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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
DISCLAIMER: DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND ARE LICENSED TO DO SO. It is not legal to Tx on the frequencies unlocked by this procedure (due to this radio's inability to Tx on FRS at a low enough power as required by FCC/law, and on GMRS without a license, and in the 2m commercial/"race team" regions without being the holder of the specific FCC license for that freq). Also, yes, I am a licensed HAM, and licensed for GMRS. You should be licensed too to Tx with this radio (locked/unlocked for 2m/70cm and unlocked for GMRS) anywhere in the US, or in anything short of an emergency situation. This was an exercise in curiosity and a 'there's gotta be a way' satisfaction for me, only. Understand the laws, understand you're probably voiding your RR warranty, understand you do this at your own risk entirely.

Quick backstory. I went looking for a "rugged" (not RR by name) mobile transceiver/radio for my RS1; and when I say rugged, I mean water/dust proof, or damn near. I quickly realized there's exactly one, and only one IP67 option; the TYT TH-8600. Sadly, it seems this particular radio is nearly unobtainium in its pure TYT form these days, and is pretty much only available thru 3rd parties like SxSRadios, Rugged Radio, and PCI. Hard for me to believe the UTV market has been relatively ignored by radio mfg's when it comes to water/dust protection, so far. Hopefully that changes as these machines continue to take off in popularity. Anywho...

PCI and SxSRadios want about $200+ for this radio after they're done programming it. And yet, for some reason, RR is selling them on Amazon for $99 when I bought mine a few days ago (I suspect they're either blowing them out/discontinuing, and/or they're not charging 2x because the radio comes completely unprogrammed, unlike every other radio they sell). RR doesn't list this radio on their site (no mention anywhere except on a mount product page description), however they do list a GMRS programmed version ($250) (which again you must have a license to Tx with). So I grabbed an ABM25 from Amazon and set about learning. Here's what I found:
-its locked on the Tx side to 144.0000 - 148.0000 Mhz / 420.000-450.000 Mhz. Not ideal for me (given the disclaimer above; enough said)
--I called RR and asked; confirmed... no way to unlock.
-CHIRP (freeware) doesn't support this radio. RT Systems (pay to play) does. TYT offers "free" programming software, but my system (Win10 + Malwarebytes + TrendMicro) refused to install it, throwing all kinds of "you're about to die" warnings.
-Other than firmware, this radio comes completely unprogrammed from RR. Zero preprogrammed channels.
-It comes with a "radio jumper" preinstalled and weatherproofed, where the standard TYT does not. More on that in a future post.

So I set to work. I first tried the well known TYT unlock procedure; power down, remove power (for newer radios, for older they don't have to have power removed), hold down LO and A/B and Power, reapply the power source. That should unlock the radio, but it doesn't. I can only assume the RR firmware locks this out, and it does so in an ugly way; instead of unlocking the Tx freqs, it will prevent Tx'ing across the board, and disable VFO. No bueno.

Searching everywhere and anywhere said that's that. End of the road. But then I got creative... and bingo.

1) I purchased the RT Systems USB32 cable for the ABM25/TYT TH-8600 (its the same cable). You don't need the RT branded cable to update the FW, but you do need some cable. I can confirm the RT cable works with the TYT firmware updater. I would assume you could use a much cheaper cable from Amazon or something, but can't confirm. I can confirm none of those non RT branded cables will work with the RT programming software, however.

2) I purchased the RT Systems programming software as well for the TYT in anticipation of the TYT firmware taking. You don't need the RT software to unlock. You do need the specific TYT TH-8600 RT software to program the RR radio after the FW update. The ABM25 RT software will NOT program the TYT FW updated RR ABM25. Clear as mud?

3) Download the latest FW for the 8600 from TYT's website directly. In my case as of this post, that firmware is dated 12/7/2018. (NOTE that my anti malware/anti virus stuff went nuts trying to access the TYT website. I had to whitelist/disable/proceed very carefully, but eventually was able to download the correct stuff from TYT, and confirm its clean)

4) Follow the instructions within the TYT firmware updater. 2 minutes later, radio is unlocked!

5) I went on to use the RT TH-8600 programming software to fully configure my now TYT factory fresh and unlocked radio. NOTE: I noticed that there are several more options avail to configure thru the RT software for the TYT than there are for the ABM25. You can see the differences on the RT website.

So there ya go. And now, reread the disclaimer above.
 

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Thanks Jason. I have a TYT 8600 coming in the mail for the last 47 days. Curious to see what "version" I get. Can kinda see what you are getting at but will take my feeble mind a while to follow along. Tracking number shows my radio is shipped but sitting at an airport for over a month now. Nice small radios for our RZRs
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Jason. I have a TYT 8600 coming...
Glad to help. If it's an unmolested TYT, you're probably good to go out of the box. If it's a "US version", it's probably locked to the frequencies listed above BUT should be unlock-able via the standard TYT process listed above. Either way, keep us posted and by all means please fire away with any issues or questions. Happy to help if I can (read waaaaay to much up on these things the last few days ;))
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Update: With the radio installed where I have it (in an RS1, under the right hand side dash pocket) I cannot hear anything with the engine running, much less while rolling. So I set about trying to find an external speaker or headset solution that would work as seamlessly as possible. I'm happy to report that even with the TYT firmware running on the AMB25 radio, I found it.

