My home base is Roanoke, Virginia. Grid square FM07

November, 2018

Retevis RT84 Review

A solid built, low cost dual-band DMR/Analog handheld transceiver that would be a good entry-level radio.
It has a hefty feel and slightly larger size than the TYT MD-380 or Anytone D868. Yet still thinner than the Ailunce HD1 or commercial Motorola rigs. The on/off/volume and channel selector knobs have a solid click and expected resistance when turned. The channel selector does not have the 16-position dial like some older models. Thus, there is not an artificial 16 channel limit to a Zone (most all of the new dual-band DMR radios also have this feature).

The radio software has a very familiar look, somewhat like the TYT MD-2017 or MD-UV380 models. However, I was not able to import a code plug from any other DMR radio that I had on hand. As an alternative, I was able to export a Channel and Contact CSV file from my MD-UV380 code plug and used those to import
into the RT84 CPS software. This made creating a new code plug for this radio a little bit easier. There is no functionality to import the DMR ID Database in the RT84 CPS and no other software options were available for this model.


  • Lower entry level cost - under $95
  • Memory can hold 3,000 Channels and 10,000 Group/Private Contacts
  • Color Display
  • Larger, hefty case (may be better suited for larger hands)
  • Large, back-lit keys
  • Three programmable side buttons plus user programmable P1 and P2 keys


  • No DMR User Database functionality
  • Slightly smaller 2,000 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Included antenna is rigid and less efficient (a better option would be a Nagoya NA-701)

September, 2018

DMR Radio-of-the-Month

BTech DMR 6X2

Fast becoming my favorite handheld radio, the DMR 6X2 is the
"Cadillac" of DMR radios!  This model has a hefty, well built construction
with a good solid feel when held. This popular kit from BTech includes
a power supply, charger base, hand-strap, programming cable and two
batteries with belt-clips.  Quite a good deal for the price!

Technical specs includes memory to hold 4,000 Channels and 150,000
Digital Contacts (enough for the entire DMR ID Database), 10,000 Group Contacts, 250 Zones
with 250 Channels per Zone. The radio has four power level settings with VHF output
7/5/2.5/1 watts and UHF output of 6/5/2.5/1 watts. My recommendation is to leave the
radio on High (5 watts) and then have the "Turbo" setting for when you really need
an extra boost to get to a remote repeater.

Other extras with this model is the Digital "Store and Forward" cross-band repeater
function and the user-friendly CPS software that makes it easier to program and import
the DMR ID Database.

Overall, a great DMR rig for someone wanting to step-up or a first-time DMR radio for just
a little extra in cost.

Available on Amazon

BTech DMR 6X2

August, 2018

DMR Radio on a Budget

Looking to get your first DMR radio?

The Radioddity GD-77 is one of my favorites for a starter radio. It is dual-band VHF/UHF, analog and digital. So, it can be your one daily carry radio for all-around use.

Features include:

  • Solid construction, just the right size and weight for easy carry
  • Dual time slot, Tier II Mototrbo compatible
  • Memory holds up to 1,000 Contacts
  • Separate utility to upload DMR ID database
  • Hefty 2200 mAh Li-ion battery
  • Kit includes programming cable, antenna, charger and base
  • Software and firmware updates available from website

Pro-tip: when you first get the radio, download the factory default code plug and save it with an easy to remember file name and location. With this as a back-up, you can easily get the radio back to the original state (if you should accidently corrupt the code-plug).

Available on Amazon


HF is Dead - Long Live Digital

Ok, so the title of this post is a little bit of humor, but it does seem to apply this month. I setup on HF this weekend with the Ten-Tec Scout 555 and tried 15 and 20 meters. Of course, it's a bit of work getting the Buddipole tuned up on each band, but that's half the fun. Called CQ for about 30 minutes with no contacts.  I did hear (faintly) another QSO on 20 meters, but it sounded like two stations having a bit of an argument. I just stayed out of that, obviously. 

