Archive for the ‘ham radio’ Category

VHF/UHF Omni Antenna for SOTA Use

For Summits On The Air (SOTA), I’ve been using just the VHF/UHF ham bands, with the 2m band being the most popular. For most activations, I use a 3-element Arrow II yagi antenna that has a gain of about 6 dBd. Sometimes that extra gain makes the difference between completing a contact or not.

Omnidirectional Antenna

RH770 dualband antenna
The RH770 Dualband Antenna with BNC Connector

But it is also handy to have an omnidirectional antenna that is easy to deploy. Sometimes I’d rather just call or monitor using an omni without having to point the antenna. “Easy and good enough” can be an effective strategy for SOTA.

A key advantage to an omnidirectional antenna is that it is always pointed in the right direction.

I usually carry one of the TWAYRDIO RH770 VHF/UHF antennas for use with my 2m/70cm handheld transceiver. Despite its low cost, I have found that its performance to be quite good. That antenna is offered with a variety of connectors, including a BNC.

This led me to the idea of putting together a simple antenna mount with a BNC on it, attach an RH770 antenna to it and support it using some kind of pole. I have several monopod devices (intended for use as a camera support) that use the standard 1/4-20 thread. I also have a trekking pole that has the same camera mounting thread. Another option is to use an actual camera tripod which is a bit bulky but may work for some SOTA activations.

After a short visit to the hardware store, I selected crossbar for mounting a light fixture that was about the right size and shape. I happened to have a bulkhead-mount BNC-to-BNC connector which I inserted into the large hole in the crossbar. That hole was not quite large enough for the connector, but a few minutes work with a round file solved that problem.

After some filing to expand the hole, the bulkhead BNC connector (female-to-female) was inserted into the main hole in the crossbar.

The crossbar was originally flat but I bent one one end of it 90 degrees, with the idea that this might offer other mounting configurations in the future. For example, I might be able to strap or tape the 90 degree angle member to a pole or support.

The monopole support is inserted into one of the slots of the crossbar. Again, some filing was required to make the slot big enough for the 1/4-inch thread.

The other end of the crossbar has a large slot that accommodated the 1/4-20 mounting stud. Actually, the slot was not quite wide enough, so some addition work with a round file opened it up. I secured the 1/4-20 thread using a nylon wing nut.

A nylon wing nut (1/4-20 thread) is used to attach the crossbar mount to the monopod.

I’ve used this setup on one SOTA activation and was pleased with the results. I carried the crossbar mount attached to the monopod in my pack. On the summit, I simply installed the RH770 antenna onto the top BNC and extended the monopod. On this summit, I found the perfect pile of rocks that made a good support for the monopod. Then I used a short length of RG-8X coax between the bottom BNC and the 2m/70cm transceiver.

The antenna support in use: the RH770 antenna attaches to top BNC connector, the crossbar mount attaches to the monopole which jammed into a pile of rocks on the summit. An RG-8X coaxial cable feeds the antenna through the bottom BNC connector.

Although my primary interest was with the 2 meter band, it was really convenient to have both 2m and 70cm on the same antenna. I am pleased with operation of the antenna and the ability to deploy it quickly. I expect to carry this on most of my SOTA activations.

73 Bob K0NR

The post VHF/UHF Omni Antenna for SOTA Use appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Handheld Transceiver Accumulation Syndrome

A Handheld Transceiver (HT) is a convenient, compact all-in-one wireless device for FM operating on the VHF/UHF bands. HTs are sometimes referred to as a Shack On The Belt. There’s a lot to like about a transceiver that has wide frequency range, built-in antenna and power source.

Handheld transceivers may start to accumulate for no apparent reason.

The attractiveness of these devices coupled with a distinct lack of self-control on the part of some radio amateurs can lead to a condition known as Handheld Transceiver Accumulation Syndrome (HTAS). The main indicator of HTAS is that the radio amateur (the HTAS patient) accumulates a large number of HTs for no apparent reason. These radios end up sitting on the shelf or workbench at home, largely underutilized.

