DMR, Digital Mobile Radio, seems to be growing in popularity, and the arrival of a DMR handheld that is very affordable is great news. The New TYT MD-380 will blow your mind.
Ask any new Ham what they hope to achieve and they will probably tell you that they want to talk to the other side of the world. Well, DMR may just be the cost effective way to do it.
DMR is an up-and-coming Digital Voice mode for radio hams. It works on the principle of part-RF and part-Internet. You only have to worry about the RF part. Over 40 countries are running DMR.
Comparison against normal analogue VHF/UHF, D-Star and HF have all left me in no doubt that DMR provides the best audio quality. Whilst it’s true that there is a certain amount of ‘Dalek-isation’ of audio, it is not as bad as D-Star.
There is no hiss, no pops, no static, no QRM due to auto/home electrics. The audio is clear and uncanny. It has taken me a while to get my head around the fact that there is no ‘kerch’ upon de-keying. In fact when you are having a QSO, it catches you out when others de-key and the radio just goes quiet. It is a welcome relief when people verbally hand over as they finish their over.
The 5 watt transmitter is adequate, but if you live in fringe areas you may find the use of an external antenna to be an necessity. I live in an apartment and have fitted a 70cm slim jim on the window ledge.
There is also a low-power 1 watt setting but unless you live in the repeater keepers shed, I suspect you won’t use it much.
Want to use the radio on your local 70cm analogue repeater? Well, you can do that too without any trouble at all. The radio is capable of holding channel information for both systems in the same codeplug, so with a couple of button presses you can be going back to the world of click and hiss. CTCSS options are all there. An interesting option on the MD-380 is the ability to send a text message to others on DMR..
I’m very happy with the build quality and sound quality. The operating system is pretty intuitive but does have some annoying quirks. The screen is not brilliant in direct light, but how many radios boast that they have Kindle quality screens? The LED’s on the drop in charger are a little too bright, overwhelmingly so if your shack happens to include the bed.
In conclusion, buy one, join the radio revolution at a reasonable price.