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Which digital voice mode do you prefer?


Lscott
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6 hours ago, MichaelLAX said:

I shied away from D*Star because I did not like the idea that a private party (Japan Amateur Radio Society) owned the technology and licensed it to ICOM.  Later DMR was based upon the public domain TDMA digital technology.

When DMR came to my attention, I discovered, to my delight, that Radioddity converted their GD-77 into a Baofeng UV-5R style case and hence all my Baofeng accessories would work (primarily my high capacity batteries) and for only $69!

With 3 DMR repeaters within range of my home shack, I have not yet dipped my toes into "hotspot" technology.

About a year ago, a Ham in Australia developed OpenFirmware technology for both the GD-77 and RD-5R and as soon as I find some experimental time, I will be installing it.

So with the RD-5R I have in the palm of my hand: Analog, DMR, 2 meters, 70 cms, GMRS, MURS and MORE! 👍

And did I mention, all this for only $69!?!

69? you paid 30 too much... I paid 39.95 for each BF-1801, the same piece of crap garbage CCR as the GD77... 

G.

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7 hours ago, MichaelLAX said:

With 3 DMR repeaters within range of my home shack, I have not yet dipped my toes into "hotspot" technology.

How's your sound quality on DMR? 

I'm reserving judgment till I get it up and running on a better radio (and possible via an actual repeater, rather than a hotspot), but sound quality seems not great so far, varying levels of garbled, from minimal to near unintelligible.  not sure if it's my cheap radio, the hotspot, or just life on DMR yet.

(on a side note, thanks again for the attempts to help...in the end it came down to the talk groups i had were stone dead...trolled the 'last heard' page on brandmeister for active ones, and added those, and boom, working.)

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4 hours ago, Lscott said:

I’m going to look into that a bit more. It would be nice to have some cheap hardware that does digital modes that would be costly buying commercial radios to do. Might be more fun than screwing around with a hot spot.

Apparently, the actual GD-77, which costs a little bit more, with the OpenFirmware can be also converted into a "hotspot" while that will not work with my RD-5R

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Uuuuhh... a race to the bottom of the barrel, you are hilarious, Mike...  enjoy your GD77...  its a piece of trash, both are (the BF-1801 too... I own a couple of GD77 as well, so I guess I got scammed too... all trash... but you don't care, I don't care... so it doesn't matter.

Cheers from the Motorolian snob.

G.

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1 hour ago, wayoverthere said:

How's your sound quality on DMR? 

I'm reserving judgment till I get it up and running on a better radio (and possible via an actual repeater, rather than a hotspot), but sound quality seems not great so far, varying levels of garbled, from minimal to near unintelligible.  not sure if it's my cheap radio, the hotspot, or just life on DMR yet.

(on a side note, thanks again for the attempts to help...in the end it came down to the talk groups i had were stone dead...trolled the 'last heard' page on brandmeister for active ones, and added those, and boom, working.)

Great news on your success with DMR from your locale!  Any port in an DMR storm! 👍

I find the sound quality out of my RD-5R better than average, but not great: just good.

I am told that DMR in general lacks the quality found in P-25, but I have no experience with P-25 and I do not want to invest in going down that road.

I can sit on my easy chair with guests over, and go to WorldWide 91 and ask for a "demonstration" and Hams from all over the world will check in with their location and call signs and WoW my guests.

And I am always amazed at what information I can glean from consistent communication to anywhere in the world:

For example, I saw my green light light up one day in DMR mode and turned on my Promiscous Mode and heard in Romanian a local Ham who had just landed at LAX from Romania and was talking on a Romanian TalkGroup.

I broke in, in English, and introduced myself, saying that my father's grandparents were from Romania and I had always been looking for a Romanian restaurant in the greater Los Angeles area.

He turned me on to Parsnip in Highland Park and I subsequently went there and bought a huge amount of take out to bring to a party at my Nephew's families house that is also in Highland Park.  YUM!