Typically, a pile of battery chargers accumulate, all proprietary and incompatible.

Coincident with the accumulation of radios, there is usually a pile of battery chargers, both drop-in and wall-wart style. These chargers are almost always proprietary designs that work with the original radio but no others.

The chargers are just the beginning of a broader accessory quagmire. The HTAS sufferer also tends to accumulate other accessories such as DC power cables, extra battery packs, speaker/microphones and aftermarket antennas. Many of these are also unique to the specific model of HT.

Psychologists that study HTAS note that there are specific buying habits that play into this harmful condition:

The Impulse Buy

HTs have always been relatively affordable with street prices of less than $200. However, the situation changed in the last decade with the introduction of cheap HTs from the Chinese manufacturers, driving the entry price down to around $30. This puts a VHF/UHF radio in the price range of a tank of gas or dinner at a local restaurant, clearly setting up an HT as an impulse buy. “Heck, its only $30, so why not buy the camo version of the Baofeng radio?”

The Mode Buy

Sometimes the HTAS patient is motivated to buy another HT to fill in a specific capability that is missing in their ham radio gear. Of course, the equipment manufacturers are complicit in this — introducing new features and modulation types to drive additional purchases. No single radio does it all, so you need multiple devices to cover a range of features, such as APRS, DMR, D-STAR and Fusion. “I need this new HT to work the other guys on DMR.”

The Special Purpose Buy

A really subtle driver of purchasing behavior is buying a radio for a specific purpose. This is similar to the Mode Buy but is driven by a specific situation. The patient conjures up specific communication needs that justify a particular radio. For example, they may think “I need a small HT that fits in my shirt pocket while doing work around the house.”  Or “I need a little DMR radio just to talk to my hotspot.” Another one is “I need to keep a Baofeng in the glove compartment of the car, just in case.”

Living with HTAS

Fortunately, medical professionals that encounter HTAS report that in most cases the syndrome is not completely debilitating. Many radio amateurs are able to lead normal lives while suffering from the effects of HTAS. In severe cases, HTAS can lead to financial problems, depending on income level and the severity of the problem. HTAS is also associated with a breakdown in personal relationships, especially with married subjects. HTAS sufferers living alone report far fewer relationship problems.

If you know someone suffering from HTAS, encourage them to seek professional help. Treatment options may include psychotherapy and medication.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Handheld Transceiver Accumulation Syndrome appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Go Ahead and Use Phonetics on 2m FM

Sometimes radio amateurs suggest that phonetics are not needed on VHF FM.  (See examples here and here.) Sometimes it even sounds like it’s a bad thing to use phonetics on FM.  It is inefficient and slows things down. I can see the logic behind this because with decent signal strength, demodulated FM audio is usually quite clear and easy to understand.

Here’s what I wrote in my VHF FM Operating Guide, also downplaying the need for phonetics:

The use of phonetics is not usually required due to the clear audio normally associated with frequency modulation. Still, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between similar sounding letters such as “P” and “B”. Under such conditions, use the standard ITU phonetics to maintain clarity. Many nets specifically request the use of standard phonetics to make it easier on the net control station.

The FCC Technician exam gives the topic of phonetics a light touch with just these two questions:

T1A03 (D)
What are the FCC rules regarding the use of a phonetic alphabet for station identification in the Amateur Radio Service?

A. It is required when transmitting emergency messages
B. It is prohibited
C. It is required when in contact with foreign stations
D. It is encouraged

And this one:

T2C03 (C)
What should be done when using voice modes to ensure that voice messages containing unusual words are received correctly?

