Frequently Asked Questions

When does the FCC require us to migrate to 700 MHz P25?

There seem to be quite a bit of misinformation floating around on this subject. The FCC is NOT requiring a migration to Project 25 digital or to 700 MHz. While it is true that P25 Phase 1, in any frequency band, meets the FCC’s narrowbanding requirements, this can be accomplished by using 12.5 KHz bandwidth analog mode on the same 25 KHz channel(s) you are presently using. It is also true, that in most cases if you are using grant money to fund radio purchases, you are required to purchase P25 “capable” radios. But…you are not required to operate in P25 mode. See our Narrowbanding page.

We use Motorola Smart-Net trunking. My present radio supplier has said, “Ours are the only units that will work on your system.”

Wrong, EF Johnson produces Smart-Net trunking protocol radios under license from Motorola that will work on your system. Many of your XTS-2500 and XTS-5000 accessories such as batteries and speaker / microphones will work on both units.

What are the differences in batteries (chemistries)?

Nickel Cadmium (NiCad): Oldest type. Used on two-way radios for decades, most economical, suffers from “memory” effect. It has the lowest weight to energy density. They are heavy for a given capacity.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH): Higher capacity than NiCad’s, looses its ability to operate equipment rapidly when cold. They have a shorter lifespan than NiCad. Memory isn’t as much of a problem as NiCads. Still heavy.

Lithium Ion (Li-Ion): One of the newest chemistries, along with Li-Polymer. It is the most expensive, but is the lightest. It has the highest weight to energy density. Some old NiCad batteries weighed as much as the radio or more! Li-Ion can significantly reduce the overall weight of the radio/battery package.

 How long will my battery last? (Or, when will I have to replace it?)

That depends on how the battery is used, how often it is charged, how deeply it is discharged, and what chemistry it is. Ni-Cads have a life expectancy of around 700-800 charge / discharge cycles, NiMH usually wear out around 300-400 cycles and tend to fail rather abruptly. Li-Ion will deteriorate about 20% of its capacity per year of use if charged / discharged ever day.

What is the duty cycle of my battery?

The duty cycle (Daily use) of a battery depends on how much capacity the battery has. This is usually rated in MilliAmp Hours (MAH). One MAH is one thousandth of an amp. It takes 1000 MAHs to equal 1 AH. To put this in prospective, a common car battery might be 100 AHs. A 100 AH battery will provide 100 Amps for 1 Hour or 1 Amp for 100 hours. Most radio manufacturers rate their products based on a 5-5-90 duty cycle, which means 5% of the time transmit, 5% receive, and 90% standby (squelched receiver). Obviously the more you talk, the shorter time the battery will operate the radio. Most modern batteries will give in excess of 8 hours use before needing to be recharged, based on the industry 5-5-90 standard.

Can I start using a new battery as soon as I get it?

You should fully charge a new battery before you start using it. If at all possible, leave it in a charger for 24 hours, even if the charger is a “fast” charger. The first charge is important to help “form” the cells.

Will my rechargeable battery get a “memory”?

The condition of rechargeable nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries in which it continues to hold less of a charge over time is commonly called “memory.” The technical term for “memory” is voltage depression. It is said to "remember" how full it was when last charged because it will not charge past that point the next time. This is why you should completely drain nickel-based batteries every month or so. This memory effect is caused by a combination of chemical reactions; however, the cadmium in a nickel cadmium battery is the bigger problem and why nickel metal hydride batteries fare somewhat better. In a fresh battery, the anode's cadmium crystals are approximately one micron across. If the battery sits in the charger too long or is not fully discharged, over time, the crystals grow too as much as 100 microns. This conceals more of the active material to the electrolyte and reduces battery life. For an exhaustive look into the world of rechargeable batteries, visit . Modern NiCad batteries, thanks to manufacturing improvements, don’t have as severe of a problem as early NiCad’s with memory. NiCad and NiMH both can get “memories”. NiMH exhibits this phenomenon less than NiCad’s. Modern NiCad’s if used properly will significantly outlast NiMH type batteries. If you have a NiCad or a NiHM battery pack that has developed a memory, KC Wireless has the necessary analyzers and conditioners to remove any memory.

