Review – Connect Systems CS-580 DMR Tier II

by John ‘Miklor’
K3NXU
cs580-20
CS-580
The Connect Systems CS-580 is a feature packed band UHF DMR handheld with dual mode (FM) capability. Currently, there is only a UHF version, used for this evaluation.  There is a VHF version also in the works, but will be a few month out from the time of this review.

In the Box

Included with the radio are the:
–  7.4V  2100mAh  Li-Ion Battery
–  Charger base & AC adapter
–  Antenna (UHF) – 5 3/4″ (14.5cm)
–  Belt clip
–  Hand Strap

User and Software Guides can be found at the
Connect Systems website

General Description  /  Specifications
–  UHF
–  DMR   Tier II
–  FM capable
–  1W / 4W transmit
–  1024 channels
–  256 contacts
–  6 line Color LCD
–  Enhanced Monitor Modes
–  Digital Squelch

Certification

The CS-580 is US FCC Part 90 certified, so if you want to put it to use in commercial service, it’s ready to go.
cs580-p90Enclosure
The CS-580 case has a solid feel and weight that fits my large hand perfectly.  The backlit keypad buttons are large and require little pressure to make a positive contact.  There are two programmable side buttons that can be assigned to any four available possibilities.  Mine are set to Power, Zone, Scan, and Enhanced Monitor, but you have your choice of 28 options.

Transmitter

The frequency range is UHF 400-480 MHz.  Along with Tier II DMR, the radio also supports both Wide and Narrowband FM.  My OTA audio reports have been excellent, with absolutely not need to shout into the microphone. In fact, my best audio reports were talking in a normal voice approximately 2″ from the microphone.  As for the transmitter power, it was right where it should be.

4.2 Watts on high power, and 1.1 on low.

Receiver
The receiver sensitivity is excellent, and the audio quality is loud, clear and undistorted. There is no squelch, but the Talk Permit indicator emits a soft tone that lets you know when the channel is clear. There are several receive mode options for both scanning and site monitoring that are extremely useful, especially if you are on the road.

Receive Options

There are several very impressive enhanced receive options available with the CS-580.

– Enhanced Monitor – Simply put, I enter the repeaters frequency and the radio monitors everything that comes across, regardless of Time Slot.  If I hear a station I like, I press the Lock button, and I’m ready to transmit. The DMR ID, CC, Slot, Type, Contact #, Tx and Rx frequencies are displayed on the LCD.

– Group Receive – This function allows you to load up to 16 contacts into a single receive group. If any one of those channels becomes active, that’s what comes through the receiver. When transmitting, the pre-assigned transmit contact for that channel is the one selected.

– Enhanced Scanning – This allows you to select a scanning range between 400-480MHz, repeater offset, and channel spacing. When a repeater signal is detected, the scanning stops, and there is an option to Lock onto the frequency. When keying the transmitter, the offset will automatically shift the frequency to the desired shift.

– Standard Scanning – This is when you add channels to a scan group. If you are listening to a TG or channel that is part of the group and select Scan, the radio will now scan all other TG or channels within that group.

– Enhanced Parameters – This is field programming made easy. It allowed me to program everything via the keypad. In the DMR mode, I entered the CC, Slot, Type, Contact #, Tx Freq, and Rx Freq. A quick press of the Lock key, and I was on the air.
In the FM mode, I entered the CTCSS Decode and Encode, Tx and Rx Freq. Once again, press the Lock key and it was on the air.

Audio
If you are new to DMR, the first thing you will immediately notice is there are no noisy signals. If a signal has enough strength to be heard by the receiver, it is digitally processed where all noise is eliminated and what would be a noisy signal on FM now sounds as though the person is standing right next to you, with no robotic R2D2 sound found in some other digital modes.

Antenna
The supplied antenna is 5 3/4″ long and cut specifically for the UHF band and performs well. It is terminated with an SMA-F connector, so if an antenna upgrade is desired, any UHF antenna with an SMA-F connector is interchangeable.

Display
I found the 6 line multicolor display easy to read with all pertinent information displayed at one time. The LCD measures 1.2″ x 1.4″ with excellent resolution. The large power level, signal strength and battery level icons were clearly visible.
cs580screen20
Programming and Software

If you are entering the world of DMR for the first time, be aware that programming a digital radio is a bit different from a standard FM transceiver. Although the FM side is standard, with Freq, Offset, CTCSS, the digital side requires a bit more in depth knowledge. I would personally recommend that you find someone in your area or radio club that can assist with a basic understanding of how it all comes together. Once you understand the basics, everything will fall into place nicely.

Firmware
The CS-580 was introduced in November 2016, and the firmware is fully upgradable. When changes and upgrades are introduced, the firmware can be upgraded with a standard Windows based PC. You will always have availability to the latest version via the Connect Systems website.

Programming Cablecs580cable20a
The programming cable resembles that used by Motorola style radios but a bit smaller. The business side of the cable is approximately 1″.  Once placed in position and screwed down, the connection is 100% positive, eliminating the possibility of a bad connection.  The programming UART chip is in the radio, not the cable, and the proper drivers load automatically making the cable virtually Plug and Play. When the connector is attached to the radio and plugged into the PC, a distinct icon is displayed on the LCD showing the USB cable is connected and ready to go.

Battery and Charger
I easily get a full day of use plus from the 2100mAh in the digital mode. The battery slides on securely which I’m sure contributes to the moisture proofing of the radio.  The charge indicator is a definite red when plugged in and a bright green when charged.  The 9V 1.0Ah wall charger takes a depleted battery to full charge over night with no problem.  While the radio is in use, one of the side key options is Battery Power which very clearly displays the battery level.

Accessories
Al this time, the available accessories are 2100mAh Batteries, Spkr/Micr, and Programming Cables (a must have).

Conclusion

I’ve had the opportunity to use this radio for the past few weeks and have had absolutely zero issues with it.  The six line readout is clear and sharp, and every audio report has been excellent.
It’s a commercial grade DMR radio designed around a Tier II platform. You may pay a few dollars more, but for $130, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Jerry has hit the nail on the head with this one.

Information:  Connect Systems,  Miklor

5 comments on “Review – Connect Systems CS-580 DMR Tier II

  1. Hi John,
    Do you know if when this radio is scanning will it stop on an active frequency long enough to save it or write it down to program later?
    Thank you
    Bob DW7NIB

    • It does have the ability in one of the scanning modes to lock a scanned channel by pressing the Lock key. At that time you can hold a conversation on that channel. The frequency is displayed on the screen.

  2. Pingback: Review CS580 | HAMDigitaal.nl

  3. John,
    one of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the description on the Connect Systems site is a special monitor capability. Apparently, this allows you to receive signals without knowing the proper CC, and to hear private calls.
    Could you explore this capability a bit and report back, please?

    Todd D.
    KD0TLS

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