A. Send the words by voice and Morse code
B. Speak very loudly into the microphone
C. Spell the words using a standard phonetic alphabet
D. All of these choices are correct

Use Phonetics

In practical radio operating, there are a number of things that can degrade communication, usually by creating noise sources that compete with the voice modulation. Most of these are a factor even if the RF signal is strong:

  • A noisy environment at the receiving end (e.g., background noise such as road noise in an automobile)
  • A noisy environment at the transmitter (e.g., background noise such as wind noise outdoors)
  • Poor frequency response of the overall system (e.g., high frequencies may be lost in the transmitter, receiver or repeater, making it more difficult to understand the voice communication).
  • Hearing impairment of the person receiving the audio (I’ve heard that we are all getting older)
  • Difficulty understanding the person speaking (poor enunciation, unfamiliar dialect or accent, etc.)

So I say go ahead and use phonetics on VHF FM, especially for critical information such as your call sign. FM communication is not always clear and easy to understand. It suffers from the same signal-to-noise problems as other voice modes. (Perhaps not as bad as SSB on HF, but it’s still a factor.) In most cases, you’ll want to stick with the standard ITU phonetic alphabet (also known as the NATO alphabet).

Graphic courtesy of HamRadioSchool.com

Many nets request that you use ITU phonetics when you check in. Imagine being the Net Control Station for a net and having everyone making up their own phonetics. You would have call signs coming at you with all kinds of random words associated with them.  It is much better to have consistency. However, there are times when you might want to use alternative phonetics. See the HamRadioSchool.com article: Phonetic Alphabets for more insight on that.

73, Bob
Kilo Zero November Romeo

The post Go Ahead and Use Phonetics on 2m FM appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Go Ahead and Call CQ on 2m FM

The conventional wisdom in amateur radio is that we should not call CQ when using FM on the VHF and UHF bands, especially on repeaters. The reasoning for this is that during normal VHF/UHF FM operating, radio amateurs are tuned to a specific frequency and will easily hear a call on FM.

Compare this to the HF bands, where the other ham is generally tuning around to find someone to contact and stumbles onto your transmission. In that case, you want to make a long call (CQ CQ CQ Hello CQ This is Kilo Zero November Romeo calling CQ CQ CQ…) so people tuning the band will find you and tune you in. On VHF/UHF FM, the assumption is that the other hams have their radio set on the repeater or simplex channel being used and will immediately hear you. FM communications are often quite clear and noise free, which also helps. The normal calling method is to just say your callsign, perhaps accompanied with another word like “monitoring” or “listening.”  For example, I might say “KØNR monitoring.”

Question T2A09 in Technician exam pool reinforces this idea:

T2A09 (B)
What brief statement indicates that you are listening on a repeater and looking for a contact?
A. The words “Hello test” followed by your call sign
B. Your call sign
C. The repeater call sign followed by your call sign
D. The letters “QSY” followed by your call sign

Gary/KN4AQ wrote this tongue-in-cheek article HamRadioNow: Do NOT Call CQ on Repeaters which says that calling CQ on a quiet repeater works well because it is likely that someone will come on and tell you not to call CQ. Gary wrote:

So I trot out my standard advice: make some noise. I even recommend calling CQ, because that’s almost guaranteed to get someone to respond, if only to tell you that you’re not supposed to call CQ on repeaters.

There is also an interesting thread on the topic on reddit: 2 meter calling frequency.

Scanning and Multitasking

Some important things have changed in our use of VHF/UHF FM over past decades.  The most important shift is dispersion of activity: while the number of VHF/UHF channels has increased, the total amount of VHF/UHF radio activity has declined. This means that we have tons of channels available that are mostly quiet. Tune the bands above 50 MHz and you’ll hear a lot of dead air. In response to this, some hams routinely scan multiple repeater and simplex frequencies. While getting ready for Summits On The Air (SOTA) activity, I’ve had hams ask me to make a long call on 146.52 MHz so they can be sure to pick me up on scan.  

Another factor that comes into play is the multitasking nature of our society. Hams don’t generally sit in front of a 2m radio waiting for activity to occur. More commonly, they are doing something else and listening to the FM rig in the background. VHF FM is the Utility Mode, always available but not necessarily the top priority. A short call (“KØNR listening”) on the frequency can easily be missed.

