Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby G4RMT » Sat May 28, 2016 2:08 pm

I really don't mean to be a sceptic - but the price point of the MD380 and it's facilities means an easily programmed (by digital standards) radio is already here? I've been providing my clients - who have no interest in clever things, digital radio of all flavours, to replace their analogue business radio.

Clearly, using these radios on amateur bands is problematic. Nobody wants to have to resort to programming via a computer when you suddenly need X frequency, with Y parameters and with a simple way to get from one to another. The digital benefits of amateur radio are, in my humble view, pointless as all the clever linking of repeaters does is add new private user groups. The public, world-wide/national/regional groups are unwieldy, as from what I've heard, many users have programming that means a simple QSY is often impossible. Users getting lost, often unable to even remember which talk group they were on, or who their contact was. Whenever we have large groups on SSB, FM or even historically RTTY - the same problems happen - once the conversations get going, they must move to make way for others and usually some people get lost. In the analogue domain, the weaker stations get lost first, but in digital, every Tom, Dick or Harry on a £100 handheld can talk to anyone else with one - international borders not having any importance. As a result - too many conversations about nothing are not finished. When you are on the local 70cm repeater and the other station drives just that little bit too far, conversation abruptly finishes - when it's on a worldwide scale it's silly.

Going digital seems to offer lots, but realises little. DMR two slot operation is a good example. Sounds very handy, and with repeaters doing the reclocking, it is - but two users on the same frequency and different slots usually fight with each other as the timing required just isn't there, so to all intents and purposes, DMR is a one person at a time protocol simplex, and that's what most local point to point stuff is.

Worse for people like me when I have a large inventory of digital radio kit and no access from home to any repeaters, bar one that seems to rarely be powered up as it's one of those "I must be home" systems. For reliability that's no good for me. I have at some point to swap my business repeater to digital, but the reality is it isn't going to be any better in performance (actually worse, due to the pretty horrible audio compared to analogue). There's also a security issue - I can monitor the users on my system. Once they go digital, this becomes much more of a problem.

While I like the idea of a club providing something like this, the Chinese supply chain relies on volume, and the MD380 is almost universal. It's tough, decent and has already attracted the modders. I've got one cheaper digital model myself, and I can sell it for £70 if I had to - BUT - the 380 is a worldwide success. I have some 760s, 780 and other pDMR kit too, and really there's nothing in it. None of the damn things make changing channel simple, let alone anything clever.

Changing frequency, selecting a TG and the appropriate settings to just talk is a real chore - and none I've found make this a simple job without programming in HUNDREDS of options. They're just not meant to be used as amateurs use them.
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby Mick M5AED » Sun May 29, 2016 11:09 am

m0jfp wrote:Hi Mick,

I could not agree more, I really love HF and proper real radio don't get me wrong.
However if you want to chat with your mates or have a guaranteed clear connection (please don't say use a mobile phone!)
The digital modes are the way forward. It seems all the analogue repeaters now are dead on the air. I did enjoy using those in the past for local rag chews and whilst mobile.

The advantages of digital modes, repeaters are liked up using Skype like chat rooms over the internet, this means you can talk to any of the UK, European or even world wide DMR / Dstar or fusion repeaters.
The quality of the voice, although as you say is compressed is, once you get used to it, very good. To add to the value the digital is split into 2 signals known as time slots, so 1 repeater (one pair of frequencies) can now entertain 2 simultaneous conversations. So that's another advantage.

Now this project *TRILOGY* by Chertsey radio club is looking to help get people on to DMR, by providing a cost effective radio, we will do all the programming and ship it ready to use by you.
All you do is choose the repeater and the channel you want to talk on and key up (or just listen)

The aim to provide a fully functional unit at close to cost price (under £100) means you could try out the mode without putting a hole in your wallet, knowing you have support form a club who has worked hard with the manufacturer and will provide help and support just for the sake of the hobby.

I hope you can understand we think DMR is a good companion to Ham radio, but will not be a replacement, nor was it intended to be, for a HF of side band or pure FM contact.

I wish you a great day

Best regards and 73
Amateur radio does not involve talking down telephone wires and the internet. I am certain that the net is playing a major part in the death of amateur radio. Do you send QSL cards to your internet service provider ? ! I am a radio amateur, clearly I do not belong on this net users forum.
James
Mick M5AED wrote:The VHF/UHF FM bands are very underused now days. To make sure the few users will never hear each other we now split people up with DMR, Fusion and D Star ! What a clever idea, technology for the sake of it. My FT991 has Fusion and I have used it twice having first made contact on analogue FM. Fusion sounds like an unnatural compressed form of FM, not very pleasant at all. I can imagine a newcomer simply not bothering to spend money on FM due to being uncertain as to which system to buy and the limited number of contacts. With the wide open space on analogue on FM and room for everyone what is the point of this digital stuff ?
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby Mick M5AED » Sun May 29, 2016 11:20 am

My text "amateur radio does not involve telephone wires" etc has got mixed up in another members comment so I will say it again.

