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An Overview of the Motorola
GP6x Series Handhelds
Including the GP63, GP68, AP73 and others
A table of PL and DPL codes is at the bottom of this page
Additional information, corrections, enhancements are welcome!
Compiled by Mike Morris WA6ILQ from
contributions from several persons including:
Don Best N6ALD, Clint Bradford K6LCS,
Bob Burns W9RXR, Ron Gerhold K4GET,
David Leeper K6DWL, and Eric Lemmon WB6FLY
Maintained by Robert Meister WA1MIK
|Note that the contents of this page, like most here
at www.repeater-builder.com, are totally dependent on donations of information.
In other words, the repeater-builder web site and this particular web page is what the contributors make it.
If you have a hint, some information we are missing, or a useful trick, please consider writing it up and sending it in.
We're looking for the following to make this article more complete:
1) A photo of a GP68 VHF model number sticker showing the type acceptance number (should be AZ489FT3786).
2) Separate photos of an AP73, a GP63, a GP68 Plus and a GP68-8.
Click here for a high band radio photo, the UHF version looks identical except for the antenna.
Although a good performer, the GP6x Series radios are a 1980s design that depending on whom you talked to were either (a) a low-end radio for the USA market, or (b) a mid-range radio initially intended for the "world market" sales... or both... It was marketed in many areas including the USA (and was submitted for FCC Type Approval as such). Later on Motorola chose to modify the ID label to leave off the FCC ID number (I'm not sure why). I have seen radios with type acceptance (they have an FCC ID number), and there are ones where the same sticker does not have an FCC number, and therefore they are not type accepted. Some folks say the radios are identical (since all USA-made GP68s were made on the same assembly line from the same parts), that the only difference is the sticker and that some early ones were made without the FCC labels (click for a photo). Their argument is that the FCC approval was achieved after manufacture for foreign sales were started. Either way, as of 1997 the UHF GP68 is on the Part 90 acceptance list as model number AZP94VNB20H2AA with FCC type acceptance number AZ489FT4811 (click for photo) and the VHF GP68 with model number AZP93VNB20H1AA is accepted as AZ489FT3786. However unless the radio actually has a label with an FCC ID number that particular radio is not considered as being type accepted.
Some folks claim that the GP68 is legal on GMRS, some say it's not. Well if you look at the GMRS rules (part 95 of the FCC Rules) you find this:
Section 95.129 Station equipment.As of 1999 the GP68 is NOT on any part 95 equipment list. Due to this fact you cannot legally use it on GMRS. Note that it is accepted as a Part 90 (business) radio. It is also perfectly legal as an amateur radio.
Every station in a GMRS system must use transmitters the FCC has certificated for use in the GMRS. Write to any FCC Field Office to find out if a particular transmitter has been certificated for the GMRS. All station equipment in a GMRS system must comply with the technical rules in part 95.
One more comment on the FCC rules... they state that frequency agile radios (i.e. key pad programmable) will not be certified. Therefore if you enable the keyboard then the type certification is void. In other words, if you enable the keyboard and use the radio on part 95 frequencies then you are violating two different sections of the FCC rules.
The GP68 design is a wideband radio so it will be illegal to use it on Part 90 frequencies after the cutoff date. GMRS is exempt from the narrowband deadline.
Most USA-made GP6x radios were sent to the Latin American market. As such, USA buyers of serial numbers that were shipped to foreign sales groups did not have a valid warranty. PCs were few and far between in the 1980s in Mexico anmd the other Latin American countries so the GP6x series was specifically designed so that the seller did not need a PC to program it. The method used was that the seller would have a radio that had the front panel programming enabled by removing R417 (a surface mount resistor) (the "master" radio), and he would program the master to the customers needs, and then clone it into the customers radios (the "slaves"). This 77 kB excerpt from the Service Manual has a bit more info, including the value of R417, making it easier to locate. If a programming change was needed then a slave could be cloned back into the master radio, the program modified then cloned back to the slave radio(s). The cloning cable (part number MLN4068 or PMLN4068) is simply a two-conductor cable wired tip to tip and sleeve to sleeve. There is no way to program the radio channels or frequencies using any RSS (computer software). The RSS that is available is has features for workbench adjustments and alignment only (deviation, master oscillator frequency warping, replacement board initialization, etc.), not for channel programming. See below for programming instructions. While there never was an RSS written to program the frequencies in a GP6x radio, someone could monitor the cloning cable traffic and "crack" the protocol, then write something that would duplicate it and allow a specailly made cable that would connect a PC to the cloning port and program both the frequencies and PL tones / DPL codes in all 20 channels.
