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.

Review – BTech AMP-25 series for Analog & DMR

by John ‘Miklor’
K3NXU

The  AMP-25  series  VHF / UHF Amplifiers

The recently announced BTech Digital and Analog amplifier series puts a whole new spin on mobile operation. It performs more like a mobile than it does a power amp. The D series are true TDMA Tier2 DMR amplifiers.

Note: This review was done using an Anytone D868UV on both DMR and analog.

In the Box

Included with the 40W Mobile Amp are:

–  Mounting Bracket
–  3′  Interface Control Cable (Kenwood K1 connectors)
–  3′  RF connect cable (SMA-M to SMA-F)
–  Microphone and Hanger
–  All necessary mounting hardware
–  User Guide

General Description
–  UHF or VHF Power Amplifier

–  2-6W  >  20-40W  Output

                         Modes of operation include:

             V25  U25             V25D   U25D
Analog (FM)
C4FM (Fusion)
P25  (Phase 1)
NXDN
IDAS
dPMR
MPT1327
 >  DMR Tier II (TDMA)
 >  P25  (Phase 2)
Analog (FM)
C4FM (Fusion)
P25  (Phase 1)
NXDN
IDAS
dPMR
MPT1327

A Different type of Mobile Amplifier

I found these to be much more than a typical power amplifier. Although they can function as a simple ‘In and Out’ power amp, this is about as close to a full mobile as you can get. Although the driving force was my DMR handheld sitting in my cup holder, the transmit audio was that of the included hand microphone and the receiver audio out was coming through the built in speaker driven by a four watt audio amplifier.

Transmit Power

I tested the power on two different models. The VHF V25 (non TDMA) and the U25D for UHF DMR.  The power was tested using the analog side of both into a calibrated Bird Termaline wattmeter. The maximum current drain from my 13.6V 30A power supply was just under 6A. This is low enough for the amp to be powered by the 10A accessory jack in your vehicle.

Enclosure

The basic frame measures 4.6″W x 1.3″H x 5.5″D (excluding the SO-239) and weighs in at 26oz.  I was curious to see the internal layout of the amp and to no surprise, there was a 5/8″ finned heat sink spanning the entire length and width of the case along with air vent along the back of the enclosure.

Operating Modes

These are single band amplifiers.
V25(D) = VHF 136-174MHz
U25(D) = UHF 400-480MHz.

Note: The V25D and U25D were designed to include DMR Tier II (TDMA) and P25 Phase 2 along with all other modes. Their operation varies slightly.

V25  /  U25
To operate VHF through the UHF (U25) amplifier, or UHF through the VHF (V25) amplifier, simply power off the amplifier. This will allow you to run straight through directly to the antenna without power amplification on that band.

V25D / U25D
These amplifiers will only operate within their specified VHF or UHF range. This is due to the circuit switching design of DMR Tier II and P25 Phase 2.

Hook Up

The simplest configuration is using the included RF cable to attach the radio to the amp. You could add a Spkr/Micr to the handheld, but you would still be bypassing some of the best features.

I use the two included cables. The 3′ RF cable to attach the radio to the amp, and the control cable. This allows me to use the full size hand microphone as well as connecting the four watt audio amp powering the speaker. The power included power cable is compatible with handhelds using the standard two pin Kenwood style connector, such as an MD380, D868, GD77, UV5R, F8HP, UV82, etc.

I use an Anytone D868 on DMR as well as analog with the hookup diagrammed below. Depending on your radios antenna jack, you may need to pickup an SMA-M to SMA-M adapter.

 

Convenience

All channel selection and volume adjustments are done using the handheld. No duplicate programming or code plugs are necessary. Whatever is in my handheld is what I operate in the mobile

Operating my handheld in the low power position, I still get 22W out on UHF and my handheld’s battery life remains excellent, but high power gives me a solid 39W.

Conclusion

I was glad to see someone finally develop what is a full featured mobile amplifier capable of  DMR as well as all other modes including C4FM and D-Star that is small enough to mount in the car, boat, and on top of your computer. This amplifier is Part 90 certified and definitely worth considering.

Available from Amazon:    V25     V25D     U25     U25D
and     

VHF /UHF
Digital / Analog
Mobile Power Amplifiers

 

Review – Pofung (Baofeng) UV-82HP

by John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU

Not just a Power Upgrade
The new UV-82HP is not just a power upgrade, but a combination of all major features of both the UV82 and UV5R series in one package.