Recommendations

My conclusion is that the Old School “KØNR Monitoring” style of making a call on VHF is no longer sufficient. First off, it sends the message of “I am here if you want to talk to me.” If that’s your intent, fine. However, if you really want to make a contact, being more explicit and a bit assertive usually helps. Follow Gary’s advice and make some noise.

For example, during a SOTA activation I’ll usually call on 146.52 MHz with a bit of a sales pitch.  Something like: “CQ CQ 2 meters, this is Kilo Zero November Romeo on Pikes Peak, Summits On The Air, anyone around?” This is way more effective than “KØNR Monitoring.”  I might also include the frequency that I am calling on, to help out those Scanning Hams. Something like “CQ CQ 146.52, this is KØNR on Pikes Peak, Summits On The Air.”  Note that these calls are still pretty much short and to the point, only taking about 15 seconds. This is a lot shorter than the typical HF CQ.

If I am driving through another town and want to make contact on the local repeater, I will adjust my approach accordingly. For example, on a relatively quiet repeater, I might say “CQ, anyone around this morning? KØNR mobile I-25 Denver.” Or if I have a specific need, I’ll go ahead and ask for it. “This is KØNR looking for a signal report.”

Keep in mind that VHF/UHF operating tends to be local in nature, so it makes sense to adapt your approach to both local practice and the specific situation.

  • It’s OK to call CQ on VHF FM, make some noise on the frequency.
  • Give other operators a reason to contact you.
  • Don’t make your CQ too long, maybe 15 to 20 seconds.
  • The callsign/listening approach is fine too.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

73 Bob K0NR

The post Go Ahead and Call CQ on 2m FM appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

About That (Expletive) ARRL Proposal to Give Technicians The Whole World

It is my observation that by enabling someone a taste of what can be accomplished on HF (shortwave) spectrum, especially using one of the newer digital modes, that someone has an opportunity for inspiration, perhaps enough to catch the HF fever that is required to move that someone from entry-level to experienced, skilled expert. Right now, the regulations limit the Technician-level license holder to digital operation only on bands that barely propagate (if at all!) during the weak solar cycles. It is a far stretch to postulate that having privileges on dead bands will inspire exploration and tempt the operator to upgrade to a higher license class.

I believe that Technician-class priveledges should be expanded so that entry-level amateur radio operators can get a practical taste of effectively-propagating HF signals on lower frequencies than those frequencies currently available to them for digital operation. And, the allowed mode on these subbands should include digital modes. This “would encourage a sustained interest in Amateur Radio and encourage further development of knowledge and operating skills,” a concept already proven by General-class operators that get enough of a taste that they then pursue the Amateur Extra license.

Comments to me are below the following video section. I also include my response.

In the following video, I share my opinion regarding the ARRL asking the FCC to grant more operating privileges across the many amateur radio allocations on shortwave (HF, or, High Frequencies). The video is my brief takeaway of ARRL’s petition: What is the issue, as a whole, and what the ARRL is addressing–the lack of desire by most current Techs to upgrade. The logic of my perspective concludes that if you give them a taste of lower-shortwave propagation and excitement, then they will want to upgrade. This logic is already proven as applicable by the fact that the General class exists. All this proposal will do is allow the tech to experience what could be very attractive. Just like for the General.

The next two videos are addendums to the first video:

I made a few technical mistakes in the first video. The last video contains corrections and further comments.

Comments Received, and My Response

I have received many responses–some in opposition, some in support. Here are example contrarian responses along with my reply:

[Dear] Tomas David Hood[:] Something for absolutely nothing has never taught anyone anything good, but to want another free lunch. 35 multiple guess easy questions was all that was asked to get general class privileges, but that’s just too hard for the current class. Something for nothing is what sell today, and the ARRL, and probably half the country thinks socialism is the way to reach the new hams I guess. But the ARRL will never get another dime from me. You want a trophy or additional privileges, Get them as everyone else did,, Work for them, study, just a little is all that was asked. Remember, If it didn’t cost anything, it probably isn’t worth anything!