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24 minutes ago, gman1971 said:

Uuuuhh... a race to the bottom of the barrel, you are hilarious, Mike...  enjoy your GD77...  its a piece of trash, both are (the BF-1801 too... I own a couple of GD77 as well, so I guess I got scammed too... all trash... but you don't care, I don't care... so it doesn't matter.

When I am wrong, I will admit I am wrong:

I was unaware that the OPENGD77 Firmware WILL work in the BF-1801, a model I have no experience with nor, before pointed out by you, any knowledge of either! 🧐.

Please give me a link where they can be purchased for $30; as all I find are around $70.

I am sorry to hear you dislike the GD-77, but after all you hate all CCR's so it is to be expected.

I see no point in buying Motorola for DMR; at least not at this stage of my usage:

I found this review from June 2020 comparing the GD-77 to the BF-1801:

Quote

To me, the Radioddity GD-77 is one of the best, if not the best, DMR portable as long as you’re running the openGD77 firmware on it. 

Frankly, the stock firmware on both GD-77 and DM-1801 sucks! But the openGD77 firmware drastically changes the user experience and functionality of the radio.

I have previously written about openGD77, and here are some of the benefits:

Simplified user interface

Ad hoc talkgroup entry

Fast scanning

Promiscuous or “monitor” mode — Color Code, TimeSlot, and TalkGroup (several levels can be defined)

Flexible power levels, from 50 mW to 5W and beyond

You can practically program the radio without relying on a computer (except for zones and TG lists)

You can use the radio as a DMR hotspot connected to a computer running MMDVMHost/Pi-Star/BlueDV

The openGD77 developers have done a great job at porting the firmware to radios with similar hardware, including the Baofeng DM-1801 and Baofeng RD-5R (or the Tier-2 capable DM-5R), plus the GD-77S.

This means the Baofeng DM-1801 is a good alternative to the Radioddity GD-77, especially since it costs around 30–50% less (affiliate links).

Some points of comparison:

Package inclusions

Both radios include: Radio, battery, antenna, belt clip, charging cradle, charging adaptor
GD77 includes: programming cable

DM1801 includes: earpiece and lanyard

Personally, I prefer having the cable, since I don’t really use the earpiece, and I do have an abundance of extra compatible earpieces from older Baofeng radios.

Programming cable

Programming cables are not compatible between GD77 and DM-1801.

Radioddity uses a similar cable with TYT. Meanwhile, Baofeng has reversed the data + and - so this means you can’t use them interchangeably. However, what you can do is either modify an existing Radioddity/TYT cable (by crossing over the white and green data lines) or use a USB extender that crosses the data lines over.

Note that the Baofeng DM-1801 programming cable is not similar to the programming cable for the UV-5R and other analog Baofengs. Cables for the analog radios have the Prolific chips in the USB cable itself.

Antenna connector

Radioddity uses the Yaesu-style SMA connector.

Baofeng uses the typical reverse-SMA common in Baofeng portables.
Keys and keypad layout

DM-1801 has two extra keys:

VFO/MR switches between memory mode and frequency mode

A/B switches between VFO A and VFO B in memory mode

On the GD-77:

The red “END” key switches between memory mode and frequency mode, apart from being the “END”, “BACK” or “EXIT” key

The orange key serves as the context menu, where the VFO A and VFO B toggle can be found
The “blue” key:

You will notice the openGD77 manual saying to press and/or hold the “blue” key. On the DM-1801, it’s simply the lower of the two side buttons below the PTT button.

The PTT button:

The GD-77 uses a plastic PTT, while the DM-1801 uses hard rubber. The rubber button feels more premium, but it’s easier to press the plastic button. You need to press the center of the Baofeng’s rubber PTT to trigger it.

With these additions, the arrow keys on the DM-1801 are now a rocker that goes 4-ways. For me, the dedicated up, down, left, and right buttons on the GD-77 are easier to press. But the Baofeng’s arrow keys are OK, too, just smaller.

Clip

The stock clips are the usual alligator spring-type clips. The Baofeng’s clips is a bit larger, and the spring seems stronger, though.

On my GD-77, I swapped the clip from my GD-73, which is made of metal (pic below).