82HPWhat’s in the Box
– The UV82HP
– Newer upgraded A-V85 Antenna
– 7.4V 1800mAh Li-Ion Battery
– Upright Charger and wall-wart
– Manual written in English
– Belt Clip
– Hand Strap

The radio sports all traditional features of the UV82 design, with the larger keypad buttons and the zero at the bottom of the number pad where it belongs, etc.  It also is built using the latest generation chipset.

– The frequency range is the full  136-174.99 MHz, 400-520.99 MHz range.
– VHF output on the test unit clocks in at 7.3W with UHF at 6.0W
– The Dual PTT button is now an option that can be turned off. Previously only available with the commercial version (UV82C)
– Live On-the-Air audio reports are exc
ellent.
– Alpha tags can be added with the required software below.
– The receiver sensitivity is still excellent.

So, What makes this version an upgrade?
– The original UV82 took a traditional UV5R, and added design features such as an upgraded case and Dual PTT switch. (comparison)
– Next came the UV82C which included options to synchronize the Dual PTT function to emulate a Single PTT, and the ability to lock out the VFO to prevent accidental field programming.
– Next came the 8W F8HP, the first of the high power Baofengs.
– An expanded feature added is R-Tone, a repeater tone for those requiring a 1000, 1450, 1750 or 2000Hz audible tone for access. This is not to be confused with CTCSS or DCS. Prior models provided Burst for 1750Hz only.

The UV-82HP now includes all of the above features in one package. The PTT synchronizing, VFO lockout, High Power, R-Tone, and newest generation chipset.

It has kept the traditional UV82 case design to ensure compatibility between all existing options, including Dual PTT Spkr/Micr, battery cases, holsters, battery eliminators, etc.

Feature UV82HP UV82 UV82C F8HP UV5R
High Power  7-8W Yes Yes
Dual PTT Yes Yes Yes
Single PTT Sync Option Yes Yes
VFO Mode Disable Yes Yes
Repeater Access Tones
    1000, 1450, 1750, 2100Hz
Yes 1750Hz 1750Hz 1750Hz 1750Hz
As mentioned above, with software, the UV-82HP can lockout the VFO mode to prevent accidental changes.
.
The Factory Software has been added to the Miklor.com  Software section.  The radio has also now included in the Latest Daily Build of CHIRP.
Note: A programming cable is required to run the software. Acquiring a quality cable is highly recommended. You will spend more time using the radio and less time trying to load special backdated drivers to your PC. A generic cable is less expensive, but a cable with an FTDI chip is Plug ‘n Play.
.
The UV82HP allows locking the PTT Button to simulate a Single PTT and override the Dual PTT feature.
.
Software Note
As you may have expected, running the UV82HP software will not activate or create new features on an older UV-82/82C.
.
Compatibility
All of my accessories for the standard UV82 are compatible, including the Dual PTT speaker/micr. With the exception of the battery and charger, all UV5R accessories work as well.
.
Conclusion
You can always run this radio in low/mid power to conserve battery, but when you need the extra power, it’s there.It’s nice to see a true upgrade of features to the UV82 series, and not just a fancy case or the addition of extra letters and numbers to the UV82 label.
.
A Feature Comparison published between the standard UV82 and its predecessor can be found at UV82_vs_UV5R
.
A full in-depth Technical Review of the Original UV-82 was done by Hans last year.
.
More Information:  CHIRP,  Miklor.com, Review, BaofengTech

CHIRP Support now available for the new Anytone 8R series

By John ‘Miklor’ K3NXU

CHIRP, software that now supports over 80 different models of transceivers, isCHIRPlogo now providing basic support for the two newest models of the Anytone series, the TERMN-8R and the OBLTR-8R.  CHIRP’s Latest Daily Build can be found HERE.

The advantage of the basic settings is the “spreadsheet memory editor” which will allow owners to:
– import channels from a *.CSV file
– import channels from an *.img filexTERMN-LG
– copy-and-paste the stock config file
– load from external sources like RepeaterBook and RadioReference.

That is a BIG step and additional settings will be added in small groups.

SUPPORT:
Development of CHIRP is an all-volunteer effort and is offered as open-source software, free of charge. If you like CHIRP, please consider contributing a small donation to help support the costs of development and hardware.

More Information:  CHIRP, Miklor.com

 

Baofeng Tech teaser unveiled

From the moment Baofeng Tech posted their teaser, I’ve been in contact with Todd, Managing Director of Baofeng Tech and now Anytone Tech.

Basically I’ve known all along what was going on, but promised not to publish or share any information before a certain date: February 23, 00.00 UTC. It’s common practice to sign an NDA in such a case, which I did, and something I will always honor to the letter.

Anytone Tech

Over the course of some e-mails Todd explained what will change and why.

