Batdude`s Guide to the Astro Saber & XTS3000

Batdude’s Guide
for the
XTS 3000 - XTS 5000
and Astro Digital Saber
3 September 2006
Revised 3 November 2006
As I sat down today to install a NTN8255 DES-OFB module into an XTS 3000 portable
radio, I thought some of you would appreciate an informal walkthrough of the tips to
disassemble the radio and get it back together again without any damage. I can’t count
how many times I’ve seen radios in the used market that have case damage due to
improper disassembly. The key to the entire process is this:
Without this tool, I can guarantee that you will either split the end of the case
plastic, as shown in the below picture, or gouge/destroy the protective o-ring.
This is an actual radio that I purchased at dayton….
Of course, I’ll show you this, just because I
think it’s indicative of how about 80% of the
people out there open up their radios:
Okay, you have finally ordered your handy-dandy white opener tool, Motorola part
number 6685833D01 (cost is about $4.00) and you’re ready to crack the case. I
can give you the rhetoric about ESD safety now – obviously what you are seeing
here is on the border of ESD-unsafe. However, I’m not sitting here rubbing my cat
while my feet are on the carpet either. This procedure should (of course) be
conducted at an ESD approved workbench while wearing a wrist strap. Note how
the hinge of the tool “captures” the frame.
After you get the front shield separated from the chassis, you’ll have the radio
disassembled to this point (note the o-ring is intact and undamaged):
Gently wiggle the chassis free and lift
upward and away from the front shield
Separating the front shield flex from the chassis can be tricky, but you’ll get
the hang of it – you can use your thumb to pop the flex connector off:
The white part
here is the
connector, the
black is the
plastic flex
support – very
gently pry
downward on
the black
support and the
connector will
unmate with little
or no effort.
Notice the lip
at the bottom
of this retainer.
This is a
that is required
to prevent
wear on the
flex. See the
next slide.
Two things in this picture – one is the connector type – this is a “B” series
connector (notice how wide it is with the male plug in the center). The second
item is the green universal connector plug retainer.
Universal Connector Retainer
Old style on the left, new on the
right. Motorola kit 4205582Z07 was a
retrofit for the old style. You will have to
call parts ID as this doesn’t appear to be
a valid part number anymore…
A Series vs. B Series Housings
“A” Series radios (I.e. H09RDH9PW7AN) use a different controller
board (NCN6128) that has a different plug on it for connecting the
front housing. This is CRUCIAL when ordering replacement parts
for your radio! In the below picture, the “B” series is on the LEFT.
Ok, back on track….
In the below picture, you see the radio with the front shield completely removed.
LCD Flex retainer bracket
– has two snaps that must
be pried upward to remove
One of the most common assembly errors is
right here. This brown “finger” is part of the flex
for the LCD. There is a slot in the retainer to
allow this finger to stick out and be compressed
against the frame during re-assembly.
There is a
cutout in
shield that
is for the
rubber “tit”
on the
LCD flex –
make sure
it’s seated
These are the three mounting posts for the LCD protector (black rubber
piece). Make sure the red plastic is on there as it helps retain the LCD
securely in place.
I normally just use the
plastic special tool for
this, but a small flat
blade screwdriver works
just as well. Note the
“finger” of the LCD flex
sticking out.
This is the keypad flex retainer,
again – a small flat blade works well
here too.
There are four small retainers that must be released to remove the keypad
Flex assembly. Once removed you can remove the entire keypad flex
assembly and set it aside. Note the flex retainer is completely released
from the chassis.
There is a small cutout that forms a notch that holds the
NCN6167 controller board in place. If you gently lift the
controller board up from the BOTTOM of the radio, it will slip
right out of the radio. Ensure the top of the controller board
engages this retainer notch during reassembly!
Nice view of the
controller board
and LCD assembly
after partial
removal…..oh by
the way… that
controller board is
about $400… and
the LCD is about
$80… so BE
(FYI, this board
stores your HOST
Now that the NCN6167 Controller board has been removed, this is what you’ll see:
These two header connectors route signals
between the controller board, the vocoder
and the RF board. INGENIOUS! They are
keyed to prevent installing them the wrong
way – but you need to watch reassembly
to ensure that they haven’t moved.