Later on the firmware was modified to add a "Dealer Programming Mode" so that any keyboard-equipped GP68 could be programmed at any time. There is one quirk - a battery that is low will not allow programming, but will operate the radio. So if your radio will not go into programming mode, and you aren't sure of the state of charge, first recharge the battery.
The GP6x Series includes several models, the most popular of which in the USA is the keypad-equipped GP68. Note that not all GP68s have keypads! (And you need a keypad or a master radio to program it). Ebay buyers beware - if the "GP68" auction doesn't have a photo or does not have a photo showing a keyboard, don't buy it. And be very suspicious of any auctions that have NO photos of the front of the radio at all.
The entire series of radios can be seen on this 12 kB list. The GP2000 was a follow-on design to the GP6x series and was also front panel programmable (and offered 99 channels).
There is an adapter available to permit use of a BNC coax or duckie/whip in place of
that "screw-on" duckie. Photo 1
These can be found on eBay frequently.
Another comment on eBay auctions, from an email to repeater-builder:
It's funny because Motorola's Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer stopped one of
my ebay auctions under the VERO program claiming that mere possession of an
export radio is a violation of Motorola's IP rights, contraband per US Customs
regulation, and illegal for use on HAM BANDS per FCC regulations. Oh yeah, this
(singular expletive deleted) also claimed that it was a violation of the Lanham
act to sell/trade such a radio, even privately.
Here's the real truth:
1) It isn't a violation of any companies' IP rights to own a product built and
destined for use in another part of the world. They may not support it outside
those reasons, but the innuendo that one violates their IP claims is documented
2) A quick check with US Customs confirmed that GP-68's aren't on any list of
prohibited items. More manure sprayed from the mindless (plural expletive deleted)
at Ma M.
3) FCC certification is not needed for amateur radio gear, and both eBay and Ma M
know that. More manure from Mother Moto. Part 97 of the FCC Rules says that each
amateur radio licensee is responsible for the proper operation of his or her own station.
4) The Lanham act doesn't apply, that is, unless Motorola admits to importing
inferior or dangerous products.
The AP73 (the amateur radio version of the GP68)
The GP68 design allowed Motorola to make a second attempt at entering the USA Amateur Radio market. The engineering team modified the GP68 firmware to limit the transmit range to the amateur band and created the AP73 handheld. Unfortunately nobody in Moto marketing remembered the Metrum (or listened to anybody who did), didn't do their market research properly or run a proper ad campaign (advertising methods that work in the commercial market do not work in the amateur market), so like the Metrum, it flopped. If you are here because you have an AP73 you will find PDFs of the users manuals below and cheat sheets for programming. The same sheets will work for the GP68.
Accessories, Batteries, etc.
The speaker-mic that came with my UHF GP68 is model number HMN9725D and plugs into
the side of the radio using a right-angle plug so the cord goes towards the top of the
radio. The earphone is the upper connector and uses a 2.5mm two-contact plug. The
microphone connector is 8mm below the earphone connector and uses a 3.5mm two-contact
plug. The same speaker-mic works on any of the following radios:
Spirit, Spirit Pro, Spirit Pro+, SV10, SV11, SV11D, SV21, SV12, SV22, SV22C, SU210, SU22, SU22C, SU220
Spirit M Series: MV11, MV11CV, MV12, MV12CV, MV21C, MV21CV, MV22, MV22CV, MU11, MU11C, MU11CV, MU12, MU12C, MU12CV, MU21C, MU21CV, MU22CVS, MU24CV, MU24CVS, MU24CVST
XTN Series: XTN446, XTN500, XTN600, XTN XV Series: XV1100 XV2100 XV2600, XTN XU Series: XU1100 XU2100 XU2600
CLS Series: CLS1110, CLS1410, CLS1413, CLS1450, CLS1450C
CP Series: CP88, CP100, CP150, CP200
GP Series: GP2000, GP2100, GP300, GP 308, GP68, GP88, GP88S
SP Series: SP10, SP21, SP50
CT Series: CT150, CT250, CT450, CT450LS
PRO Series: PRO1150, PRO2150, PRO3150
P Series: P040, P080, P100, P110, P1225
Others: GTI, GTX, LTS2000, VL50, VL130, PMR446, ECP100
If you plan on connecting the GP-68 to external equipment (for example, an APRS tracker like a TinyTrack) you need to realize that the external speaker connection is run with both sides hot. You will need to run an audio transformer in the speaker connection.
Like the speaker-mic some of the other accessories are common to other models. The belt clip, for example, is the same as on the SP10, SP21, SP50, GTX and GP300.
The charger that came with my GP68 is model HTN9013B, with a 120vAC wall wart, part number 2580550D01, rated at 13vDC, 800ma, tip positive. My charger is date coded 8041 (41st week of 1980). There are at least three different radios that use the same charger, the Spirit SV52 is one of them. On various auctions I have seen a number of different chargers offered. Note that while my charger uses a 13v wall wart the radio battery is 7.2 volts (but some books and battery catalogs say 7.5v). Note that the original GP68 charger was designed in the NiCad era and does not support NiMH batteries (it will cook them). The later edition quality aftermarket chargers are dual chemistry units.
From an email from Eric Lemmon WB6FLY:
For the benefit of others who own Motorola GP68 portable radios, I have
collected and hereby present some information about the GP68 battery
The desk charger used for the GP68 is simply a stock SP50 charger that
has a PMLN4069A insert adapter. The SP50 desk charger was available
in two versions: The HTN9014 charger was rated at 10 hours and was
supplied with a 120 VAC wall-wart transformer (part number 2580955Z02)
that can supply 12 VDC at 200 mA. It was equipped with a
1.3 x 3.5mm plug to mate with the charger base. The HTN9013
charger was rated at 3 hours and was supplied with a 120 VAC wall-wart
transformer (part number 2580550D01) that can supply 12 VDC at 800 mA.
It was equipped with a 2.5 x 5.5mm plug to mate with the charger base.
The wall warts are also available in international versions for 230 and
240 VAC input, but all of the charger bases remain the same - provided
that they receive 12 VDC input through a compatible plug.
The 3-hour SP50 charger HTN9013B is still available from Motorola Parts for
about $50, but the GP68 insert adapter PMLN4069A has been discontinued, as
has the 10-hour charger HTN9014. However, Motorola still stocks the 3-hour
GP68 charger kit PMTN4020B for about $50. The kit includes the 3-hour
charger base, the PMLN4069A insert adapter, and the 2580550D01 wall wart.
For those who prefer a more leisurely charging rate, Motorola also stocks
the 10-hour GP68 charger kit PMTN4021C kit for about $25. This kit includes
the 10-hour charger base, the PMLN4069A insert adapter, and the 2580955Z02
wall wart. Both of the GP68 charger kits are available only in the 120 VAC
Notice that you can still buy the 10-hour SP50 charger for $50, but you
can buy exactly the same charger with the GP68 adapter for half that amount.
Original GP6x batteries came in two sizes... I've seen 600mah and 1200mah. The drop in Motorola charger charges the 1200mah battery from flat to full in a couple of hours, and a 1200 mah battery provides 3-5 days of monitoring (the radio firmware has a pretty good battery-saver function, and there is no operational penalty if you use it) however transmit battery life is terrible! The only way to get decent battery life is to use the high capacity battery and the low power mode (the radio will do 5W or 1W in VHF and 4W or 1W in UHF). Aftermarket batteries come in sizes up to 2100 mah. There is a cigarette lighter adapter available. The radio has an AA pack available (but the radio automatically goes into low power mode when it is used).
A few cautions on the current crop of Hong Kong built GP68s and their chargers:
- The conical (tapered) antenna that is shipped with the radio is junk. Get an antenna for a HT750 or HT1250 in the correct band and you will notice the difference.
- Most of the chargers are 220vAC, even if they have a USA 120v plug on it. You can go out and find a 120v transformer for it, but an easier way is to replace the two-diode and a center-tap rectifier with a full-wave bridge, and leave the center-tap wire floating.
- A large number of the Hong Kong chargers are nothing more than a wall wart, a resistor, and a battery cup. Depending on the resistor, it can be a fast charger or a slow charger, or a battery cooker. If you leave the battery in for too long you will burn it up.
- The sources of batteries have dried up over the last few years. Several manufacturers (like W&W) that used to offer them don't list them on the web site. The only reliable source that offers a warranty seems to be Batteries America (aka Mr. NiCad). They generally use Sanyo cells in the replacement packs they manufacture. At the time of this writing (late 2009) they list a 2100mAh Ni-MH replacement for the GP-68.
