the Motorola transceiver made my voice sounded like a radio-station broadcaster; or, maybe, its a combination of my natural voice and the Motorola transceiver — I don’t know; all, I know is that I never got that kind of compliment from using amateur transcievers.

Yesterday, while traveling up the 101 North into San Francisco and hitting a repeater inside my car, which was 45 miles North East of me with my Motorola XPR 7550e, a HAM operator answered my audio-check by saying, “Alfonso, you’re modulation is always consistently strong and clear.” This statement is made by the fact that each I asked for an audio-check, I was always using my Motorola.

Because Motorola hand-held transceivers are built for professional/commercial use, they made certain each frequency performed within its specific megahertz in each of their respective bands: UHF and VHF; and, they made certain their equipment best utilized the 5 watt parameters — in fact, Motorola hand-held transceivers get finely tuned to ensure optimum performance — hell, you get what you pay for!

For example, my Motorola CP200 VHF…I’ve had that transceiver for over 10 years.  My Ferrari group used that transceiver on and off the race-track — it was a private frequency given to us.  My CP200 VHF’s RX and TX is just as good as any of the newer Motorolas; and, its RX and TX are definitely superior to any new and current amateur transceiver out there. I would take my old model Motorola CP200 VHF and UHF over any new advanced current amateur transceiver any day and definitely over Anytone transceivers.

Motorola hand-held transceiver provides features/options to activate, which is called Entitlement Keys — the automotive industry calls their additional features as, Options.  Because each commercial/professional use varies from industry to industry or from operator to operator, Motorola doesn’t make their hand-held transceivers as a one model fits all; rather, quite the antithesis…Motorola hand-held transceivers are fully customizable based upon the user’s specific needs.  So, the user gets a base Motorola hand-held transceiver, which by the way, is feature-rich in and of itself and more than perfect for HAM operations, with the option to add specific features to the operator’s specific needs.

For example, when I purchased my Motorola XPR 7550e, I knew I was going to be out in the field competing against lots of background noises at a fire-ground, police scene, or training environments with sidearms being discharged; hence, I purchased an entitlement key that filtered out the background noises during my TX and increased the RX into my hand-held transceiver when dealing with competing background noises.  So, when a sidearm discharges near me; and, I’m listening to my hand-held transceiver, the hand-held transceiver automatically detects the competing background noises; and, while filtering those noises out, adjusts the volume of my speaker to overcome the sounds from the exploding cartridges from the sidearm.

Likewise in my TX…when I’m at the firearms range with cartridges being discharged from shooters’ weapons, my Motorola XPR 7550e, will filter out those competing background noises and enhance my voice, so the receiver of my TX won’t hear the discharging of cartridges while my voice is carried into his or transceiver — very useful feature for the type of volunteer work that I do.

Does Motorola hand-held transceiver satisfy 100% of my HAM operational needs?

Unequivocally — yes!

The only little inconvenience I have is having to carry two hand-held transceivers: UHF and VHF, but it is a minor inconvenience. I’d rather carry two well-made rugged and reliable Motorolas than one amateur transceiver that has multi-bands.

Motorola, although it has a front panel keypad, doesn’t allow the operator to directly program frequencies into the hand-held transceiver via the front panel keypad — there is an exception — some Motorola hand-held transceivers have the option of a firmware modification that allows frequencies to be directly entered via the front keyboard panel…but, guess what? It costs extra — usually, the cost is between $150 – $185.  Commercial and professional users use Motorolas for their jobs; so, they don’t need to nor have the interest to program frequencies into their transceivers — they just wanna pick up the hand-held transceiver, push a button and talk.  Field operators have programers that code their transceivers and make sure it works while they are out in the field.

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For amateur use of Motorola hand-held transceivers, without the aforementioned programmable front panel keypad firmware, amateur HAM operators need to learn about using  Motorola’s CPS (Customer Programming Software) to program their hand-held transceivers.  The CPS costs anywhere from $170 – $380.

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So, lets get the large list of challenges of owning a Motorola hand-held transceiver that turn many HAM operators off — remember, Motorola is NOT a HAM hand-held transceiver — it is a professional/commercial hand-held transceiver for businesses, government entities, law enforcement, secret service, fire fighters, military branches, and so on; so, remember that demarcation between professional/commercial versus amateur…so, here’s the list:

  • if you use Yaesu’s APRS feature for APRS.fi and found it super-easy to set up, well, you’re gonna have to go through a little code-change to get your Motorola, both VHF and UHF, on APRS.fi;
  • with the exception of one Motorola model, all Motorolas are single band — in other words, the hand-held transceiver is either UHF,VHF, or 700/800/900 MhZ;
  • unless you know the way to create a code-plug for your Motorola hand-held transceiver, you will have to pay a programmer to set you hand-held transceiver’s frequencies, general settings, and customized settings;
  • seldom will you be able to enter frequencies directly into your hand-held transceiver while out in the field — once again, if you know the way to create a code-plug, you will have to carry a PC in the field to create and updated code-plug; or, when you get back from the field, you will need to send it to a Motorola hand-held transceiver programmer;
  • for the price of a Motorola XPR 7550e, the one I have, you can purchase a feature-rich multi-band mobile/portable Yaesu FT-857D, which is a unit I also have;
  • all their stuff is proprietary — in other words, you can’t go to a store like, HRO, and purchase accessories for Motorola — no antenna will fit except a Motorola antenna;
  • if you do happen to know the way to program your hand-held transceiver, you have to go through a background check and narrow-bandwidth certification course before you can purchase the licensed CPS (Computer Programming Software) from Motorola;
  • usually, the cost of the CPS is the price of a Yaesu FT1XD or more;
  • in addition to the CPS, you need to purchase entitlement keys to unlock certain features in your Motorola hand-held transceiver — for example, all Motorola hand-held transceivers are set to 12.5 kHz — in order to widen the bandwidth to 25 kHz, you need to be certified, and you have to pay for the bandwidth entitlement key, which might be another $20;
  • the CPS is not easy to use, and unless you have a Motorola mentor or can figure the CPS on your own, you will be SOL, and you will not be able to get your Motorola hand-held transceiver working properly;
  • in order for the CPS to communicate with your Motorola hand-held transceiver, you need a programming cable; and, they are expensive — about $85 for mine;
  • using a Motorola hand-held transceiver is not user-friendly and usually requires some kind of training from Motorola or a Motorola mentor;
  • Motorola’s CPS does not work on Apple OS personal computers; and,
  • you usually will end up getting a second Motorola or other hand-held transceiver to cover the frequency band that the Motorola hand-held transceiver you purchased does not cover — so, if you have a UHF, you might find the need to purchase another Motorola or other hand-held transceiver to cover the VHF frequency band — although, in my experience, after studying my communications pattern, I find I’m 99.9% a UHF and DMR user; hence, I don’t need a VHF Motorola hand-held transceiver.

