Tetra MTP850S GMLN5099 external aeriel connector

One of the main bugbears in many portable (not just Motorola) HTs is the inability to connect external aeriels
As I was experimenting with Tetra DMO my HT, a nice old MTP850 fug, needed the ability to be used on an external aeriel, and, because this is the UK, you have to order these exotic bits from abroad.

Despite one Guy telling me that is was his company making these MTP850S external aeriel adaptors right here in the UK, he seemed very careful to not mention where i could buy one, so I ended up having to buy one from Europe, adding several hundred carbon air-miles to my carbon footprint onto this simple item.

The GMLN5099 MTP850 external aeriel adaptor below is a simple object that does what it says, i had to buy this from Germany, but other sellers stock them and will post to the UK.

Firecom.NL for instance is more than happy to ship to the UK, It’s best emailing him though, but he has most of these odd and unusual Motorola bits that British dealers seem to know nothing about, you can’t even buy a MTP850 car kit in the UK, despite several dealers  listing them for sale online, certainly nobody seems to know anything much about any of this Tetra stuff.. ssshh.. it’s a secret !


Motorola Waris charger – curing intermittent charge on HTN9000 style pods

This issue doesn’t just affect digital radios, but given the commonality of this style of charger I feel it’s worth a mention here.

I love Motorola gear, but sometimes the big M does do some stupid things. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I am assuming this was an attempt to counter the solder fatigue between PCB and charging contacts that occurred in some of the earlier chargers of this form factor.

Many readers may know of the charging problems that can happen if the battery / charger contacts are not kept clean, well, there is a third location that may sometimes need attention too

The top half of the charging pod with contacts on this HTN9000B charger connect to the PCB underneath via a set of pressure contacts rather than being soldered.

The symptom was intermittent starting of charge and occasional failure to complete the charge cycle.

Removal of three torx T8 screws allow the top to be removed. The PCB contacts were cleaned gently with a fibreglass pencil and then were cleaned again, this time with a cotton bud and some IPA.

If removing the PCB from the base, be careful with the plastic retaining clips, they are easily broken.

The top of the 680uF 16V capacitor adjacent to the DC input socket also looked a bit suspicious, like there had been some leakage. This was replaced as a precaution. athough there was no evidence of leakage on to the PCB, but hey, capacitors are cheap.   The removed item measured ~640uF.

– Motorious-

A look at and repair of a Motorola DP4800 with an SMA aerial socket.

I have a love / hate relationship with the Motorola DP4800, It’s a great HT for Amateur use, if a bit high teir compared to the usual (and perhaps even better suited) Chinese sets that seem to dominate the Amateur DMR airwaves, The DP4800 and the rest of the DP4000 series unfortunately have a design problem, namely that you can’t connect an outside aerial or a coax fed one. This is a huge fail from Motorola, although the latest DP4800e versions *can* be ordered with SMA, it’s adds even more money on to the cost of an already expensive set.  When our GB7MB DMR repeater was on-air a year or two back, my previous DP4801 was the normal ‘stud mount’ aerial connection, and thus limited in aerial connectivity,  and sadly, GB7MB was a pretty poor signal indoors at my QTH, and so the HTs aerial limitations were an insurmountable issue, and rendered the DP4801 useless here.

So, fast forward, with local Lurkio-in-Chief, Dave G6CRVs GB7MP repeater just a mile away coming on air, i reconsidered again a DP4800, the signal was way better here than GB7MB was, and  i already had the external mic and an old charger, so i thought a cheap DP4600 would serve as a DMR HT.

A used DP4600 was found on Ebay, but it refused programming totally, so had to return it. The seller was adamant that it worked and said he would not accept a return, and got snotty. he must have got confused as he accepted a return the day after but i had already started a Paypal claim as the seller was refusing any refund, Paypal took three weeks to process the refund however. i was really not impressed with Paypal, and i will likely not be requiring their services again.

A DP4800 appeared online,  it was cheap and had no accessories, it was only a few dollars more than the DP4600 that Paypal had refunded too, so it was purchased, and for a good knocked down price too, to make it a better buy.

When this next Ebay DP4800 arrived, it appeared to have a SMA antenna, further investigation revealed that indeed, someone previously had done a very clever mod to change the useless stud to a very useable SMA. I was very happy indeed.

A week or two later on however, and during a routine swap of aerials, the HTs’ modified SMA was rotating in the HT’s body, i noticed as i was using a SMA to BNC adaptor, and i saw the SMA itself was unscrewing itself out of the set too, because of the tight crappy chinese adaptor., this was bad news, but there was nothing i could do, i had no option but to repair it or bin it.

Upon closer inspection the trashy looking golden coloured SMA looked to have had a fair bit of use, or perhaps it was just cheap chinesium metal, and the outer threads of the SMA did have some unexpected tight spots too, so a tiny pinhead of light oil was applied to the threads which made the ‘mechanics’ much smoother, only thing was a thin wire had snapped off the bottom of the SMA mod internally.

I ordered another nicer silver SMA bulkhead socket that wasn’t made from reclaimed chinese coke tins, or one of one of these gold-coloured chinese ‘turkey foil special’ bit’s of crap you see all over the place, i fitted a *proper* one, and also added a minute dab of threadlock too.

In regards to Motorola’s decision to NOT fit a SMA, If i were cynical, i’d say it seems Motorola have deliberately made the set and the whole DP4000 series compromised, with no option to add a coaxial or external aerial.. thereby forcing even occasional mobile users to stump up another few hundred £ for a DM4400 / DM4600.
This is discussed on some of the serious professional radio comms forums, and i think the argument holds water too.
Sure, there is a MS147 Hirose RF socket on the HT’s PCB – if you slide off the small back cover above the battery.. but you can’t just go and buy a normal MS147 cable or adaptor, plug it in and get going using an external aerial, that would be far too easy. No.
The standard, ‘off the shelf’ MS147’s don’t fit, so you have to buy the special Motorola one, which is longer, and reaches deeper into the secret trap door ‘hidden’ in these sets, down on the HT’s main PCB, doing so will disable the HTs set top aerial connection when it plugs into the HT’s internal ‘RF port’  I wish China would make a few hundred of these elongated MS147s, i think most Motorola using Amateurs would buy one.

So Motorola would have you buy the (over 100 uk pounds) to stump up and buy this rip-off MS147, and once you’ve quite recovered from that, Motorola then expect you to buy yet another rip-off in the shape a clip which holds the already grossly overpriced Motorola RF adaptor that you’ve just bought, into the set solidly, and, here is the funniest bit, the clip costs around 100 uk pounds as well.  How dare You !

There is an British company, who told me that they made the GMLN5099A external aeriel connector, he didn’t tell me where i could buy one however,  which is rather odd, and of course nowhere in the UK sells them either, so lord knows what the deal is with them, maybe us, the great unwashed aren’t allowed them, or maybe the firm doesn’t think any UK people want to buy them..

I can only assume that Motorola hired the Guy who priced up Apple’s $999 monitor stand (a bit of polished metal) – over to Motorola HQ to dream up a suitably ridiculous price for their Moto MS147 adaptor,  both prices are things that even Hans Christian Anderson would reject as a fairy tale.   Thanks Motorola.

