CHAPTER 9

OTHER MAKES

 OF IMTS EQUIPMENT

1975-1983

 

LIVERMORE DATA SYSTEMS CORP. (LDS):

The Livermore Data Systems Company of Livermore, California, mentioned above, in addition to attaché phones,  made a variety of MTS and IMTS mobile telephones from about 1970-1984. Their first product was the LCP-1010 "Satellite Channel Search Car Telephone" (see Livermore, above,) a simple duplex MTS-only mobile using a Secode MJ-look-alike control head (Mark I) with the dial area blanked off, which was probably targeted to the California market (which remained MTS until 1982 !). 

Livermore's next mobile product was the LCP-2020 "Satellite", an attractive MTS/IMTS mobile telephone which used a modified Automatic Electric "Starlight" telephone as a control head.  This head is shown with a rotary dial as the Satellite IV and with a touch-pad dial as the Satellite V.  It is believed that few, if any, Satellite V heads were made.  The Satellite IV as shown below had illuminated channel indicators under the front of the control unit and a small DIP switch for selecting the "Roam" list. Channel searching in progress could then be seen on the illuminated display. It used the standard "MJ" car telephone cable, which is universal among GE and Motorola car telephones as well.  The radio package was basically the original MTS style LCP-1010, but with a new logic package. The 2020 was a reliable unit of quite pleasant appearance, although the control head was susceptible to RF interference from the unit's antenna in convertible cars.  Possibly my favorite car telephone in terms of appearance.  The 2020 was also packaged into an attaché case, more or less, at the same time, to create the Livermore Data attaché phone shown above.  The Satellite was made in two models - - LCP 2020, a 30 Watt unit, and the LCP 2020A, a 50 Watt unit.  Satellite production began in 1975 and continued through late 1979, when it was replaced by the Satellite 80.

Livermore Data "Satellite IV" IMTS Control Head, 1975-1979

The 2020 "Satellite" was followed by the 2080 "Satellite 80" IMTS VHF telephone, which was similar in appearance except that the control head was pushbutton (not DTMF !) and the radio package used somewhat modernized supervisory logic. The 2080 mobile control head was a maintenance headache in my experience, caused by the high number of primitive, heat generating IC's contained inside, along with multiple boards stacked together.  The RF section for the Satellite 80 radio drawer is identical in appearance to the Satellite version, other than the front label says LCP 2080L.  The logic section is quite a bit different as the head itself now contained a great deal of the signaling and supervisory logic.  Heads were available in either black or off-white.

The Satellite 80 was a VHF-only phone made in three models as follows:

LCP 2080   -   50 Watt Crystal controlled, 11 Channel  

LCP 2080A -  30 Watt Crystal Control, 11 Channel                                                                                         

LCP 2080L 30/50 Watt Synthesized, 11/13 Channel

By 1980 Livermore had spun off the data division and the car telephone business was re-named just "Livermore Communications."

Livermore's apparently final product was the LCP 4080 (VHF) and LCP 8080 (UHF) "Satellite 80 II," a newly designed smaller mobile package with essentially the same control head as the Satellite 80. The Satellite 80 II was in my opinion a complete disaster, both the head and the radio package were troubleshooting nightmares. The transmitter RF power amplifier was unstable and would go into oscillation, feeding off-frequency RF back through the duplexer and blowing out the front end of the receiver. The Satellite 80 II was made for a very short time; Livermore Communications went out of business in approximately 1983.

Livermore Data "Satellite" RF Package, Same appearance for all prior to "Satellite 80 II"

Livermore Data "Satellite 80"

CLICK HERE FOR SATELLITE 80 HEAD PHOTO FROM MANUAL 

Livermore Communications "Satellite 80 II" (1982)

Shown below is the RF package for the Satellite 80 II.  There was a newer looking control head for the Satellite 80 II, similar to that above, but with colored graphics on the lenses.  Actual production models of that head may have never existed, as the Satellite 80 II RF package below was supplied with the regular Satellite 80 head as shown above (but modified for use with the 80 II.)


 

HARRIS RF:

Harris RF of Rochester, NY entered the IMTS car telephone market with their model RF-150, in approximately 1973, which appears almost identical in physical appearance to a 1966 vintage GE MASTR Executive I mobile radio. The RF-4900 Series "universal" IMTS control head used with this set had self contained supervisory logic and required various jumpers to be set to program the mobile number. The head appeared similar to the Motorola MJ equipment, and was also sold separately for use on other makers' equipment.  It was also available with Secode 2805 Hz interrupted pulse signaling for the RCC market.  See the photo of the 4900 Series control head below under "Aftermarket IMTS Control Heads."

