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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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

 

‘USA 1776’ DMR Talk Group

DMR-logoOne of the nice things of D-Star and DMR is the ability to talk all over the world without the need of an HF rig and a bunch of big antennas. While this largely reduces a radio to a simple Internet-driven communication tool – just like Skype or other VoIP apps – it’s definitely nice to use.

There are a few problems surrounding DMR, one of which is the lack of more than two time slots. For example, if hams are using the Dutch Hytera network and occupying talk group 204 on slot 1, World Wide (which uses the same time slot) will be unavailable. Because 204-1 is a busy place, world wide QSOs are often impossible. It’s one of the reasons I thought of dumping DMR all together — I can talk to the same Dutch guys on analog while enjoying a much better quality audio.

There are reasons to keep DMR too. DMR is maturing; there are more than enough possibilities to put less pressure on the nation-wide network by going local. Now if only hams would do that…. but most don’t. Another reason to keep DMR for now is the gateway we recently added, which connects D-Star to our DMR network.

Not available on the Motorola network, sorry — some people responsible for that network appear to be so scared of such innovations that they will ban a repeater from the network if such a gateway is detected.

Talk group ‘USA 1776’ could add to the appeal of DMR. It’s unclear on which network this talk group will reside, but my best guess is that it will be the Motorola network.  MITCON writes:

The “USA 1776″ (English preferred) Talk Group will be distributed worldwide to DMR networks upon request.  The spirit of “1776” is to continue the Amateur Radio tradition of international friendship and to push the boundaries of technology in the new frontier of digital communications.

USA 1776USA 1776 is intended to be a flexible, politically neutral, unrestricted Talk Group that can be used as Push-To-Talk (PTT) or Full-Time (FT) to meet the operating requirements of a DMR Network.  DMR subscribers are welcome to use 1776 as a universal meeting place to “Rag Chew” or as a jumping off point and QSY to an alternative Talk Group if desired.  To add USA 1776 to your DMR Network please contact us to schedule a time for configuration & testing.

BFDX MT-7250 DMR Mobile

We knew BFDX already as a manufacturer of affordable DMR hand helds, and now a 30 Watt mobile radio popped up on the screen: the BFDX MT-7250. Grapevine Ham Radio sells this model for $329.99.

I find the number of channels/zones (160/50) a bit disappointing, but the price is right.

BF_MT7250-0BF_MT7250-1

General Specifications
Frequency range VHF: 136-174MHz, or
UHF: 350-390 MHz, or
UHF: 400-470 MHz, or
UHF: 450-520 MHz
Channel Capacity 160
Zones 50
Channel Spacing 12.5KHz
Voltage DC 13.8V (±15%)
Frequency stability ±1.5ppm
Antenna impedance 50Ω
Dimensions 150(L)*160(W)*40(H)mm
Weight 1.29Kg
Transmitter
RF power output VHF/UHF high power:30W
VHF/UHF low power:15W
4FSK Modulation 12.5kHz (only data):7K60FXD
12.5kHz (data and voice):7K60FXE
FM Modulation 12.5 kHz:8K50F3E
Modulation Limiting +/- 2.5kHz @ 12.5kHz
FM Noise -40dB
Conducted  Emission -36 dBm≤1GHz/-30 dBm≥1GHz
Adjacent Channel Power ≤-60dB
Audio Response +1/-3 dB
Audio Distortion 3%
Digital Voice coder Type AMBE+2™
Receiver
Digital sensitivity 5% BER:0.25 uV
Analog sensitivity 0.25 uV (12 dB SINAD)
Inter-modulation 60dB
Adjacent Channel Selectivity 60 dB
Spurious Response Rejection 70 dB
FM Noise -40dB
Audio Response +1/-3 dB
Audio output 3W
Audio Distortion 3% (typical)
Conducted Spurious Emission -57dBm
GPS Accuracy Horizontal Accuracy≤-10m
(with well signal)
TTFF (Time To First Fix) Cold Start < 1 minute(with well signal)
TTFF (Time To First Fix) Hot Start < 10second(with well signal)
Environmental Specifications
Working Temperature -20℃—+70℃
Storage Temperature -40℃—+80℃
Humidity MIL-STD-810C/D/E/F
Vibration & Shock MIL-STD-810C/D/E/F

Samhoo DMR

More and more Chinese manufacturers dive into the DMR market. This e-mail from Samhoo shows that there’s still room for more.

Greetings form Samhoo Sci & Tech Co.,LTD (Samhoo).

For the coming International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE 2015), taking place March 18–19, 2015 in Las Vegas, USA, Samhoo wishes to invite you to visit our company booth NO. 2027. We look forward to welcoming you at the show. At the same time, we wish you will have a good trip in IWCE2015.

Attachments are the introductions and details of our DMR radio products. If you want to know more, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to further our understanding. You can also find more information via our website: www.samhoo-pmr.com.

DMR—-  Samhoo is delighted to formally launch our DMR Portable SPH6000 serial, SPH2000 serial and DMR Mobile SPM6000 serial, which all fully compliant with ETSI DMR Tier 3 & Tier 2, and be available in UHF (350-400MHz, 400-470MHz) and VHF (136-174MHz) bands will release soon. 

TETRA—  Samhoo could provide fully integrated all feature industry TETRA module(smart size :86 X 43x 8) for Portable and Mobile devices, and be available in 806-870MHz,350-400MHz,380-430MHz,410-470MHz bands.

Samhoo is willing and open to work with all kinds’ partners, who could be distributor, dealer, ODM, OEM and technical cooperation etc, to explore Digital PMR radio business opportunity.

Best Regards

Alex YE
Oversea Sales Assistant
Samhoo Sci&Tech Co.,Ltd

Address: Room 601,Building 2th,Huaqiangyun Industrial Park,No.1-1,Meixiu Road,Meilin,Futian District,Shenzhen,China

Tel:+86-755-8316 0260 Fax:+86-755 8226 3733

What I find interesting about these Samhoo SPH6000 series is that ordinary TF cards are used for storage. This makes it possible to copy the configuration of one radio to another, just by transferring files. It would also be the few brands I know of who’s developing a VHF model.

Samhoo DMR ModelsFull specs can be found in this PDF document: Samhoo DMR SPH6000 Series DS-en

Also interesting (but probably very expensive and not really for hams) is their LK838 portable base station. When power goes down, this would still work — at least for a while.

Portable Ad hoc BS_samhoo-P1