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).

Then, 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 prefer), a large memory capacity (it easily holds the entire worldwide CCS7 ID contact list), and extra capacity for future feature expansion. It also comes with a decent CPS software package. For me, this one's a keeper.

AnyTone AT-D878UV DMR HT radio

AnyTone 878 availability

I got my AnyTone from PowerwerxOpen in new tab, a great source for ham radio-related electronics with a first-rate team. They have links to the PDF user manual, as well as the latest contact list, CPS, and firmware versionsOpen in new tab.

One important note: Powerwerx may not be the first to make new firmware available, but when they do make it available, I trust that they have tested it and installing it won't break my radio. Too often, I've heard about people who have downloaded the firmware from a different source that made it available a little bit sooner, only to end up having problems with it.

More info about the 878/868

Some good videos about the 878/868

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:

A good video about the digital monitor feature: Anytone 868 878 dig monitor featuresOpen in new tab by Chris, 2E0UKH.

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.

ZUMspot + RPi 3B+

For more info about the ZUMspot and other hotspots, see: Hanging out with hotspotsOpen in new tab. For more info about Pi-Star, see Playing with Pi-StarOpen in new tab.

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