Federal PA300 Tones

lotsofbars

Member
Jul 20, 2010
1,998
NYC, New York
So I just bought two 90's-style PA300's, and both have totally different tones; one is higher than the other, but neither are as high as the newer ones. How many different tone-styles are there in the older-style PA300's?


Also, on a semi-unrelated note, which two wires in the harness hook up to a speaker?
 

MPD 818

Member
May 25, 2010
1,304
Murfreesboro TN
I have noticed that different year models have different tones. Not sure on how many different tones there are. The speaker leads should be blue and brown.
 

Black Hoe

Member
May 21, 2010
427
Long Island, NY
There are at least 3 different pitched tones I know of. The original Silver Faced PA-300 had lower pitched tones. When Federal switched to the Black Faced model, the early models had the same low pitched tones, then they got slightly higher a few years later. When Federal changed the siren / airhorn switch from the flat paddle to the current toggle a few years ago, the pitch got alot higher too. I'm sure Wailer can wail in with additional commentary since this is his area of expertise.
 

lotsofbars

Member
Jul 20, 2010
1,998
NYC, New York
Yeah, I was thinking at least three. The older fire engine in my city has one that is very low and gets very high… it's my favorite model, but I don't own either of them. The lower-pitched model has tones very similar to that of the original silver faced model; they both have the black faceplate, though. I really dislike the newer PA 300's with the rounded toggle switch as well… the tones are far too high.
 

Wailer

Member
May 24, 2010
2,250
Canada
The PA300 has been in production since 1983, and there have been several changes to the circuitry over the years.


The silver face PA300s and the very early black face versions have a slow rising wail tone. The frequency range of both versions is 725-1575 Hz. Some of these sirens might lose their 'pitch' either to aging components or not getting enough juice to the oscillators.


Where I live, the city FD has a pumper truck with an early 1990s black face PA300 that has a really fast rising wail tone, almost like a Unitrol 80K or Touchmaster.


Later black face models have a wail tone that sounds like a cross between a Carson SA400 Classic and the Code 3 V-CON and Mastercom sirens.


The frequency ranges of the newer black face models are as follows:


PA300-012MSC: 700-1600 Hz


PA300-024MSC: 725-1600 Hz (24 volt)


PA300-012MSCPTY and PA300-PTYLM: 800-1700 Hz (with 'priority' tone)


PA300LM-CAN: 725-1600 Hz


PA300 690000, 690001, 690002, and 690004: 725-1800 Hz


PA300 690009 and 690010: 725-1800 Hz
 

wesson22

Member
Dec 29, 2010
36
Cotter AR
Wailer said:
The PA300 has been in production since 1983, and there have been several changes to the circuitry over the years.

The silver face PA300s and the very early black face versions have a slow rising wail tone. The frequency range of both versions is 725-1575 Hz. Some of these sirens might lose their 'pitch' either to aging components or not getting enough juice to the oscillators.


Where I live, the city FD has a pumper truck with an early 1990s black face PA300 that has a really fast rising wail tone, almost like a Unitrol 80K or Touchmaster.


Later black face models have a wail tone that sounds like a cross between a Carson SA400 Classic and the Code 3 V-CON and Mastercom sirens.


The frequency ranges of the newer black face models are as follows:


PA300-012MSC: 700-1600 Hz


PA300-024MSC: 725-1600 Hz (24 volt)


PA300-012MSCPTY and PA300-PTYLM: 800-1700 Hz (with 'priority' tone)


PA300LM-CAN: 725-1600 Hz


PA300 690000, 690001, 690002, and 690004: 725-1800 Hz


PA300 690009 and 690010: 725-1800 Hz



Is there a way to add the priority tone to a pa 300 with high low... i seen a video with a pa 300 that looked like mine with the high low tone and the guy had a aux switch mounted on the front panel labeled with priority and he could use the switch to go between high low and priority?? anything would help.. I'm trying to mod mine the same way.
 

Skip Goulet

Member
Feb 23, 2011
4,241
Midland, TX
I bought one of the early PA300s back in the early '80s when they first came out, and just didn't like it. It just didn't sound like a "true" Federal siren. The yelp had too much of a "wah-wah" sound, and I didn't like the wail, either. Couldn't fault the hi-lo or air horn, though!


I learned not long after I got that siren that it was the first of Federal's line to use a microprocessor for the sound output rather than the traditional amplifiers like on the Interceptors and Directors. So on that particular ambulance I went back with one of my older Directors and it did just fine.