The next day I'm on Yaesu Wire-X in the AmercaLink room and I'm having a QSO with someone in Switzerland. Also hearing three stations from the UK and one in Australia. Since the current solar cycle is the smallest since 1906, we're probably not looking at much propagation in the near future. 

July, 2018

Talk Around the World with DMR

This is a normal paragraph. During the SouthEast LinuxFest 2018 in June, I gave a presentation on DMR with an emphasis on setting up the code plug for your radio.  Also featured using a hot spot to get on DMR if you're not in a region with a DMR repeater. The slides are available here (PDF). 

Next presentation will be "How to Program Your DMR Radio" with examples from several major brands/models at the Shelby HamFest coming up in September. 

Quansheng UV-R50 Rechargeable Dual Band Two-way Radio

Adding an "Ad-Hoc" channel with the AnyTone D868

One thing I like to do is join a talk group on my DMR hot spot, but not necessarily one already in the code plug. Since the D868 allows programming via the keyboard, I was exploring exactly how to accomplish that.

One way was to jump into VFO mode (P2 key), and key in the simplex frequency for the hot spot (press the # key to enter).

Then get the VFO channel configured for Digital:
1) Menu > Settings > Chan Set > Channel Type > D-Digital
2) Menu > Settings > Chan Set > Band Width > Narrow
3) Menu > Settings > Chan Set > Color Code for the hot spot
4) Menu > Settings > Chan Set > Time Slot for the hot spot
5) Menu > Settings > Chan Set > TX Allow > Always

Next, add the new Contact for the Talk Group you want to be on:
1) Menu > Contacts > New Contact > Input ID. Press the # key for Group Contact, enter the new Talk Group number.
2) Menu > Contacts > New Contact > Input Name. Type in the name for the Talk Group.
3) Menu > Contacts > New Contact > Save (I seem to always forget this step).

Finally, select this new Contact you just entered from the list:
1) Menu > Contracts > Contact List
2) Scroll through the list to highlight the one you want, then press the Green key.
3) Option > Select Contact

You're now configured in VFO mode for activating the TG by pressing the PTT button. Easy, right?

DMR Radio of the Month

Things I like about the AnyTone AT-D868 so far:

  • Solid construction. The radio has a good hefty feel to it. The keyboard buttons have a solid click and the volume and channel selector knobs are good quality.
  • Speaking of the channel selector, it rotates 360-degrees, so you can scroll through all your channels.
  • When you get to the end, it rolls back to the start.
  • Large, clear LCD screen looks good even outside in the sunlight.
  • Keyboard programming. You can add new channels, analog and digital, on the fly without going back to the CPS.
  • Loud, crisp audio from the speaker.
Only downside so far is an unsigned USB driver problem. Try plugging it in first before
loading any drivers.
Windows 10 will most likely work automatically.     
AnyTone AT-D868UV

June, 2018
I'll be on the road this summer doing several talks on Digital Mobile Radio (DMR):

June 9, 2018
SouthEast LinuxFest
Talk Around the World with DMR

August 4, 2018
Roanoke HamFest -
Demo: DMR Hotspot with a Raspberry Pi

August 31, September 1 & 2, 2018
Shelby HamFest -
DMR 101 - Programming Your First Code Plug

Hope to see y'all at one of these events!

May, 2018
Ok, long gap between posts. Very little activity in 2016 and none at all in 2017 due to major heart surgery. What's new?  DMR!

In the past couple of years, Digital Mobile Radio has really gained popularity and offers a completely different experience, especially for new Hams. Check out the Facebook group that I maintain on the topic.


AnyTone AT-D868UV GPS Version II updated firmware Upgraded 3100mAh battery Dual Band DMR/Analog 144 & 430 MHz Radio Ailunce HD1 DMR Digital Ham Radio Dual Band Dual Time Slot 10W 3000Channels 100000 Contacts 3200mAhz Waterproof long Range Two Way Radio with FM Function and Programming Cable(Black,1pack)


Member of the American Radio Rely League ARRL Logo


Email: darrell at KI4LLA dot us

Published on  November 20th, 2018