Tag: Amateur Radio

Got my TYT MD380 all programmed

Found the New England code plug for the radio. A code plug is basically a file with all the zones, repeater, simplex, etc. broken out. Plus I can add zones too.

That makes it really easy to program. Just open the code plug, connect the radio and write the data. Simple. Finding that New England code plug was hard though. Just go to the New England Digital Emergency Communication Network (NEDECN) and once there click on the DMR Downloads link on the left. Then click on DMR Code Plugs, and then Tytera (Which is TYT) and then select your code plug for either VHF or UHF. Then open the MD380-G software and then File/Open the code plug you just downloaded.

Connect your radio to the computer using the USB cable. Then Ctrl-W to write the code plug to the radio. So I now have MA, NH, ME and VT in my radio. And I’ll edit the code plug to hit the two DMR sites here in RI, one in Smithfield which is about 10 miles from me, the other in Bristol which is also about 10 miles from me as the crow flies.

And it works for me as I commute into Boston daily. So I’ll keep the MD380 with me too.


I had to program my call and DMR ID into the radio. It’s in the general settings.

Yet another new radio

This makes three that I own.

The inventory as follows:

  1. A Yaesu VX-7Rb does 70cm, 1.25m and 2m translation from 400-480MHz, 222-225MHz and finally on the 2m side it’s 144-148MHz.
  2. A Baofeng B580T does 70cm and 2m
  3. And all new a TYT MD-380 70cm DMR radio

I’ll be very honest here I like the MD-380 – it’s a very solid radio. The entirety of it cost me $100 but for an HT that does digital that’s pretty impressive. It comes with battery, metal belt clip, two antennas one stubby the other a whip, and charger stand and plug adapter as well as programming cable and software. It also comes with a fairly comprehensive manual even if it is in Chinglish. As an example of the latter it’s on the very first page where it states:

To Customers

Thank you very much for using TYT our two-way radios. This product has a newly developed function menu and humanism operation design, making it easy to use.

The humanism operation design bit really gives it away. And Chinglish if you’re wondering is original Chinese translates into English where certain things just stick out, like the above.

Once it’s charged up I’ll install their software, see how crappy it is and then go with Chirp instead.


Amateur Radio: Stealing the Thunder – Cheap DMR radio coming

I’ve been watching the digital modes on VHF/UHF shift around past couple years, WIRES, D-Star etc. But the radios are too expensive. I don’t want to ever pay close to $400 to $1,000 for a handheld radio.

t’s coming from Baofeng of course.  The new DA-77 is a full up DMR radio. And the price – $129. So I’ll jump in.

Now on to what DMR  – it’s a digital encoding based on 12.5KHz channels. It stands for Digital Mobile Radio. A bit of misnomer but then a handheld is in fact a mobile radio. If you want to go you can read the protocol specifications here.

It’s interesting that the ETSI who controls the DMR standards insists on calling it a “…licensed land mobile…” service. Amateur Radio in the United States isn’t just restricted to terrestrial use – there are a number of satellites whizzing around in the sky right this moment. Plus there is an amateur radio presence on the International Space Station. So Amateur Radio in the United States isn’t a land mobile thing.

But for the capabilities and price – once the DA-77 is available I’m buying one. The reason I think DMR will win in the long term is that the others I mentioned are WIRES (Yaesu) and D-Star (Icom). But they don’t play because they are proprietary protocols. But DMR is open in the sense that ANY manufacturer can use the standard. So there will in fact be a whole lot more DMR radios than WIRES or D-Star out there. if price is the driving factor that is. And believe me, it is!

Amateur Radio Digital Voice – which do I think is best

Let’s start with the one I dislike immensely – Icom’s D-Star. I dislike it because it’s Icom proprietary and doesn’t work with other vendors of radio gear. 

Then there’s DMR – at least DMR has multiple radio vendors like Kenwood, Vertex Standard (aka Yaesu), Motorola, et al. But the thing I think will dampen uptake of DMR is the price of the radios. The HT’s run from $375 to $800 a pop. Sorry, when you can pickup a Chinese manufactured radio for less than $50 there’s not incentive for me to buy a DMR compatible radio. 

Now I take flak because the Icom D-Star handhelds are pretty cheap in the $200 range. But again, I don’t want to have to buy another radio just to use a feature set. 

I think in the long run DMR will win, but it’s going to require the pricing for the handhelds, mobile units and repeaters to come down considerably. 

Yet Another Radio

Yes, another one. I already have a Yaesu VX-7R which is a quad band radio. Pretty cool but I really only use 2m and 70cm for the most part. Then I have a dedicated 1.25m radio if only because the VX-7R is limited to 300mW on 1.25m

But I’ve always been interested in the Baofeng radios. The successor to the UV-5R was recently introduced, the GT-3.


I like the feature set that the GT-3 has – it improves upon some of the shortcomings of the UV-5R most notable the display, the manual, etc. The specifications are also pretty good – it’s got a more sensitive and selective receiver in it.

But the best part – $45. Seriously – Iove that the Chinese are starting to eat into the market that the Japanese had held for years. And consider too they’re doing it at a serious discount. The Japanese radios were never cheap. My VX-7r was $350.

A Ham’s Night Before Christmas

Two things you’ve likely gleaned about me from this blog is a) I’m a ham aka amateur radio licensee and b) I’m an atheist. But I still sort of celebrate the holiday. Hey, gotta have SOME traditions.

Anyhow this vid is pretty cool.

Yes I do hold an extra class license – and I had to do the 20WPM morse code to get mine not like today where it’s theory only. But I do love my HT’s. I’ve got two; a Yaesu VX-7r that covers the 6m, 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm bands and a KST V6 1.25m 5W HT. The latter is little, only does 1.25m – the VX-7r does too but it’s output is limited to 300mW because of spectral purity issues with the power amplifier in the radio.

Something interesting in the mail today

So I got a letter from the City of Providence Emergency Management Agency. Apparently they got my amateur radio call sign off my recent ARRL renewal. The club as it is known is pretty recent, within the last year or so.

It’s part of  ARES/RACES. Those acronyms stand for Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service.

I may have mentioned before wherever I go I always carry an HT with me. HT Being short for Handy Talky or Handheld aka Portable unit.

A perfect example of how this would be beneficial is the recent events in Boston. Cellular completely flopped, law enforcement was hammered.

I have two radios to choose from, one a Yaesu VX-7r that does 6m, 2m, and 70cm at 5W, and 1.25m at 300mW. For a little more power on the 1.25m band I have a KST V6 220MHz radio which does a full 5W.

So one covers more bands, the other more power on one band.

I sent my application in and the next meeting is in October so I’ll probably go.