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Motorola Spectra Install in Medicmike's BOV

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Motorola Spectra Install in Medicmike's BOV

Postby medicmike » Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:17 am

With the FCC forced upgrade of public service radios to narrowband there is now a surplus of Motorola Spectra and other commercial grade radios that can be used in the ham bands. These are usually very well constructed, tough, high output radios.

My son (also a ham) has been playing around with surplus Spectras for a year or two with very good results. I decided I needed to jump on the bandwagon. I used Spectras extensively while working in EMS (we ran Spectras in the rigs and Motorola HT1000s as portables). I knew already that these were great radios but have historically been quite expensive.

Back in November of 2014 I found a complete Spectra on Ebay with a buy it now price of about $70 shipped. It included all the mounting brackets, control head, speaker, power and remote head cables. It appeared to be a Washington State Police surplus radio. This model is programmable to the 2m ham band with 128 channels and 110 watt output with a 16 channel scan capacity. My boy has the capability to program these radios so that didn't cost me anything but this generally isn't too expensive as there are a number of people that can do this. To make life easy for him I just added my local channels to his pre-populated frequency list (this allowed him to just alter his spreadsheet a bit and clone the radio to that).

I finally got the radio and control head back from him (he overhauled the control head, replacing the worn buttons and made it look nearly new and also added a "zone" function that allows lists of frequencies to be stored in various banks).

The radio went into my 1992 Ford F250 utility/work/play/SHTF truck. It is a work in progress and I plan to add items as I go on a truck build thread (starting that in the vehicles sub forum and linking to this thread).

Power was run through a pair of 12ga conductors direct to the vehicle battery. An inline fuse was added on the positive lead near the battery
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The radio itself was mounted on the floor of the cab beneath the back seat (truck in an extra cab). I had to remove the bottom portion of the seat, secured the mounting bracket with bolts into aircraft style rivnuts. The control head cable was routed under the floor mat to the dash. Excess cabling was coiled and secured to the floor with aircraft style wire clamps (Adell clamps). The wiring could have been prettier but I think this will work.

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Antenna is a MaxRad MB5800 http://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/p ... 0-740.html (rated at 200w) mounted on an NMO mount in the cab roof. I had to drop the head liner to rout the coax, drill the hole and mount the NMO hardware in the roof.
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I then mounted the speaker at the rear of the cab centered above the window. I added Molex square 2 pin connectors on both ends of the speaker cable, the speaker and the radio harness for easy de-install down the road if we decide to sell the truck.
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The control head and mic were mounted for driver ease of access and non interference of driver controls and passengers in the vehicle. This turned out to be with the head mounted to the front of the ashtray and the mic clip on the dash bezel.

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Here is the radio with the back seat in place

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Radio seems to work great, audio is awesome on these (we were even able to hear radio traffic over the siren in the ambulance with these) and I have 128 channel capacity (only about 70 or so are currently programmed in now) and 110w out. The mic feels substantial in your had and they also have great audio. Controls are simple to operate and understand, (remember these were designed for non-technical people to operate in possibly high stress environments) and scan is lighting fast.

If someone needs a bullet proof mobile radio these are pretty hard to beat, they are available in VHF and UHF frequency ranges.
"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
Captain John Parker at Lexington Green
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Re: Motorola Spectra Install in Medicmike's BOV

Postby HC5CA » Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:41 pm

Wow that is a great install!

I love the Motorola stuff, too. I've got a Motorola Synthor X in the shack as a 10/6 meter rig and love it!

Man, that is a professional looking intstall.... :-)
73,

Steve

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." :-)
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Re: Motorola Spectra Install in Medicmike's BOV

Postby medicmike » Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:26 am

Thank you sir! I do love the Motorola stuff too. If I had pulled the front seat out I would have had easier access to dress the excess cabling, that's my only complaint about the install. I also would like to have mounted the radio itself to the rear wall of the cab but there isn't room behind the back seat for that.

The largest threat I see in my AO is a tsunami. We are inland a couple miles with enough elevation that anything short of a "Lucifer Hammer" scenario we won't be touched at the house. But, our access out of the area is HWY 101 and a good sized event will take that out leaving us stranded. Wife works in the hospital about 30 miles north of us so 4x4 may be needed. I also have Mednet frequency programmed into the radio so that I might be able to contact the hospital direct in a disaster (this would only be in a dire emergency as it would be well out of my privileges as a ham).

I do plan to install a couple remote post terminals on the fenderwell and move that stack of wires off of the battery posts. With the winch cables and everything else I am getting quite a stack of ring terminals. Will do this before I rout more power to the cab. I am thinking of something like this for more power options in the cab http://www.gigaparts.com/Product-Lines/ ... 7AodN08AHA

In addition some other upgrades that I am planning.

On board air compressor with easy access connections
Weapon mounting/storage
Upgrade alternator to higher output
Second battery
Tool storage
Comprehensive first aid/trauma kit
Jerry can mounting for fuel/water storage
Permanent mounted inverter for 110VAC
Mounted pioneer kit (shovel, ax, pick)
Mounted high lift jack
Welder modification to alternator

I will get another thread going in the vehicles section and document what I am doing and why. I welcome comments, ideas and criticisms. :)
"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
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