I found an old Motorola Maxtrac in a parts truck I bought. I'd like to program some channels into it with a Windows 7 computer and DOSbox.

My first issue, is I'm having trouble identifying the radio because the id tag is all worn off. Therefore I don't know which rss software to use. Does anyone have the ability to ID this radio by sight? I believe its a commercial unit, not a radius model.

Secondly, I'm unable to communicate with the radio through dos box. I have tried a ton of different cycle numbers and none seem to work with my setup.

I am fairly confident that I have my comm ports setup correctly. I am using a usb to serial adapter and to a ribless cable. The usb to serial adapter is comm 8 and I have edited the DOSbox config file to reflect this. Is it possible to use this setup with this type of radio? Any help or guidance at this point would be appreciated.

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  • $\begingroup$ Besides specific Motorola radio programming software, you may need a very slow PC (386 era) to program it. I had an issue with an old Midland 70-1340B radio and the programming software does not run properly on fast PCs. $\endgroup$
    – captcha
    Nov 1, 2016 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ Were you using dosbox aswell $\endgroup$
    – Cosco Tech
    Nov 2, 2016 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ I tried running the software in virtualbox, vmware, bochs and quemu. Some vm's have a feature to slow down the CPU speed and tried that as well. All to no avail. The issue with the programming software I need is that the clock is based on cpu ticks rather than measuring the elapsed time (or something like that..). I could read the radio's registers but it got hopelessly lost when writing to it. $\endgroup$
    – captcha
    Nov 2, 2016 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ repeater-builder.com/motorola/maxtrac/maxtrac-intro-stuff.html contains info in how to identify the bands covered by a maxtrac through looking at the rf board inside $\endgroup$ Nov 2, 2016 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. Thanks captcha. I have an i7 processor, so maybe thats the problem. I have an older pentium 4 around that I can try. No 386s though. $\endgroup$
    – Cosco Tech
    Nov 2, 2016 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


It has been my experience that using true DOS (not DOS box under Windows) seems to work the best for older Motorola radios. I use a Windows XP era laptop with a built in serial port (which is important, DOS cannot recognize a USB serial port) and boot DOS off a thumb drive. I realize this flies in the face of all the recommendations out there to use a slow PC, but I have had no problems programming my Maxtrac or any of my other assorted old Motorola radios. This is the setup I used when I worked for a Motorola shop and we had customers with older radios.

To set this up yourself:

  1. Laptop/Desktop with built in serial port (not USB)
  2. To avoid dedicating said PC strictly to DOS, format a FAT partition on a thumb drive and install DOS on it
  3. Copy the Maxtrac software to the thumb drive
  4. Boot the drive from the programming PC
  5. Run the Maxtrac RSS
  6. Check the configuration, make sure the correct serial port is selected
  7. Attempt to read the radio

With my setup I did not need Mo'Slo or any other CPU speed-reducing program. The laptop in question was a Dell Latitude D630, with a Core 2 Duo processor and more RAM than DOS can access. This setup works on my two Maxtracs, and has worked for 99% of the radios I've wanted to program.

  • $\begingroup$ >>has worked for 99% of the radios... What is the 1% it didn't work on? I'm having a great deal of trouble with Astro Spectras, I'm also using a D630 and I have it dual booting into DOS. $\endgroup$
    – Lance
    May 11, 2018 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ The Astro Spectra typically uses the Windows-based Astro Spectra CPS. It will not work with the DOS Spectra RSS. $\endgroup$
    – QBFreak
    May 11, 2018 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I have the CPS working just fine in XP. But I'm trying to change the control heads and that requires a DOS based tool. Though at this point, I'm not positive I have the right one. $\endgroup$
    – Lance
    May 11, 2018 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Be aware that the software for the Spectra is not the software for the Astro Spectra. I remember beating my head on that back when I was a green tech until someone clued me in. $\endgroup$
    – QBFreak
    May 11, 2018 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I may have Spectra software. Do you have any idea what version the A/S software is? Or where I might find it? $\endgroup$
    – Lance
    May 12, 2018 at 2:38

I have had no luck getting any of the Motorola RSS software to run in a DOS box under windows 7 so I have an older laptop that I keep just for such occasions and it always works for me. In addition a further complication MIGHT be getting the DOS box to work with a USB style COMMPORT adapter. I would be far safer to just go back to the old style RS232 port on your old DOS computer. I doubt this helps you out a lot because most people today junk the older laptops in favor of the newer ones.


  • $\begingroup$ How old is your laptop. Is it a pentium 2 or something newer? $\endgroup$
    – Cosco Tech
    Nov 20, 2016 at 9:07

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