Radio Programming - 10 Common questions and concerns

One of our most discussed topics with new clients involves radio programming. This also happens to be one of the more confusing subjects involving two-way radios. 

In this article, our trained technician Matt answers 10 of the more commonly asked questions and concerns.

Still have questions? Give us a call at (888) 733-7681 or email

1) Will new radios work with my current fleet of equipment?

Not without programming information. Pulling a radio, direct from the manufacturer, out of the box will come with two default frequencies on channel 1 and 2. Unprogrammed channels will identify themselves with a constant tone, indicating the radio will not operate on the selected channel. A programming file must be built or copied into the new radio in order to match your fleet.

2) How do I ensure that my programming is in new radios purchased through Radio Depot?

The best way to ensure programming is correct in any newly purchased radios is to send a radio to the us for cloning. Cloning will dump the programming into the new radio in order to guarantee that the radios are compatible. Commonly, customers cannot afford to go without a radio for up to a week, so other options may be available to you.

An assortment of information is needed in order to build a code plug (radio’s programming file). For Radio Depot to replicate your programming; you would need to know the following:

  • Channel information
    • Channel Name
    • Frequency
    • Transmission Type (analog/digital)
    • Codes (Squelch, color, digital, slot #)
  • Button Assignments
  • Scan List

Providing all these details will allow us to program your radios to match. You can get this information from the previous dealer you purchased the radio through. If you do not have access to this information, a radio must be sent in for cloning.

3) I sent a radio to Radio Depot on my last purchase, do I have to send a radio to them every time I purchase a radio?

No. Radio Depot will save off your programming, so that any future purchases will already have a code plug associated with your account. So that once you have purchased, we should be able to cater to your system for the foreseeable future.

4) Can I program the radios myself?

Yes, for Motorola radios, one must purchase a programming subscription through the manufacturer directly in order to get the programming software to program your own radios, programming cable can be purchased through Radio Depot.  ICOM allows us to sell a programming disk. A programming cable will also need to be purchased in order to connect the radio to the computer that does the programming.

5) I do not currently have any radios onsite, and I am trying to start a new fleet. What do I do as far as programming is concerned?

First, you will need to apply for an FCC license so that you have jurisdiction of use over a specified group of frequencies. Without this license, any frequency that you operate on over 2 Watts of power is illegal. We are happy to help you in the FCC application process and getting you started with your new fleet of radios! Once frequency information is provided to us from the FCC, we will be able to encrypt your frequencies with various codes in order to cut down on the possibility of interference from outside sources.

6) I need the programming information you have on file for me; can you supply it to me?

 We are always happy to provide you with a fully detailed outline of your programming information, even the program file itself will be made available to you upon request!

7) Programming sounds like a lot of work, how much extra will it cost me to have you program my radios?

Programming can be a tedious process, but once the file is constructed, it becomes simple. For newly purchased radios, we will include programming of up to 16 channels free of charge. Contact us for pricing when you need more than 16 channels programmed.

8) What possible additional costs are there to programming?

I will use the CP200d as an example. The CP200d is available in two models, analog only and analog/digital. You can upgrade an analog only CP200d to become digitally enabled using a specific encryption key. This key; must be purchased for us to upgrade the radio. These encryption keys can range from analog to digital upgrades, to Capacity Max capabilities, to Wi-Fi enabled. All encryption keys are not available on every radio but can be effective in reducing cost of system upgrade where applicable.

9) I want to buy a new model of radio, can the new radio talk to the old ones?

It will depend. If you are buying a new model of radio, there are specific attributes of the radios you will need to look at. You would want to make sure of two things: Frequency range and transmission type.

  • Frequency Range: VHF/UHF/800/P25
  • Transmission Type: Analog/DMR Digital/NXDN Digital

Analog transmissions are the easiest to match but if the radios operate on the same digital format, the new model of radio should be able to communicate with the old models. Confirming these specifications is critical when making the decision to switch radio models.

10) Is there any customer support provided when these questions arise?

Yes! We are always happy to assist you in your programming needs. When purchasing your new radios with us, select “Help me with programming” and a Master levels sales technician will reach out to you shortly after the purchase is placed to help ensure the radios are programmed as needed. Or you can call 888-733-7681, and you can reach a sales team member who will be equally helpful with your needs!

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