A company such as Motorola, itself employing radio amateurs…  are all too well aware of Amateurs buying its gear, but what appears to be either corporate arrogance or paranoia ensures Motorola continue to be curiously hostile to the Amateur community, even though some smart guys have contacted Motorola to help them with bugs and improvements in their Motorola firmware, only later to have these fixes implemented in the next ‘improved’ firmware updates by Motorola. Talk about having ones cake and eating it..

Motorola’s literature suggest that the MS147 is actually an ‘RF test point’ for measuring and aligning the set, most digital Motorola HTs I have seen that have no ‘proper’  external antenna connection either, seen seem to have either an adaptor similar to the Hirose MS147

Here is a MS147 lead :
The cheap BNC to MS147 lead above is about a fiver, which would be good value if it were it to enable you to use your DP4800 at home, or in the car, as i say, bit it’s too short and needs to be something like half the length again to fit in the DP4800, some people say they have found MS147 extensions, but i’ve spent months looking, and i still haven’t found the extension yet, not in the UK anyhow, neither have i seen or read about such a thing anywhere else either.
I’ve messaged Chinese RF suppliers and the nearest i got was a longer MS147 connector on AliExpress, but it was crimp-on only, and it was for that crappy 2mm, or 3mm wide coax the Chinese seem to love so much, so not much use to me, and no other sellers really seemed to understood what i was actually asking for, so I’m going to say good luck with your search.

Some home made BNC  adaptors, made by mechanically savvy Amateurs  *are* available on Facebook groups and elsewhere for the DP4800, but I’m quite skeptical, as they provide no answers when asked simple questions about the general ‘how it works’ and $40 from California could likely turn into £60 or £70 wasted by the time it’s arrived.

The SMA mod seems pretty easy if you have a good microscope & eyes and fine SMD or suchlike soldering gear and skills.
i thought I’d take a couple of photo’s and think and ponder how the mod was actually done.

I wasn’t overly thrilled to have to be messing with the HT, but i did enjoy the whole orangeness of the gasket however, so that kind of helped, as i think orange is a calming colour, that is until you come to reassemble the HT…

So, with PCB removed, i inspected the MS147 and aeriel socket and tried to figure out how they’d done it. They had taped over the MS147 socket to insulate it from a wire they needed to add, not with kapton tape or anything, but with what looked like masking tape, or some other fibrous tape.

The threaded antenna frame / chassis we see would normally be ‘hot’  – so they cut a track or two and isolated this threaded frame, and then just jumpered it with a short link to the GND of the set, so the threaded frame was now GND.

The top end of the tuning coil on the PCB has a wire soldered to it and that appears to have a short wire link soldered directly on to the centre pin of the SMA socket, and that seems about it for the mod.
The photo’s aren’t great i know, but they looked much sharper on the phones screen.
I know it’s not Louis Rossmann quality PCB detail. i wasn’t expecting to do such work.  Sorry 🙂

You can perhaps see in the photo below a little more clearly, above the top of the coil what looks like a piece of track was removed or perhaps a SMD component like a small cap. I haven’t checked the circuit diagram  – i don’t have one.

You can see to the left of the coil (which is the top)  a missing SMD or portion of track.

It looks like a simple enough mod to do, I’m not 100% sure how to isolate the frame and which track(s) to cut or whatever, though the PCB would make it pretty obvious if you had a good magnifier and set of eyes.

I’d fancied a BNC really, but the frame is already threaded nicely for a SMA, and BNC would be a mess and wouldn’t fit.

I wouldn’t want to mod a brand new DP4800, but this DP4800 was cheap enough, so i’ve only relatively few qualms about having to fix the SMA, although i’m not set up for SMD or anything remotely fiddly, this was pretty simple to repair, but damn fiddly, but interesting to note. i just wish i had a suitable magnifier and tinier soldering iron, this was at the extreme limit of what i could do with the basic low tech gear i have.


Decode TETRA as easy as FM on SDR Sharp

No, really.. It’s simpler now to listen to unencrypted (clear) Tetra on SDR Sharp than it is to listen to FM

DSD isn’t needed, because it doesn’t support Tetra, and i thought one of the unpleasant bits of getting SDR Sharp set up – was having to ‘send’ the audio output from SDR Sharp – with a ‘virtual cable’ over into DSD or DSD PLus, both of which work well, but The UI of the DMR decoders is pretty messy and unintuitive, with several separate windows springing open it’s and a mess of separate windows opening up.
You don’t need anything except the file I’ve zipped up for you here, an aerial and an RTL-SDR Dongle – and of course, a Tetra signal.
I have zipped up a working SD Sharp folder ready with the Tetra Decoder already built in. Here is the link below.
it will ask you for a password, type in   MBARS


To use, just unzip it to anywhere on your C: drive.  It contains all you need. You may need to run Zadig if you do not have SDRsharp another SDR installed already. instructions below.

Running ZADIG (if you need to)

select Options – then List All devices and then from the drop-down, select “Bulk In Interface 0” In the drop down box, choose Bulk-In, Interface (Interface 0) though it might also show up as something like  ‘RTL 28320’ or something similar, and that’s ok.
Just make sure that ‘WinUSB’ is selected as the target driver, and then click on ‘Replace Driver’.. you may have to reboot, but next time you start SDRsharp, your RTL SDR should now be in the list of available devices, select it.

Preparing SDR sharp for Tetra decoding.

Once you have selected the correct USB device and have SDR sharp running, you can test it out on normal analogue transmissions and, once you are happy, It’s time to go and search out some unencrypted Tetra.

Firstly, set SDR Sharp up, you can either be in Wide FM or Normal Narrow mode – all you need to know is that whatever FM mode you choose, set the filter width to 25khz. i use NFM and zoom in, and drag the passband out wider that way, but you can use the Wide FM or the option in the Radio menu, it’s more precise, but it’s not too critical, unless you go too narrow.

Now in the Audio tab, make sure that the’ filter audio ‘ button is NOT checked. then go to the Tetra Demodulator panel and select the first option, Demodulator and if you are looking for `DMO Tetra, you must tick the DMO checkbox to it’s right also.
Also, underneath the config button.. click & select the Voice tickbox and click AUTO.
These are your 4 Tetra timeslots, so they need to be set at AUTO unless you are interested in monitoring just one particular slot. If you are listening to a Tetra base station, or DMO just leave it to AUTO

When you have found a valid Tetra frequency, the red text “Received’  will appear  – along with any errors, like in weak signal areas or mistuning.

DMO tickbix

In the UK, there is clear Tetra above 420mhz, some pirate activity around 420.125 mhz where non techs and non Hams set up, as many codeplugs on the UK secondhand market come with some DMO frequencies here. This is illegal but is often referred to as DMO 1 and so on for other channels. Up to and above 460mhz too you may find Tetra, and often hiding in between the usual DMR, FM and carriers – tune carefully,, if you find a valid Tetra signal – a TMO one, get to recognise the harsh high pitched nasty sound of a TMO transmission the Tetra panel will display ‘”Received’ in red font and for more info you can click the Net Info button and serch through there and see the cell info and all kinds of lovely tech info, and whether there is encryption.
You want to see ‘Air Encryption = 0’  towards the bottom of the info cell panel, though there are other Group call panes too, once you do hear things.

