I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion on “Why do I want to use DMR?”

There are two kinds of people, the glass is half full and the glass is half empty. The half empty people say “DMR is great because it’s less likely to be jammed.” While that true, I’d rather consider the half full solution. What can DMR do for me?

It’s digital

Amateur radio voice communication is always been analog. From spark gap, to side band, to FM, it’s analog.

Digital is a new frontier and one that is the future. Cell phones have already made the transition to where all cell phones today use digital transmission.

One of the reasons the FCC has issued us the valuable frequency space we have today is for experimentation.
DMR offers hams the ability to experiment in the digital voice transmission world.

Digital is new and different.

Many things in digital voice transmission is the same as analog transmission. At the same time, many things are different. Something that quickly comes to mind is how communications at the fringe of your range operations. In analog, there is a gradual degradation of the signal until you can no longer hear the voice in the noise. In the digital world, it’s binary, you either get through or you don’t. So as you approach the edge, you have service up until you drop of the ledge and don’t have service.

This is just one of the differences. One of the reasons to get into DMR is to experience this and the others and learn how digital transmissions behave;just like you had to learn how analog transmission behave.

Different range of communications.

In the world of analog transmissions, IRLP and Echolink changed the range of communication we could have in the VHF and UHF frequencies.

In the DMR world, these range extension concepts come built in to the system. Your DMR radio will offer you a choice of two time slots of communications.

Timeslot one is your access to the larger DMR world. You can use timeslot one to call your buddy in California, or to make a new friend in Europe.

Timeslot two is dedicated to LIMARC. One timeslot two, it’s basically like talking on one of LIMARCs repeaters. You have both choices in one radio.

These are just a couple of general advantages of DMR that come off the top of my head. Follow this link;


and you can find some more technical advantages of learning DMR.

So in summary, I’m not going to tell you why you want DMR or if you want it at all. This is your choice to make. I am telling you that there are a multitude of advantages that you can consider to decide what DMR and its experimentation mean to you.

So it’s time to talk about DMR radios. I’m going to focus on hand held radios for now because they are the entry point to the market.

There is one key point about DMR radios that is important to remember. DMR is a commercial standard that has been adapted into ham radio use.So many of the radio’s used by hams in the DMR mode are commercial radios. As a commercial radio, they are not allowed to have front panel programming by FCC regulation. I’ll repeat that slower and louder for those not paying attention; NOT FRONT PANEL PROGAMMING.

Up until the last couple of weeks there were no DMR radios that were front panel programmable. You had to program them from a computer and download the software, called a code plug, into the radio. Connect Systems, TYT, and Hytera now offers radios they say are front panel programmable. To what extent this is functional, I do not know. I have not had any of these models in my hands yet.I have a non FPP radio from Connect Systems and am working with it just fine. So FFP is not mandatory, it is just something we as hams have become accustom to having in our radios.

Right now club members either Connect Systems radios or Motorolas. Jay, KC2WSK has a TYT on order and we’ll be
looking forward to a review of its performance when he gets it in his hands. I’m not going to discuss Motorola models here because I don’t own a Motorola yet and I don’t have enough knowledge to give any opinions. Maybe other members that have and use Motorolas can offer their opinions.

The primary radio our members have is from Connect Systems. The Connect Systems CS700 is recently been discontinued and replaced by the CS750. You can see one here:


The TYT radio is here:


While I was in Dayton, I meet these guys :


They are a ham friendly Motorola dealer.

I meet an indoor vendor in Dayton that said they would have a model from Any Tone in a couple of weeks.

Here is their link:


In my mind, the big thing we as LIMARC members need is a mobile unit. The power and hard mounting points for vehicular usage are important.Connect Systems is a model they promise for June. I’m in line with a bunch of other people to get one. We’ll see how it works out.

When you order a radio, remember what we discuss at the top of this email. You may need a programming cable before you can do anything. Me personally,I don’t like to front panel program anything more than one station, so I always get the programming cable with a radio! You can decide what works best for yourself.

So this is what I know as of this moment and time. Ask me again at lunch time and I will probably have more information, hahaha. This is a very dynamic marketplace.

Bernie K2YO


Ham Radio University