Note: This wont work for those who'd bought a TYT labeled radio. It doesn't have the "radio jumper" that comes preinstalled with the RR ABM25. I'm sure you could add something similar, but you'd have to get busy with your soldering iron, and then pot/weather protect the connector thru the case, somehow. As it comes from RR, the jumper is preinstalled and fully weather protected.

I explored the speaker idea. My problem with that was I'd have to remove the weather protecting cover over the external speaker port to make it work. That would also expose the programming port. Obviously I could stuff both with dielectric grease, but that means its only a matter of time until it fails. Also, it seems, with an external speaker plugged into the port, with either firmware, the internal speaker is disabled. Not ideal as a speaker powerful enough to actually hear would require a separate power source which, unless I added a separate on/off switch would be always powered on regardless of radio use or not (I've wired my radio direct to the battery so I can power on and use the radio with the machine/all other accessories off).

So I instead decided to dig into that 'radio jumper' and understand exactly what its supposed to do. It seems its designed to work with the RR intercom system, which fine and dandy, but clearly makes no sense in an RS1/my application. So I called them, had to drill past a few 'nothing we can do' responses and finally connected with someone who directed me here (RR part number CH-O-SC):


Cool, but not good enough, and WTF with the cost (we're talking $250 minimum after all additional required cables are included)? I didn't want a separate PTT and all the wiring that goes with it (yes I understand that's not 100% safe as it requires taking a hand off the wheel to talk. But as I'm not a racer, and spend most of my time rock crawling/trail riding...). But that recommendation at least gave me a hint there was a better solution that just needed to be found. So I called RR back, drilled down (or up the tech support chain, if you will) told them thanks but no thanks on the CH-O-SC and lets do better... and finally, this tech this time said search for part number "CC-5P-EXT"


Bingo again. Ignoring they charge $50 for a $5 cable, I knew I'd found what I needed. Only question was, does it work with the non RR firmware? And what happens with the OEM handset and internal speaker? No good answer from the tech (in fact, I got a "well I don't think that's ever been tried before" answer), so I took a chance, and I'm happy to report, all good. Everything works together perfectly. I coupled that cable with this headset (found on Amazon for $15 cheaper + free ship) and today I successfully tested 5by5 comms with a repeater 30 miles away, while driving the RS1 at 15mph, in the desert over stupid rocky terrain, with 30mph wind gusts in my face. Others on the repeater said I sounded great and perfectly readable, with no wind or engine noise and only a slight hint at a rhythmic pulse to my voice (because stupid rocky terrain, and my antenna wobbling around like a limp piece of spaghetti, no doubt). Also, the internal speaker and OEM handset still work exactly as before and as expected (great for listening when stopped/powered down and no headset on, and the handset still PTTs/allows for programming, all just as before).

I'd call this end result system a total win. RR would be wise to box a kit based on all this, as I know a handful of friends off the top of my head who will be assembling this system themselves thanks to these results; in the end we have an unlocked weatherproofed headset or not capable radio comm solution. What's not to love?

As always, YMMV.
 

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I have TYT TH8600 radios mounted in my RZR as well as both ATVs. Had one issue so far but overall, they seem to work well.
 

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Jason,

Which antenna are you using, and how/where is it mounted?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm currently running a Larsen 2m/70cm NMO 37.25". Awesome antenna. But also no spring and where I have it installed is coming into contact with lower hanging trees. It hasn't ripped off yet, but it might. I'll be looking into something else, just hate to give up on this great antenna.

As for where its installed: centered on the roof, toward the rear. Good thing about that is the roof can act as a ground plane (not required for this antenna but doesn't hurt) which should allow for a shorter antenna (that does require a ground plane) to work about as well.

652736

652738

652739
 

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Check e-bay, still $99.99 + tax, shipping free

Jason, the benefits of metal roof, I have a plastic roof.
 

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Discussion Starter #11

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DISCLAIMER: DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND ARE LICENSED TO DO SO. It is not legal to Tx on the frequencies unlocked by this procedure (due to this radio's inability to Tx on FRS at a low enough power as required by FCC/law, and on GMRS without a license, and in the 2m commercial/"race team" regions without being the holder of the specific FCC license for that freq). Also, yes, I am a licensed HAM, and licensed for GMRS. You should be licensed too to Tx with this radio (locked/unlocked for 2m/70cm and unlocked for GMRS) anywhere in the US, or in anything short of an emergency situation. This was an exercise in curiosity and a 'there's gotta be a way' satisfaction for me, only. Understand the laws, understand you're probably voiding your RR warranty, understand you do this at your own risk entirely.