What You want to see – .

You will see what talkgroups are being used also in the Groups and more detailed info in the Calls tab too.
Of course current cell  refers to the Tetra base station that you are currently tuned to, and as Tetra is Trunked, Neighbour cell is, as the name suggests, the next cell on the Trunking system. With another USB SDR receiver, and a little plugin called Tetra Trunk Tracker will enable you to follow calls from site to site. I didn’t include Tetra Trunk Tracker because it’s at an early stage of development sill, and not simple to set up and get working.

There is no DMR or other digital voice decoding in this build of SDR sharp. just the Tetra plugin. When youclick the Tetra decode button ON the volume slider on SDR Sharp should have a cross through as Tetra mutes it, to use FM again, uncheck the Tetra demodulator tick box, and you can then slide the SDR Sharp volume slider back up.

We use Tetra around Morecambe, on 430.3125   GSSI 10 (talkgroup)  we think the 430.000 Tetra frequency is a bit of a poor choice as you will still be radiating outside of the Amateur band. That’s why we use 430.3125 locally and It’s only a 5 minute job getting most commonly available Motorola Tetra gear on to 70cms anyway, and most Tetra sets are the 380mhz to 430mhz band only, not the preferred 410-470 mhz but the 380-430mhz band sets are perfectly fine a few mhz up from 430.000 anyway.

This is just a basic How To on how to hear non encrypted Terra. It’s up to you to get scanning the airwaves and discover things in places you wouldn’t normally expect.

it’s Tetra time .. so DMO yourself a favour and try it out ..

Time marches on, and it’s hardly news that our MotoTrbo DMR repeaters GB7MB and GB7UZ and the short lived TAC-9 have both passed into memory, but it’s okay, P25 continues in the Morecambe bay area, and although P25 is approaching what must be it’s seventh year or so of usage around Morecambe Bay, it was recently given an additional boost last year too with Dave G6CRV’s construction of the P25 – DMR repeater, GB7MP. Nice one Dave.

For several years I’ve been reading about Tetra, Many years back i purchased an old Dolphin Tetra HT just out of curiosity, but at that time P25 and even DMR overtook my Tetra interests back then, and the crappy old Dolphin HT stayed in the junk drawer, and i think i even threw it in the bin eventually.

Until a few months ago I’d been playing with SDR Tetra receivers, and had been doing so for a few years, Telive and Gnu Radio weren’t easily accessible for most, as for years it was the preserve of Linux users who love compiling stuff from source, not exactly a turn-on for most SDR users, but as i am pretty comfortable with Linux, starting as i did, messing with RedHat Linux and Solaris back around 1997/1998 after i upgraded from NT4, so it was easy, 
It has been interesting to see Tetra SDR decoding move over to windows and become somewhat mainstream, now, where it’s pretty much as easy as installing any Windows SDR program. and the looming ‘lockdown’ seemed like a good time to pick up a couple of bits of Tetra stuff to play with, so a couple of MTM800s were bought, an MTM800e and a MTP850S and a whole pack of paracetamols – for the inevitable headaches coming my way.

This is a Motorola MTM800E

Tetra sets are often a little low powered in comparison to other PMR sets, MTM800s are all around 3 or 4 watts RF out which is a little disappointing, but as radio amateurs we are quite capable of pushing a low power signal over a reasonable distance, negating losses, and tweaking aerials etc, so not a huge hurdle, but one to bear in mind.

Typical Motorola build quality,  Physically it’s a standard DM4600 type body and uses the same mounting brackets and screws, power lead and fist mic. There’s no infernal speaker, so you will need a suitable connector, The DM4600 type connector do look similar on a computer screen, but thy are not,  they are different dimensions, so i picked a small box of used 16 pin connectors over on Epay, the rear connector is 20 pin and you do need the full 20 pin connector for the programming lead, (buy one instead) but a 16 pin connector will be just fine for speaker output. They have a nice chunky underside heatsink, a very familiar casing, and DM4600 mics will fit.  From all i gather though, most MotoTrbo IMPRES mics will work okay, but the navigation keys aren’t supported, sadly. Some Epay sellers sell an MTM800E version with the Amateur 70cms band codeplug programmed in already too, but to me, i see no point buying the more expensive one, because you will still need to edit the codeplug for UK Ham usage anyway.  We use our CCS7 ID, but there is no reason to yet. Most Tetra sets you will see are 380mhz to 430mhz, but with a simple codeplug hack, you can allow frequencies up to 440mhz to be programmed in to the CPS without it complaining then refusing, but the seller told me much above 435mhz and it’s going to be noticably less sensitive anyway, but it’s great at 430mhz and 431 mhz, which is where most Tetra users are anyway.

Most sets are 380mhz to 430mhz, but there are the rarer, (and pehaps slightly more useful) 410mhz to 470mhz versions, there are 800mhz variants too, but they are no use to us in Europe. Many sets will come with encryption in – so you may see ‘TEA’ mentioned. UK Airwave (emergency services) use TEA2, but that is of little or no interest to Amateurs as well as it being TEA2 being illegal to own, or have in your set, or something like that.

And this (below) is a MTP850S

Actually, it’s a MTP850s fug (German emergency service special) the ‘proper’ MTP850S just has a little speaker grill on the top front corner, but anyway, the MTP850S is a very popular Tetra HT, i prefer these as the MotoTrbo DP3600 / DP4600 speaker mics fit and they’re a nice size and form factor too, they have plenty of cheap accessories and some have a high-power option too, which this set has, nearly a full watt of RF output extra, and is, of course, switchable like on any other Moto HT.  The FuG version which you see here is a slightly different version to the standard MTP850S, and it has an interesting feature which enables it to be used as a DMO repeater, Note: There is a plain vanilla MTP850 also (no S or other suffix) which does NOT have the big chunky milti-way MotoTrbo DP3600/4600 external mic connector, instead, it has a more conventional 2.5mm and 3.5mm jacks instead. Perhaps DMO repeater function is of limited use on a HT, but very interesting nonetheless a bit of fun to play with all the same, and it does work too. The usual (hidden) extended MS147 Hirose external antenna socket is still there, in the back of the HT under a rubber flap, and is a little more accessible (but not much) than the (Motorola-special) MS147 in the DP4800 / DP4801 DMR HTs, but i have yet to try connecting it to an external aerial, Of course Motorola sell a special, elongated MS147 adaptor for testing purposes which needs to be as long as the MS156, but the Motorola specific version you need is, er,  as expensive as the HT itself (cheers Moto)
Standard MS147s just about reach the MTP850’s ext aerial socket, and could, with a little bit of non-invasive and careful work, allow connection to outside aerials to the MTP850S when sat in the shack.

It goes without saying that you can’t hear the emergency services on these,  that’s not something we’re interested in here anyway, we’re interested in the tech, as radio Amateurs.  Of course TETRA is first and foremost a trunked system,  with little (or no) accessible Amateur Tetra TMO repeaters in the UK – that we’re aware of, there are several TMO ones on the continent, but as we’re up in Lancashire – we use DMO mode – (rig-to-rig or simplex)

(below) the older version of the popular MTM800 (not ‘e’ suffix)

Much the same as the MTM800E but an arguably less attractive control head and a few other refinements, It’s a GM380 styled Tetra mobile, and some older GM series RJ45 mics and bits fit. The rear programming cable is exactly the same on both MTM800 and MTM800e versions.

