OK, last week I took delivery of a TYT MD380. It is pretty much the same radio as the Tytera / Retevis, but with just a different badge. Apparently this is one of the last batches of TYT’s available from the supplier in Germany, and the next batch of radios he is getting will be Retevis. He said that the firmware is basically the same to, but might just be a newer revision.
I plugged mine in, downloaded the latest codeplug from LEFARS and updated it with my ID and copied into the radio. I switched it on expecting a rush of DMR traffic, but was disappointed not even being able to open the Barking repeater. A bit of home-brewing and I knocked up an SMA to PL259 connector, plugged in, connected to my collinear and it all burst into life. I was amazed at how easy I could get into NS (North Surrey) in Caterham, and of course Barking was now available and even better, the biggest surprise was Rochester (IK) which was giving me the highest signal levels in the area, even more than Thurrock (SE) and even though the coverage map does not even feature anywhere near my QTH in Hainault .
A weekend away for my daughters wedding in Devizes saw me test out the radio in the van, hitched up to an SG7900 antenna on the van, I easily got into Bristol (BS) while the Reading repeater remained elusive! In fact I managed to get into BS all the way out near Upavon, which was some feat!
It just goes to show that the coverage maps are a nice guide, but no-where near accurate! From the van I managed to have decent copies with someone in Ashford whilst near Heathrow, which I would never have been able to work simplex on 2m. So for communications on the move, it is undoubtedly a great mode if you want to talk to someone and not have the same challenges of working analogue modes. I will always keep the VHF / UHF and HF gear in the van though as that is my primary interest, but for a decent quality chat on the move, then DMR really does have its place.
I am also going to purchasing a dedicated antenna for 70cm now as well! Stacked dipoles so I can use it with a linear for GB2RS?