Amateur radio does not involve connecting a 70cm handheld to the net and fooling yourself in to thinking you are making world wide contacts. The net is doing the work. Do you send QSL cards to your net provider ? The net is killing amateur radio. If you must use the net then join Facebook or some other site, you could then tell your friends that you have finished shopping and going to the toilet now.

I am a radio amateur and feel that the forum is not the place for me.
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby G4RMT » Sun May 29, 2016 1:35 pm

Not sure Mick? I understand what you mean. After all I have the app on my phone that lets me speak to repeaters via echo link - there's no traditional radio element my end at all, and I don't use it.

That said - there are now clearly lots of very different strands that amateur radio covers, and radio communications is just one of them. Many hams nowadays are looking at the hobby as simply amateur communications - and there is some seriously heavyweight research and development going on in the communications arena. Hams as they always have done, pushing barriers in their hobby, with many of their successes then being taken forward commercially. There are lots of hams who are now experts in microwave comms - which to me, has always involved magic and technical skills I don't have, plus the maths and physics to go with it. These people don't need forums like this - they're operating in a different world, perfectly well. The chatting side of ham radio has just moved from the old 80m nets to other modes, mostly not requiring anything other than a cheap Chinese hand held to access.

Being a realist, but one with rosy glasses - the old G2 and G3 licensees HAD to make their own radios, because apart from war time surplus, there was no alternative. By the time G4s came along, there was old commercial kit to be modified. Now it's just too difficult to make a radio yourself. Even if kits were available these would cost more than a working one from China or the far East. Computers are now tools, and nobody is expected to be able to write software themselves.

Amateur Radio is what it is - NOW. Every ten years or so, it has morphed. Every time, a few don't like the change and either retreat or retire from the hobby. As they retire, new people take their place with the old systems and practices becoming history. There are still people on HF using CW. Some using 50 Baud RTTY. CB has changed in exactly the same way. The first UK CB folk, working with illegally imported radios in the 80s, were the pioneers here. Few are left. The initial experimentation and rig tweaking seems now a tiny group of die hard enthusiasts - CB and PMR446 being chat modes, where radio communications is just a useful carrier. The beginner class ham license are now based around communications as a carrier for chat. The skill and knowledge base being reserved for those who have an interest in that specifically.

Radio communications has evolved - amateur radio echoes it. Society has changed too.

I sympathise with your plight - but remember your callsign is modern in comparison with others, and you're just experiencing the current growth spurt. I had no amateur radio kit connected for twenty years, and one day, spotting my old callsign on the OFCOM site - I renewed it and discovered everything had changed. No CW, No CW 'barrier' to HF use, lowered technical requirements, weird callsigns etc - but I soon realised that it isn't worse, it's just very, very different. People on here now ask the same questions I did in 1980. 36 years later, the answers haven't changed at all in the physics, just in the paperwork. If I can help a few people access a repeater for the first time - I try. I don't expect them to know anything about my time in ham radio. When I first got licensed - the old timers said the same things about us new boys.

The only thing that has really changed is that the real boundary pushers in radio don't inhabit forums like this. They have their own, private systems, and to get access you need to be exceptional. This of course, whooshes over my head!

Don't leave the forum. Pass on your experience to help others, and grind your teeth on the silly stuff!
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby Mick M5AED » Sun May 29, 2016 8:38 pm

G4RMT. Thanks for your comment. My interest in amateur radio goes back to the 1960's so I have seen plenty of change. Home brew or buying is free choice, so is using AM FM CW or SSB. My concern is that us old hands will not be around forever, and young people will not really understand what amateur radio is about. Talking via the net is not and never will be amateur radio ! Amateur radio is rapidly falling in to the abyss and becoming just another telephone. The net is even changing the nature of radio contacts that we have now. I ask my contacts for their QTH and they cannot be bothered to tell me, they just say "details on QRZ.com" ! Rant over. Time to connect up my spark transmitter or send out the carrier pigeon !
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby 2E0UCW » Sun May 29, 2016 9:14 pm

To all those that have enjoyed slating this radio project and digital radio, let me remind you (and most being the older crowd) that shortly you will be nothing but a distant memory. The Ofcom statistics show that full licence holders are dropping faster than foundation / intermediates are being issued. Now in order to get more youth into the hobby you need to have something to grab their attention. I must say that the group photos on the few club sites that exist (possibly coz their members are not that highly computer literate) would frighten most people away. As nasty (or out of order) one may think this is, this is what I endured at the start of 2014 when I decided to find a club to do my licence. Just as my main hobby (plane spotting) you can see (and smell) the difference in the generations - one with notepad / radio scanner and the other with laptop / antenna. However in both hobbies you can also see those of the older generation that taken progress and change on board, maybe not fully embraced it but accepted it as part of normal society. Too many people in society are afraid of change.