DMO repeaters are easily available, but there seems to be a lack of interest in Tetra in the UK Amateur radio scene, although pleasingly there seems to be many little pockets of Tetra users all across the UK however, but it’s a great pity that there is no MMDVM or PI-star type device for Tetra, which would really create a boom in UK Amateur Tetra use.

I notice there is some illegal use around 421mhz, but low powered sets and inefficient aerials on HTs mean they will go mostly undetected. Some UK sourced sets come with something called ‘National 430’  already programmed in, in addition to often the unofficial 421mhz pirate channels, but with a centre frequency of 430.000 mhz, this means that half of your TX signal falls outside of the Amateur band anyway, so that is not a wise choice.

Many LPD devices use 430.000 as a spot frequency too, and a depressingly large amount of other ‘license free’ plastic Epay crap pollutes these frequencies on 70cms too, so we decided to use a carefully chosen frequency that’s largely out of the way of most things, and seems pretty clear, for the most part, so 430.3125  is where we live on Tetra. We chose TG 10 (in Tetraspeak that’s GSSI 10) although perhaps ‘1’ would be more logical.

Local usage around Morecambe Bay is of course, low, only three of us are using it for occasional local chats, but hopefully a few more Amateurs will take the plunge, and as our antennas improve, maybe with some Tropo in the summer months too, it will provide a little more chance of some activity, and if in the coming months we are all allowed out of the house on non-essential trips to go up the hills and go out mobile, perhaps the reasonably cheap MTM800Es on Epay will all get bought by UK Amateurs.

Tetra gear seems a little less easy to find for sale, but do keep looking. There are a couple of good sites on Facebook where there’s no clique, and all information is shared in good humour, the Facebook grup below is only for licensed Amateurs interested in learning about the mode, and not for those strange blue-light fantasists and plastic paramedics who like to dress up in high viz gear and try to look a bit official. You know the type 🙂

I monitor 430.3125 Tetra TG 10 most of the time on a HB9CV up 4 storeys pointing South from Morecambe and it looks like there’s going to be plenty of time for us all to play radio whilst sat at home, where we can even wait for a Tetra rig arriving in the post !



After GB7MB

Although we have seen the demise of the GB7MB DMR repeater, the site itself is not going anywhere. I am hopeful that Hax will continue to add the odd posts as he as always done so. I personally feel he has a excellent way of passing his knowledge on. Locally we are still served by GB7MP thanks to Dave, which caters for both DMR and P25 digital modes. I shall however be diversifying the site to cover more of my other hobbies as well. The only reason for this is to justify my continuing funding of the site. If you are a member and wish to be removed from the site due to these changes just drop me a quick note to admin(at)mbars.co.uk and i will remove you.

Regards to all



GB7MB closes down

Unfortunately, between 27th December 2019 and 28th December 2019 GB7MB will be going off-air and closing down because of site loss.

If anyone is able to offer a practical working site to relicense and host GB7MB – a UHF MotoTRBO 25w repeater, please get in touch with anyone here at https://mbars.co.uk

Many Thanks to everyone who supported GB7MB and kept it in operation.
This Mbars website should continue however.


GB7MP Morecambe Bay P25 repeater comes on-air

A new UHF repeater has come on-air this week,  It is a P25 / DMR digital repeater.
It’s transmitter output is on : 439.750 and it’s RX: 430.750.

The P25 repeater uses the default NAC of 293 and Talkgroup 2 and, and if you are out of the area or are unable to get in via normal RF means, It is also linked to the ‘Morecambe Bay Talkgroup 2 reflector’ which also allows P25 users to access the repeater via the internet.
The DMR side of GB7MP is colour code 3, and is connected to Brandmeister, and here’s the thing, there are no Brandmeister talkgroups assigned, so you will need to check the standard Brandmeister Talkgroups that you intend to use before you program.

The reason GB7MP does not carry Brandmeister talkgroups by default is that the repeater is primarily a P25 repeater and lots of busy DMR traffic would render the P25 part of the system unavailable to the primary P25 users, but you have the option on using GB7MP or GB7MB, remember GB7MB is DMR only and thus 100% availabile for DMR use anytime, and MB is on the Phoenix network, not Brandmeister. MP and MB are *not* directly TG9 linked like UZ was before UZ went off-air.
Just a note about the echoserver, program it as a private call, not a group call, like it is on Phoenix.

I quote Dave, G6CRV the Repeater keeper of GB7MP
“All the reflectors have an associated Talk Group, if you don’t want to enter all the talk groups into your radio, then you can connect to the associated Reflector by using a private call. IE private call to 4412 connects you to TG23520 (North West) and connections to reflectors time out after 5 minutes if not being used ”

Thanks Dave, If you need more information on the operation of GB7MP, please check out the Facebook group at:

GB7MP Facebook group 

Here are some links to check on the system status of GB7MP:

GB7MP P25 Last heard 

GB7MP Brandmeister (DMR) Last heard

MW0MWZ’s list of Brandmeister talkgroups 

Armchair stormchasing & webcam links

I think most people are interested in thunderstorms and weather, so here are a few links here if you’re interested.

Here is a link to a newly created UK Thunderstorm and severe weather Facebook page,
it was created as most UK storm sites on Facebook seem to be full of non UK storm info.
on this, Only UK content allowed.   Link HERE

As this is Morecambe Bay, here is the obligatory live streaming webcams..

Met Office Observations
  Might as well start with the UK Met Office.  This link is centred on GB7MB and ‘LIGHTNING’ – but of course you can drag or search any part of the UK and set it for rain or whatever by clicking on the ‘cog wheel’ and selecting the weather type you are interested in. The lightning is live and is triangulated via a very well established network of sensors, apparently.

Worldwide Youtube webcams
– (a list of about 180 on the right hand side) 

Lightning Maps
 A European wide real time lightning display.


Much the same as the European display above, You can’t drag the map like on LightningMaps, but the noise of the lightning as it strikes is remeniscent of an old Geiger counter if there’s a storm on..


Webcam Taxi
Not a storm site, but a streaming video site, with some really great cameras from many parts of the world. There are full video, not flickery updating photographs. Some have sound.


Much the same cams as above.


Severe Studios USA
No, it’s not a dominatrix site, it’s a North American Storm chasing site.
Live maps from the storm chasers vehicles and full streaming video from inside the vehicles whilst hunting, travelling to and chasing severe weather in North America. 
Some are professionals working for News stations or weather centers, some are science estalishments or groups or individuals.
Be aware that in some parts of the country these storm chasers get into, their 4G or mobile data signal can get broken and disappear for seconds, minutes or completely !


Live Storm Chasing
Similar idea to the above website, seems less busy at times, but it’s a different group and different organization, well worth keeping an eye on too.


UK full video webcams

There are more, but UK webcams seem to come and go regularly, some don’t re-appear,
these are working as on Mid June 2019    Expect interruptions or outages, as most folks don’t take webcams oo seriously any more.