Visual differences

The GD-77 has the yellow “Owner” strip common in TYT radios. Are we supposed to use a sharpie to write our callsign here? The DM-180 does not have it.

There is a slight difference in contour in the case. The Baofeng is a bit curvier than the Radioddity.

More speaker “grill” lines on the Baofeng.

Oval-shaped orange key on the GD-77; Circular orange key on the DM-1801.

Slightly smaller signal LED indicator on the Baofeng.

Some additional comments

There are minor differences in the hardware, which results in some nuances. For example, when you set the keypad tones to a minimum, the Baofeng gives a slight audio hiss every time you press keys.

Some users also report differences in calibration, but I think that’s device-dependent.
Even GD-77 radios vary in calibration. Thus, it’s important to backup your codeplug and calibration before you do any firmware update

Conclusion

The Baofeng DM-1801 is a good deal. For $65, you get a radio capable of running openGD77. 

It also has better availability in some markets, compared with the Radioddity GD-77.

The GD-77 might be a better package if you don’t mind spending the extra 20 bucks or so. 
It also comes shipped with the programming cable (I have several of those lying around, from my other TYT radios). If you are buying the Baofeng and don’t have a cable yet, online sellers do offer it for around $2-$3 or so. Just make sure to specify that you need the Baofeng cable.


Note that I am not using the stock antennae on either radio. My GD-77 uses the antenna from the Retevis RT-8, while my DM-1801 uses a Cignus stubby antenna.

 

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40 minutes ago, MichaelLAX said:

Great news on your success with DMR from your locale!  Any port in an DMR storm! 👍

I am told that DMR in general lacks the quality found in P-25, but I have no experience with P-25 and I do not want to invest in going down that road.

 

 

What I've heard, I'd compare to a good analog signal, but "crisper". Haven't tried any simplex p25, just repeaters and a handheld. I also can't say it's been particularly inexpensive.

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@MichaelLAX

Thanks, it wasn't meant to make you admit you were wrong at any point, so please take that into account. In the end, both are cheap radios, and that's it. I see the lure, trust me, I own a crap ton of them, ... one of them still has OpenGD77 on it. In fact, I posted several times in the GD77 github forum as well, I known about OpenGD77 for a long time... but I found that OpenGD77 just didn't work from an LMR application perspective, and then the range on the radio just wasn't there either... so, useless.

If you are using the hotspot feature that is great, I just prefer to use LMR grade equipment for IP interconnect stuff because, again, it just works and I don't have the time to tinker with a fleet of radios...

Again, I don't hate CCRs, I am simply stating the fact that they are useless if you expect to get any decent range out of them under most conditions. Text sucks b/c it comes across as being a total jerk... in the end, like I stated in my earlier post, you don't care/mind, I don't care/mind... its all good. 

Here is a pic of some of my CCR collection, the ones that weren't in the box at the time... 

image.thumb.png.2bb53a96ea6d5a5fd25ea96f6d5df640.png

Would love to share with you the seller in eBay where I got my BF-1801 collection from, but those were purchased a few years back, when they were still relatively unknown. I used to scour eBay for CCRs like a hawk, remember?... This particular seller had a "Buy it Now" with a "Make offer" button, so I offered 39.95 for a bunch of radios and they took it.

For tinkering around I can understand why nobody would shell the cost for a single band XPR radio,  I was on that boat, and the XPR is not a radio made for tinkering around. And as such, I am not tinkering around, so I needed radios that actually worked in the real world under real world conditions, with zero tinkering involved... and happens that the XPR radios also work great for GMRS, among other things... so.

G.

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@wayoverthere DMR sounds good when setup correctly and uses good radios. When DMR first got popular the only option was Motorola MotoTrbo repeaters and radios. None of the CCR market was building anything. Over time they did. I know of a few DMR repeaters that sound pretty good over the air. They are mostly MotoTrbo but some other LMR brands on the air also. On the other side there are a lot of "home brew" repeaters now on the air with MMDVM boards on analog radios. Most that get put up never get aligned or setup properly and don't have the audio quality of a LMR repeater. Mostly because many hams don't have the test gear required or the know how to set them up right.