This equipment was superseded by the completely different CT-1555 radio drawer in the late 1970's, and by the "Alpha 2000" series in 1980.  The "Alpha 40" used the control head shown below, with the CT-1555 radios, but still required an outboard  logic package in the black plastic add-on housing.  The initial offering of the CT-1555 radios seems to have occurred with the RF-4900 Series rotary dial control head as shown later in "Aftermarket IMTS Control Heads."  The Alpha 2000 used the same basic control head as the Alpha 40, however all supervisory logic was finally internal to the radio package itself.  All of the Harris Alpha radio packages are of superb quality, particularly the Alpha 2000 sets (see below.)

Harris also sold the "Alpha 40" as a universal accessory unit which could be applied to the radio packages of almost any other manufacturer's equipment.  This was mounted in an ABS plastic housing designed to be affixed to the top of the existing radio housing with double-sided tape.  The control head was the Alpha 40 "cellular" style as shown in the advertisement above.  Harris today has become a major military communications contractor and a manufacturer of broadcast transmitters and other gear, as well as the current owner of the old GE two-way radio empire.

 

Shown below is the "second generation" Harris Alpha head used on the Alpha 40 adapter and also the Alpha 2000 mobile telephones. These heads were available in either black or white. The earlier generation had a slightly different keypad lettering scheme and featured a "Queue" key.

 


 

INTEGRATED SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY:

Integrated Systems Technology of Garland, Texas, maker of the Tel-Com 150A attaché phone as described in Chapter 8,  also made the Tel-Com 150B, an IMTS / MTS mobile telephone, priced at $ 2475 in 1975, and the 150-5375 IMTS control head used with it was available separately for $ 592.

CLICK HERE FOR AN EXAMPLE OF A 1975 AD FROM INTEGRATED SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY


E.F. JOHNSON MP-46 FLEETCOM:

The E.F. Johnson Company of Waseca, Minn. offered a duplex UHF mobile telephone "drawer" in 1977 which could be interfaced to any number of aftermarket control heads, although it was primarily intended for use with Secode SMART® mobile telephone heads used by private non-Bell providers and radio common carriers.  This unit had eight crystal controlled channels, a power output of 20 Watts and contained a built-in duplexer. Some were made into IMTS mobile telephones by independent shops.  The receiver sensitivity is shown in the sales brochure as a dismal 0.7 microvolts for 20db quieting,  The MP-46b is rare today and few were apparently made.

 

E.F. JOHNSON MT-500 SERIES:

Johnson offered a solid state IMTS mobile telephone in approximately 1981, usually referred to as the MT-584 (UHF)  and MT-574 (VHF) series. It was a conventional synthesized mobile radio except for an added duplexer, and supervisory signaling was carried out in the control head.  The Johnson IMTS head was a modified U.S. Communications "Callmaster" circuit design in a housing similar to Glenayre heads (see photo below.)  These mobile drawers were usually sold without heads.  Johnson had purchased the rights to the U.S. Communications "Callmaster" series self contained IMTS control heads in the early 1980's from U.S. Communications of Idaho. The Johnson sets were not common.  Johnson also manufactured a 1972 vintage UHF mobile telephone radio package, apparently intended for use with a customer-supplied control head and supervisory package, primarily for RCC use, which may have been used by some Bell customers who privately owned their equipment. The E.F. Johnson company of Minnesota went out of business in approximately 2006, although the company name remains as a firm in Texas which apparently re-sells equipment actually manufactured overseas.

The example below is a UHF MT-584 Series which was found mated to a Glenayre GL-2021 control head.


 

AEROTRON:

Aerotron was an old-line mobile radio manufacturer which made one mobile telephone package in the mid 1970's through the early 1980's.  Typical model numbers would have been 600TT30 or 600TT60 for the VHF drawers and 800TT30 for the UHF version. .  This equipment was unremarkable in design and used crystals for frequency control, with a self contained duplexer of rather flimsy and crude construction.  The Aerotron radio relied on an external supervisory signaling package such as a Harris Alpha 40 (see photo below,) a Secode VP series head, or a self contained control head such as the Harris RF-4911 or Glenayre GL-2000. Most examples found by the author were attached to Harris Alpha 40 packages. The original intent of the design was to be used with a Secode VP-1 RCC control head with built-in decoder.  The 600TT30 is a 30 Watt unit while the 600TT60 is a 60 Watt design.  In 1982 a synthesized version of this radio was developed, and marketed as the "Synthesized Amtel," which physically looks identical, and was supplied with interface cables to use either the Glenayre GL2000 control heads or an Aerotron marked GL2020. Presumably the crystal controlled version was simply called "Amtel."  

