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Should I buy a DMR Radio?

Discussion in 'General Ham Radio Discussion' started by Mudfoot, Jun 6, 2020.

  1. Mudfoot

    Mudfoot Elmer

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    What can I do with it? What's a good mobile and HT?



    Do I need some sort of a Hotspot?
     
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  2. Rwb

    Rwb Sr. Member

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    got a friend that has 1 n has hotspot. Seems active whenn i go visit him. But we still visit on 2 meter simplex
     
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  3. sp5it

    sp5it Master of puppets

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    I was using Ailunce hd1 for some time.
    You need a hotspot when you are out of DMR repeater range.
    DMR is fun to talk to people all over the world from a handie.
    Audio sounds ducky, I didn't like it.
    Mike
     
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  4. Rwb

    Rwb Sr. Member

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    i forgot to mention the sound,like talkin through their noses
     
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  5. CDX8412

    CDX8412 Well-Known Member

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    If you are a ham that is missing the traffic on your local repeaters, and is not interested in operating, or can’t operate, an HF station, then you might find DMR or VOIP operation ok.

    If you only enjoy rag chewing on the ham bands (especially V/UHF repeaters) and are NOT so much interested in propagation of radio waves, transceivers, antennas, experimentation, and all the other aspects of real radio, then you might find DMR and VOIP operation ok.

    In my opinion, DMR, D-Star, C4FM, etc, are simply modes of operation similar to using our cell phones to have conversations, that allow us to hold a radio or microphone in our hand that fills the need to play with a radio. There is no other aspect to VOIP (or ROIP if you prefer) operation that is like ham or CB radio operations.

    I have been involved in these digital voice modes since 2015, and it has been a dead end for me and many others that love real radio. Yes, I use the technology, but for the past two years, I only use the technology in the form of a device called an openSPOT hotspot, and a Raspberry Pi computer, to run a VOIP server for me and a few friends, to have private communications via the internet. This is not ham radio, and does not fall under the guidelines of Part 97...at least not in my opinion.

    Most of the people that I know of, who use DMR, or let’s just call it VOIP (voice over IP), just want to talk to someone else. There are many who get excited about talking to a person in another country via this mode of operation, and they will even ask others to “QSL” via QRZ, as if it was an accomplishment. I say I could randomly dial my cell phone and accomplish the same task...where is my QRZ certificate. I am personally working on my “Worked all IP Addresses” award, so I can feel like an accomplished ham radio operator too.

    And yes, QRZ is issuing certificates for VOIP contacts. These are contacts in which you managed to get a transmitted signal about 3 to 10 feet, from your handheld radio to your hotspot. I think my garage door opener can transmit it’s signal as far, so I would like an award for that.

    If you are the type of operator that thinks using ham terminology, such as “QSL on that”, or “HI HI” when you are speaking to someone else, or say “73” (or “73’s”), and refer to being “destinated” when you end a conversation, makes you part of the super secret ham radio club, then VOIP will probably appeal to you. I always tell people “73” just before I hang up with them on my cell phone...don’t you ? HI HI.

    If you find the wonder and marvel in “crystal clear” communications via the internet, that magically allows you to work a station 4000 miles away from you, then VOIP may be your cup of tea. I know a number of hams who have totally dismantled their radio stations (HF and V/Uhf transceivers and antennas), and have decided to operate exclusively via the internet. In fact, there is a device out there called the DVMega Cast which eliminated that pesky RF all together, and allows you to talk to your friends with a device that looks kind of like a radio, and you hold a microphone in your hand, but has no transmitter or receiver in it. It bypasses the RF side of things, and just goes directly to the internet. And without all that annoying RF, you can still give your call sign, along with everyone else’s call sign in the group, at the beginning and end of each transmission, because it is too much to have to remember that you are only required to do so every 10 minutes and when you actually go QRT. Much easier to just say it all the time.

