I just joined the forum today. I’ve spent very little time on the air since I got my Technician ticket back in 2013. Within the next few weeks I hope to trade in my old Icom radio (IC-V8000) and move up to a handheld digital multiband device.
The new radio will be a DMR rig to allow access on the local repeaters. I’m considering the Anytone AT-D878UVII or the Alinco DJ-MD5. Any advice is appreciated. I’ll be working the forum like a newbie hounding an Elmer. I’ll admit I’m not the brightest bulb in the tool shed.
The local club in Mountain Home, Arkansas has its club meeting next month. I plan to join the club at that time.
Ironically, I’d hang on to the Icom - really nice radios. For your first touch of digital, I’d strongly suggest NOT leaping in with an expensive one - TYT or Retevis dual band DMRs are at the lower end of the price range and having lots available here in the UK on the shelves, there really is nothing to choose between them. If the repeater local to you is a strong signal - try out a cheap one in case you just hate it.
Very rarely do the expensive ones perform any better, but they offer more and more gizmos. Personally long battery life and clean audio are my only requirement. Operating systems are so, so similar and you will like or hate a radio depending on it’s firmware - and how happy you are with tiered clusters of menus. One I have has two DMR repeaters and our local marine channels in it - because that is where my business dwells - when I get a new radio in, I stick in about maybe 30 ‘channels’ and just have two different CPS apps running, so I look at where GB7YL talk group 1 is on the top screen and create a similar entry in the new app on the bottom one. Some will let me copy and paste, others don’t - so 90% off the time I have to re-type in full. Some make entry easy, some laborious. Some automatically enter the receive frequency into the transmit box - assuming simplex. If you want duplex, you just over type. There require entry of both every time. Some default to a bizarre out of band frequency every time - some just sit at 400.000 or something. Others need you to create groups and zones, and if you don’t - the radio won’t work. Others populate the group for you. Some make it obvious what goes in a box - a little screen section that tells you the importance of something you might miss.
Codeplug writing is by far the worst but most critical feature. One recent radio had Ch0 (156.000) in it, but many radios nowadays have a spurious signal on that channel that stops a scan. One radio required me to delete it in the software because I could not find out how to remove it from the panel on the radios. Some radios say they allow programming from the screen, but doing it is extremely long winded. Others don’t even offer the feature.
So I strongly suggest minimising your expenditure on your first one till you try DMR If you get on really well and it doesn’t drive you mad, that’s the time to buy a higher priced one.
I’m old - (60+) and if I get an email from a person my age or older, a few clues give the game away and I’m always hesitant to put one in the post to somebody who might not even have a computer. Some don’t! What I can tell you is that after selling many hundreds of radios - Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, Recent, radioddity, Zascom, TYT, Retevis and other less well know business type radios is that NONE of them are unreliable. Faults extremely rare. I always kept the last one as a spare, just in case and every year I was selling the last old stock models cheap, because I’d never needed them. DMR has the worst return rate - we have a 14 day money back law here in the UK, for any reason if bought online, and people over 65 use it all the time. Often described as faulty, with clear disgust and anger - and when it arrives back, they used my supplied codeplug - I gave them my own codeplug with my callsign, ID number and the local repeater talk groups. I told them please, replace my details with your local ones. Common mistake is they change the text from GB7YL to GB7ED (or whatever) and rename the talk groups but they forget there is a contact list that says for example GB7YL TG844 chat 844 (in a different column) They leave this totally intact and just enter new frequencies - so the radio can talk to the repeater on the right frequency but with many talk groups not functioning - either the wrong number, or the wrong colour code or slot.
DMR is not easy, and cheap radio can be just as good as a clever one for newcomers. You need time and patience. I even have a few radios with no displays, just volume and a channel knob - I program these for clueless people, and give them a list - ch1 =TG1 World Wide, ch 2 TG2 etc etc. I look up their repeater and program it with just 16 dedicated channels. These never come back. I hope you are in the DMR is great category - in fairness most are, but it is just unworkable for some.
Some can listen to FM analogue and then repeater style, retransmit out in DMR format - that’s pretty Cleveland they can even do cross band DMR in repeater style too. Clever stuff - if, and only if, they’re tech savvy enough.