When that unit was replaced we went with one of the SVP SA400s that had switchable power: so we were able to push a full 200-watts to the twin CP100 speakers. And I liked the sound of the SA400. That was when Carson was building for SVP. Now Star/SVP builds on their own and they have some very nice sounding sirens.
 

Wailer

Member
May 24, 2010
2,250
Canada
Skip Goulet said:
I bought one of the early PA300s back in the early '80s when they first came out, and just didn't like it. It just didn't sound like a "true" Federal siren. The yelp had too much of a "wah-wah" sound, and I didn't like the wail, either. Couldn't fault the hi-lo or air horn, though!

It depends on what your definition of a 'true Federal siren' is. Over a twenty year period (early 1960s to early 1980s) the sounds of Federal electronic sirens changed dramatically.


PA5/PA10: sound closer to a mechanical siren


PA15/PA20: more electronic sounding, but still low-pitched


Early PA15A/PA20A (B, C, and D series): low-pitched slow rising wail tone, true "wah-wah" yelp tone


Late PA15A/PA20A (E series), PA150/PA170/PA200/PA1000: high-pitched fast-rising wail tone, "yow-yow" yelp tone


Early PA300: high-pitched slow rising/fast falling wail tone, fast falling yelp tone.
 

Skip Goulet

Member
Feb 23, 2011
4,241
Midland, TX
Wailer said:
It depends on what your definition of a 'true Federal siren' is. Over a twenty year period (early 1960s to early 1980s) the sounds of Federal electronic sirens changed dramatically.

PA5/PA10: sound closer to a mechanical siren


PA15/PA20: more electronic sounding, but still low-pitched


Early PA15A/PA20A (B, C, and D series): low-pitched slow rising wail tone, true "wah-wah" yelp tone


Late PA15A/PA20A (E series), PA150/PA170/PA200/PA1000: high-pitched fast-rising wail tone, "yow-yow" yelp tone


Early PA300: high-pitched slow rising/fast falling wail tone, fast falling yelp tone.

What I was referring to was the original PA20s and PA15s, which were the original Federal sounds. While I don't object to the higher pitches of those that followed, I'd still prefer the originals. That's why I like the old, slow Sireno Projector series and the Vista sirens, which had slow wail rates and were very deep-pitched.
 

Wailer

Member
May 24, 2010
2,250
Canada
grieuro said:
the old types (silver face and some black faced models) have fast rising tones.....

Nope. The siren in the first video has the slow rising wail tone. The wail tone rises slowly toward the high note and falls quickly. That's the classic Federal PA300 wail tone.


The sirens in the second and third videos have a more even rising/falling wail tone.

Skip Goulet said:
What I was referring to was the original PA20s and PA15s, which were the original Federal sounds. .

Then you'd enjoy watching all the old TV shows and movies from the late 1960s to the early 1980s - they're full of the old PA15/PA20 wail and yelp tones.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

grieuro

Member
Oct 19, 2012
121
Greece
Wailer said:
Nope. The siren in the first video has the slow rising wail tone. The wail tone rises slowly toward the high note and falls quickly. That's the classic Federal PA300 wail tone.

The sirens in the second and third videos have a more even rising/falling wail tone.


Then you'd enjoy watching all the old TV shows and movies from the late 1960s to the early 1980s - they're full of the old PA15/PA20 wail and yelp tones.
i have make mistake...you're right ! i also prefer the newer types of tones....not the old ones..
 

chief1562

Member
Mar 18, 2011
5,822
Slaterville/NY

Q2bman

Member
Jan 27, 2012
116
USA oklahoma
Are you aware of the potentiometer in the older pa300


? I remember messing with a potentiometer (variable resistor) on


the citcuit board that changed the pitch of the siren tone.


One did speed and one did pitch. They are little phillips head screw


pots ob the circuit board. Mess with one you have that you wouldnt


mind blowing up just in case cause its been so long I dont recall which


one does what.
 

Skip Goulet

Member
Feb 23, 2011
4,241
Midland, TX
Q2bman said:
Are you aware of the potentiometer in the older pa300
? I remember messing with a potentiometer (variable resistor) on


the citcuit board that changed the pitch of the siren tone.


One did speed and one did pitch. They are little phillips head screw


pots ob the circuit board. Mess with one you have that you wouldnt


mind blowing up just in case cause its been so long I dont recall which


one does what.

Well, I've learned something new! I liked the old Heathkit sirens, seven though they were only 50-watts output. They had a pitch adjustment on them that was nice.
 

Wailer

Member
May 24, 2010
2,250
Canada
The General Electric Power-Call/Siren manual has a list of modifications to alter the siren tones, but those mods involve changing some components on the circuit board.
 

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