There are some changes coming. Although we do not have intentions of quitting Baofeng, we are moving to partner with another manufacturer closer. I believe you are familiar about them and have posted about them before – their name is ‘AnyTone’. AnyTone has a much larger R&D lab and we already have four models lined up with many modifications we proposed.

So on this note – we are not abandoning Baofeng, but instead are pursuing bringing higher class but affordable models to the market.  I hope you will not be upset over this transition – and we have some more details to follow.

During our work with AnyTone we have insured that chip sets cannot be replicated in different cases across US import (we have not negotiated on European markets yet, but will once we solve the logistics.) This not only protects vendors promoting the radios, but also the consumers from confusion. The long story short – a different case will always mean a truly different radio and not just a replication of a two-year old radio.

Two models will be dual certified for USA Part 95 and Part 90, they will have a MURS and a GMRS mode for use (Kenwood made a 90/95 model), but these will be the first models to have 90/95 and amateur usage, making it the most legal flexible radios. These features are mainly for North American users; if you follow prepper (aka survival) blogs this is one of the most heated debates for using Baofeng radios.

  • Two radios will have upgradeable firmware – a win for all,
  • Two radios will have NOAA weather alerts – a feature for USA customers,
  • Two radios are IP53 certified and they were production units, not modified samples for the lab,  and rated weatherproof rather than water resistant,
  • One radio will be able to cross-band repeat and be a full duplex unit,
  • Co-operation with the developers of CHIRP.

Click here for the models Todd is talking about.

 MODEL The “Annihilator” The “Instigator” The “Obliterator” The “Terminator”
  ANILE-8R (single band) NSTIG-8R OBLTR-8R TERMN-8R
Power Output (watts) 1, 5 1, 5 1, 2, 5 1, 2, 5
Wide Band / Narrow Band 25KHz / 12.5KHz 25KHz / 12.5KHz 25KHz / 12.5KHz 25KHz / 12.5KHz
Speaker 1 watt (1000mw) 1 watt (1000mw) 1 watt (1000mw) 1 watt (1000mw)
Channels 16 Channel 200 Channel 200 Channel 200 Channel
Battery 1300 mAH 1800 mAH 2200 mAH 2200 mAH
TONES        
CTCSS / DCS YES YES YES YES
DTMF / ANI YES YES YES YES
Stun Kill Feature YES YES YES YES
Call Tones        
2 Tone / 5 Tone     YES YES
Pager Function (2 Tone Page)     YES YES
MSG (Private MSG) – 5TONE     YES YES
MSG (Private MSG) – MSK       YES
MSK       YES
TX /RX        
136-174 YES YES YES YES
400-480 (Expand to 520) YES YES YES YES
FHSS (Frequency Hop)       YES
RX        
FM   YES YES YES
AM       YES
SW: 2.3-30MHZ       YES
MW: 0.52-1.71Mhz       YES
Transmit / Receive Style        
Single YES      
Dual Standby   YES YES  
Dual Receive       YES
Certifications        
Part 90 YES YES YES YES
Part 95     YES YES
Channel Options        
16 Channel YES      
200 Channel   YES YES YES
Memory Banks     YES YES
2 Group VFO     YES YES
Scan Options        
Channel Scan YES YES YES YES
Frequency Scan   YES YES YES
Channel Skip on Scan (Select by Display)   YES YES YES
CTCSS Scan   YES YES YES
DCS Scan   YES YES YES
Normal / Fast Scan     YES YES
Priority Scan YES( set by programming software)      
         
Additional Modes        
Work Mode: Disable Menus / Frequency by Software YES YES YES YES
NOAA Weather with Alert: 7 pre-programmed NOAA channels, monitor or set for alert (monitor in background while on frequency)     YES YES
MURS MODE – 5 pre-programmed channels. User can only modify CTCSS, DCS (tones)     YES YES
GMRS MODE – 15 pre-programmed simplex GMRS channels, 8 pre-programmed repeater (duplex) GMRS channels. User can only modify CTCSS, DCS (tones)     YES YES
Additional Features        
Flashlight YES YES    
Secondary Knob     YES YES
Squelch (Carrier/ Tone) YES YES YES YES
Squelch Tail Elimination (Program Select 120/180/24) YES YES YES YES
VOX YES YES YES YES
Talk Around Function YES YES YES YES
Reverse Function (Repeater)   YES YES YES
Programmable Side Keys YES YES YES YES
Dual PTT (programmable)   YES YES YES
Black Side Buttons YES YES YES  
Orange Side Buttons       YES
Cross-Band Repeater       YES
UPGRADEABLE FIRMWARE     YES YES
Pictures:

AnytoneTech-1

AnytoneTech-2