I am using Li-Ion batteries should I purchase a battery analyzer/conditioner?

Because Li-Ion batteries don’t have a memory problem, and can be ‘opportunity” charged any time before the battery is fully discharged. An analyzer will only tell you what the absolute capacity of the battery is. There is no way to “condition” a Li-Ion battery. Once it is worn out, replace it. If you have NiCads, a battery analyzer/conditioner can pay for itself rapidly if you have a large fleet of radios

If I fully charge a new battery and store it, will it have a full charge when I decide to use it?

All batteries exhibit “self-discharge”. Some battery chemistries discharge faster than others. A fully charged NiMH will self-discharge at about 1% per day, NiCad’s slightly less.  So, if you retrieve your battery after 2 months, expect it to be only about 40% charged. Li-ion batteries fare much better, at about 10% per month. If you need to store your radios and batteries for prolonged periods of time for “emergency” use, consider purchasing a battery holder that uses standard alkaline single use batteries. If stored properly, these can have a shelf life of several years, with negligible effect on capacity.

Can I leave my portable radio turned on in the charger?

It’s not a good idea to do this. Most chargers won’t properly charge a battery if the radio is left turned on while in the charger. If the “trickle” charge rate is less than that demanded by the radio, once the charger switches to that mode, the battery will eventually discharge due to the radio using more out than the charger is putting in!

How long will my radios last?

Now that’s a tough one…. How durable or well built is the radio you are using, how are they being treated? They won’t last as long if they’re doubling as a tire chock or a hammer. If you are using it for two 8 hr shifts, then it effectively gets double the use…. Expect half the life, For example, if you are using a radio for all 3 shifts it ages 3 years for every year of life.

What if my radio gets wet?

First thing, turn the unit OFF and REMOVE the battery if it’s a portable. If it’s a mounted mobile, turn the unit OFF and if possible disconnect the power to the radio. Bring it to us ASAP, especially if it’s a soft drink or coffee, due to the acidic content. Make sure to tell us it’s been wet. This greatly improves the chances of us saving it. Ideally, we should look at it before it completely dries out. Once corrosion on the circuit board and components starts, it is difficult to completely repair this damage.

How far will my radios talk?

Now that’s a good one… There is not just one answer for that question, there are just too many factors influencing how far you will be able to communicate. Typically, portable radios, not using a repeater (unit to unit operation), you can expect somewhere between 1 to 1.5 miles in an outside urban area. If you are trying to operate in a building, all bets are off. Again too many factors can interfere with clear communication, building construction, (steel, concrete, etc.) and the contents of the building. An open building works much different than a warehouse full of metal cans of green beans. Don’t believe advertisements claiming many multiples of miles. Remember, radios operate “line-of-sight”. If one end is on a building top, or a high hill, your range will increase. If there are obstacles you can expect much less.

Can my scanner pick up P25 transmissions?

Not unless your scanner is specifically designed for P25 digital.  These are the newest ones on the market and are the most expensive of all scanners.

Can a scanner pick up trunked conversations?

Some scanners like the “Uniden Bearcat Trunk Tracker” family are designed to “follow” trunked conversations such as Motorola Smart-Net, Ericsson (now Harris) Edacs, and EF Johnson’s LTR protocol.

Can a scanner pick up PassPort conversations?

Currently no one makes a scanner to follow PassPort conversations.

Can I scramble my PassPort radios?

Yes, some radios have scrambling built-in, while others require a small board to be installed in the radios you would like to be protected.

Am I requred to have a license for my radios?

In most cases, yes. There are numerous exceptions. If you are in  doubt call us and we can help with your questions. Go to our FCC Licensing page.

back to top