Three radios – Three modes. In the kit, I have an older Icom IC-80AD for D-STAR, a Baofeng RD-5R for DMR and a Yaesu FT-2D for C4FM.
My first acquisition was the Icom. At the time it was the latest and greatest handheld that Icom made. It’s a good radio and I’ve had many years of use out of it. I lost interest in D-STAR after a while. It sort of became a tick-the-box mode. More recently I’ve found an interest in DMR and C4FM, so I bought one of the Chinese Baofeng handhelds and later a Yaesu FT2D. I have a couple of old Baofeng UV-5Rs for foxhunting. Priced at $50 each I didn’t really mind if one ended up in a creek or lost down a drain. They also made great foxes.
Below are a few comments and observations about these handhelds. As well, I thought I’d add my code plugs (radio programming files) for the download to get you going. These are for my local area but they may get you started. And if you want to know my favourite… read on!
Source: radioid.net – March 2019
The IC-80AD is the oldest of the handhelds here. It, like the others, are analogue as well as digital, and in this case D_STAR. Out of the box, it’s a useable radio, but with 1000 memory channels, you really need the FREE Icom CS80 software and a PC to program the device. It will also make programming D-STAR channels much easier. It’s not an SMR or C4FM Radio.
This is a great will built radio. There are newer radios on the market. You will need a special cable to program the radio, but they’re cheap and readily available on eBay.
The IC-80A is no longer available.
The Yaesu FT-D2 is a dual band analogue and C4FM digital radio. It’s capable of V/V U/V and U/U. It is not a DMR or D-STAR Radio. It’s a well-built radio with a touch screen, so minimum buttons. It also comes with outdated firmware, which means you’ll have to update it. The files and instructions to do this are on the Yaesu site.
It’s a pain in the ass to upgrade. There’s a supplied USB cable which you can use for upgrading firmware, but NOT programming the memories. You need another expensive cable to do that and some FREE software on the Yaesu site. You also need to have 20:20 vision and be rather dexterous to flick a micro switch just above the USB port on the radio.
The Yaesu FT-2D is a very nice radio. It’s well built and robust. It’s let down by the hoops you need to jump through to program the radio. It’s a $450 radio which is worth considering just to get on C4FM. The desk charger and a programming cable are mandatory accessories.
The Baofeng RD-5R is a dual band analogue and DMR digital radio. It’s capable of single band operation only. It is not a D-STAR or C4FM Radio. It’s the cheapest and most self-contained radio yet. It offers Tier 2 operation and is easily programmed via the supplied cable and using the free software on the radioddity website.
Programming DMR is a steep learning curve, especially if you’re not used to the CDMA approach. You can get your head around it on this site though.
The codeplug below is for the software above. It’ll get you started. Make sure you’ve registered for DMR and swap your ID out with the one in the software. You’ll get an idea for talkgroups and Zones.
The RD-5R is a cheap Chinese radio, and to be quite honest, my favourite. There’s none of the complexity in getting programming software to work. You’ll pick them up for about $100 and there’s a replacement model on the way for around the same price. Keep an eye on the Radioddity website.
In conclusion, there’s no solution that I know of that has all three digital modes in one! (at the time of writing)
Some hotspots, like the openSPOT 2 will allow partial cross mode operability. That is, C4FM to DMR and vice versa. D-STAR is out on its own. Hotspots are a terrific way to get on the digital airwaves when you don’t have a repeater nearby. The openSPOT 2 uses WIFI to connect to the internet and a DMR server, so all you need is WIFI at home or mobile in the car with the device tethered to your mobile. Then all you need is use appropriate mode handheld to get on the air. All you’re doing is transmitting from your handheld to the hotspot.
IDs are personal. You can have one ID on many radios. It’s like a digital callsign. Don’t share it.
ID numbers are managed centrally and may be obtained here.