Hytera Enters the North American Amateur Radio Market

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KP4UZ, Nov 22, 2016.

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  1. KP4UZ

    KP4UZ Ham Member QRZ Page


    GigaParts announced today the release of five new models of amateur radios manufactured by Hytera. Highly regarded in land mobile radio for their quality, durability and innovation, Hytera dominates the DMR and Tetra markets in the US and the rest of the world. Hytera is the largest radio manufacturer to enter the amateur radio market in North America.

    With nearly 1,000 amateur repeaters already on the air in North America, DMR infrastructure is well established and is on pace to surpass D-STAR and System Fusion in 2017. DMR’s growing popularity in amateur radio is due, in part, to its technical capabilities, solid reliability and compatibility across several brands. One advantage of DMR over other the other digital modes is its spectrum efficiency. By using two “time slots,” DMR allows two voice transmissions to happen simultaneously on the same 12.5 kHz channel. DMR is also known for its superior audio quality and ability to maintain voice communication at the fringe of a repeater’s coverage area.

    For years, groups of dedicated hams have built up at least three networks of DMR repeaters primarily using decommissioned commercial repeaters and a lot of ingenuity and expertise. With no formal manufacturer or dealer support in the United States, DMR+, BrandMeister, and DMR-MARC are already serving tens of thousands of users. The entrance of Hytera and GigaParts into the amateur DMR community will bring resources to help buildout additional infrastructure and explore new features to support the unique needs of amateur radio operators.

    To make this technology affordable for amateur radio operators, Hytera ham radios will be built on the same rugged and reliable platforms developed for commercial and public safety applications, with the removal of unnecessary features, like encryption, for additional savings. Prices for handheld radios will start at under $200. All five of these new radios will transmit from 420MHz to 450MHz on either analog or digital, are built to the same quality and durability standards as their LMR counterparts, and carry a 3 year warranty.

    Over the next few months, GigaParts will be soliciting feedback from hams that will be used to determine the direction of future product development and resources devoted to putting more DMR repeaters on the air. Visit www.gigaparts.com/DMR and click on the survey link to give us your opinion.

    Download the full press release here: http://www.gigaparts.com/press

    Julio Suarez - KP4UZ
    KF4LFQ likes this.
  2. KC9ONA

    KC9ONA Ham Member QRZ Page

    That Hytera PA362UC has caught my attention. It kinda looks like a small cell phone with an equally small price point! Glad to see you're carrying the new line of DMR radios. I may have to pick one up.
  3. EA2EKH

    EA2EKH Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is really interesting. I am a happy Hytera user and I've been pestering then for some amateur support. Any chance for a similar announcement in Europe?
  4. EA2EKH

    EA2EKH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've got a PD365 (euro version of the 362) and I can say it's an awesome radio.
    SA6CKE, 4X1DA and KC9ONA like this.
  5. KP4UZ

    KP4UZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, Difona has been selling Hytera for a couple of years in Europe and they paved the actually paved the way for us. Good folks there!

  6. KK6BDF

    KK6BDF Ham Member QRZ Page

    One thing I noticed on the site was no CPS software. They sell the programming cable though.
    I wonder if that will be offered in the future....
  7. KM4KTC

    KM4KTC Ham Member QRZ Page

  8. KP4UZ

    KP4UZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The CPS software will be a free download. There are some overseas websites that already have it available, but if you buy the cable from GigaParts we’ll make sure you get the official software either on CD or with a link to download it from our website.
  9. KA4AQM

    KA4AQM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    And the radio is made where?
    AA1PR and GM1FLQ like this.
  10. KN4AQ

    KN4AQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been operating on DMR for a few months, using a TYT-MD-380 handheld. It seems like at least half the hams I talk to there are using the 380. While I'm still pretty much a novice, I've formed some impressions. I can't comment on the Hytera radios that started this thread.

    First, it's been interesting and fun learning about the mode and network. I live about two miles from a local repeater, and that accounts for maybe 25% of my 'good experience' - I can play on DMR with the handheld easily at home and in my local travels. My area (Raleigh-Durham NC, and much of North Carolina) is well served by DMR repeaters, but there are plenty of 'dark' areas outside the metros. A mobile will help extend my range, so I'm looking for one.

    The mode 'sounds digital' the way D-STAR, P-25 and Yaesu System Fusion do. There are minor differences in the quality. D-STAR has the worst 'garble' problem at low signal levels. The others tend to degrade more gracefully at their threshold before dropping out, though I've heard some annoying squawks from my DMR radio as well. I've quickly grown to prefer the 'digital sound' over analog because there's no noise, no picket-fencing. Just a super-high signal-to-noise radio. The DMR repeaters seem to perform quite well, but I haven't been able to compare them with co-located and similarly configured analog or other digital mode repeaters. Some hams rave about the extended coverage.

    My area repeaters are part of one of the big networks called PRN. It covers the Carolinas and Virginias, with a few repeaters from adjacent states opting to join. Their arrangement is to have all the repeaters on the PRN network linked full time on one 'time slot,' while users can direct their local repeater to link to one of a handful of available Talk Groups, or just enjoy local repeater use, on the other time slot. I find it's a good, workable arrangement. The wide-region link has traffic on-and-off throughout the day (often the same call signs). Local use is very low, but that's the case with all digital voice modes. The networks make the repeaters and modes worth having. Long rag-chews are discouraged on the regional link, but PRN provides a couple of talk groups that allow the users to have their local time slot join a 'temporary' network that puts two or more users together. However, not all users have... or understand... these 'chat groups' programmed into their radios.

