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  • Pagers?

    Looking at buying pagers if we get our Fema grant. Looking at Motorolla Minitor 4 stored voice pagers and Kenwood TK272G handhelds. What experiences do you have with these. We currently have only a few antiquated pagers. Any comments appreciated.

  • #2
    Plan on spending a lot. Minitor IV's suck. We are in the process of having our 120 pagers replaced as around 50% of them don't activate for calls. We loved our Minitor II's, put up with some III's, and now suffer with IV's. The features they offer are nice, if you ever get to use them. I would suggest having a backup plan for members that miss calls. We had six sitting together for testing, never got more than four to activate at one time, and it was not the same four each time.

    Ask for less features and more reliability.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    • #3
      wow, I never realized the IV's were trouble. What kind of options are you running? I know the III's had the scan issue (that we paid for and could never use). Running multiple tones or groups? We're chatting about some new pagers as well, our II's are reaching the end of their cycle.

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      • #4
        I personally still use my II, our department switched to III's and after about two weeks several of us asked for the II's back, the III's also missed calls if you lived in certain parts of our Fire District, I have not tried the IV's so I cannot say much about them~Stay Safe
        NYS FF1/AEMT-CC
        IAEP Local 152
        "You stopped being in charge when I showed up"

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        • #5
          I just added several Minitor IV's to our department's pager distrobution. I as well as most other people are not impressed at all. The vibrate is nice. The 4 different modes is nice. But the volume knob problem that they refuse to fix and the sound quality just drive me nuts. I haven't been a fringe area yet but others report it's recieve sensitivity is not as good as a II. Unfortunately, we were fresh out of II's were in the red as far people needing them. Didn't have a choice any longer.
          Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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          • #6
            We use a variety of the 4 modes. Some members only use 2 and have dispatch and fireground channel in their programming, others, like myself, have 2 additional. I have never personally used the vibrate mode, but others have said it's good. They are programmed to playback the last 4 activations. Very helpful when checking to see which pagers activated for what calls and which didn't. My volume control goes from off to about 1/3, then complete silence for 1/3, then loud for 1/3 of the range. It's either too low or too loud, the middle...dead silence. My whole town is about 1.5 sq miles, with repeaters (yes, a little overkill) so we are not in a fringe/remote area. The reception is iffy. Sometimes they activate, sometimes they don't. The IV's were an improvement over the III's we had, but the II's are by far the best.

            Oh, and just for fun, Motorola is replacing them all, under warranty, free of charge, but only will send us 25 at a time. The first set of 25 replacements arrived and were already sent back due to problems with the programming and failure to activate. Have not been able to replace any yet.
            "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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            • #7
              No problems here...

              We've had 6 Minitor IV's in service for almost a year now, with no real problems.

              A few things to consider about the purchasing decision:

              1. Motorola no longer supports the Minitor I or II with parts or service. If you buy used I's or II's, you're taking your chances on whether you'll be able to find service when you need it, and that's only going to get less likely as time goes on. In short, the I's and II's are going away, whether anybody likes it or not. The III's have also gone away, largely because Motorola made those the way Microsoft makes software..."slap it together cheap, don't test it, throw it on the market fast, and hope that everybody's too dumb to see that your product is crap until so many have committed to it that they depend on you completely". By the way, Motorola doesn't even make the Minitor IV...all production is contracted out to a third party in Taiwan.

              2. The Minitor IV's are synthesized, programmable units, while the Minitor I and II's were based on crystal-on-board technology. All else equal, the tuning on synthesized units will be less precise than the tuning on crystal-based units, and, consequently, they will have shorter working ranges and be more strongly affected by signal degredation and interference. This is true no matter who makes them, and it's one reason why users find that the "reception isn't as good as the older pagers" or that they "don't activate when they should". That's just the way it's going to be for the foreseeable future, unfortunately.

              3. The above effects are really pronounced on low-VHF systems (down in the 30-50 Mhz range), which have been obsolete for 20 years or more anyway, and for tone combinations at the extreme high or low end of the working range. The best solution to this is to replace your low-VHF network, but that's probably not practical in the short run. You'll have to do it sooner or later, though, as there are few manufacturers making high-grade low-VHF base equipment anymore.


