My Experience with the Motorola DTR650

I’ve owned handheld CB, FRS, MURS (Tekk NT-10) and TriSquare TSX300 radios. After searching for more license free radio options, I found the Motorola DTR series in 2012. Due to costs, I borrowed a pair of DTR550s from a local radio shop with the 1/2 wave antennas for evaluation. The performance of the radios really impressed me and was so much better than any of the other radios I have used in the past. Convinced I needed to get a pair, I searched online and found a store in the Los Angeles area selling DTR650s for $215 each. I ordered a pair and replaced the stubby antennas with the 1/2 wave antennas. I also found a used keyboard and a new old stock keyboard that I used for programming and texting.

As others have stated online, there is little information online about these radios. I was quite happy that my local radio shop even had a pair for evaluation. They did work right out of the box but with a little programming, they can be customized. In the urban area where I live, I have about 200’ elevation and can get about 3-1/2 miles from my home to my inside my warehouse. These radios work great on cruise ships too and even worked better than the UHF simplex radios the crews were using on 457 MHz. I have also noticed my local Ace Hardware and Macy’s using these radios too so they are slowly getting some more attention.

Very cool! Thank you for sharing.

I too purchased a set of TriSquares. They were so cheap that I couldn’t pass them up. They were awful, of course, and I ended up giving them away.

Welcome to the forum.

I just added one more DTR550 to my stable of one DTR410 and five DTR550s. I use them to communicate with others on film sets and during live-fire training. (When I am not training the real SWAT teams how to shoot fast and accurately, I am working with Hollywood film stars on how to LOOK like they know what they are doing while shooting fast and accurately.) I can plug them directly in to my electronic headset that amplifies ambient sound but cuts out the sound of sudden noise impulses like gunshots and flashbangs. I have had most of my radios since Motorola came out with generation II of the 550s. (The ones with the replaceable antennas.)

I love them a lot and became one of the biggest fans of the DTR radios. It was frustrating to deal with them in the early days, because even Motorola didn’t know much about them. I programmed them all by hand and using the Motorola keyboard.

But thanks to Andy, I learned quite a few new things about them and I may take the plunge and download the programing software and try it that way. Rev. 3 has some features I would like, notably the ability to turn down the volume on the conformation beep tone. (Interestingly, Motorola said that feature was available in their owners manuals long BEFORE they released rev. 3 radios.)

If anyone has any specific questions about my experiences with the 410, 550 and 650, please let me know.

New to forum, have 3 DTR 550s and have been enjoying them for reliable communication between cars. CB and FRS were too noisy (as in I don’t want to here others whistle into their mics and play at being a disc jockey) and unreliable when all you want to do is talk to others in your convoy (friends and family). Used mostly on the way to camping, sporting and outdoor events so cell phone coverage was never consistent.
Replaced stubbies with 7" whips and this vastly increased range of the 550s when used in my Faraday cages with wheels. The longer whips also helped when walking around my neighborhood that has plenty of trees. Looking forward to browsing this forum for more tips and maybe I’ll be able to contribute my knowledge too.

New as well, I purchased mine in California because I’m worried that if there were to be some sort of disaster the regular frequencies would be heavily crowded. Does anyone here know how often they run into other users? Any other suggestions for my disaster kit communications?


I travel all over the US, and so far have not run into anyone on my channel. The FHSS nature of the device makes it unlikely to get interference unless another person happens to be using DTRs in the area. And if they are, you can just change channels.

As I say, so far so good, though!

Another happy user, one 650 and two 550’s.

I recently purchased 6 650’s and so far am happy with the capabilities and potential of these radios. I am still trying to figure out the programing aspects to set up the private groups and private radio to radio stuff.

The range in the real world with these radios was a concern and very little info anywhere so I purchased a lot of 5 1/2 wave antennas on e-bay for $50 leaving one with a factory stubby antenna. The stubby antenna would cut out at less than a 1/2 mile, while the 1/2 wave stretched out about 1 mile. The area for this test was a 90 year old Boy Scout camp with elevation changes of less then 200 feet and dense forest of mostly Birch, Oak, and Maple.

Hello and Welcome!

I’ve found the range to be excellent inside buildings, which is where I normally use the radios - even better than the 4 watt CP200’s I replaced with the DTRs. Interesting that you were able to double the distance by using the longer antennas. I have the medium-length antennas and have not tried the longer ones.

My blog on Private Groups may help you understand (or confuse you more) about Private Groups on the DTR.