If this list, supra, hasn’t turned you off, and you still wanna get a Motorola hand-held transceiver, then I recommend following the steps, below, before getting your Motorola transceiver for your HAM operation needs and wants:

  1. Meticulously evaluate your HAM operations needs.  For example, with the exception of my work with the USCGAUX and fire departments, I use UHF frequencies for my volunteer professional communications operations;
  2. Register with Motorola Online.  This will take a while to get a approved.  I don’t engage in knowingly purchasing pirated boot-leg software on any level; hence, registering with Motorola Online is the only way to legally purchase OEM Motorola CPS for my particular Motorola hand-held transceivers. The reason you want to register with Motorola online before you get your hand-held transceiver, is you want to make certain you are approved to purchase the CPS and the entitlement keys. When you get approved, you will also get OTA firmware updates for your hand-held transceiver. If you don’t get approved, then you would not have spent $1000 or more on a Motorola hand-held transceiver only to have it as a nice fancy paper-weight on your desk;
  3. Once you get approved, then find an authorized Motorola dealer and representative.  Motorola dealers and representatives provide the hand-held transceivers and will program them for you — usually, they provide free programing for a certain amount of frequencies and entitlements, then you must pay for additional frequencies.  Of course, you can just purchase the hand-held transceiver, learn to use the CPS, and program your Motorola, and install the entitlement keys;
  4. If you purchase a used or new Motorola on eBay or online, avoid dealers and sellers that don’t have a return policy.  Often times, sellers will give the reason they don’t accept returns because people swap parts — well, that’s a bunch of crap in my opinion — the bottom line is these types of sellers don’t want to support the product; they just want the quick cash; or, they got the product in a malfeasant manner — stay away from these sellers — they just want the quick sale.  Should you decide to purchase a Motorola from these questionable sources, you do so at  your own risk;
  5. I only buy new equipment; but, if you do purchase a used Motorola, make certain you have a return policy and make certain you get a certificate indicating the used Motorola hand-held transceiver was bench-tested, usually with Aeroflex equipment.  The seller will provide you with a document or a certification sticker on the transceiver;
  6. If you buy used, make certain you get the serial numbers checked with Motorola.  Often times, sellers will get a Motorola and change up the serial numbers.  If this happens, Motorola will not provide your with support.
  7. Take your time and research the Motorola hand-held transceiver you want — these are super expensive hand-held transceivers; and, you wanna make certain you get the one that meets your needs — for example bandwidth…know the bandwidth or your Motorola — if you’re using frequencies in the 443.0 megahertz range, and your Motorola’s lowest frequency is 450.0 megahertz, you won’t be able to program a 443.0 megahertz frequency; because, it’s below 450.0 megahertz;
  8. The narrow bandwidth FCC ruling might not apply to you; so, make certain your hand-held transceiver is programed with wide-bandwidth — if not, you will have to purchase an entitlement key to unlock the transceiver to accept wide-bandwidth; and,
  9. If you end up doing your own code-plugs make certain you get the proper support from either the Motorola authorized dealer or a HAM operator that is familiar with the programming for Motorola hand-held transceivers.  If you improperly code your hand-held transceiver, it will not work, or it might create havoc to you and your listeners;
  10. Stick with OEM Motorola parts — they are more expensive; but, they are specifically designed for your hand-held transceiver.

I assure you, after going through these steps and learning to create your own code-plugs, you will really be proud of yourself; and, you won’t have the interest of going back to using your amateur hand-held transceivers other than for nostalgic reasons or having to access a band that you don’t have on your Motorola; but, as I mentioned, we operators tend to use one band more than the other; and, most likely, your selection of the Motorola band you purchased would have satisfied that need for you.

After getting past all those up-front barriers, I’m so happy with my Motorola XPR 7550e. — I have Wi-Fi option for non cable programming; I have Bluetooth; I can make a cellular phone calls; I can send and receive text messages; I can do so much more with my Motorola XPR 7550e than my amateur hand-held transceivers; but, most importantly, I have reliable and high-quality state-of-the-art electronic technology that makes RX and TX transmissions consistently clean, clear, robust, and reliable; so I know the person on the other end can understand me in times of peace and in times of crisis.

If you decide to get a Motorola hand-held transceiver, register with Motorola Online before you purchase your Motorola hand-held transceiver.  Afterwards, purchase the DMR MotoTrbo Motorola XPR 7550e — this is my weapon of choice for all of my professional and social transceiver communications.

Enjoy your shopping.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino