Retiring Saber radios

Posted in news; tagged with news, readiness

Just before the pandemic started, VECTOR decided to de-acquire all our Motorola Saber radios. We shifted to using Baofeng radios as loaners during our practice courses.

Baofeng radios are readily programmable and low-cost to replace, while the Saber radios are starting to show their material age. Some parts are falling apart and the batteries likely need rebuilding.

VECTOR hopes to offer these radios to our local community for historical and learning purposes:

  • a charging bank full of Saber radios for the Amateur Radio Museum
  • radios, batteries, and the other charging systems to members

Programming Saber (and Spectra) radios need special equipment:

  • original Motorola Radio Interface Box (clone box may work OK)
  • a 386 computer (486 computer OK if done carefully – faster computers highly risky)

Replacement parts have become rare and hard to find:

  • broken knobs are very difficult to replace (many on VECTOR units are broken)
  • many are assembled from 2 pieces – very difficult to put back w/o breaking

Would you like a Saber radio to tinker with or to help us retire the radios we have? Write Jesse VE7DET about Saber radios

  • Mike VE7WV, current caretaker for the programming kit and highly practised at programming Spectra and Saber radios

  • VECTOR Spectra-Sabre programming kit:

    • AST Bravo NB Intel 486 laptop
    • 1.44 MB Floppy Disk
    • Motorola RIB (original Radio Interface Box)
    • programming cable for the Saber
    • programming cable for the Spectra
    • serial port to RIB cable
  • VECTOR still holds a borrowed USB FDD (from David VE7ET)

  • Single desktop chargers are available used on Ebay, as are spare batteries (one battery costs more than a cheap Chinese-made radio)

  • The frequency range (called Split in Motorola lingo) of the models cannot be observed only via the printed label of the model number. It can be read to a computer with the programming software, but this is only accurate if no hardware has been meddled with inside. The only other way is to read off the labels of the modules inside the case. Most VECTOR ones will work in the ham band, David VE7ET noticed one or two that are not in this range.