Saturday, June 22, 2019

Which DMR Radio?

The Galway DMR Network will be up and running shortly giving superb coverage of the county. This network will be primarily using the 70cms band with the exception of the Multi mode Digital Gateway on 2 metres. Consideration should also be given to the fact that there are still Analog Repeaters in existence. 

All of the DMR equipment available can be programmed with analog FM simplex and Repeater channels in addition to the DMR channels. UHF handhelds are available for less then £100.00 from Ebay and many of the Chinese outlets. It is possible to purchase dual band handhelds which will, naturally cost a little more but are probably worth looking into. Even second hand radios are worth looking into provided that they are in good working order.

Bear in mind that handhelds have their limitations! Galway city is well covered by the EI7RHD repeater and the use of High power and the set top antenna will guarantee smooth operation. Low power operation is possible in the City as the Repeater has a good saturation coverage. Connecting the handheld to an external antenna on the mobile is possible. The colinear on the roof of the house will give impressive results. Remember the weak signal handling of Digital Radio will effectively give a greater distance before the signal degrades. Point to point simplex operation is possible on Digital Radio and has often been used on AREN type operations.

Mobile radios running low power, with the ability to run high power of 25 watts or greater, will make life easier whilst driving through the countryside. Roaming facilities are available on some radios and operation similar to Cellular networks is possible. Some handhelds will allow this facility. There are special Linear amplifiers available for use with DMR systems. Be aware of the fact that they have to be designed specifically for use on DMR. Off the shelf Linear amps for Analog FM will >>NOT<< work. Some say that the GPS transmit facility is a great idea, but it is not necessary and wastes battery. In the end it will, undoubtedly, be turned off all the time for this reason.

From a Galway area perspective, the following radios are discussed as most operators have them and Code Plug Programming can be shared around. If you buy an obscure brand of DMR radio the Code Plug will have to be programmed from scratch by you alone!

The following Radios come with good recommendation.

Tytera MD-380 

The Tytera MD-380 is a reasonably priced single band Radio and can be purchased for less than 100 Euro. Many become available on EBay as their owners probably upgrade to dual bander. Code plugs are available locally for this Radio.

The transmit voice quality is very good and very stable without warble. The receive audio quality is also excellent. Programming is easy enough as can be seen from the "Getting Started with DMR". As can be seen, there are very little controls to worry about once the radio is fully programmed.

Tytera MD-390 UV

The Tytera MD-390 UV is a dual band radio with very good quality TX/RX audio and as easy to operate as the MD-380. This model may have GPS facilities but the addition of GPS only adds to the cost - buy one without GPS!

This radio is easy to program. It will cost a little more for the dual band facility but is still good value for money.

There are other Tytera Dual Band Handhelds and these would be equally as easy to program.

Anytone 868 UV/878UV

The Anytone 868 UV is an excellent radio with good quality audio on Transmit and Receive. It is easy enough to program and operate. There are code plugs available locally. This radio retails for approx £139.00  and is good value for money.

The Anytone 878 UV is almost the same as the Anytone 868 UV but has the addition of GPS and Roaming facilities. It will cost £179.00. It hardly seems worth paying extra for the GPS version but it is the more recent model. It has since been updated to have blue tooth headset compatibility. It will cost more as a result. The display is different but with recent firmware updates, the Anytone 868 UV will look exactly the same. 

Both Radios come with the accessories shown. Both radios have exactly the same feel and operation. Both Radios come highly recommended.

Linear Amp 2- 5 watts > 25 - 40 Watts

It is possible to increase the power out put by adding a liner amplifier in line. The B-Tech A lead is supplied to plug into the Speaker mic socket on the side of the handheld. Plug the Speaker Mic into the front of the unit and connect the mobile antenna to the output and a lead from the handheld antenna socket to the Linear amp. A comrprehensive review may be found  >>HERE

Be sure to state which set the liner is going to be used with. Some sets have a different configuration of the Speaker Mic plug. Aengus EI4ABB uses one of these and reports excellent results whilst mobile. 

Tbe B-Tech Linear amp is suitable for Fusion and D-Star modes,  so it would be a useful addition. The linear amplifier retails for around £100.00 but surf the Internet for a good price.

Tytera MD-9600

The Tytera MD-9600 VHF - UHF mobile transceiver operates in both Analog FM and DMR mode in the bands 136 - 174 MHz and 420 - 480 MHz. RF transmit power  is between 46 - 50 Watts. This Set has been reviewed in an earlier post. The Audio Quality is excellent on both Transmit and Receive. It is easy enough to program and if one has a Tytera Dual Band Handheld the program from the handheld can be pulled across into the MD9600 Code Plug with ease.
This Radio is easy to program and use. The MD 9600 retails around £239.00 and is ideal for mobile operation. There is a GPS option but this is really a waste of money. A more detailed review of this radio may be found >>HERE

Motorola DM4600 Series Mobile Radio

The Motorola MOTOTRBO™ DM4600 was designed for the commercial radio market being ETSI DMR Standard Compliant and delivering really high class audio on both transmit and receive. It is packed with features, many of which one would not use in the general day to day amateur use. There are two versions available which operate on either UHF or VHF with either a high power 45 watt version or low power 25 watt version. The DM4600 may be programmed on both DMR and Analog FM. Whilst these transceivers and their accessories do not come cheap, they are well worth the money. It is unlikely that one would need to try any other radio after purchasing the DM4600.

There is a comprehensive review of the Motorola DM 4600 >> HERE

Prices of this set can vary amongst suppliers but may be around £470.00 on average. Whilst the CPS Software seems to be complex, this radio is very easy to program  one a little experience has been gained with other radios.

Whilst this is only a small selection of popular radios, these are the systems widely used in Galway. There will be a lecture and workshop on CPS programming held in the Autumn. Code plug clinics would be considered to ensure everyone gets good value from their Radio. 


If you don't have a DMR Repeater or Gateway system within you locality, consider a Hotspot. There are many available such as the Shark RF openspot 1 or Openspot 2.  

The Openspot systems are very easy to set up and use. The DVMega is another alternative. Both systems allow all Digital Modes to be operated and are the equivalent of a personal Multi mode Gateway.

In conclusion, one does not have to spend huge sums of money to get started and maybe the Mono band UHF handheld will be sufficient to 'dip the toe into the water'. Having tried the system with an inexpensive system, decisions can be made as to whether DMR is for you.

Outlined in this post are Radios in use locally. There are many more but from a starters point of view, those listed will have you on the air quickly. So many choices!