    Even a group of ham radio operators who have been operating a net every day of the year since 1957 (IIRC), the Rooster Net, have created a talk group on DMR, in order to assist with poor propagation, because band conditions are terrible. As a ham operator, I actually have to struggle to make the contact, and in 2020, I should not have to struggle for anything.

    And another important component to all this technology is the convenience. I don’t have to actually understand the environment I am operating in, because other hams, or “Elmers”, will give me a code plug to install in my radio, and I can then begin to talk to other hams. No reason to understand the complex aspects of talk groups, time slots, color codes, IP addresses, static IP, network router settings, hot spot configurations, etc. I can just operate my radio without having to have a clue how it works. I believe the ARRL is petitioning the FCC for a new license class that will grant privileges on a portion of 70cm, so people can answer a 5 question test and obtain a license to do what all of us can do on our cell phones.

    Yeah, I am being overly dramatic in my reply, but I am also being accurate in what is occurring on these VOIP networks. There are many repeaters connected to these networks that are merely broadcast stations, playing the networked conversations over the air, for the local hams to listen to, but they don’t participate in the “QSOs”. Many repeaters have become “broadcast” stations, such as the W3QV repeater in Philadelphia, in which I can’t recall the last time I heard a local key up and join in on the endless stream of chatter from the Yaesu Wires X room “America Link”, that it is connected to. I kind of thought broadcasting was not permitted under Part 97, but these repeaters have been doing that for years now.

    And I am guilty of listening, just as others are. I have hotspot devices and radios, and they are connected to the various networks that pretend to be “ham radio”, such as Brandmeister, TGIF, FCS (I don’t do D-Star anymore). I can listen in, and not participate. But that is because I have lost interest in ham radio, I was interested in propagation and weak signal work, and there is mostly none of that happening anymore in my region. I had worked the world on CB radio before I ever got licensed, so HF privileges were kind of “MEH” to me. I did enjoy V/UHF SSB ops though...until I found myself alone there, and dismantled my station.

    So if I were buying equipment to jump on the gravy train of the horizon of new amateur radio, I would buy the Anytone AT-D878UV HT, and buy the openSPOT 3 hotspot from SharkRF.

    You can buy a ZumSpot from HRO, which consists of a Raspberry Pi Zero, running a Pi-Star image. It works, but Pi Zeros are a bit underpowered. The openSPOT devices have really led the market with their development. Although the current openSPOT 3, along with the previous openSPOT 2 kind of suffer in range, over the original flavor, because they have a small internal antenna, so your range is limited. But they have made it nearly idiot-proof to connect your device to your router or cell phone. Kudos for allowing us to remain unchallenged and not have to learn a new skill set. I guess that won’t be on the next General class license test revision.

    I personally have been running a Raspberry Pi 3b+ with an older DVMega board on it, and the Pi-Star image, but also ran a DV4 mini back when that was all there was. I also have an original openSPOT that is used solely for my private VOIP server (because that is the hardware you need to do what I am doing), and an openSPOT2 in my wife’s car, so she can access my VOIP server...and she is not licensed for ham operations, because we don’t use the ham frequencies with my VOIP server.

    BTW, there are many hams who have tried out DMR and other digital voice modes, and they found it didn’t work for them. They are back of HF, working DX and working through the pile ups.

    HI HI, 73s. Don’t forget to QSL me on QRZ for our QSO here on WWDX. I think this counts towards my “Worked All IP Addresses” award.
     
  6. Rwb

    Rwb Sr. Member

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    slow down catch yer breath, but yes k9nda strays from true amature radio
     
  7. HomerBB

    HomerBB Sr. Member

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    @CDX8412
    So, you have no active radio shack? Only a pile of dmr stuff you don't use?
    Just trying to figure out how you are operating now.
    1) Amateur HF is "meh"
    2) DMR etc. is just a cell phone thing
    3) Seem to have lost interest in VHF/UHF
    4) already talked all over the world on CB

    That's how I feel when we run out of coffee.:confused:
     
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  8. Rwb

    Rwb Sr. Member

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    i just brewed a fresh pot sooo we are covered
     
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  9. Mudfoot

    Mudfoot Elmer

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    I'm definitely not a repeater commando. I tried the Fusion thing and didn't care for it. I might be interested in Simplex DMR. I might experiment with a Hotspot, though. My wife's cousin dabbles with DMR. He's a truck driver.
     
