Accomplished my first DMR QSO today with K5IMO (thank you Larry!) on the TG3184 (TalkGroup for the State of Texas). Thanks to KE5ZW & his DMR repeater located in Cedar Park, TX – 25 miles away, I was able to access the machine with the Connect Systems CS580. The local amateur radio club here in Austin that i’m involved with, the N5OAK, has decided to go forward with a DMR Repeater after much anticipation! I’m glad the club finally decided to go forward with DMR, as popularity has been growing as of late. Open Source is the main reason i’m hearing from a lot of folks on the reason for picking DMR. Not necessarily because they support Motorola, but C4FM is proprietary, and as such DMR kills C4FM in the “expand & evolve” department. I’m not saying i’ll stop using C4FM, it will have it’s place as long as the FTM400DR keeps kicking! I just like to dabble in different digital modes!
I don’t want to be quick to jump the gun on audio quality with DMR, but the clarity was amazing even just using this handheld DMR radio that I recently picked up from Grapevine Amateur Radio. The radio is absolutely solid, then again, this is probably the best HT that i’ve owned to date coming from Baofengs & WLN’s! I usually don’t like monoband radios, no matter if their HT’s or HF radios, but apparently most DMR activity is on UHF in the U.S., however there are VHF repeaters out there too.
More to come on the radio after i’ve had a bit to use/evaluate it. I was pleased to find out that it accepts my Nagoya NA 771 antenna that I had on my Baofeng HT. It has an advertised gain figure of 2.5dBi (take that with a grain of salt though). It’s just a really good antenna that’s worked well for me.
A huge thank you to KV5TX for helping me out with the radio & getting it up and running quickly so I could be on the air while I learn more about creating my own ‘codeplug’. Which is just another fancy word for programming file! The programming software is simple enough to use, some of the options/features still don’t make sense to me though. The operating manual is a bit dry as well too. I think I learned more from watching YouTube videos and asking questions to current users! There are a few DMR ‘etiquette’ videos out there too on YouTube to help you get acquainted with using this powerful system, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a goof out of myself getting on for the first time!
Interested in the quick specs? Here’s a quick shot of the specs taken from the CS580 manual:
Who knows… if DMR continues to become more popular, I may want to have a bit more ‘capable’ radio in terms of more power & more features. There are a few options out there currently, including the CS800 from Connect Systems. An HT is a nice compromise though, using the adapter, i’m able to connect to my base station antenna which is a Tram 1480 VHF/UHF collinear antenna. The Motorola options out there just seem too expensive especially after the cost of the programming software. Connect Systems seems to have met the sweet spot on price for folks interested in getting their feet wet in DMR.
As I understand it, the use of Talk Groups is similar to Yaesu WIRES ‘Rooms’, though a bit different, which I still have yet to explore fully. Hoping to gain a better understanding through a bit of practice! There’s so much information out there it can be a bit overwhelming though, that’s when your local DMR expert comes in handy! Hoping to participate in some upcoming nets as well to listen to the experts!
Looking forward to many more DMR contacts & the expansion of this cool technology!