This is your
VOCODER. It’s not a
VOCON – It’s a
VOCODER. This is
where your DSP
firmware is stored.
Note that it’s installed
upside down.
Note the keying lugs on these
connectors – they’re supposed to
be “sailor proof” – be sure you
put them in right!
Be careful – don’t fry it or
drop it – current
replacement cost is
around $400.00
Removing the RF Shield… not required for my project… but shown to you!
There is one retainer clip on the left
side that must be removed….this is
the same style clip as the keypad….
And two detents need to be “popped” on
the right hand side to remove the RF
There are two small detents that must be disengaged to remove
the RF board shield. Note the blue RF cable – be VERY careful
with this cable – it’s two ended – and connects the RF board to the
antenna connector – it’s VERY EASILY damaged.
You may have to use your small flat
blade screwdriver to GENTLY pry the
RF board shield free… BE CAREFUL!
RF Shield removed…..
The RF board is removed by lifting it from the LEFT side (long silver
can) and tilting it upward to free the two retainers from their detents in
the chassis (yellow circles)… if you are removing the RF board
completely, use a small pair of hemostats or fine needlenose pliers to
remove the RF cable from it’s socket on the RF board…..
Ok.. What I was really here for…
This is a side view of the secure module and it’s mounting tray. Note
the gap between the secure module and the retainer – THIS IS NOT
INSTALLED CORRECTLY and must be fixed before installation….
Lay the secure
module in the
retainer tray as
shown. There are
notches in this tray
that will retain the
board. Lay it flat
as shown and then
slide it to the left –
and it will be under
the notches. DO
and DO NOT bend
the metal retainer!
Notice how the secure board lays flat in the mounting tray – and note the
bend in the tray (the “V” shape) – this is the correct layout!
There are two detents on the LEFT
HAND SIDE that must be engaged
FIRST. Once they have snapped
into place, use your screwdriver to
GENTLY press down on the right
side of the RETAINER (NOT THE
BOARD!) and it will snap into place.
Once this is done, check your 2
interconnect header connectors to
make sure they are still oriented
One properly installed secure
module… note that the metal
secure module retainer board is
snug against the chassis….
When you re-install the Controller board (noting the “notch” at the top
of the frame….) you can gently press down on the yellow caps on top
of the board to mate the secure module to the controller board.
The Idiot Check
Once you have the controller board mated to the secure module and
properly reseated into the chassis, check to make sure you can see
the posts on the header connectors sticking through their
corresponding holes in the board. This is your last chance before
final assembly to correct an incorrectly seated header connector!
Install the keypad flex
and shield assembly…
there are four
retainers that must
engage the chasiss….
Then engage the Keypad flex
The LCD Display
The XTS 3000 LCD has a very serious weak link – the flex. You must be
extremely careful during installation and removal or you will tear it – and ruin
the assembly. Best method is to lay it face down and align the flex / flex
retainer and then snap into place, then fold the display over and mate it to
the 3 red-tipped binding posts. Ensure the protrusion on the bottom of the
LCD protective rubber correctly mates with the cutout on the keypad shield.
LOOK MOM! My o-ring isn’t torn up!
Note the rubber tit at the bottom of the
LCD is engaged in the keypad flex shield
and the “finger” is sticking out from the
display flex….
Insert the chassis into the top of the front shield…. The
two upper metal tabs on the casting will slide UNDER
the yellow lip below the MOTOROLA logo…..gently
keep pushing the casting upwards into the front
Make sure the o-ring is properly
seated along the left and right of the
frame and you’ll end up with the
picture on the left here…. Ready for
the final “seat” into the case…
One trick that I’ve used
is to turn the tool
and very gently pry the
case outward while
simultaneously pushing
down on the radio
chassis…. This makes
the o-ring seat properly
Note that the o-ring is NOT visible from the outside and that there is
ZERO DAMAGE to the bottom of the front shield…. Done RIGHT!
And the final result…..
