Discovering DMR – 2
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2) Choosing a way forward
Since I wasn't clear what I was getting into with DMR, initially the operative words for me when choosing my DMR hardware were "inexpensive" and as "easy to use" as possible.
2a) Choosing a DMR radio
Since I already had a nice D-STAR radio for all-around, multi-mode use, I decided to just barely stick my toe in the DMR soup to begin with. So initially to get up and running with DMR, I chose a cheap, single-mode radio, the CS580 UHF.
After I had explored DMR for a while, I decided I wanted a bit higher quality radio. I tried a couple different radios over the course of the next couple of years, the Connect Systems CS760 (a good concept, but ultimately a bust, soon discontinued), and the Hytera AR-685 (a quite nice radio, but unfortunately with a dead-end development path).
Recently, I picked up an AnyTone AT-D878UV. It's a nice, solid unit with a good screen (a black screen like my Kenwood TH-D74A, which I much prefer), a large memory capacity (it easily holds the entire worldwide CCS7 ID contact list), and it has extra capacity for future feature expansion. It also comes with a decent CPS software package. I think this one is finally a keeper.
I got my AnyTone from Powerwerx△, a great source for ham radio-related electronics with a first-rate team. They have links to the PDF user manuals (for both the 878 and 868), a PDF programming manual (so far only for the 868, but good enough to get you started with the 878), as well as the latest contact list, CPS, and firmware versions△.
I got a second 878 for a friend from BridgeCom Systems△. They have the latest CPS and firmware versions△. They also have the good fortune of having Chuck, K0XM, a founder of the Back Yard Repeater Group (BYRG△) in Kansas City (TG 31201), working with them as their support manager. The BYRG were early adopters of DMR and Chuck knows the AnyTone radios inside and out.
The AnyTone approach to its CPS software is a bit different than others I've tried. Here are some good videos that provide an overview of how all the pieces fit together; while there is some overlap, I learned different things from each of them:
- How to Create a DMR Codeplug△ by Chuck K0XM.
- Anytone D868 Tutorial△ by WoodburyMan.
- Anytone 868 from New to First DMR Contact△ by Chris, 2E0UKH.
Chuck, K0XM, also has made a bunch of great videos about programming and using the AnyTone 868/878 radios, which are available on the BridgeCom Systems YouTube Channel△, including:
- How to Arrange the Button Setup on Your AnyTone 878/868△
- How to Change The Startup Screen on the AnyTone 878/868△
- How to Change the Boot Text on Your AnyTone 878/868△
- How to Set TX Alert Tones on the AnyTone 878/868△
- How to Adjust the Microphone Gain on The AnyTone 878/868△
- How to Create and Import Talk Group Lists on Your 878/868△
AnyTone 878/868 Support group
2b) Choosing a hotspot
For the first year that I played around with DMR, I used the openSPOT v1, which I quite liked, though I did wish it had built-in WiFi. As of late 2017, a ZUMspot running Pi-Star became my default hotspot.