Next issue is the subscribers. Again the CCR market has flourished and blanketed the market with cheap stuff. They don't sound as good and putting them over a home brew repeater makes it sound even worse. Some of us have learned the hard way after buying "economy" radios then spending a bit more on a true LMR radio the difference. Even though I have many high quality P25 radios I got suckered into the cheap DMR market when I wanted to dabble in DMR. Mostly because it was easy. The radio got used once. Its in a box. Sadly DMR is dead where I am so only listened when working in different cities. I did finally get an XPR7550 and its night and day from the MD I had. YMMV

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I would agree, the property setup stuff sounds great. Even further, a Moto or Hunters DMR repeater is hard to setup badly out of the box. We have a handful of the multimode repeater that sound good, but the technical team that maintains these those are really good and have the proper equipment. The biggest problem with DMR repeaters appears to be maintaining a good reliable internet connection.

The Anytone sounds like junk no matter what, but it's loud, which is what many people like. Sound quality is exceptional on the XPR and SL radios, even on a hotspot. I even bought an SL7550 just for at home hotspot use, and it's always on the Ohio talkgroups 247. My CS800Ds do sound good, not as good as the Motos but much better than the trash Anytone.

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@tweiss3 There is no need for internet other than linking. I think a lot of hams forget about that. In commercial DMR systems that are linked there are specs for links however many don't go by them. In Public Safety those are crucial. 

I have seen many DMR repeaters using a hotspot or similar LTE router on top of a repeater. Most issues are poor coverage inside shelters and hams don't want to put up real LTE outside antennas. A county I just finished has this issue. The ham guys continue to complain that since they moved the repeater it doesn't sound right. Local talk groups are fine. They have a cheap hotpot on the repeater with no antenna. I have no Verizon and 1 bar of ATT inside the shelter. The hotspot shows 1 bar sometimes. It would not surprise me when the repeater keys up the bar goes away just from local interference and RF. . They don't understand that. 

With no linking a DMR repeater can sound really good. As said good test gear and properly setup sites are really good. 

 

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47 minutes ago, gortex2 said:

@tweiss3 There is no need for internet other than linking. I think a lot of hams forget about that. In commercial DMR systems that are linked there are specs for links however many don't go by them. In Public Safety those are crucial. 

I have seen many DMR repeaters using a hotspot or similar LTE router on top of a repeater. Most issues are poor coverage inside shelters and hams don't want to put up real LTE outside antennas. A county I just finished has this issue. The ham guys continue to complain that since they moved the repeater it doesn't sound right. Local talk groups are fine. They have a cheap hotpot on the repeater with no antenna. I have no Verizon and 1 bar of ATT inside the shelter. The hotspot shows 1 bar sometimes. It would not surprise me when the repeater keys up the bar goes away just from local interference and RF. . They don't understand that. 

With no linking a DMR repeater can sound really good. As said good test gear and properly setup sites are really good. 

 

True, though how many analog repeaters are dead silent day in and day out. The point of digital in my opinion is to have options to reach further than the local RF footprint. I often have a good 5-10 minute qso from people in Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati or even Toledo, all of which wouldn't ever be in range (with the exception of 1 repeater than manages to reach Canada and WV on a good propagation day). My real point is poor internet connections kill the DMR exprience, and lets be honest, the local use (RF to RF) is non existent. Look at this repeaters last used:

image.thumb.png.d7b483a82ed70bf5c88cae4ebc75356d.png

 

And it's coverage is pretty massive. It's also been offline 95% of the time due to internet connection issues.

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1 hour ago, gortex2 said:

That was my point. Most hams are dirt cheap. They wont spend $100 a month on a good ethernet link for a tower site. Quality costs money. 

I don't know if its just a matter of being cheap anymore, ... b/c a lot of the used LMR quality gear can be found for less money online than new CCR garbage... 

Back when I started on Motorola radios you could find used XPR6550 in great condition for <60 bucks... so...

G.