Digital is the next phase and whilst it may be a commercial system, its on that amateurs are experimenting with to make it work for amateurs. And yes radios do need periodic programming (as digital evolves and requires users to keep updated) but since I had to do a CW appreciation section during my course, why can't the illiterate users learn how to at least download, upload and add their radio ID to a code plug. Some will learn and others will just sit back and expect it all to be plug & play. Each of the various systems has their pros and cons (as does any system). It opens the world to many including those with limitations be it with finances, ability to set-up a station and those with a disability thus have a limited social circle who can now easily make friends around the world.

The net will not ruin amateur radio - it will keep it alive as it opens up possibilities to all.
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby Mick M5AED » Sun May 29, 2016 9:45 pm

M6UCW. Here we go again. We see something changing and going down the toilet and we are accused of being afraid of change.
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby Mick M5AED » Sun May 29, 2016 9:57 pm

"code plug" good grief, I joined here for radio, now it is a computer site. Can the computer fans not be content with facebook or twitting ?
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby 2E0UCW » Sun May 29, 2016 10:55 pm

Mick M5AED wrote:"code plug" good grief, I joined here for radio, now it is a computer site. Can the computer fans not be content with facebook or twitting ?


If you are "anti computer in radio" why do you use qrz.com and a qrz.com log book instead of a paper log book? Progress I presume has helped make it easier for your logging and sharing what contacts you have made. Just as computers and the internet have made it easier for people to have qso's nationally & internationally as well as when mobile across the region. As for code plugs, I believe that both your Yaesu's are computer programmable - exactly the same thing as having a code plug for a DMR radio apart from their are a few more settings and options in a code plug.

Some people aren't able to put up big antennas due to their location or physical abilities. Many (myself included) do not wish (or aren't able to) spend the money on HF rigs just to have limitations due the conditions (and noise levels locations) just to hear people say your signal is 5 & 9, qrz. A local long time amateur I know has given up on HF due to these issues and prefers digital modes as he's more likely to make contacts that he can have a qso with.

You've taken the time to get a computer, join a forum and no doubt have a mobile phone so you have to some extent embraced how things progress. It's just the same with amateur radio - moving with the times however like many things that progress (such as phones and computers) we don't leave it all behind, there will always be HF & analogue. We will always remember how radio has progressed and how it's influenced our lives - mobile phones, baby monitors, blue tooth, wi-fi and so forth).

You will have the hardcore and the social ham - the hardcore lives for HF and contesting whilst the rest of us enjoy the social side with a little hill top simplex work. Not all hams take the hobby that serious - life's to short for a serious hobby unless you plenty of time to devote, Not all do - we have day jobs and families - amateur radio is just a hobby as is plane spotting for me - if I get time to enjoy it all the better - if there is other stuff to do, then the hobby takes the back seat.

And no-one can say that digital is going down the toilet - personally I see that it's progressed maybe a bit too fast but then it will slow down to give people a chance to think of the next moves in suiting the commercial system for our use.

No-one is critising your use of HF so let those that with to dabble in the other modes and aspects of the hobby do so in peace - we're all in for a reason.
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Re: Chertsey Radio club testing new DMR hand held

Postby m0lsx » Sun May 29, 2016 11:19 pm

M6UCW wrote: I must say that the group photos on the few club sites that exist (possibly coz their members are not that highly computer literate) would frighten most people away.


Who do you think developed computers? Modern 16 years olds, current 30 year olds or the older generation?
When we joined the local radio club we found an elderly G3, who had been part of the radio (CW) monitoring system that backed up Bletchley, which of course had a computer at it's heart. My wifes father, although now retired, was a systems analyst at Norwich Union before moving over to BT & the elderly G3 had introduced computers in Norwich Union decades ago. Long before most people had even heard of computers & long before many of the current repeater users were even born.
Also what were you doing in 1968? Because back in 1968 that older generation you so quickly & easily slate as computer illiterate started developing a new digital mode..Packet Radio. Back then being computer literate meant building the kit from scratch, not buying a PMR radio & using a repeater.
In 1968 building a computer & getting it on air did not involve going into Maplins & buying a few boards & a case & simply plugging them all together. Back then building a computer, meant really building a computer & back then TNC's were not new technology, they were ideas waiting to be developed. Getting a computer on air in 1968 involved a level of computer literacy that you can only dream of ever achieving.
Those who developed VHF & UHF were far far more technically advanced than anything that is currently being proposed. Digital radio is killing the hobby not because the dinosaurs cannot keep up with you. But because you lack the technical literacy to do anything technically new, unlike those you criticise. All you are doing is re using old, PMR technology, you are not pushing anything froward or creating anything new. You are not advancing anything but the profit margins of those who developed the technology.
Unlike those you criticise you are a consumer, not an innovator.
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