Those Damn Knobs
The frequency knob inserts on the 3000 and 5000 are *NOT* the same, neither is the
sticker that goes on the insert! Alas, you use the same technique to remove and install
them. Here are some pictures that can help you with this task. I discourage you from
reusing the inserts as they are very easily damaged… so easy that the first “test” I do
when I examine a radio for purchase is to gently pull upwards on the channel select
(frequency) knob to see if it’s been swapped… you’d be amazed how many come off in
your hands….The white plastic piece is commonly referred to as an “insert”…the manual
calls it an “insert retainer”. The volume insert is the same for both the 3000 and 5000.
Gently pry out the “fingers” from the insert and pry it off… takes a few tries….
Insert differences
• XTS 3000
• XTS 5000
– Channel select insert
– Channel select Insert
• P/N 4305373Z01
• P/N 4305373Z02
– Channel escutcheon
– Channel escutcheon
• P/N 1305374Z01
• P/N 1505374Z03
– Volume insert
– Volume insert
• P/N 4305372Z01
• P/N 4305372Z01
Note: Same part number
Ok… some on the 5000
The XTS 5000 is VERY similar, yet very different from the XTS 3000 series
radios. It’s obvious from the internals that they learned some valuable
lessons from the design of the 3000. Gone are the metal retainers that
secure the LCD and keypad flex…. They’ve been replaced with high
density connectors that are much easier to install and remove. One of the
most glaring differences between the two radios is that the XTS 5000 only
uses two circuit boards: the VOCON and the RF board. Gone is the
XTS3000 vocoder board – it’s been completely incorporated into the
VOCON. (VOcoder CONtroller = VOCON)
The removal of the front shield on the XTS 5000 is exactly the same as the
XTS 3000. The special tool is the previously covered 6685833D01. The
front shield flex plug from the housing to the VOCON is a little smaller on
the 5000, but the technique of front shield removal is the same.
LCD flex plug
Front Shield
flex plug
flex plug
Nice shot of the LCD connector. The rubber locator pad surrounding the
LCD is only secured on two posts on the 5000 – the 3000 uses three
This is the “old style” NTN4563 VOCON. It has been replaced with the
NNTN4717 VOCON. It uses a different processor (RAM22 in self test) than
the NNTN4717 (BRAVO in self test) but is otherwise indifferent from the
newer NNTN4717. Both boards have 8 megs of RAM and any differences
are completely transparent to the user.
NNTN5032 XTS 5000
Universal Cryptographic
Module (UCM)
Note that the XTS 5000 only uses a single compression connector….
There are four clips on the
5000 RF board shield, two on
each side – similar to the 3000.
Two retainer tabs at the top of
the RF shield, just like the 3000
This is a unique feature of the 5000 – there is a rubber pad on top of the RF
board in between the actual circuit board and the RF shield. Note here the view
of the keying lugs for the compression connector. The RF board is retained in a
similar manner as the 3000, you have to lift the left side up to clear the tabs on
the right hand side. This pad is band specific due to variations in the RF board
components… there are yellow, green and orange ones depending on the RF
band of the board. When reinstalling the RF shield, you must ensure the board
cutouts clear the notch provided for the compression connector – and that they
don’t ‘pinch’ this rubber mat.
This is the NTN8910 VHF XTS 5000 RF board. Note the same little blue cable
connects the RF board to the RF connector on the chassis… BE CAREFUL!
This is the backside of the NTN4563 VOCON – showing the secure module
and it’s mating socket on the rear of the board.
This is the best view I
could get of the tab /
notch at the top of the
VOCON. This is very
similar to the XTS 3000
in that it serves to
secure the top of the
VOCON to the chassis.
This is my
technique for
installing the
front shield onto
the chasis. The
rubber pad on
the back of the
connector flex is
sitting at the
bottom of my
thumb. When
you grab the
chassis with your
other hand, it
makes it a cinch
to mate the
The remainder of the reassembly is the same as the 3000 – the same
methods can be applied and you’ll enjoy a nice looking, undamaged case. In
the next few slides, I’ll explain some of the intricacies of the XTS 5000.
