Tag: Baofeng

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!

Switch to Chirp to program my Baofeng

So the Baofeng software is klunky. You have to make sure the usb cable is plugged in before the software will even let you play. 

Plus when the software first comes up everything is question marks. 

So I had Chirp installed on the machine but hadn’t used it. On a lark I fired it up without the cable connected and lo and behold it came up without a problem. Plus Chirp runs on Linux too which I’m planning to move to in the near term. 

The only thing I can’t do with Chirp is mess with the Radio ID etc. For that you need the Baofeng software. I’m told it’s all  written in Visual BASIC. Maybe I’ll peek under the hood and try to find the source for it. 

And if you prefer to manually program your Baofeng GT-3, A52, B580T…

It’s really simple. First put the radio into Frequency mode. It’s different among all models but on the B580T it’s the orange button with a black circle inside it. If your have the speech activated the radio will say “Frequency Mode”. 

To setup a repeater you’ll need three pieces of information; the output frequency, input frequency and type of squelch (CTCSS, DCS). If you’re in the New England area use the New England Repeater Directory online. 

Now to offsets – the offsets for the 2m band is +/- 600kHz:

Here’s a handy table to figure it out based on the frequency:

2-Meter Repeater Output Frequency Standard Input Frequency Offset
145.1 MHz – 145.5 MHz -600 kHz
146.0 MHz – 146.4 MHz +600 kHz
146.6 MHz – 147.0 MHz -600 kHz
147.0 MHz – 147.4 MHz +600 kHz
147.6 MHz – 148.0 MHz

-600 kHz

Now on the 70cm band it’d 5mHz offsets. So let’s do an example:

Let’s say I want to setup 146.835MHz – while in Frequency Mode on the radio key in 1 4 6 8 3 5

Then hit the Menu key, then 27 (MEM-CH). Then hit menu again to choose the memory channel. An easy way to do this is to scroll until it’s just digits not CH-###. That way you know it’s an empty memory. 

Once you’ve selected the memory location hit the Menu key again. You’ll hear the radio say “Receiving Memory”. Make a note of what channel you assigned. 

Now key in the repeater input channel. For 146.835 the input is 146.235 and the CTCSS code is 192.8

On the radio and in Frequency mode hit 1 4 6 2 3 5

Now press menu key again and then 13 (T-CTCS). The nice part about this radio is you don’t have to scroll through all the CTCSS codes – you simply type it in. 1 9 2 8, then hit menu again to save it. 

Now press Menu and then 27. Make sure you’re on the same memory location you stored the receive frequency. Hit menu and you’ll hear the radio say “Transmitting Frequency”. 

Now go into channel mode by hitting the orange button at the top left of the radio and presto – the memory channel is there. 

 

Programming the Baofeng B580T via USB cable

In my case I ordered the cable on Amazon for $8.99. But I will warn you shipping is a little bit slow, they ship 1st class. But it took five days to get from Chicago, IL to Providence, RI. For a tiny rugged envelope to take that long means USPS is putting delays into things. 

 It came with the driver and app CD. First I plugged the cable in and located the USB driver folder and installed it. Then I noted what com port the device was registered as. 

Next I installed the UV-5r software. The cable works with pretty much all the Baofeng radios so it’s not issue that there wasn’t one for the B580T, A52 or GT-3 as well as the UV-3 too. 

Connecting to the radio is simple. Connect the USB cable to you machine and launch the UV-5R software. Make sure your radio is turned off and then connect the audio connector on the side of the radio. Now turn the radio on. You’re free to read the information stored on the radio; when you do you’ll see the that the interface is pretty rudimentary. It’s like an excel spreadsheet. One the left is the channel number, output/input frequencies, CTCSS codes and other information. Way over on the right hand side is the name field. Make your changes, then write to the radio. I also go to File menu and Save As a copy. That way if I ever screw my radio up I can just load it in and write it to the radio. 

 

More on the Baofeng B-580-T aka A52 aka GT-3

I ripped off the protective cover for the external mic/ear jacks. It was an annoyance. The cable would keep getting tangled in it, etc.

I’m very tempted to take a screwdriver to it and expose it’s innards. That might be fun.

One other thing, Baofeng themselves consider the B-580-T, A52 and GT-3 to be the SAME radio. But as I had mentioned before the radio I have lacks a Band button. However menu item #33 lets you select VHF/UHF. But the point – I don’t see the use of a band button a radio that only covers two bands. Plus it’s got direct frequency entry so there’s really no reason to select the band.

Now my Yaesu – it has a band button because it’s got 4 band coverage plus a general coverage receiver.

But I do like the radio. The display when backlit is pretty cool and even when the backlight is off you can read the display with good enough lighting, say daylight. Plus the when you put the radio in scanning mode it lights up every time a signal breaks squelch.

But I still contend, this radio was built for GMRS/FRS use as well as the amateur service. I also note the radio doesn’t carry the familiar FCC certifications on it like my Yaesu, it does though carry the Chinese equivalent CMIIT. The reason that I say GMRS in particular is the features of the radio.

It has a roger beep, the ability to suppress repeater courtesy tones, etc. Plus it has an ANI that can be set on the radio with the programming cable which I’ll have tomorrow. In addition it has alarm modes, and the ability to squelch all based on CTCSS, DCS, and ANI.

 

 

 

Got my new Baofeng Radio

It’s actually a B-580T the twin of the GT-3. Bit of a bear to program in that you have to enter the receive and transmit frequencies. I’m about to do a master reset on the radio again.

I’m just downloaded the Chirp software. And I ordered the programming cable for the thing.

I would have linked the videos I posted but I could only post them to Facebook – for some reason YouTube video uploads don’t work from my phone even when I turn on WiFi. So I’ll just have to put it in words here:

1) Once you install the belt clip, it’s not a terribly easy time to re-install the battery pack. Minor engineering flaw.

2) The one that really kills me – the radio has settings for offset spacing and direction. But to commit to memory you have to do it twice, first for the receive, then for the transmit. Stupid – why have the ability to determine the offsets and directions then?? it does work fine for VFO mode though.

3) The display is pretty unreadable without the backlight.

4) I like the flashlight but I do have a flashlight app on my phone too.

5) The voice isn’t Chinglish but proper English now. Yippee!

6) Doing a master reset on the radio cuts off the voice. I do leave key beeps enabled.

7) The screen printing on the keys is horrid. I’ve already managed to rub off the numbers on some of them.

I did manage to sell my KST V6 for only $5 less than I paid for it. Not bad – so effectively the Baofeng only cost me $20. I guess I can’t complain too much.

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.

IMG_1097_zps81b7d672[1]

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.