Handheld transceivers and digital modes

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Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby StandingWave » Sat Jul 11, 2020 3:14 pm

I am finally studying for my foundation licence! On our course we were recommended a Baufeng 2m/70cm handheld as a starting point. This kind of makes sense as it is cheap (£30) and I'm not going to worry too much about dropping it! On the other hand, my local club suggests I buy a Yaesu. Both vendors have handsets covering analogue transmission, but having been doing some research I find myself confused by the various digital formats.

It seems that every vendor has their own:

Yaesu - Fusion
Icom - Dstar
Alinco - DMR
Kenwood - NXDN/DMR

It seems that repeaters have different services according to the club/owners preferences. So I guess the first task is to ascertain what services are provided by repeaters in my local area. However, a handheld is made for travel, so what happens if you have a Yaesu handset (Fusion) and you happen to be in an area where there are only DMR repeaters?

Ok, hopefully there will still be analogue services around, but I understand that these are in decline and digital is the new way forward...

So what do I buy? What do I look for? Will I need more than one handset or what? Or should I just stick to a cheap Baufeng analogue handset?

Sorry if the question seems stupid, but I am genuinely confused by this.
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Re: Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby Metradio » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:22 pm

As a long standing licensed radio ham I would go for a Network Radio, no problems with different modes or being ignored because you are a newbie.
Uses the mobile phone network and you can start using NOW with an APP on a smart phone... No License required :)

Mike
Connect Systems CS750 and CS800, Hytera PD-365, Motorola DP4600.
Raspberry Pi 2 and DV4Mini HotSpot.
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Re: Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby CW-2E0UCW » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:40 pm

There are other manufacturers of various digital mode radios. DMR for instance has Retevis/TYT, Motorola, Hytera, Kydera, Anytone to name a few.

Check the ETCC website (https://ukrepeater.net/) under lists then it has lists and maps by digital mode. Also note that you could also get a hotspot (https://www.dmrguide.uk/index.php/dmr-hotspots/) for use at home or mobile - these give access to various modes.

Hotspots start around £75 and DMR radios start around the same price. A hotspot that uses the pi-star software (https://www.dmrguide.uk/index.php/dmr-h ... /software/) can alo offer DMR2YSF and DMR2NXDN giving you easy access to 3 modes.

Check with the locals as to whats in the area and what they use - a jump into digital radio requires a little bit of homework.
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Re: Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby Bobcode » Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:40 am

Good luck with the foundation licence, I have just passed mine and got my callsign. I have a Baofeng uv-5r as a starter, great little radio for the money.
The past serves nothing, save lessons learned for the future !
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Re: Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby StandingWave » Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:06 pm

Thank you for the replies.

Metradio wrote:As a long standing licensed radio ham I would go for a Network Radio, no problems with different modes or being ignored because you are a newbie.
Uses the mobile phone network and you can start using NOW with an APP on a smart phone... No License required :)

Mike

I have no idea what a network radio is, although having Googled it, it doesn't seem to align with amateur radio although I have a vague recollection of seeing it mentioned before. I would, however, be interested to know what app you are referring to?

CW-2E0UCW wrote:Check the ETCC website (https://ukrepeater.net/) under lists then it has lists and maps by digital mode. Also note that you could also get a hotspot (https://www.dmrguide.uk/index.php/dmr-hotspots/) for use at home or mobile - these give access to various modes.

Thanks. That is one of the things I have been looking into. It seems that my nearest repeater is analogue only on the 70cm band and has been down for a while and it is unknown when it will be back in service at present, although I understand it is being worked on. The next two nearest are GB3LE and GB3CF. GB3CF is digital only, supporting D-Star and Fusion and possibly NXDN and apparently analogue services have been turned off due to abuse.. GB3LE supports Fusion and FM on 70cm. I gather that NXDN support is quite poor in the UK in general and that D-Star kit is expensive, and since neither of the local repeaters seem to provide a DMR service, Fusion would seem to be the way to go as far as digital services are concerned. There are a couple more repeaters further away (25-30miles), so I am not sure that I will be able to hit them on a handheld.

CW-2E0UCW wrote:Hotspots start around £75 and DMR radios start around the same price. A hotspot that uses the pi-star software (https://www.dmrguide.uk/index.php/dmr-h ... /software/) can also offer DMR2YSF and DMR2NXDN giving you easy access to 3 modes.

Yes, someone else in the meantime suggested that as well and I have had a little read up on it. Very interesting and I have found that it is also possible to buy the radio board on its own for about £25. Since I already have a spare Pi, this might be the option I will go down just as a matter of interest.

Bobcode wrote:Good luck with the foundation licence, I have just passed mine and got my callsign. I have a Baofeng uv-5r as a starter, great little radio for the money.

Thanks for the kind wishes. The reviews generally seem to agree with you. Unfortunately it seems from my research so far, that in order to get on air after I pass my foundation exam, I might be a good idea to get a Fusion capable digital radio (i.e. something like a Yasu FT-70DR. This radio also has analogue capabilities so I should be able to make use of FM on the 70cm analogue band. I don't think any of the Baofengs do digital unfortunately, although at £30 it is tempting to buy one just out of curiosity.
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Re: Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby Metradio » Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:39 pm

StandingWave wrote:I have no idea what a network radio is, although having Googled it, it doesn't seem to align with amateur radio although I have a vague recollection of seeing it mentioned before. I would, however, be interested to know what app you are referring to?


Zello - https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... s&hl=en_GB

https://www.facebook.com/groups/747365082123751/

Mike
Connect Systems CS750 and CS800, Hytera PD-365, Motorola DP4600.
Raspberry Pi 2 and DV4Mini HotSpot.
AOR AR-DV1 Digital Voice Receiver / eSPY on ARD.
WS1088 / TRX-1 / Whistler Q /UBCD3600XLT / WTR Browser.
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Re: Handheld transceivers and digital modes

Postby G4RMT » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:21 pm

If you have been studying for the exam, it seems odd you haven't really done much research on comms? Surely you've looked at CB, PMR446, business radio, marine band, air band, HF, VHF, UHF, simplex, duplex, repeaters and then looked at digital modes on all these bands? Radio as a hobby needs information, and the will to progress if it's a genuine hobby.

The reality is that analogue is simple - especially simplex operation. Repeaters with offsets and tones is a step more complex, but shift to digital and you've got so many different modes that it's truly mind boggling - and frankly, until you get really comfy with analogue I wouldn't even think of digits!

I have time division and frequency division kit, and making these talk to each other is a test of patience and programming. Then, you have the different strands of each - so can your Icom talk to your friend's Kenwood? Maybe! You cannot be definitive. I got very frustrated when brand X would talk to brand Y, brand Y would talk to brand Z but brand Z would not talk to Brand X for no logical reason. Repeater groups get together and decide what system the wish to implement. Only people with that specific system can use it, so it's not generic and it's not friendly. For a new ham, this is too much in my view.

The only way to not waste money, if it's tight is to physically go to the local radio club (once covid makes this possible) and find out exactly what is in use locally, and buy that! One really isn't better than another. Buying somebodies 'best' radio on ebay from somewhere more than 50 miles away can be like buying a house brick, for the use it will be.
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