My early DMR experience has been pretty positive. Here’s a summary of my accomplishments during the first month.
My first realization using Digital Mobile Radio is the astounding quality of voices received from all corners of the planet. You should not be surprised by this, given how ham DMR networks work. But for those of us schooled in DX contacts on HF, we have never gotten used to hearing DX as if it was just next door. I am listening to hams in Asia, Europe, Israel, South Africa with amazing quality.
My initial setup links my handheld TYT MD-UV390 to either my hotspot or my local repeater. Currently, I have the hotspot connected to the BrandMeister network, which provides global connectivity to other hotspots and BM repeaters. At the same time, my handheld can access our local Calgary Amateur Radio Association DMR repeater, VE6RYC. This CARA repeater is on the DMR-MARC network, connected to many such repeaters around the world.
According to RadioID, there are close to 200,000 users worldwide running on over 8,000 repeaters. Perhaps 20,000 DMR users are also using hotspots like mine. All in all, you will find lots of hams to chat with.
My early DMR experience shows that audio has some digital artifacts, though. You will find many folks sound a bit like the late Steven Hawking, while others sound perfectly natural. So far, I have not figured out whether this is due to the quality of the radio or strength of signal. After all, each is using the same CODEC.
In case you are new to the subject, here is a basic introduction to DMR.
Early DMR Experience – Radio Configuration
To get started, I configured my radio with two zones. Zone 1 is called “Home” and is set up for use with my hotspot around the house on the BrandMeister network. Zone 2 is called “Calgary”. It contains access to my local DMR-MARC repeater as well as a few analog FM repeaters and simplex channels. I can switch between these zones with a simple click on a side button on the radio.
Each code plug that I have written is named and dated. I programmed the TYT to display the current codeplug ID on its screen during start-up.
One thing I have noted is a ton of activity on the worldwide and regional talk groups, but not enough use of local and regional TG. When you ask a contact to move to a less used talk group, it is a challenge to find one that both parties have programmed into their radios.
Anyway, everything works well and I am enjoying the learning process.