Programming the Motorola XT420 Walkie Talkie

By August 23, 2019 Radio


The Motorola CPS software is decent. The browser-based webserver implementation simplifies programming of multiple radios in a business environment.

In reality, we’re not all in such an environment. There are plenty of enthusiasts in radio who own these radios. The XT420 is a beautifully made radio, so I can understand why this would be a go-to walkie talkie for many. I did a video a while back looking at why the XT420 is so lovely to use.

Why is a Business Radio so Expensive?

Anyway, using the CPS software requires a cable (more extra cost), and it also requires you to be at a computer. This video shows you how to program your Motorola radio without the CPS software. The manual from Motorola makes a mess of this. It makes it look unnecessarily complicated. It is not, and I hope this demo shows you how simple it is.

Motorola XT420 Walkie-Talkie


The downside is that there are only 3 programmable areas on the XT420. Just the basic functionality is covered.

1. Channel Frequency – You can change the PMR446 channel number assigned to a physical channel number. I’m not sure why you would want to do this but you can.

2. CTCSS/Privacy Codes – This is the big deal for most people. All radios tend to ship with pre-configured CTCSS tones on each of the channels. As the XT420 is an 8 frequency radio with 16 channel locations, I like to have 1-8 with a specific CTCSS code and then 9-16 with no tone so I can hear all transmissions on a particular frequency. Being able to configure this in the field is useful. Of course, this uses the Motorola privacy code number convention but it gets the job done.

3. Auto-scan Function – This is a simple enable & disable toggle.


If you’re interested in what extra features can be accessed through the Motorola CPS software, check out this video here where I demo the software using this exact radio.

Watch the CPS Demo Here

There are some really nice functions. One of my favourites is the ability to name channels rather than just having numbers. Not only that, the radio will announce this name since either a synthesised version (which works well) or you can even upload an audio file to announce the channel name if you want something really specific. Very nice.

If you’re interested in a cable for the XT420, you need the HKKN4027A. Below are a couple of sites in the UK that seem to sell these at a more reasonable price. It’s still £60 for a USB cable though!


It’s worth mentioning here that Motorola radios are not like your cheaper Chinese counterparts from companies like Retevis or Baofeng.

They are locked down and you cannot change the frequency (except within the preset 8 or 16 PMR446 channels) and you cannot change the power output. Non-EU regions that allow higher power will have their own version of the XT420 but this a 0.5W PMR446 radio and you cannot change this in the CPS software.

I hope you find this useful. If so, please consider subscribing to the TDCatTech YouTube channel. Although I cover a broad range of audio and video tech, radio is one of the key parts of the channel and I have a playlist dedicated to my radio related videos.

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