Arnside Pier  Live Webcam 


Bracklesham Bay   (West Sussex)


Brighton Runway webcam 


Bristol Surfcam


Dawlish (Devon)


Derbyshire (Nr Buxton)


Great Yarmouth


Hastings Pier


Haverford West


Hoylake (Wirral)


Bognor Regis Pier


Langland Bay (S. Wales)


Blackpool Promenade


Dover Beach (Kent)


Camsecure UK    a clickable map with a few streaming video cams in different areas of the UK


Oxford School 


Pembroke sea front


Polzeath beach (Cornwall)


Port Isaac Harbour (Cornwall)


Portpatrick (Dumfries & Galloway)


Various Shetland Isles cameras

Shropshire sailing club

Streamdays UK

Surfcheck UK beaches

Anglesey beach

Southampton – New Holmwood Hotel on the Solent

Some Golf Course in Scotland

Berwickshire, Scotland

Banbury Cross

Weymouth B&B Dorset coast

Whitstable Yacht Club


Block it !

Most places you go to on the web now, will almost certainly be serving you adverts, or tracking you, or worse, and this is only an basic article about adblocking, Ublock origin in particular, as it’s the one that gets recommended by security analysts and researchers, and i install it in every browser first thing, i watch a fair bit of Youtube like most of us, and i still see many people complaining about adverts, so let’s go.

Youtube pre-rolls and ads have been around for years, but people really like money by doing nothing, and so adverts have bled their way into Youtube, one of the most high profile sites on the web. 
If You’re ready to watch a video, it’s incredibly annoying to have to sit through some unwanted crappy advert about something you hate, using your bandwidth, electricity, hardware and most insidious, your time.

Adblockers are plugins or extensions for your web browser which aim to stop this, they’ve also been around donkeys ages too, but, like every other bit of software, it doesn’t always do what it ‘says on the tin’ and, sometimes it does rather more… some Adblockers actually bring in adverts to your browser (mentioning no names) as they feed you tailored ads, different to what you may otherwise get fed, and for this, the adblock company gets a pay-off. Ad blockers, not blocking ads for money, sweet, no ?

This last year or two, the one everyone has been raving about is Ublock Origin  by Gorhill.
Actually, it’s not just an adblocker, as Gorhill himself says, it’s a wide spectrum blocker. so It’s a little like a java script blocker and firewall too, and a bit more too. but DO NOT confuse “Ublock Origin” with the similar sounding “UBLOCK” use Ublock Origin(al)

Default settings are, of course, pretty conservative, and try not to break anything too much, there’s always a trade-off between security and convenience, and you’re the only one who knows where the balance is for the way you use the web. The ‘tyranny of the default’ is a problem, and most bits of software – of any description, often benefit from a check through the preferences, in some cases, doing so can often turn a pain in the arse program into a pleasant to use and safer thing.

For me, i put all settings pretty much up to maximum, and if a website breaks, then so-be it, it can be whitelisted, turned off or adjusted until the site functions as expected if really needed.
Ublock Origin is available for every browser, FirefoxChrome, Chromium, Brave, Iriduim, Safari and even Edge although You really should try NOT to use Microsoft Edge Browser even if Microsoft have started building it underneath the bonnet from the Google Chromium browser, but if you must, enable WDAG at very least  before you start fixing it..
If You really want to tighten up privacy with Ublock Origin, go into the settings and enable the extra lists and Prevent WebRTC and for extra privacy i  block CSP reports too, although some people criticized Ublock Origin for being over zealous.

Above: i add extra privacy by clicking the “WebRTC” and “Block CSP”

One of the least discussed, but wonderfully useful things i like about some advert, or content blockers, is ‘element hiding’
where you can either temporarily or forever hide unwanted parts of a web page, sometimes it it *extremely* handy and can get you past some casual pay walls or some only-logged-in parts of some sites or remove bulky or screen wasting photos or guff.

 Here is a rather extreme example of element hiding on the same MSN homepage, these 2 pictures are before and after, i spent a couple of minutes hiding bits of the website – by using the mouse and highlighting it, and  i got rather carried away and deleted pretty much everything !

Properly set up, Ublock origin should stop almost all adverts, even Youtube pre-rolls and in video pop ups whilst enhancing your privacy a little bit more, and it might speed up your browsing too and keep websites leaner and faster, but if you get into element hiding, you can extremely easily break a website (for you and that browser only) in a big way, or you might just hide the video, or login button, so you’d have to go into the ptions in ‘my filters’ and delete the filter lines the program has added.


TDMA – what’s that all about then ?

It’s not always obvious when you get into DMR exactly what makes DMR so ‘special’ and why everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, compared to most other types of digital voice modes, one of the coolest things about DMR over most other forms of digital voice modes is TDMA. that’s the secret sauce.

Conventional FM repeaters, along with older FDMA types work very well indeed, but more can be done, especially nowadays. On an FM transmitter, as soon as you transmit, your transmitters PA (RF power Amp) shoots right over to solidly pumping out 100% constant carrier, this is simple to understand, as indeed is a FM repeater’s basic operation, and we’re all used to and happy with that.
However, one conversation on a FM (or FDMA) repeater generally means that you have to wait until the repeater is free before you can use it of course, so if your message is important, you’re stuffed, unless you have another repeater to make the call on.
Imagine though, a repeater which can carry 2 separate conversations at the same time using the same two frequencies an FM repeater would use ? How ?

The answer, is TDMA, Time Division Multiple Access, it has been around years, longer than you might think, but it’s basically a channel access method – a way of data streams sharing the same channel, (because *everything* is data nowadays) and there are different types of channel access too, but as we are discussing DMR really, we’ll stick to that for now. Most of us, back in the 1990s will likely be familiar of the annoying and somewhat unpleasant ‘buzz’ or interference when your old cell phone was near an amplifier or stereo (remember those?) and the rat-a-tat buzz from the 2G Nokia cell phone you had.. that was a TDMA transmission.

Very basically, and because it’s a little abstract, i’ll attempt to give a ‘duffers’ way of imagining it, because that’s how I imagine it. 🙂
I know very little, but there seems to be very few write-ups anywhere on the web about it, particularly for hobbyists or folks who aren’t computer whizz kids, there are many DMR websites and discussions on forums and Facebook, but many others, though thorough and correct, require the imagination the size of a planet and a leap of faith to match. I possess neither 🙂

Here goes, if you were to chop your FM transmitter on and off very quickly indeed, you could also imagine that in between your brief TX bursts, and the snapping of your PTT, that someone else, if just as quick, could send their quick TX bursts out too, on the same frequency in-between yours, no-one would be harmed, but you couldn’t speak fast enough to get your voice over could you ? and neither could the station that you’re trying to talk to.
Now, digital radio takes all your TX audio, throws away what it thinks is unneeded, and compresses the rest.
Now your voice is digital and in squeezed into a tiny IC in your radio, we can do fancy things with it, we can, for instance, break it up into blocks and transmit these blocks in, er, blocks, or packets, –  the quick pulses we mentioned earlier, but faster and electronicaly timed and controlled.
The receiver collects these ‘blocks’ and re-constitutes them, back into a whole lump, like adding water to a 1970s Vesta Chow Mein and you’ve got your audio back at the receiver, albeit after a lot of processing, and of course, you can do this through a repeater or simplex. You can even have two concurrent QSOs on simplex, on the same frequency!