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1 hour ago, gortex2 said:

That was my point. Most hams are dirt cheap. They wont spend $100 a month on a good ethernet link for a tower site. Quality costs money. 

Wouldn't that also be true with other digital voice modes using Internet linked repeaters? That would be independent of whose equipment was used at the end points for the RF part.

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@Lscott Yes it would, but most commercial installations have no issues with getting proper links. I know some locations can be challenging to get a Fiber or Highspeed connection but I have seen Microwave links to another location to grab an ISP from. Alot of the commercial LMR stuff I have seen and worked on was done this way if there was not fiber to the site. More and more public safety is getting Fiber to sites as a redundant link and with coordination can be very beneficial to other users on that site. 

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3 minutes ago, gortex2 said:

@Lscott Yes it would, but most commercial installations have no issues with getting proper links. I know some locations can be challenging to get a Fiber or Highspeed connection but I have seen Microwave links to another location to grab an ISP from. Alot of the commercial LMR stuff I have seen and worked on was done this way if there was not fiber to the site. More and more public safety is getting Fiber to sites as a redundant link and with coordination can be very beneficial to other users on that site. 

So a fiber link would be more reliable than a cable link? I would agree if we're talking about a cheap DSL connection to the local telco.

Just for information purposes what is the typical link speed you think, or based on experience, makes a high quality link for VOIP traffic between linked repeaters?

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I wouldn't say a fiber link is better than DSL. My house actually had DSL for 3 years as we had no fiber or highspeed from any other place. I averaged 2-3mb and that's it for up and down. My P25 would work most of the time until we got down below a 1mb then I would get garbled on the base.  For link speeds it really depends on the system and how much it needs. A site with 3 channels of TRBO and controller needs more than a single channel. QOS is also very important. In a closed network such as public safety uses its easy to have QoS for Voice and less Qos for other traffic. In the commercial world the ISP doesn't give you or I QoS for our home networking. We just share the pipe and when it gets busy it slows down. Depending on the importance of the system will change the requirement from the ISP. Thats why when you call someone like Verizon for Fiber they have different plans for residential or business. Normally you will find a business account cost more for the same speeds. When building a system going to the ISP with a SLA (System Link Agreement) we will provide what we need. 

And for reference a system I worked on a system 15 years ago was a trunked system with 8 channels. We used a single T1 to the site. It was on a microwave link so congestion was not an issue. 

One of the things I think hams forget about in regards to the LTE style links is the idea of a disaster. The LTE modem on the Trbo repeater is going to work about the same as your cell phone. For those that have been involved in disaster scenarios you know that cell can be overloaded or completely gone. Many times Fiber and copper phone lines still work. All in all its about what service you need and want to provide. If I'm going t promote my P25 ham gear as a RACES/ARES type system I am going to make sure it has the ability to help, otherwise its just another radio on the air. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Only one I've dropped coin on so far is DMR, 'cause I could afford it.  Also, some of it's cheap enough that I wouldn't cry if I broke my radio!  I wouldn't be happy, but I wouldn't cry either.

Still, I really wish I could find a cheap radio with a really good prolific mode.  I'm reminded of Motorola Talkabout DPS radios -- put them in scan, and once they pick up something, you can key up, and the radio will mimic the channel and code of the last incoming transmission.

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8 minutes ago, Ian said:

Still, I really wish I could find a cheap radio with a really good prolific mode.  I'm reminded of Motorola Talkabout DPS radios -- put them in scan, and once they pick up something, you can key up, and the radio will mimic the channel and code of the last incoming transmission.

YSF does this, atleast on the FT3DR and FTM-400XDR, but only with YSF.

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1 hour ago, Ian said:

Still, I really wish I could find a cheap radio with a really good prolific mode.

I've heard of a Prolific chip in USB cables, but not prolific mode.

Is that the same as Promiscuous Mode in DMR?

If so, for $69, hard to beat the Radioddity RD-5R DMR/analog HT, which is their GD-77 in a UV-5R style case and now there is the OpenGD77 Firmware project that supports this radio, too.

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