    On a recent trip to Florida, I also found that the DMR world outside PRN's territory is more like the wild west. There are a few other regional, national and international networks that a given repeater owner and align with. As a user, especially one traveling cross-country, it can be difficult to figure out how any given repeater you might encounter is configured, or how to use it. Web sites listing repeaters and their configurations are hardly complete. And their's certainly no 'dialing' one in on the fly as you drive, they way you can with analog (and sort of with D-STAR). Pre-programming is a must.

    But radio programming is tricky. The 380, and I gather most DMR radios, can't really be programmed from the 'front panel'. Even if the radio offered the capability, the systems are too complex to enter all the required parameters by hand. It's not that easy to do using a computer, either. Many, if not most hams, rely on others to supply the programming file (called a code plug) for their radio, and they are content to use their radios, and talk on the networks, to the extent they can with that setup. I've gotten to the point that I can tweak the file for my radio some, and I'm still learning. When I went to Florida, I searched the web for code plugs that would bring me repeaters there. I found too many, with little information on the capability or quality of those I found. I had little time, and the one I chose was pretty useless. I heard a little traffic, and only made a couple of contacts in the Orlando area. And I was mostly flying blind about what networks I was listening to.

    There's nothing wrong with learning. Heck, the Georgia D-STAR guys have been running all-day training sessions for D-STAR for years. I haven't put concerted effort into cracking DMR, but the limited searching I've done has been somewhat frustrating. I find most sites are incomplete, or seem to assume knowledge I don't yet possess.

    I can say based on my experience over the years that some of the reason for this is that DMR is a force-fit into Amateur Radio. The technology and networking were designed for commercial use, with very different needs and goals than Amateur Radio. Hams have been ingenious in adapting the DMR systems for ham radio. But with many hams creating different ways to do things, we users can be pretty confused as we move from one area to another where the configurations and procedures are different. I'm not the only one who feels this way. I've heard some DMR experts sigh and shake their heads at the chaotic state of the mode and systems that support it.

    D-STAR (which I'm familiar with) and Fusion (less familiar, especially with the networks) were both designed for ham radio. D-STAR allows the user to steer their local repeater to a reflector network, or another specific repeater, easily. And I say easily because I know how to do it. But a new D-STAR users just starting their day-long training class might not agree yet. Any given DMR repeater can emulate some of that capability, but not all of it. Choices are more limited. In my area, choices are very limited, because we have little access to the most flexible DMR network system called Brandmeister. Apparently those guys have gone nuts creating talk groups for almost everything.

    The concept of talk groups in Amateur Radio seemed odd at first. I'm very familiar with them in trunked Public Safety systems. Those systems use talk groups as virtual channels to group users together with great flexibility. But a trunked system has multiple, co-located RF repeaters to spread out use, and allow multiple talk groups to operate at the same time.

    It doesn't work that way in a ham DMR system. Talk groups are still a way to bring users, and multiple repeaters, together, but if a repeater is in use for one talk group, it is 'fully occupied.' A ham wanting to use a different talk group will have to wait. It does get a little more complicated because the DMR repeaters have two voice channels in one RF channel, but at least here in PRN territory, user-selected talk groups can only use the 'local' time-slot of the repeater. I wasn't able to figure out how the repeaters in Georgia and Florida arranged things on my trip to St. Petersburg in September, and that's been my only trip outside PRN-land.

    Another odd thing about the talk groups as force-fit into Amateur Radio is that unless you have the talk group programmed into your radio and are switched to the 'virtual channel' for that talk group, you won't hear it when it's operating on your repeater. That's ideal for commercial use, but takes some getting used to on a ham system. My radio, and I'll assume all radios, have a monitor-all channel that lets me listen to both time slots and any talk groups in use, so it's not a huge problem. And sometimes it can be a feature, say if I only want to listen for local hams, or hams on a specific talk group. Well, check that last item - I can't monitor for hams anywhere in the region/world on a specific talk group unless I direct my local repeater to connect to it. And then other uses can't use the local side of the repeater for anything else. D-STAR isn't much different. If a repeater is connected to a reflector, then that one connection ties up the repeater, period. And everybody hears it.

    One last point - the radios. Though this thread says that Hytera has created DMR radios for Amateur Radio, it doesn't look like they'll work like the VHF/UHF analog (or dual-mode analog/D-STAR, or analog/Fusion) radios your used to. They'll probably do analog FM, but programming and operation will likely be far different. My MD-380 is fine for local use, but manipulating the radio when driving out of the area - even just to the next metro down the road - is cumbersome. It was designed for a commercial user, not a ham.

    That's the way things are today with most radios. I don't expect it to stay that way. With DMR becoming more popular, I expect to see truly ham-oriented DMR radios with the flexibility we're used to. The DV4 folks are advertising an all-mode (DMR, D-STAR, Fusion, P-25, and their own unique mode) mobile radio, but I haven't seen how it will really work. The R-Finder repeater directory guys have an Android-based DMR radio that I know nothing about yet.

    I didn't intend this post to be so long, and I didn't try to organize it well. The thoughts just kind of spilled out. My goal was to say DMR is fun, but it isn't what you expect. Whatever you expected.

    73, Gary KN4AQ
    KB5RF, K8XG, K8NOS and 4 others like this.

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