The GP6x Series Service Manual is part number 6804370J41. The D revision is dated September 1997 and appears to still be current. It covers the GP63, the GP68, the GP68 Plus and the GP68-8 radio. If you are going to do much of anything with the radio it's worth having. It's a thick book and a real bargain at under US$15 (early 2008 price).
Trunking and selective call was an option, but I've never seen a GP68 with either feature. Trunking information is here in a 244 kB PDF file.
Personally, I like the GP68, but then again, mine is a USA-built radio and I am not expecting it to hold up to heavy use. The speaker audio is OUTSTANDING - it's louder (while staying very clear) than ANY other handheld I've used. It is the only Motorola I have ever owned that has 16-button DTMF from the factory on the front panel (i.e. the four feature keys are the ABCD keys when in transmit mode). This is valuable when controlling repeaters or remote bases with DTMF. List price at one point was US$275 each. It is not and never was intended to be a $4000 Astro Saber or XTS3000. And it does not have some of the less common features like MDC, 2-tone or 5-tone signaling.
The GP68 will cover conventional public safety, GMRS (UHF) (but not legally), MURS (VHF) (legally on the two wideband channels and illegally on the narrowband channels), CAP (VHF) (until they go narrowband) and amateur frequencies without a problem. The two models of most interest to USA amateurs are the ones that cover 136-174mhz and 403-470mhz. Both have full performance across their frequency ranges and 20 channels, and both battery-saver and channel scan (with nuisance channel delete) is a stock feature.
The GP68 is not a public safety grade radio - it is a light to moderate duty radio ("consumer tier" or "second tier" in Moto USA's own marketing terminology, where a "first tier" radio is a public safety grade radio), with excellent receive and transmit audio, but it's definitely not a GP300 or a Saber. You will never see one on the belt of a cop or a fireman.... maybe on the belt of a building security guard or a rent-a-cop, yes. It will not hold up to rugged use. It's a good performer for a single-band HT, but you can pick up a much more rugged (because it's a first-teir / public safety grade radio) 99-channel used MT1000 for less (but the MT is not front panel programmable). And you will find that you can pick up a dual-band amateur HT for less than what a new GP68 will cost, and it's dual band as well.
The "second tier" durability reveals itself in that the numbers rub off the rubber keypad, the LCD display scratches easily, etc. The buttons in the top row of four buttons are too easily depressed when you open the belt clip. Pressing and holding the asterisk button until the radio beeps switches the keyboard lock on or off. You have to keep the unit in "lock" anytime you're not changing channels, etc. or you will mistakenly push a button and change power level, go into scan, etc. There is no way to enter an alphanumeric "tag" or "name" for a channel - you will have to use a "cheat card" to keep track of what is programmed into each numbered channel. You can program any frequency with positive or negative offset, simplex, and full encode/decode of your choice of tone or digital PL with reverse burst. As said above, the only way to program the radio is via the front panel (or cloning from another radio).
One of the things that really upset me about the overall design of the GP68 is that the battery latches break easily and there is NO source of extra latches, even from the manufacturers of the batteries. Once you break a latch all you can do is to hold the battery on with several rubber bands, and that precludes use of the keyboard. Plus it looks really bad when you show up somewhere with a primary radio that is held together with rubber bands.
To restore the GP68 back to factory defaults:
1. First go into programming mode...hold on to "MEM" while powering on (bottom of the three buttons to the left of the speaker)
2. Press and hold the PTT button while entering 13579.
3. ErASE? appears on your display
4. press ENTER (Yellow side button) to confirm. Not the green side button!
5. Display will blank and reset tone will be heard...
6. -dONE- will appear on the display
7. Turn radio off.
When Motorola stopped production they surplused a huge amount of GP68 boards and cases. Several Hong Kong and mainland Chinese resellers have assembled complete radios and are selling them on eBay. Some even started manufacturing new circuit boards and cases. Several postings on various mailing lists have commented that many of these radios seem to be defective right out of the box (they power up but have operational problems - can't program, can't switch from memory to dial mode, can't clone, etc) and the Hong Kong sellers have not been responsive to complaints. Until they get their act together I'd avoid ANY GP68 from an offshore vendor or seller. All of the chinese and hong kong sellers use model tags without a FCC ID number.
|GP68 user manual 1.4 MB PDF file|
|GP68 Operations/RSS manual 537 kB PDF file|
|AP73 user manual 450 kB PDF file|
|The Official Moto
Programming Instructions 2.2 MB PDF
A scan of the chapter from the service manual.
|A "cheat sheet" on programming This
is presented as a MS Word file so you can customize it to your own needs.
