When news leaked out of the Hora HR-79D, it sparked a lot of chatter on our local repeater. In the eyes of many ham operators digital technology can be a great addition to the conventional analog systems. More things to experiment with, more things to develop.
At least five local hams are interested in buying one, but buying the Hora blindfolded is another thing. Available specs are limited, and often meaningless. Therefore I started e-mail communications with a few suppliers in order to find out more.
What a ham radio operator wants from a digital radio
1. Low price
2. Freedom to tinker around with the technology
3. Added value
The low price seems to be covered. Less than $300 for a digital radio isn’t too bad. A digital radio from Hytera costs at least twice that amount.
Freedom to tinker around with the technology seems to be covered too. This radio uses DMR Tier 1, an open standard also used in dPMR hand-held radios. Contrary to Hytera radios (which use DMR Tier 2, two time slots) you don’t need to drive back and forth to a dealer to get something changed.
Hytera created a walled garden around their systems to such a level that even changing a frequency in memory involves the intervention of a dealer, let alone firmware updates. This is fine for professional use, but radio amateurs like to be in control themselves.
Added value is still a mystery. There’s a PC link connector present on the Hora, but no word on what it’s supposed to do. Programming only? Integrate the radio into a network? Make it possible to convert the radio into a DMR node? What does the ‘Internet’ button do?
If the Hora can’t do such things, nobody cares about this radio. The fact that you can switch from FM to DMR is as interesting as adding AM or SSB. Just another way to modulate a signal isn’t the same as added value.
Some e-mails are still unanswered. The information I get is dripping in slowly, like a leaking tap. Let’s wait and see.