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  10. CDX8412

    CDX8412 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, no more antennas up in the air, only a “QRP” rig connected to a wire running around the room for listening, and a few portable HF antennas (mostly the Chameleon stuff) for operating outdoors...when the spirit moves me (more so for when society collapses totally, and I must have emcomms).

    Ham radio has been dead to me for years now. The excitement of hearing rare DX has long since passed, and modes like FT8, under the control of your computer, and VOIP using the internet to make the connection, don’t do anything for me. For the first decade I was licensed, I almost never used a repeater, since I was able to do everything I wanted on simplex on V/Uhf. From my shack in Pennsylvania, I worked Portugal on 6m SSB, Florida on 2m SSB, a guy who was parked on top of Mt Graylock on 146.52 FM. Trans-equatorial hop was the shizzle, and I welcomed the onset of thunderstorms for tropo enhancement. I had 13 antennas up in the air back then. All gone now.

    I got a dual band (actually a 136-174/400-520) rig in my Xterra, that is really for monitoring the local repeaters (hardly used by anyone anymore) and listening to public safety stuff. Got a Uniden 980 SSB in there too, which is only active when skip is rolling, since there isn’t much CB activity around here either.

    When I was a kid in the 60’s, listening to hams on a shortwave radio, I was floored that they could actually do what they were doing. As I followed the hams through my teens in the 70’s, they were so technical and skilled, I wanted to be like them (sadly, I was not. I sucked at math and science).

    As the 80’s came in, repeaters went up on 2m, and they were connecting the repeaters to the phone lines and their radios to computers. Wow, I really wanted to play in that sandlot, but by then, I was working and didn’t make the time to learn the required 5, 13 and 20 WPM code test, along with all technical material that couldn’t just be memorized by taking online tests over and over.

    By the time I finally got licensed in 2002, after being injured in the line of duty and being out of work for 5 months, I found all the stuff I loved about ham radio had disappeared. I only upgraded to General in 2006 so I could still upgrade under the required 5 wpm endorsement, before it went away. I couldn’t allow myself to become a no-code General because I wanted to tackle the obstacle that kept me out of the hobby all those years. And no, I never had a real CW QSO on the HF bands after that. It was simply a personal goal to meet.

    The technical know-how had vanished for the most part, because technology had surpassed the average person’s ability to stay up on it, especially with surface mount component technology. What I found was a hobby mostly filled with “appliance operators”. They didn’t actually understand how their radios worked, or how propagation worked, and they didn’t really need to. Plug and play was the normal operating condition for most hams. That tradition continues with DMR and other digital voice modes (anybody got a code plug ???).

    Of course, being a ham meant you were better than a CB operator (jk). You had passed a grueling test that even some 6 year olds can pass, and got your ticket from a worthless government regulatory agency that had turned it’s back on CB, and is doing the same on the amateur service. You can now speak in the language of hams. No more “fo-ten” for us...we say the incredibly redundant “best of 73s” and ask to QSL a contact that used the smallest amount of RF your HT can emit, and made possible by the invention of Al Gore (again, jk).

    Of course, I did use my CB radio all those years, and that’s how I managed to work the world on 27 mHz. And in the process, as the internet developed, I found the old alt.rec.cb newsgroup, which gave birth to Express Electronics (that is a whole story unto itself) and it’s forum, which in turn led to Dean Arthur starting Charger’s Forum, which was where this forum came from.

