After talking with K5BAK, and watching a DMR presentation at a club meeting by AD5HM, I set out to find myself a DMR handheld so I could dip into this digital world of amateur radio communications. Depending on who you speak with, you’ll likely hear that DMR is not HAM radio. These same operators probably do not have much interest in other digital modes such as FT8, PSK31, and so on. Every person is going to have his/her personal preference when it comes to amateur radio communications, just the same as they do when it comes to the manufacturer of the vehicle they drive, the sports team they root for, or the mobile device manufacturer they prefer.
That said, I’m excited about DMR as another avenue of communication for myself in amateur radio. My radio of choice came down to the TYT md-2017, which I purchased at the Cullman Hamfest. I talked to a few other HAMs who had the TYT md-380 and a few with an Anytone DMR ht, but I chose the md-2017, in part, for its waterproof design and the updated firmware allowing for 100,000 contacts, which is nearly every contact in the DMR database. I believe the database currently has just over 106,000 contacts worldwide.
Choosing this particular handheld presented a few challenges, primarily from a programming aspect. Although codeplugs for the md-380 are adaptable to the md-2017, their setup is a little different. The 2017 is a dual band, dual VFO ht and uses cps 1.22 as its current programming software. When trying to adapt a codeplug from a 380 to my 2017, I discovered that the Zone setups did not totally agree with my ht and i would frequently receive audio from a channel in VFO A (analog) while I was tuned to a talkgroup on VFO B (digital). This caused interruption in QSOs and caused some frustration for me.
After correcting this programming snafu, I’ve been enjoying my new DMR addition. My channel of choice recently has been the US Nationwide channel 3100. I’ve enjoyed a few QSOs with other HAMs from Canada, California, Texas, and Connecticut in the last few days. If you have the opportunity to try this mode out, I think you’ll find it enjoyable and a unique addition to your communications arsenal.
Check out the videos that K5BAK has shared here on Hams Eating Chicken and browse around YouTube for other DMR videos that describe how DMR works, give reviews on the various DMR radios, as well as a number of programming examples.
HAM It Up!! 73s