Aerotron was located in Raleigh, North Carolina until the late 1990's, when they merged with Repco of Florida and moved the plant to Repco's address in Florida.  Both Repco and Aerotron went out of business in approximately 2004, and the contents and remains of the plant were dumpstered.  The Aerotron name is now owned by a radio tower maintenance firm.  It is believed that Aerotron and Repco were victims of the cell phone revolution and such products as the Nextel "push to talk" handsets.


 

INTERNATIONAL SYSTCOMS:

International Systcoms was a Canadian company which manufactured a number of MTS mobile telephones beginning in the late 1960's or early 1970's, usually prefixed by the model number VTR-, made primarily for the Canadian market. Typical models were the VTR-7 and the VTR-74, both manual MTS telephones. The radio packages of these telephones found their way south of the border where they were often mated to Secode, Glenayre, Callmaster and other aftermarket IMTS control heads. The Systcoms equipment was ruggedly built, if a bit crude in appearance.  The U.S.A. sales office was Systcoms, Inc. and was located in Plattsburgh, New York.

Shown below is a 1974 dated VTR-74 series MTS car telephone intended for the Canadian market (note the 13 channels versus 11 in the U.S.A.) but sold in the American market.  The control head detaches from the radio package and can be mounted independently.  This phone had the interesting feature of scanning for the 600/1500 Hz signaling tones.  The model shown below was used by Empire Communications (Santa Rosa) as a Rural Radiotelephone Service unit in northern California with the "Compact" version control head mounted on the front.  There was also a "Contempra" control head built into a Northern Electric "Contempra" telephone.  Systcoms also manufactured the VTR-474, a UHF version of the same telephone. 

Systcoms' last product was the VTR-2084 "Micro Classic" IMTS phone.  Systcoms appears to have been purchased by Novatel, which brought out its one and only IMTS mobile phone as an updated Micro Classic, which they called the "Aurora," and which used a Novatel cellular style head (see Novatel, below.)  The head contains two pushbuttons on the lower edge; one is the "on-off" button and the other is the "horn" button often connected to blow the vehicle horn when a call was received.  The Micro-Classic was available with off-white and brown control heads, and probably other colors such as black.  The Micro-Classic could be configured for AMTS (Canada) or regular IMTS-MTS (USA.)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF SYSTCOMS AND NOVATEL EQUIPMENT


 

XILEX:  

Xilex was located at 2540 Hartnell Avenue in Redding, California and manufactured a variety of multi-featured mobile telephones from approximately 1980-85.   The company was formed by Steven Inness, designer,  and Fred Ashe. The Transcon mobile telephone mentioned in a later chapter was actually the last Xilex design and there is also a Xilex phone which looks physically identical to the Transcon.  Xilex manufactured at least eight models of mobile telephone and some dozen variations, not including the VHF, UHF and 800 MHz differences.

The processor in the logic board of the early models were Intel 8085 based, later OKI 80C85, and finally National NSC800.

The Xilex mobile telephones were multi-functional in that they could be configured to be MTS,  IMTS, IPTS, AMTS, 5-Tone, 2-Tone, SMART, etc. as desired.  It also appears to have been the first phone to use digital signal processing (DSP.)

The control head shown below is the Xilex 4500, also known as the MTM-8, which was used with a trunk-mounted transceiver. The plastic housing is German, manufactured by Krone, originally as a desktop telephone but in this case configured for mobile use with the addition of some switches and lights.

The transceiver was a modified dash mount mobile radio which could have been one of at least several different types over the evolution of this product.  One example would be a Uniden mobile with the dash-mount front panel "nose cone" removed and a Centronics style connector mounted in its place to mate with the ribbon cable shown below.  There were also some 4500 Series sets made on special order which consisted of this control head and a Pace 50 Watt full duplex transceiver in the trunk, sold primarily in Canada.

CLICK HERE FOR OTHER XILEX MODELS AND PHOTOS


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