If they are not willing to take a simple test, and yet they want to upgrade, then yes they are the same as saying that we are asking too much, but would participate, you are suggesting, as long as it didn’t require any work or effort on their part, Its a shame.. And I am embarrassed on their behalf… Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could pass that test, but she would probably agree with you, that people are asking them to be smart and study, and that’s somehow probably racist and just over the line for you.

At this point the ARRL should just say, we are not protecting the spectrum, but about selling the ham radio spectrum to the highest bidders. In this case, they be;live that will be the techs who will purchase HF gear, and of course, the ARRL will benefit hugely from the equipment makers desire to market to the group.

My response is:

What the heck is wrong with selling radios?

But, seriously, which of the many Technicians say that they want to upgrade? That’s the point: the majority of Technician-class amateur radio operators are not upgrading. They get on VHF and above, and are stationary, with few realizing that there’s so much more than the aspect of the hobby evident in their local community.

With little to no exposure to other aspects of the hobby, the typical ham in the current ham-radio culture settles for what is presented by local mentors. Weather spotting, DMR, etc.

Because they have current HF privileges that have so little practical use (CW only on lower frequencies; voice on 10 meters which doesn’t propagate well during this period of no sunspot activity…), they see no incentive to delve into what appears like a waste of time.

The proposal is not giving away the farm. It simply adds a small slice on a limited set of HF bands (but where a signal has a better chance of propagation), allowing for Technician-class operators to get a real sense of the potential waiting for them if they pursue the General.

Then, once upgraded to General, they get even more exposure, and hopefully, see why it is great to be an Amateur Extra.

Tomas David Hood what’s wrong with selling radios. Nothing at all, but if I removed the test that drivers take to show they understand the rules and how to drive, then I can sell more cars and more insurance to poor drivers. Do you or anyone else think that’s a good idea. A few tech’s putting their hands on the plate of those high voltage amps, and maybe, just maybe, someone will believe me when I say some basic testing should be required for HF privileges. Now, all they will have is a cereal box license in my book, and in the opinion of many of my friends, so it;s not just me. If I am wrong, then there are a lot of people that are wrong like me, and they will fight for there hobby. I am a ARRL VE, but I will never test another Ham if this goes through, and I will spend the rest of my days making sure any newcomers realize what the ARRL did to what once was a good hobby, and how a few people didn’t seem to understand why giving away free privileges is always bad for our society, and always bad for our hobby.

Actually I have a real case study that is local,, and yes the guy doid put his hand on the plate, and yes he hit the floor.. and yes, after I found out he was ok,, I think it’s plenty funny,, Yes, they need to study more than that.

Me:

Your argument that Technician-class operators will kill themselves because the test is so easy that they will end up electrocuting themselves is yet another Red Herring. Technicians play with dangerous VHF, UHF, SHF equipment, with ominous dangerous aspects deserving respect. If you really think that the General test is the difference between life and death, why even worry? The number of technicians will be nicely reduced to a more acceptable, comfortable number.

I’ve seen Amateur Extra-class operators do the same sort of dangerous, life-threatening stunts.

The issue you are highlighting is a different problem that must be solved separately from the idea of creating a more practical incentive; all tests should be improved in such a way as to foster greater technical knowledge and awareness of all aspects of the hobby.

Better mentoring. Less us-vs-them. More education. More community. All of these should be explored and enhanced. Solve the problem, instead of ostracizing. And, realize that this proposed change is NOT a dumbing-down maneuver to give away the ham radio hobby to the unclean.