              All else equal, I wish there were a competitive market for fire pagers too, however the pickings are thin and I suspect they'll be thin forever...we just don't spend enough money to get the attention of communications equipment manufacturers, given all the other things they can build and sell. Next to the consumer market for things like mobile phones and stereo equipment, for example, all the money spent by all the emergency services on things like portables, mobiles and pagers in a year amounts to peanuts, so it's just not worth their while to cater to us. Welcome to capitalism.

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              • #8
                My department has had very good luck with our 4's. We are 2 sq. miles with a UHF (400 MHz) system with a 100W repeater. Reception has not been a problem, nor have we had a problem with them not alerting.

                After everything I've read about them, I figured we'd have a couple with problems but all 40 seem to be working well.

                It's tough to compare though, because the pagers they replaced were Shinwa's. It's like driving a Caddy after years of puttering around in a Pinto
                FTM-PTB-DTRT

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                • #9
                  2. The Minitor IV's are synthesized, programmable units, while the Minitor I and II's were based on crystal-on-board technology. All else equal, the tuning on synthesized units will be less precise than the tuning on crystal-based units, and, consequently, they will have shorter working ranges and be more strongly affected by signal degredation and interference.

                  Right effect...wrong way on the reason.

                  The synthesized units are dead on for tuning.

                  Crystals are not as precise on tuning, so the rest of the receiver is designed around the greater deviation. So they're more forgiving of weak spots, or having transmitters slightly off frequency.

                  We use synthesizers because they're cheap, and they get us into bands above UHF that crystal/vacuum tube technology was never designed for. The best radios for audio quality & being able to pickup weak signals are driven by Vacuum Tubes, then come Crystals, and finally Synthesizers.

                  As we move to narrower bands (from 25khz splits to 12.5khz to the coming 6.25khz) radio communications on the fringes will suffer...but we'll have four times as many channels to chatter on. Need more and more precision to stay tuned on the narrow range of the new channels.

                  3. The above effects are really pronounced on low-VHF systems (down in the 30-50 Mhz range), which have been obsolete for 20 years or more anyway,
                  ...there are few manufacturers making high-grade low-VHF base equipment anymore.


                  I'd disagree that Low Band is obsolete -- it's still excellent for base-to-base and wide area base-to-mobile communications.

                  But you're right that there's getting to be a dearth of quality equipment for low band. It's a shame!

                  Many times, we're our own worse enemies with radios -- for vanity reasons, we've gone from the big side whips to little base-loaded antennas for low-band, and then some people (including us for awhile) again for vanity went to those "pancake" round, flat antennas. "Hey, these radios suck!" "No, the antenna stinks. Now stop worrying about what it looks like and put the proper antenna on!"
                  IACOJ Canine Officer
                  20/50

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
                    2. The Minitor IV's are synthesized, programmable units, while the Minitor I and II's were based on crystal-on-board technology. All else equal, the tuning on synthesized units will be less precise than the tuning on crystal-based units, and, consequently, they will have shorter working ranges and be more strongly affected by signal degredation and interference.

                    Right effect...wrong way on the reason.

                    The synthesized units are dead on for tuning.

                    Crystals are not as precise on tuning, so the rest of the receiver is designed around the greater deviation. So they're more forgiving of weak spots, or having transmitters slightly off frequency.

                    We use synthesizers because they're cheap, and they get us into bands above UHF that crystal/vacuum tube technology was never designed for. The best radios for audio quality & being able to pickup weak signals are driven by Vacuum Tubes, then come Crystals, and finally Synthesizers.

                    As we move to narrower bands (from 25khz splits to 12.5khz to the coming 6.25khz) radio communications on the fringes will suffer...but we'll have four times as many channels to chatter on. Need more and more precision to stay tuned on the narrow range of the new channels.

                    Sorry...a radio dealer explained this to me once and I guess I got it backwards. Now that I've read your explanation, this is the only way that it really makes sense. Duh. Thanks for clearing that up.


                    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
                    I'd disagree that Low Band is obsolete -- it's still excellent for base-to-base and wide area base-to-mobile communications.