A basic one way QSO through a DMR repeater is pretty simple to envisage,
here’s the first of my (sad and tragic) attempts at basic animation in The Gimp, a open source, free software graphics program, (For Windows, Mac & Linux) which i only found out did animation a couple of hours ago, so be kind to my first attempts !

TDMA – the Secret sauce

As you can see above, transmitting one DMR transmission over a DMR repeater all seems to make some kind of sense, you can see the packets arriving at the repeater, and the repeater transmitting them on.

The interesting bit about DMR is whilst they’re nattering on there, we can start up another QSO on the same repeater and the other QSO will be totally unaware, so, if there’s just one QSO on the DMR repeater, it will be sat idle a good proportion of the time, yet still continue to relay a full QSO on one of the slots, but there’s another slot we can play with, lets look at that.

Slots o’ fun

Above, on grubby animation number two, is what the repeater is seeing when someone else calls through the repeater, hugely slowed down, as for a short time it listens in the (lets call it a ‘gap’) and if it hears any valid DMR on the input at that time, it calls that slot 1, then automatically and without waiting, listens again on the same frequency in the other ‘gap’ or slot, and if a valid chunk of tasty DMR comes in at the expected slot 2 time, well, we will call that slot 2 then, and so it goes, back and forth, many times a second, constantly, until both transmissions stop and it can rest. 

So, to recap, there are now two simultaneous QSOs going on in the repeater, and as we can see, as the repeater is easily hearing both transmissions, the DMR repeater is also sending back control information to your radio, stuff like telling both transmitters when to TX their blocks of data back, all DMR receivers expect to hear packets or these blocks of data, so everybody is happy. Win, Win.

It’s a busy, busy busy job …

Above, in crap animation number three, (I’ll stop soon, i promise) – is a very poor attempt to envisage a DMR repeater in the midst of, er, repeating. Two QSOs are taking place on the one repeater at the same time, neither QSO knows or needs to know about the other QSO,

QSO one (slot 1)  is blue, and QSO two (slot 2) is green, neither know or can hear, (or join in with) the other QSO, they’re both completely independent, try doing that without TDMA.

In the crude graphic, massivley slowed down, the repeater is flashing the colour of the QSO it is currently TXing, it really onl haas one transmitter and one receiver really, but as you can see, it switches between both ‘slots’ automatically and very fast indeed, with the effect that the end user can’t tell. congratulations, because instead of having to buy another repeater, you’ve just got a free one by using DMR.

There are more DMR benefits too, stuff that the FM and FDMA stuff can only dream about,Myself, i like the old P25 phase 1 digital, a mostly American emergency service digital system, but it’s old and FDMA, not TDMA and and has only half the capacity of a these two slot TDMA system, bit TDMA is so important in comms, that P25 ‘phase 2’ is now TDMA, because it makes NO SENSE to invest in a poor propriety digital amateur only mode, or really any FDMA nowadays, unless it’s foe low end or retro fun, it’s a technological dead end street now, technology has moved on, some companies thought they’d lock users into substandard and propriety modes and dropped the ball completely or refused to update, as their cash cow was still bringing in the $$$ whilst other, superior standard, industry wide modes, well supported and still in active development continue to offer future development, rather than just at the whim of some proprietary bean counting exec.. but i digress..

One feature we enjoyed when we started playing with DMR, was to de-key each other .. the locals here are an often cruel and cheeky bunch who used to delight in, lets say, if someone was transmitting for a really long time, and listeners were starting to doze off or get bored, we send a DMR command from our rigs to the Guy who is still in waffle mode – still in TX -and  instantly setting the (surprised) waffling station’s rig back into receive mode – whilst they still had their finger on their PTT !   for a while it was a challenge to not be boring or waffle too much, lest you would be remotely de-keyed in mid sentance !

Such is the fun we had, but alas the tumbleweeds have taken over the hobby and i have to get my kicks by writing articles on MBARS 🙂

Next Article:
“Talkgroups what the bloody hell are they then”

Changes are a comin’

We’re trying to diversify a little bit on MBARS here, Digital radio is just one tiny part of the whole electronics and hobby radio thing we’re all addicted to here, so we’re just mixing it up a little bit, as there’s not really enough happening in the DMR or digital voice part of the hobby to inspire me to pen many articles, the hobby is far bigger than just digital, We’re interested in a wider array of hobby radio and electronics.

I have added more areas, with more specific titles to reflect our other interests, and hopefully you’ll not be not forced to scroll and click around endlessly just to browse this (little) site of ours, with all the areas up the top instead, MBARS is only a 2 man effort, and i do most of the waffling and Quack does all of the Admin. If there are any menus or areas you think we should have, tell us !

So much content is on Facebook nowadays, so it’s a little hard not to be drawn into the Quagmire that is Zuckerberg-world (Giggidy) so please don’t expect a huge quantity of material on here, but we do like the idea of quality, and that is instead, what we will strive for, and that is also why joining is pretty much a slightly more tedious ‘send us an email’ type instead of the more usual email-loop – like you get on most other sites, though that may very well change, but it does keep out most of the spam, so there is method in our madness.

I’m no writer, or journalist, but when i have time (or the inclination) i do enjoy writing, especially on MBARS, but I found the digital radio bias rather restrictive, as i’m mostly a HF SSB Guy really, so I have added up some more categories up on the menu where hopefully you can jump to a particulat type of thing, instead of scrolling around, i found navigating the site a chore myself, so i need to make navigation easier and more straightforward.

Stick with us, and i hope we all can develop MBARS a little more, and take away some of the focus from DMR and cater to the far wider interests that we have, yet we still will stay mostly in the Hobby radio domain…


GB7MB is still on-air, but we use P25 & HF SSB 28.495

The demise of DMR in the area has seen a resurgence of a few of the locals go back to 10m SSB instead.  We have been using 28.495 USB (on and off) for over 10 years now, with a brief flirt with DMR in between when we put GB7MB on air.  Activity is low of course, but is monitored most of the time, so fire your HF rig up and shout up. We are vey relaxed on there and fun, please don’t get offended by the goings-on on 28.495 – instead, just join in,

The photo above is a MMDVM – a little radio board that sits on top of a Raspberry Pi – those tiny twenty quid computers – and it’s a hotspot for your P25 rig.
You can buy them ready built too,  they work fine. here’s an example.

After a bit of a config you need a P25 set, they pop up on Ebay and other places occasionally.
you shouldn’t need to pay much above £100 for one, the chinese haven’t yet made a cheap P25 set yet, and likely never will, have a google for P25 digital if you don’t know what it is.

We have a Morecambe bay reflector for P25 and several users, though again, activity is low 🙁

So, that’s an overdue update, just so you know what’s happening (not too much) but feel free to use GB7MB and have fun.

GB7UZ off-air

As most DMR locals may have noticed, GB7UZ is off-air and there is no way of knowing if it will ever return.
So It isn’t your radio – the repeater is gone.

turn your smartphone into a P25 or DMR HT ?

