fbpx

TYT MD-9600 Review
3FS TYT DM-9600 Digital DMR Radio

TYT MD-9600 Dual Band DMR transceiver review

In March 2019, I purchased a TYT MD-9600 Dual Band DMR Mobile Transceiver from Radioddity for $379 AUD delivered.

 

This is the sub $500 dual band radio which is just at home in the shack, as it is in the car. It’s another Chinese made radio and is a solid, well-built transceiver, BUT out of the box, it will not work on the amateur bands! Because of the US import restrictions on amateur radio transceivers being locked down, some Chinese manufacturers have electronically limited the ‘out of the box’ state of their radios to comply with US regulations. You’ll need access to a computer to make the MD-9600 useable on amateur bands.

 

Below are a few comments and observations and comparisons about the TYT MD-9600 Dual Band DMR Mobile Transceiver. As well, I thought I’d add my code plugs (radio programming files) for the download to get you going should you choose to buy one of these.

Unlock your TYT MD-600 Dual-band DMR transceiver

With the recent uncertainty surrounding the FCC and import radios, TYT has made a decision to ship all of their radios locked down to the 150-160 MHz VHF and 450-460 MHz UHF ranges. This will affect your radio if it was shipped after March 2019. If you find your radio displaying 450.00000 MHz and 150.00000 MHz you’ll need to perform the following task. Radios that are locked will display frequencies outside of the 150-160 MHz and 450-460 MHz range as 150.000 or 450.000 when the radio is in frequency mode. For example, if the channel on a locked radio is programmed for 147.300, the display will show 150.000. Once unlocked, the radio will show the correct frequency. A locked radio that has been programmed to frequencies outside of the locked range does not need to be reprogrammed. After being unlocked, the radio will work properly.

The TYT MS-9600 must be running firmware version 6.009 or higher to unlock using these steps.

 

  • Power the radio on.
  • Remove all power to the radio. Note, you must remove vehicle or power supply power – you can’t just turn off the radio with the power button.
  • Hold down the P1 and P2 buttons on the front of the radio.
  • Power up the radio while holding these buttons until the power on tone sounds.
  • No notification/confirmation is provided, but the radio is now unlocked.

 

If you repeat the process, you’ll lock the radio again.
Once you’ve successfully unlocked the radio, things will work a little better.

 

Source: Buy Two Way Radios

md9600-how-to-unlock

Some TYT MD-9600 have still proven to be problematic. If you’re still having problems, read on.

Use the CPS MD9600 software to read the initial transceiver configuration. Save that configuration for future reference. This provides you a safe recovery configuration file.  Use this as a starting point if you’re going to write your own codeplug.

From the Radioddity site

If the process above has failed or the software is not showing the VHF side of the radio, go to the Radioddity site and download the US programming option. Inside that ZIP file you should find a file called Radioddity.exe. This is what’s known as the factory software. Try this at your own risk. It worked on my radio as I could only see UHF in the CPS.

 

  • Run Factory Software.
  • Read Radio.
  • Set Frequency Range and Frequency Range (B) to none
  • Write Radio.
  • Wait.
  • Read Radio.
  • Set Frequency Range to 400-480MHz
  • Set Frequency Range (B) to 136-174MHz
  • Write Radio.
  • Wait.
  • Read Radio and confirm.

 

Now close out of Factory Software.  Open CPS 1.23, read from radio and confirm.

3FS TYT DM9600 shack

If you can’t find the link use the download below. This file may no longer be current but was in March 2019.

~ Features ~

The TYT MD-9600 digital radio is a Dual Band DMR/Analog radio. It uses Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) Tier 2 Standard protocol and is compatible with the popular MOTOTRBO series. It is also compatible with any existing analog two-way radio operating on the supported UHF or VHF frequencies for easy migration to digital technology.

