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Christmas Present: So, you got a DMR radio. Now what?

edited December 2017 in Sunday Ham Q & A

Tis' the season for new ham radio toys. Did you get a shiny new DMR radio to play with and have no idea what to do with it?

The learning curve is not all that steep, since a radio such as the TYT MD-380 is pretty well documented and in use across the 80,000+ registered DMR users. Chances are by my estimates, 4 in 7 people using DMR are likely using this radio or started out with it before moving to something else.

Some helpful tips with the MD-380

Much of the hard work has been done for you by the early adopters over the last 4 years this radio has been on the market. There has been a HUGE amount of "user interface" modification done on this radio to make it even more ham friendly.

After you poke around the radio and try reading/writing to the radio via PC cord, you will want to upgrade the radio right away.

Here are some tips to ease frustration and maximize enjoyment of your new radio:

Register for a DMR ID

Each DMR user has a 7 digit ID. You need this to use any repeater connected on the internet and to also identify yourself to anyone else. Go here for more info.

This will also give you some time to charge your battery up and play with the software a little.

Basic info on the MD-380

Someone put together a nice summary website. Things were not so easy in the early days.

Use the latest CPS found on the TYT website with your new radio.

Toss the included CD in the garbage.

Download MD-380 Software 0321

Change out the stock firmware to one of the 4 3rd party options currently available

Step 1: There are a few ways to do this and the easiest one by far is my using the TyMD380tools Windows updater by Ty KG5RKI. Download the Tytera Flash Tool v1.08 BETA here

Here is where a user manual for the updated features can be found

Step 2: Download the non-GPS or GPS version of the firmware and select the TyMDToolz version.

Put your radio into "Boot Loader" mode by holding down the PTT and side button above it while turning the radio on. The LED indicator on top of the radio will flash red/green.

Load the DMR User Database

Step 1: Using the Tytera Flash Tool v1.08 BETA tool, you can load a "Caller ID" sort of database into your radio to display details for any station using DMR instead of just the 7 digit DMR-MARC ID or a label you would otherwise self create for a contact in the radio. You do not need to put the radio into boot loader mode to do this

TIP: You may want to update the database about once every few weeks or when you start seeing more people coming up as "unknown" on your radio.

Getting on the air

In areas with no local repeater, many users use a hot spot device such as a dv mega, OpenSpot or DV4MINI to name just a few.

We are fortunate to have a few local area repeaters though to use, with the closest ones that are "internet connected" being one in Kingston right now operating under Pete N2MCI's call-sign in Kingston and Len N2LEN's in Sam's Point.

For a basic code plug for the TYT MD-380 and MD-380G, you can find one on the HVDN website for the N2MCI repeater as well as just text based information to "do it yourself"

Learning more locally

Facebook has a wealth of info. Many regular "ham radio" websites like QRZ and E-Ham do a poor job of offering accurate and easy to find info. For things in New York, this group is a good one to poke around.

The Hudson Valley Digital Network is also going to be a resource for our area to help bridge the gap on newer technology >!available to the ham community.

Where to make your first contact?

Both repeaters carry TAC-310 which is probably the 2nd most used talk group on DMR behind Nationwide US 3100.

If you were ever on CB, think of 3100 like CB Channel 19 and TAC-310 like CB Channel 14 or wherever you used to spend more of your time rather than 19.

Locally, 3136 is the NY State Wide talk group. 31361 is Upstate which is pretty much everything not NYC, Long Island and Westchester. 31368 is Mid Hudson Valley which covers Uslter, Dutchess and Putnam Counties as more repeaters come on line.

There is a lot more to know, but this should be a good starting point for a repeater based first contact.

Where else is DMR covered on the OMARC Forum?

Any time a new topic is started and tagged with "DMR", you can easily find what you need per below link

You can also find it on the left hand side of the Forum page

DMR Learning Curve
  1. Whats your "level"?2 votes
    1. Hopelessly lost and will try to get rid of this radio to someone else
    2. Learning slowly but want to get on the air quickly
    3. Its new to me, but can figure it out.
    4. Not the most expertise, but know the basics
    5. Hey man, I am a "Jedi Master" when it comes to DMR or the MD-380.
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