Radio Club Petitions FCC To Fix Call Area Confusion

The Sundance Mountain Radio Association recently filed a Petition for Rulemaking asking the FCC to reestablish consistency between the call area indicated by an amateur radio callsign and its actual physical location. The current rules allow an amateur radio licensee to retain their current callsign when moving to a new call area and to operate outside of their normal call area without any special indicator. The proposed changes would no longer allow this practice and would force a change to all existing licenses to match the station location indicated on the amateur radio license.
In its petition, the Sundance Mountain Radio Association asserts that there is unnecessary and harmful confusion caused to daily amateur radio operation because the radio callsign is not a reliable indicator of station location. “It is common to work a W9 station and find out the guy actually moved to Florida years ago,” said Leroy Walker (KVØCO), President of the Sundance Mountain Radio Association (Palmer Lake, CO). “This wastes precious time when I am trying to work a particular state or area of the country. The other day, a KL7 station came booming in on 160m and I thought I had a new DXCC entity. Turns out, he was in Nebraska.”

License Modification

The petition proposes that the FCC automatically modify all amateur radio callsigns in the Universal Licensing System such that the call area indicated in the license matches the station location on record. For example, a licensee with the callsign W6ABC living in Texas would receive a new callsign, W5ABC. In the event that W5ABC is not an available callsign, W6ABC would receive a sequentially-issued callsign from Group A, Group B, Group C or Group D, depending on license class. The petition proposes that all future changes in station location be subject to the same procedures, ensuring that all callsigns are consistent with geographical call area. In addition, all vanity license applications must conform to this rule. Radio amateurs operating outside their call area temporarily will be required to identify as “portable” or “mobile” and indicate the actual operating call area (e.g., W6ABC/5).
This is an initial Petition for Rulemaking and the FCC has not yet responded. Walker mentioned that this proposal is the first of many expected to be put forth by the radio club’s Committee to Fix Amateur Radio. Leroy said, “We’ve got a really smart group of guys coming up with some great ideas to improve ham radio.”
Please note the date of publication.
Filed as #satire #humor #fakenews

The post Radio Club Petitions FCC To Fix Call Area Confusion appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Review – BTech DMR-6X2

by John ‘Miklor’  K3NXU

Several Dual Band DMR handhelds have been introduced into the market in the past few months. Having owned most of them, I would have to place this one toward the very top of the list. The DMR-6X2 is both VHF and UHF, Tier II  DMR digital as well as FM analog with most features geared strictly toward ham radio use.

Important Note:  The BTech DMR-6X2 is Not made by Baofeng. (see note below).  That being said, let’s see what’s…

In the Box
Included with the radio are the:
–  Two (2)  Li-Ion Batteries   (2100 and 3100 mAh)
–  Two (2)  Belt clips
–  Hand Strap
–  37 page User Guide – English
–  Charger base & AC adapter
–  Antenna – 6.25″ (16cm)
–  Programming Cable
–  Earphone / Microphone

General Description
–   DMR / FM
–   VHF / UHF Dual Band
–   Size:  5.1 x 2.4 x 1.5″   (129 x 61 x 39mm)
–   Weight:    9.9oz   (282g)  w/ant & 2100 mAh battery
–   Weight:   10.8oz  (306g)  w/ant & 3100 mAh battery
–   136-174   400-480 MHz
–   CTCSS/DCS  DTMF/2TONE/5TONE
–   Digital Simplex Repeater
–   <1.0w / 6.0w transmit
–   4000 channel
–   250 Zones (up to 250 channels per zone)
–   10,000 contacts
–   150,000 DMR Database Contacts
–   Part 90 compliant – 2AGND-DMR6X2
–   N0GSG Contact Manager Compatible

Basic Description  (additional features)
The heart of the 6X2 is the proven Anytone D868. Under contract with Anytone, BTech had several addition features exclusively added to the 6X2.

Some of the additional features exclusive to the 6X2 include:
–  Multiple Scan Groups
–  Priority Scan
–  Change TG via Keypad (Adhoc) with Unlimited Hold Timer
–  Display Color Options
–  Digital Simplex Repeater
–  Analog Squelch Level Adjustment
–  Start Up Code Plug Compatibility
–  Display Hold

– Multiple Scan Groups in Same Channel
The 6X2 allows multiple scan lists to be entered  per channel. You are no longer limited to one scan group entry per channel. The scan groups can include and mix of DMR or analog channels.