If you improve it please send it back so we can put the new and improved version here.
Background Info on Programming...
NOTE: There is a 5-second interdigit timer that will undo your keystrokes back to the last completed command, so think ahead of what you are doing, and then do each command as one unbroken string of button presses.
When you first turn your radio on, the display will probably show a Channel Number (e.g., "Ch.01"). All programming is performed while the GP68 is in Frequency Display Mode - to get there just hit the "X" key. If nothing happens, then you have a "slave" radio and need to go into "Dealer Programming Mode". Turn the radio off, then hold the Push-to-talk button, Monitor, and SCAN buttons all at the same time and turn the radio back on. If that does not work then you have an early radio and need to unsolder the resistor that controls the master / slave mode.
The radio has 20 memory channels available plus the "dial". The only access to the memories is through the dial. Each channel can store a receive frequency, a transmit frequency, the direction of offset and the offset amount, plus separate receive and transmit PL tone (CTCSS) or DPL code (DCS), and the default squelch mode (carrier or PL). Channels 19 and 20 have additional functionality in Scan mode (see the note on scanning below). The basic concept is that you program the "dial" and test it, then store the current setup into one of the channel memories. You really, really want to select the target channel (the one you want to program) with the Channel Selector knob before starting to program. That way, you will not accidentally overlay a channel location that is already programmed (and that you want to keep). Been there, done that.
So, I suggest you select the channel you want to program, THEN press the "X" key and program it.
Programming a channel...
If your frequency won't "take," you might need to change the Frequency Step Size. You may choose between 5, 10, 12.5, 20, or 25KHz. To change, press and hold the LOW C key for about three seconds - until the current step size is displayed. Use the Channel Selector knob to choose your desired step size. Then press the ENTER button to store it. Note that the frequency you are on must be relevant to the step size. If you are on a channel that ends in .0625 and you select 10khz, it's going to jump to .0615 on the first click and .0605 on the second and .0595 on the third - not .0600. So dial up an appropriate starting frequency before you change the step size. It's too bad that they didn't offer a 2.5KHz step size.
While still in Frequency Display Mode, press and hold the SQL B key for about three seconds, until the display shows the "rPL" information (e.g., "rPL.023"). Use the Channel Selector know to choose your PL/DCS tone for RECEIVE. Of course, if you desire to receive in carrier squelch leave the "rPL" setting at "000."
Pressing the SQL B key once more gets you to the - you guessed it! - the TRANSMIT tone setting ("tPL.xxx"). Use the Channel Selector knob to choose your tone.
Either press any key to "set" these changes, or wait three seconds, and the GP68 will revert to Frequency Display Mode automatically.
Press the X key to return to Channel Mode display.
To verify what you have just accomplished, be in the Channel Display mode. The X key toggles you between Channel Display and Frequency Display (dial) modes. Rotate the Channel Selector knob to the channel you want to check out, then press and hold the ENTER button for three seconds. You can check out all the settings...then, if no changes were made, simply press the X key momentarily to go back to Channel Mode display. If you made a change, you will need to press the ENTER key for three seconds again - then again momentarily - as in Step 6 aboveChannels 19 and 20 have an extra function - they hold the limit frequencies on the scan feature.
If you are in "Dealer Programming Mode" you need to exit that mode when programming is complete :
Switch Radio Off
Hold down the PTT, monitor and enter buttons while turning the radio on. Now test everything again.
Something to cut out and put in your radio notebook (or Palm Pilot. iPhone, etc.)
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Motorola GP6x family handheld PL and DPL codes
|Tone zero is carrier squelch|
|PL Tones||DPL Codes|
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - # - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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This page originally posted on 18-Feb-2006
Artistic layout and hand-coded HTML © Copyright 2006 and date of last update by Mike Morris WA6ILQ.
This web page, this web site, the information presented in and on its pages and in these modifications and conversions is © Copyrighted 1995 and (date of last update) by Kevin Custer W3KKC and multiple originating authors. All Rights Reserved, including that of paper and web publication elsewhere.