    Over the years, when we had the CDX club, and the monthly contests, when I had the corresponding weekend off, I would work all the original members and have a great time. Back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, the bands were so unbelievably open, I worked DXMan (Larry) from one coast to another, I worked Fast Eddie in the dump truck in Colorado almost everyday on 27.475 LSB, I worked Undertaker and Marconi in TX, and Shockwave in LA (as the band went long), and Phil in the Magnolia used to relay between me and my father-in-law. I became friends with the guys who were in my home state, such as Grumpy (SK), Bobcat and Sonwatcher. For those of you who were around then and remember this stuff, it was a great time for radio. I don’t see the same sort of thing happening in the radio hobby, whether it is ham or CB, in 2020. And what I see, doesn’t interest me. In particular, the digital voice modes are leading to a segregation of the ham community, because people just go hide on their own talk group or room...just like I did with my private openSPOT VOIP server LOL !

    During this so-called “pandemic”, most of the ham RADIO clubs around me are using Zoom to facilitate their monthly meetings. Does anyone else see the irony in this ??? Or is it just me ? Have I lived too long and become one of the old farts that I used to hate ? (spoiler alert...yes I have).

    I hope your coffee and popcorn lasted through this long-winded response (I’m on the Keto diet, so I can’t have buttered popcorn, but I can have butter in my coffee). I think I am entitled to this stupid tirade. I have been here since the real beginning, when the internet allowed us to post on a radio forum and get to know one another, and it made it even more special when mother nature cooperated and we were able to work each other via RF. There may be some QSB and there might only have been a brief opening to make the contact, but that made it even better when I got you in the log.

    But all the crap I have said only applies to me. Your mileage will definitely vary, and I don’t deny you your fun. But I think my description of the VOIP ham stuff is pretty accurate, whether you like it or not.

    BTW, I continue to contribute to the death of ham radio, as I just built two DMR repeaters. One for a local RACES organization, and one for a friend who just got coordination. My hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    I think I am truly QRT.
     
  11. Klondike Mike

    Klondike Mike Sr. Member

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    Hi Hi! You funny. I've being using a VOIP client on my Samsung Galaxy S2 for years. RF on 1.8Ghz. No HAM license required. Bigger talk-group. I can't afford the $75/month in cellular charges and $50/month for a land-line. In fact, I can't afford a new cell phone either. I just need to locate where the repeaters (free Wi-Fi hotspots) are. Where's my certificate?
     
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  12. DTB Radio

    DTB Radio Well-Known Member

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    One of our local repeater regulars described plump chicks, mopeds, and DMR as "fun to play with when no-one was looking", lol!
     
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  13. Mudfoot

    Mudfoot Elmer

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  14. sunbulls

    sunbulls Sr. Member

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    There’s a local UHF repeater near me that’s connected to the IRLP East Coast Reflector. Back about a year ago they had a strict rule requiring everybody to use a radio, either directly into a repeater or node. In keeping with the spirit of Ham radio, no phones were allowed. I always enjoyed the clear audio that was the pride of that system, but since they allowed everything into the Reflector, over half of the stations heard now have low audio, hot audio or are in some way distorted. Those clear conversations of the past are now heavily supplemented with bad audio reports and possible solutions. Personally, until audio improvements are made sometime in the future, I doubt I’ll get involved with a DMR radio. I hear one too many guinea pig Hams that are disappointed with them.
    Using a phone as a Ham radio device goes totally against my grain, that’s something I’ll never do.
     
  15. Mudfoot

    Mudfoot Elmer

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    When I listened in different Fusion rooms, you'd have traffic with low audio and blasting audio. Got tired of reaching over to adjust the volume knob.

    My interest in DMR is basic curiosity. My wife's cousin is an OTR trucker and new ham. He has a Hotspot in his truck. He gets bored and frequently calls me to chat, so I suppose we can talk on DMR. I'm still shy of repeaters. Never cared for them and likely never will. I'm trying to figure out which Hotspot to buy. It looks like a bunch to choose from.
     
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