Well, You can certainly do some neat tricks with SDR’s nowadays, clever things like making your Raspberry PI transmit AM/FM/SSB and the (slightly pricey) but very interesting HackRF board. I see Fenton Dynamics have been busy lately, they’ve rebranded now from BriCom, and i completely missed them first time around,   Anyway, this device, which is sort of a set of modular clip-on-goodies for your smartphone can magically turns it into a VHF / UHF P25 / DMR / FM / HT is available, and, not that you can tell, but the photo above is of the 2w VHF iPhone 6 version apparently, well so it says in the blurb, all wrapped up in a  Nextpaq case.

For more info check out their August 2015 Youtube posting HERE  and head over to Fenton Dynamics too, if you have a supported Android or IOS device it may appeal to you .. it does far more than what you’d think, with a dual band module, DMR, and P25 modes, analogue signalling like MDC1200 etc, trunking, GPS, ROIP, SOS, alarms etc, and there’s an SDK kit available for third party developers too, and hopefully the apps that will appear as well. It all seems very modular and well thought out, the clipon goodies even has their own mic and speaker and battery, and it’s all neatly wrapped up in a $99 Nextpaq case – with the actual Dxbm modules beginning at $65 it’s beginning to look mildly Interesting. Watch this video or this earlier video which hopefully gives a better idea of it…

All work, text and images ©GB7MB and @mbars.co.uk

Sommerkamp FT 277 ZD sale ((now sold ))

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Sommerkamp FT 277 ZD MK III  – From a warm, dry, pet free and smoke free home.
It’s got all the WARC bands, and will never ever have been CB’d as far as i’m aware, as i bought it directly off Harry G3LLL, the famous Yaesu 101 Guy who lives locally to us here at MBARS HQ – all that’s changed is that i fitted a FM board, which works, but there is an earth loop buzz on TX (but on FM tx only) i never got ’round to to fixing it as we used SSB !

The mic is a standard taxi type mic and the power lead comes with the set of course. The set has been looked after, RX’s well and TX’s well, the tubes seem good too, i never bothered checking them as the set just kept running fine and never let me down. It’s been kept switched on for long periods sometimes, weeks at a time, (heaters off) and is quite a nice example of the Sommerkamp badged FT 101 ZD mkIII

I will be sad to see it go, it’s like an old friend, but it’s time for me to move on, so here you are.
It’s in used, but working condition, don’t expect showroom condition, and know these sets are about 40 years old.

Best thing is to come and collect it, it’s too damn heavy to post, but if you really can’t get here to pick it up, maybe we can arrange a courier or something, but it’ll likely be pricey, and i’m not even sure i can package it in any meaningful way that would protect it during transport.

Really really, do come and pick it up.

Nice set .. and it will help keep you warm in the winter too.
Come and collect it from Morecambe promenade,

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All work, text and images © mbars.co.uk

Never mind the fugly, feel the er, quality..


Yes, that’s a real photo of a real chinese electrolytic someone found during a repair.

I’ve not been doing much radio lately, as life kind of got in the way and my interest in amateur radio is somewhat on the wane, but every now and again it’s good to raise your head from out of the trough long enough to taste the cool summer breeze, as i do, i notice a new email from China in my inbox, i wonder if the air is as fresh over in Quanzhou, Yes, it’s another Chinese radio for me to purchase, or not, this time it’s DMR (TDMA) and it’s a Wouxun, it’s the first DMR Wouxun i’ve seen, and the previous FM set whatever it was was, probably wa the best selling (useable) dual band HT after the ‘christmas cracker quality’ Baofengs which hit the streets, so it slightly caught my attention. It kind of goes without saying that the Wouxun i foolishly bought, shuffled off it’s mortal coil after a only couple of years, after randomly crashing, rebooting, reverting to the default mandarin and forgetting everything. dreadful. At least it was a one minute job to re-upload the frequencies back in the set via the USB lead, Worse still was the Yupiteru 7100 scanner which lasted about the same span, then randomly crashed and burned at random moments too, and occasionally forgot it’s nearly 1000 memories. No USB programming there, that got old really quickly, so sold it as scrap, which reminded me of several Yaesu’s having done the same to me since i was a kid SWL, leaving me fed up and with a broke radio, not good enough.

I moved over to Motorola hardware several years ago and have never been let down with their solid hardware (just their occasional crappy DMR firmware) Yaesu have let me down hundreds of pounds for years, and forced me away with bad gear and worse after sales support, so obviously won’t be buying Yaesu or any of the other Ham names anymore, besides which, i think It all looks like it comes from the same Baofeng factory anyway. I love my FT 101 ZD, probably the best HF rig Yaesu Musen ever made, i love the build quality, but i will get rid soon, as i don’t use HF anymore.

Bad experiences aside, i must say I’m quite pleased that the Chinese manufacturers are now making DMR, obviously the quality is not the main priority when they’re knocking these things out en masse, and predictably the programming software is crap too, thank goodness then for Chirp the open source CPS that does a few other (not just Chinese branded radios) and hooray, i don’t have to even use Windows. Thank goodness for that. 2016 huh.

The firmware in the Chinese sets is often poor, but somewhat shockingly, even Motorola screws up firmware releases, the affected Gen2 MotoTRBO Motorola sets crashed and rebooted if you set the DSP and scanlist in certain combinations, and as if Moto didn’t learn by that mistake, the code monkeys at Motorola recently released a firmware which stopped the sets going into transmit mode. Nice job Moto,  but hey, why bother actually testing this stuff ?   I am available as a beta tester, email me for my details Moto.

If you’ve got a Chinese radio you may have the added bonus of fixed, naff, and quiet TX audio too, which seems to be getting solved nowadays, and with some recent Chinese DMR sets, there is talk of slot timing issues which slightly worries some DMR repeater keepers (but which Amateurs measure the slot timing accuracy and rise / fall on TDMA sets anyway ?) – these sort of things should be sorted out, if only they spent as much refining these things as they do with bloody cell phones.. but i digress, there seems to be little evidence slot-timing issues are much of a real world problem at present for Amateurs, my guess is the MotoTRBO repeaters are perhaps adjusting their tolerance ‘on the fly’ in these circumstances, but i’ve no proof..

You do get what you pay for of course, and the Chinese sets and Motorola are of course aimed at 2 different markets, and i hope the Chinese manufacturers one day could open-source their software and get the community to do some of the bug testing and development for them, but maybe the Chinese manufacturers are protecting their own IP (insert: irony) or maybe they’re reluctant to anger DVSI and Motorola’s legal department.  Only joking 🙂 – well,  it’s not stopped them making clones has it, and if it’s not all fake cell phones, and dodgy copies of Windows98 in China, let it be known there were or maybe still are some fake Apple “STOERS” (sic) over there, apparently even some of the employees thought they were actually working for Apple… You can’t make this stuff up can you..  Hopefully the chinese manufacturers will use their famous ingenuity to embrace a emerging market (us lot) my guess is that maybe there aren’t the numbers in the hobby to justify them spending on such R & D..

do know however, that exactly what the hacking / Ham community needs are people like Travis Goodspeed there in this Youtube presentation over at ShmooCon giving a presentation of his now famous firmware hack of the Chinese TYT MD380 handheld.. and there needs to be more of this. This retro looking website might be interesting if you’re interested. Travis’s blog is interesting too, even if it seems he’s not updated it for a few years.