                    But you're right that there's getting to be a dearth of quality equipment for low band. It's a shame!
                    I'll give you the point for those applications, but most of the networks for fire and EMS dispatch and communications that I've ever used or known much about are (or were) used for all the combinations of base, pager, portable and mobile communications simultaneously. Given this premise, and the fact that low-VHF performs very poorly in the presence of electronic and building interference (which is more and more of a problem every day), I'm sticking to my assessment of obsolescence for low-VHF, as a general rule in the ways it is generally used.


                    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
                    Many times, we're our own worse enemies with radios -- for vanity reasons, we've gone from the big side whips to little base-loaded antennas for low-band, and then some people (including us for awhile) again for vanity went to those "pancake" round, flat antennas. "Hey, these radios suck!" "No, the antenna stinks. Now stop worrying about what it looks like and put the proper antenna on!"
                    You hit that nail right on the head! Over the years, I've heard lots of people grumbling about crappy equipment when the real problem is that they bought the wrong hardware for the job, or that they have the right hardware but didn't program it to do things the way they wanted.

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                    • #11
                      well, I always get flamed for this, but quite simply if you only want pagers, stick with minitor II's, everything else is crap. If you absolutely must buy something new, but a radio that pages like a Vertex VX-180, its cheaper, as rugged, and does more.

                      But by far the most economical thing to do is buy II's and stock up. While the big /\/\ does not support them anymore, there are several outfits that specialize in repairing and overhauling these units. Parts are still available, the only stuff slowing down in supply is case parts but even those are still around. You can buy II's all day long used for $50 on ebay and other sources, and they still have plenty of life left in them. A 10 year old II is still more reliable than a new III or IV from my experience.


                      Parts are easy to get, there are still plenty of places that will repair them (my personal favorite is a $45 flat rate for any repair with parts with a 5 day turnaround) and quite frankly, they are the only one really rugged and dependable enough for fire service use from my point of view. Plenty of departments are running away from a perfectly good pager because the factory doesn't service it anymore, simply because the factory wants you to buy the new models. But there are still plenty of facilities out there servicing them, and as long as people use them there will be.

                      Untill someone comes out with a more rugged and dependable unit, with better weak area coverage, I will stick with my II's. The more people that dump them, the easier it gets for me. I can buy 6 good working used II's now for the cost of one IV!

                      I know of one department that uses UHF, and was given 140 excellent working VHF Low II's by a department that went to 800mhz. They got licensed by the FCC to retransmit thier dispatch freqs on the lowband freq, and now have a paging system that works extremly well, and with only 40 memebers have plenty of spares! They were given the radio they use for the rebroadcast as part of the deal, total cost for them was about $300 to get it running.

                      All in all, the rumors of the Minitor II's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
                      Last edited by radioguy; 08-23-2003, 08:42 PM.

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                      • #12
                        NOOOOOOOOO!!! Please don't tell me the II's are going to go away! I love mine! When we first got the III's in, I begged for one. I wanted the vibrate option. They told me "we don't have enough, stick with your II" Dejected, I stuck with my II, and I sure was happy I did. Less than two weeks after they issued about 20 III's out, people were coming into the station like, "Is there a call going on? My pager didn't go off" We keep having the problems, and now, not even a year into our III's, they are buying IV's. Well, I will keep my mouth shut about wanting something new, I am very happy with my II, I have never had a problem with it at all.

                        Stay safe,

                        Matt
                        "At one point we decided to fight fire with fire, basically your house just burned faster."

                        Recipient of the IACOJ Service Award 2003.

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                        • #13
                          If you want a vibrate function, look for a used Director II on ebay, just like you minitor but with a vibrate function. You do however lose the monitor option, so you can't just sit and listen it won't open up untill apage is recieved.

                          Find one on whatever band yours is on, get it, and then swap the permacode filters, RF board (the smaller circuit board) and make sure your solder jumpers are set the same and there you have it.


                          Lots of great Minitor info here http://www.batlabs.com/minitor.html

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                          • #14
                            If anyone I s looking to get rid of some II's We can use them we are a small department with a Very Small Budget. we have 1 truck the county bought the rest were donated. We currently have about 6 fireifhgters without pager that have to be called to get to the fire
                            Charles

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                            • #15
                              Whats your dispatch freq, I will keep my eyes open.

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