– Priority Scan
When developing a scan list, up to 2 channels can be assigned as priority. This allows the priority channels to be interwoven in the scan list. As an example:
–  Channel 1
–  Priority Channel 1
–  Channel 2
–  Priority Channel 1
–  Channel 3
–  Priority Channel 1

– Change Group via Keypad (“Unlimited” hold timer)
This is specially nice when using a hot spot. By setting a key function to “Dial” or “Long Press 0”, and the Group Call Hold time to “Unlimited”, you can enter a Talk Group using the number pad and it will remain permanently or until the channel is changed. No longer is the hold time set in seconds or minutes.

– Display Color Options
There are two display color options available. They are White on Black background, and Black on a Powder Blue background. (shown below). They are selectable by either software or keypad menu.

– Analog Squelch Level Adjust
The analog squelch level can now be adjusted using one of the programmable keys.

– Start up Code Plug
To assist with start up, the software was written to initially accept an Anytone D868 code plug.  I’ve had a 868 since they first came out, and this was a huge time saver. Everything transferred and I was ready to play radio in minutes.
Note: Due to the extra features in the code plug, a 6X2 CP cannot be transferred back to a D868.

– Digital Simplex Repeater
Not to be confused with a standard repeater, this feature allows the DMR-6X2 to function as a Store and Forward Simplex Repeater. The 6X2 records a transmission and stores it in memory. Immediately after the incoming signal is dropped, the transmitter keys and re-transmits the recorded audio. The re-transmission can be either on the same or different frequency (not necessarily on the same band).

This feature allows the 6X2 to be used as a relay point during events such as marathons, races, etc. where a central relay method is needed and there is no local repeater.

– Display Hold
When a signal is received, the data image (name, call, location, etc) remains on the screen until the next signal is received rather than drop back to a standby screen. There is a Call End indicator at the bottom, but the data remains.

The Technical Side of the 6X2


The
Transmitter

The frequency range of the DMR-6X2 is both VHF 136-174 and UHF 400-480 MHz. Along with DMR, the radio also supports analog FM (Wideband and Narrowband)

The power levels hold pretty close to the specifications. There are four power levels with a high of 5.0W and a Turbo mode of 6.5W. I personally run mine in 5W mode. Turbo isn’t going to Make or Break the signal, but it helps the battery.

What I do like is the low power mode is less than 1W. I run a hotspot here and if the power was only 0.3W I would be happy.

My audio reports have been excellent both through a DMR hotspot and the local repeaters. There is a five level microphone gain parameter that allows you to select the microphone gain level that best suited for your voice. I use level 3 (mid-level) for a full smooth audio response. I tried level 5 and found the audio was way too hot.

Power levels are listed below and were taken using a calibrated Bird Termaline wattmeter.

Enclosure
The DMR-6X2 case has a good solid feel and weight, and fits the hand well.  It weighs in at  9.9oz   (282g) with the standard battery attached and 10.8oz (306g) with the high capacity battery. Battery removal requires a simple push of the release slide located at the top of the battery. No battery sliding or pushing is required.

I found the keypad buttons a bit larger than most with a lighted keypad layout of three across and four down. This puts the zero (0) at the bottom of the keypad where I believe it belongs. The PTT button requires only a light pressure that doesn’t tire the finger to press.


Antenna
The included dual band antenna is 6.25″ which is a fairly common size for a handheld. I found that there was a slight improvement of about 2db by using an NA-771.  The 771 is 10″ longer, so a difference would be expected, but I’ll probably stay with the stock antenna.



Receiver and Audio
The receiver sensitivity is very good on both digital and analog. I found the receive audio is amazing with wide and smooth frequency range.