After seeing this brand new shiny Wouxun KG D901  i was reminded of something else the Chinese HT designers should fix, less important perhaps, it’s the look of some of the sets, this bugs me way more than it should, appearances are of course subjective, but to me, the vast majority of chinese radios seem plain Fugly  indeed, some look like they’ve gone out of their way to make them as ugly or as infantile as possible, and some look like they’ve just dropped out of a clown’s arse, stop making them look crapkeep it understated and tasteful, I’m not asking for Johnny Ive  to design the bloody things (i mean, it wouldn’t have any buttons would it ?) but make them look like a proper radio, not something that is so ugly you’re likely to get beaten up for just having one at the next radio rally.

Amazingly this DMR Wouxun has a variable mic gain (must have given the designers sleepless nights) but still, they have 16 channel max scan lists ? – not all DMR sets are so limited, so any arguments about scan speed and missing calls ‘because of large scanlists’ is based on an incorrect premise, that such large lists increase likelihood of missing calls, well possibly, do dealers programme huge scanlists into commercial users systems, instead of only just what they need ?  

Somewhat refreshingly, there are occasional breaks from this ‘tradition’,  as an example, I do like the huge number of contacts you can add to the Connect Systems HT (a few thousand i think it is) – they’ve gone that extra step, which makes it better for masochists who like keeping full contact lists, it seems like Jerry as Connect Systems checked his email, and took notice, and i do understand that there are limitations on what can be done with the hardware and firmware, but it looked interesting and it peaked my interest originally, but i thought the CS700 seemed quite overpriced when compared to what North American buyers were paying, as it’s still a chinese HT, and i refused on principle, I’m an Amateur and i’m tired of pointless restrictions, life’s too short, and if you’re charging Amateur prices, give Amateur facilities.

Some advertising burb even suggest the TYTERA / TYT MD 380 are a copy of the Motorola DP4800, er, no.
I know the TYTs are popular sets, i might even try one, but damn, they need a bit of a makeover, they’re not like a DP4800 other than the keyboard is under the display, the proper place for it. I only just forgave Motorola for making the nice but FUGLY DP3600 and then replacing it with a model that *is* pretty, and screwing the pooch by neglecting to fit an SMA on it – (unless you pay another couple hunded pounds for the blue ATEX model) Yes, Motorola, you suck too, Hams buy your gear too, Moto, and some are about to stop, but to be practical, I require a VFO and other amateur features on my sets now,

know Moto are not consumer Ham type sets, but i’m already tired of the DP4801’s lack of SMA and lack of real FPP ond no VFO’s and real FPP, it’s not even a real option for us in the west, and vendor lock-in is bad for buyers, if only they recognised it, and If i find a DMR HT with the features below, my DP4801 will be on Ebay and i’d likely buying a HT with hackable firmware. for me a useful DMR HT needs:

  • SMA aerial
  • standard 2 pin TRS (jack) or something stronger / more pins features, non proprietry but Moto style.
  • scanlist not limited to 16ch
  • open source firmware / programming software for general hackability, so we can avoid the hateful chinese CPS
  • obvious mic gain & other standard features in radio menu you’d expect to find in any other radio
  • RSSI
  • Full FPP including up/down VFOs and full TG creation without PC. ALL TG rx like the hack for the TYT / Tytera / Retevis MD380 sets
  • doesn’t look like crap, good font and display on set too.
  • rugged

There may be more, like not being overpriced, but that’s obvious, and i don’t mention roaming, though i use roaming on our TAC-9 repeaters, and so think it’s very useful, MotoTrbo compatible roaming would be a sure winner in non-Moto sets, but i can live without it. I do wish the HTs were as pretty as the Moto’s however, below are some of the ugliest HTs i’ve ever seen, apologies if you own one, actually no, but why can’t they make them look less crap ?

wouxunDMRAbove: Wouxun DMR
Below: three Hytera’s. Hytera, you should be ashamed.

Below: no idea about any of them, just FM sets, but they are excruciatingly ugly.

There are no more words  🙂
All work, text and images © GB7MB


Heads-up: beware cloning codeplugs, & why you should really write your own ..

oldie pc
It’s time to give a heads up to people and to try and encourage more amateurs to write their own codeplugs.
Our hobby is primarily a technical hobby, and as such we’re all interested in tech and playing with this kind of stuff, and so perhaps this is a good time to maybe sit down and write your very own codeplug, as a recent post on a {professional radio site} warns that there can be problems sometimes, when cloning someone else’s codeplug into your set – if they’re differing codeplug versions that is, it seems you could end up with bad audio settings, or worse still, missing features, so really do check before you commit the changes to your radio. Codeplugs contain much more data than just the channel information and rig settings you get to see and change in the CPS.

On the forums over at Communication SupportMars here, posted a heads-up about this issue to Amateurs, and when Mars says it, you’d be wise to listen. so might i suggest you read Mars’ Post here  The forum is for professionals, so don’t even think of posting on there without having done your homework first, or you may not get much help at all, but what you will get is a huge forum full of technical discussions and, more often than not, you will find out exactly what you want – by just reading the forums, you also may enjoy the dry humour that occasionally pervades the site too, and maybe you’ll get answers to questions you’ve never even thought of asking, and hopefully save yourself a little stress into the bargain…

Writing a MotoTRBO codeplug isn’t too bad once you have the basics, It may help your understanding of how DMR works too, if you’re not familiar with it, there are guides to using it and documentation on programming with Motorola CPS on this very site, but first option for help is the CPS’s built in documentation and the area specific help system, that’s a real great feature of the Mototrbo CPS, or, if you care to browse back through the archived posts, you can look there too for some Amateur specific bits of info, and then you can set your radio for how You use it, not how the original author of the codeplug you downloaded uses his, and also you’ll not fall foul of any of this cloning codeplug stuff Mars warns us about. You can drag ‘n’ drop channels from other Mototrbo codeplugs with ease, you can open other codeplugs in the CPS at the same time, FM channels are much easier, and dragging ‘n’ dropping can save you much time, but make sure to check the exact name of things like talkgroups before dragging digital channels between codeplugs, If you don’t, you’ll find out later why you *should*

Writing a codeplug is all part of the ‘learning about radio technology’ thing we all signed up for.. sure, it’s not waving a soldering iron inside a valve transmitter like the early days, not quite as dangerous either, but technology has allowed up to swap the soldering iron for the keyboard in some ways, and me, i’m not complaining, they are both skills the modern amateur radio hobbyist will benefit from, and it really does bring back a sense of DIY to the hobby, now that much of the premade gear is often too small and fiddly for most of us nowadays.

Don’t be afraid of the CPS, give it a go, it can be quite interesting trying out your ideas, and you’ll be putting something In to the hobby too, which leads to getting more out of the hobby too, & it kind of beats watching funny cat videos on youtube doesn’t it !

Happy programming !

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TAC-9 logos for Motorola DP4800 / DM4600


Just because i was a bit bored, i thought i’d trim our TAC-9 logo’s and see how they would look as a startup bmp for the MotoTrbo sets.
The portable ones are a bit stretched out to fill the (little) screen the HTs have. They’re quite fetching i think.
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All work, text and images © GB7MB