VOCODER and Display Compatibility Chart
Part #
7285726C02 (VHF/800)
7285726C03 (UHF)
The NNTN4717 is the newest VOCON and is usable on ANY band
The NTN9564 is unique in that it uses a different display – the “C01”
– it will NOT function with anything other than a “C01” display.
The Astro Digital Saber
I first held one of these radios in the spring of 1996, over 10 years ago.
What a wonder of modern technology! Of course, at the time, no one
outside Motorola really knew the plans for the platform – and VSELP ruled
the day. Holding a radio with Host firmware of AP_R1.00.00 was pretty
darn cool. The first generation mixed mode portable from Motorola
(analog/VSELP), it was quite the brick to carry around, but between the
display (14 characters!) and the channel capacity (255!) – not to mention
the advent of the “S-record” and “LA_ROVER”…. What a radio!
Just think of the pride walking around the hamfest with an AS3 on your
belt! Nothing but geek envy from those Systems Saber guys!
I’ll have to be honest. I don’t like taking Astro Sabers apart. Most tend to
have brittle flexes on the display board and side of the frame (PTT/Monitor
buttons), so please proceed at your own risk. You’ll note in the slides the
common errors I’ve seen from radios I’ve encountered in the field.
The Astro Digital Saber, Model 3, VHF with the new HNN9033 Impres battery
Tools required: A small phillips and a split blade screwdriver
Step 1: Remove the
accessory/programming port cover…
Step 2: Loosen the two slotted
screws at the bottom… no need to
remove the belt clip….
Screw the antenna onto the radio and gently pull it out of the housing….
Contrary to popular belief, you do
NOT need to pry on the two retainer
tabs at the bottom of the front
shield…. Just put your thumb where
the yellow “X” is in the picture and
push forward towards the top of the
radio (horizontally) and the two
plastic tabs will release…. This is
why most second hand radios have
broken plastic retainers… from guys
who think you have to pry those two
tabs off with a screwdriver…. Note
that broken tabs do not really cause
any problems – the radio is held
together by compression anyway.
Plastic retainers
There are three connectors that must be removed from the radio to take it
apart. The lower connector in this picture is for the side PTT flex. The
upper two connectors are for the speaker and microphone (left connector)
and the display/keypad (right connector)
Front shield separated from the chassis
RF board flex removal, gently pry upwards and it pops right off.
Now the fun part. You have to remove four little phillips screws to get the
vocon out of the chassis. These are very easy to strip the screwheads
out of – so please be careful and use a proper fitting screwdriver…. They
are also easily lost – so put them in a plastic cup! It’s very common to
find used radios missing one or two of these screws!
Once you get the screws out of the vocon carrier, this is what you are
left with. A front cover, a rear cover and the vocon itself.
Pay attention how the two halves of the vocon shield fit together.
The biggest Achilles heel of the Astro Saber – the damn interconnect.
Vocon removed, RF board shield still in place.
RF board is held into place with four notches built into the shield. Pry
upwards on these to unseat them (2 on each side) and the RF shield
can be removed.
Sorry for the crappy pic guys – but this is the Astro Saber RF board
and secure module. The secure module is retained by metal fingers in
the chassis – it snaps into place securely… sometimes you’ll see these
second hand either without the secure module metal “can” – or not
snapped into place correctly.
Notice something funny about this header connector?
Laugh now young Jedi. I actually bought a “DOA” Astro Saber on ebay
with it’s header connector installed this way… guess what? When I
fixed the header orientation… it worked JUST FINE! Ha!
The radio can now be reassembled using the reverse of the
disassembly instructions. Pay close attention to that header
connector – it’s easy to bend the pins on it when it mates with the
vocon. Make sure all four of the small vocon retainer screws are
FLEXES. Most of these radios are around 6-8 years old now – bend
one of those flexes the wrong direction and you will find yourself on
MOL trying to order new parts for your toy…. And just wait until you
see how much parts cost for one of these babies!
(sucks to be you….)
Anyway, this concludes the Astro portable series of tips and tricks –
I’m sure some sharp guy out there will want something added… feel
free to PM me on batlabs and I’ll edit/fix as required.
Your comments always appreciated… and don’t
forget to visit…..