Quick backstory. I went looking for a "rugged" (not RR by name) mobile transceiver/radio for my RS1; and when I say rugged, I mean water/dust proof, or damn near. I quickly realized there's exactly one, and only one IP67 option; the TYT TH-8600. Sadly, it seems this particular radio is nearly unobtainium in its pure TYT form these days, and is pretty much only available thru 3rd parties like SxSRadios, Rugged Radio, and PCI. Hard for me to believe the UTV market has been relatively ignored by radio mfg's when it comes to water/dust protection, so far. Hopefully that changes as these machines continue to take off in popularity. Anywho...

PCI and SxSRadios want about $200+ for this radio after they're done programming it. And yet, for some reason, RR is selling them on Amazon for $99 when I bought mine a few days ago (I suspect they're either blowing them out/discontinuing, and/or they're not charging 2x because the radio comes completely unprogrammed, unlike every other radio they sell). RR doesn't list this radio on their site (no mention anywhere except on a mount product page description), however they do list a GMRS programmed version ($250) (which again you must have a license to Tx with). So I grabbed an ABM25 from Amazon and set about learning. Here's what I found:
-its locked on the Tx side to 144.0000 - 148.0000 Mhz / 420.000-450.000 Mhz. Not ideal for me (given the disclaimer above; enough said)
--I called RR and asked; confirmed... no way to unlock.
-CHIRP (freeware) doesn't support this radio. RT Systems (pay to play) does. TYT offers "free" programming software, but my system (Win10 + Malwarebytes + TrendMicro) refused to install it, throwing all kinds of "you're about to die" warnings.
-Other than firmware, this radio comes completely unprogrammed from RR. Zero preprogrammed channels.
-It comes with a "radio jumper" preinstalled and weatherproofed, where the standard TYT does not. More on that in a future post.

So I set to work. I first tried the well known TYT unlock procedure; power down, remove power (for newer radios, for older they don't have to have power removed), hold down LO and A/B and Power, reapply the power source. That should unlock the radio, but it doesn't. I can only assume the RR firmware locks this out, and it does so in an ugly way; instead of unlocking the Tx freqs, it will prevent Tx'ing across the board, and disable VFO. No bueno.

Searching everywhere and anywhere said that's that. End of the road. But then I got creative... and bingo.

1) I purchased the RT Systems USB32 cable for the ABM25/TYT TH-8600 (its the same cable). You don't need the RT branded cable to update the FW, but you do need some cable. I can confirm the RT cable works with the TYT firmware updater. I would assume you could use a much cheaper cable from Amazon or something, but can't confirm. I can confirm none of those non RT branded cables will work with the RT programming software, however.

2) I purchased the RT Systems programming software as well for the TYT in anticipation of the TYT firmware taking. You don't need the RT software to unlock. You do need the specific TYT TH-8600 RT software to program the RR radio after the FW update. The ABM25 RT software will NOT program the TYT FW updated RR ABM25. Clear as mud?

3) Download the latest FW for the 8600 from TYT's website directly. In my case as of this post, that firmware is dated 12/7/2018. (NOTE that my anti malware/anti virus stuff went nuts trying to access the TYT website. I had to whitelist/disable/proceed very carefully, but eventually was able to download the correct stuff from TYT, and confirm its clean)

4) Follow the instructions within the TYT firmware updater. 2 minutes later, radio is unlocked!

5) I went on to use the RT TH-8600 programming software to fully configure my now TYT factory fresh and unlocked radio. NOTE: I noticed that there are several more options avail to configure thru the RT software for the TYT than there are for the ABM25. You can see the differences on the RT website.

So there ya go. And now, reread the disclaimer above.
Will this mod allow this radio to TX/RX on GMRS/FRS channels? Thx for any replies
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Will this mod allow this radio to TX/RX on GMRS/FRS channels? Thx for any replies
RX on GMRS/FRS: yes (can do before reprogramming)
TX on FRS: technically, yes. Legally, no. Does not matter if you hold a HAM/GMRS license or not; answer is still legally no because it cannot Tx at a low enough wattage.
TX on GMRS: technically, yes. Legally, no even if you hold a GMRS license; these are not type accepted for legal GMRS use in the US.
 

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Thanks, That's kinda what I thought. Is it the power output that keeps it from being legal or something else. Assuming the user was properly licensed for both Ham and GMRS.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thanks, That's kinda what I thought. Is it the power output that keeps it from being legal or something else. Assuming the user was properly licensed for both Ham and GMRS.
Correct; this wont Tx at a low enough power for legal FRS and they're not type accepted for legal GMRS use in the US.
 

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Correct; this wont Tx at a low enough power for legal FRS usage. GMRS however, with a license, should be legally good to go (I clarified my answer above).
These radios are not type accepted for use on GMRS frequencies, regardless of what licensure you hold. So technically, it is not legal to use them on FRS, GMRS, OR MURS.

Doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t do it anyway.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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