The volume control range is adjustable with the software. Level 1 sets the full range of the volume control to a soft level, even at full volume. Level 8 sets the volume range to very loud at the top end. My preference is level 3 to 5 which is plenty loud, even for mobile operation.

Display
The radio has a two multi-color display options. The high contrast White on Black, and the softer is a Powder Blue with multi-color icons. The color is selectable via software or as a keypad menu option. The screen size is 1.1″ x 1.4″ with excellent resolution .

There are multiple sites where the current DMR User Database can be downloaded. There are various formats available allowing you to view name, call, location, user ID, license class, etc.

.
Software
Along with entering data in the conventional manner, the software allows you to import and export data to ‘csv’ files. Loading in a contact (TG) list, channel list, database, etc. is relatively simple.

I found being able to export to a ‘csv’ file has several advantages. I like having my channel list in sequence. With most software, you can only add new channels to the bottom of the list. Now I can sequence the list so it’s easy to view then load it back into the code plug.

Adding a new repeater can be done in minutes. I just cut and paste a copy of an existing repeater, change the frequencies, and load it back.

Note: The BTECH 6X2 can import a code plug (.rdt) from an Anytone D868UV directly. This is a great way to get your 6X2 on the air. Once loaded, however, due to the expanded parameters, the D868 is not capable of reading a 6X2 code plug.


CSV transfer Caution
Adding large amounts of data, updating and re-sequencing via CSV files is a major plus, but should always be done with Caution. For instance, Talk Group data must always be loaded before or at the same time as the Channel data. If not, improper data attachment may not occur.

Always backup your current code plug before modification.

Firmware
As additional features and future enhancements are developed, the radio can be updated to latest model. A firmware upgrades can be done with a Windows computer in about 5 minutes.

Note: The DMR-6X2 firmware is specific to this radio. It cannot be uploaded to a different model in hopes of adding new features.

Programming Cable
The DMR-6X2 comes with the necessary programming cable. The UART chip inside the radio, so the cable itself is straight through. There is no circuitry inside the cable itself. The driver will load automatically when the cable is attached.

For reference, although the cable appears to be the same as some that have the chip in the cable, those cables are not compatible.

 

The charger base requires a standard 12vdc wall wart (included). The LED on the front of the charger base is Red when charging, and Green when either fully charged or no radio in the cradle. The battery easily charges to full capacity with an overnight charge.

Battery and Charger
There are two batteries included with the 6X2, a 2100mAh and a high capacity 3100mAh. With battery save on, I can get 2 to 3 days out of the 3100mAh battery before needing a charge.

There are also USB charging cables available with output of 12V. These can also be used in place of the included Wall Wart.

Conclusion
If you think the BTECH DMR-6X2 very closely resembles a D868UV, you are correct, but as shown above, it is definitely not simply a rebadged Anytone. There are features and enhancements that set these two radios apart. I think BTECH was wise to wait for the bugs to be ironed out before introducing the 6X2 to the market.

If you’re waiting for this radio to drop in price, don’t hold your breath. Its features and performance make it well worth the price.

The obvious pros are the following:

–  True Tier II DMR
–  Same Band and Cross Band digital simplex repeater
–  Dual Band VHF/UHF operation
–  Multiple Scan Groups per Channel
–  Priority Scan
–  On the Fly Talk Group Entry
–  Built-in Voice Recorder
–  2TONE and  5TONE decoding
–  150K user database capacity
–  FCC Part 90 certified for commercial use
–  N0GSG Contact Manager Compatible

There are plenty of options geared more for hams than commercial use. It performs well and makes a nice addition to the ham shack.

Available from:    and    Amazon


For Clarification
BTech (BaofengTech) is not a division of Baofeng. They are an ODM that partners with OEM manufacturers to spec and build to their own requirements, whether from scratch (UV-5X3) or from an existing product. This 6X2 is an Anytone at heart with additional unique features found only in that model.

 

 

 

Here’s a comparison chart showing the major differences.
Click to enlarge.


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