Specifications
Frequency Range: 150-160 & 420-450MHz
Channel Capacity: 3000 Channels
Hi/Low Power Selectable
High Power: 50W VHF & 45W UHF
Low Power: 25W
Zone: 250 Zones, 64 Channels in each Zone
DMR ID: 10000

 

Main Features:
• Scan List: 250, each scan list has 31 channels
• RX Group: 250, each group has 32 contact ID
• Text Messaging
• Repeater Capable
AMBE+2 Digital Vocoder
• Encryption (Digital Mode Only)
• Private Call/Group Call/All Call
• Emergency Alarm
• Channel Scan
• Priority Scan
• Talk Around
• Colour LED Display
• Lighted LED Keypad
• Digital/Analog Combined
• Programmable Multifunction Key
• MIL-STD-810 C/D/E
• Lone Worker Mode
• Stun/Kill/Revive
• 50 CTCSS/105 CDCSS
• LED Status Light On Hand Mic
• Low Battery Alert
• Battery Saver
• Timeout Timer
• VOX
• Audible Button Beeps
• Voice Prompts
• Cloning Capable

~ Codeplug ~

The codeplug below is for VK3 Repeaters. It’ll get you started. Make sure you’ve registered for DMR and swap your ID out with the one in the software.

~ In the box ~

The MD-9600 radio comes standard with the following items out of the box:

 

  • 1 x TYT MD-9600
  • 1 x Speaker Microphone
  • 1 x Screw Sets
  • 2 x Spare Fuse
  • 1 x User Manual
  • 1 x Mounting Bracket
  • 1 x Free Programming Cable
  • 1 x Power Cable

~ Likes ~

The MD-9600 is a solid, well-built radio. It’s dual-band, but not dual reception meaning one band at a time but it’s an easy toggle. The display is light blue with large easily read characters in normal use. Like all TYT devices, I’ve used the recovered audio is loud and clear.

Programming Software

Before you start programming the radio, download the latest software from the Radioddity site using the link below. The downloadable file contains the Windows 10 USB driver so download, install and you’re ready to go.

 

TIP: Don’t plug the supplied USB cable in until you’ve loaded the software.

If you’ve programmed ANY DMR radio, the software is intuitive. If this is your first DMR radio, a few Youtube videos will get you going. The key… Zones are repeaters. There are two slots per repeater. Talk groups are like channels within a timeslot. Check VK-DMR programming hints for more.

 

If you own another DMR radio check out Contact Manager. It’s a terrific app that allows easy editing and porting of one codeplug to another. You can read about it on my software page or download it from the author’s page. It’ll save you heaps of time and angst!

Operation

The MD-9600 is a solid well-built mobile radio which I have set up in the shack.  If you like radios with big buttons then this is for you. P1 to P4 are user programmable from the software. The support short and long press, so 8 functions in all.  The keys have a solid durable feel to them. Uploading the VK DMR ID database into the contacts personalises your contacts. Instead of seeing an ID number, the unit will display the user’s callsign and name. The mic is multipurpose, although I tend to use the radio interface as the screen draws your attention.  This radio also supports multiple DMR radio IDs allowing a great deal of flexibility for hams that need the ability to use multiple DMR IDs.

Recovered Audio

Like other TYT radios I’ve used, the biggest surprises was the audio quality. The audio is full and loud with excellent frequency response. The radio packs a punch. It’s not thin like some and some local contacts sound terrific. The receiver sensitivity is excellent, and the audio quality is clear, loud, and undistorted. There is no squelch tail either with digital. Some users have reported that the external speaker output is quite bassy plus it is overly loud. Placing a non-polarized 10 microfarad capacitor and 50 Ohm resistor in series with the speaker lead can reduce this.

The MD-9600 is a great DMR and Analog mobile transceiver and well suited to amateur radio. Its display provides limited but adequate info. The radio can store up to 100,000 DMR contacts.  As a sub $400 radio, it’s terrific… and it’s dual band! There’s plenty of ‘How-to’ videos on Youtube if you get stuck, and some will help you program the device if you’re a newbie.

~ Dislikes ~

The most annoying thing about this radio is that there is nothing to tell you about the radio being locked. If you don’t know, the radio is locked down to the 150-160 MHz VHF and 450-460 MHz UHF ranges which is not in the amateur bands. You’ll spend time online trying to work out what’s going on and how to fix it. See above if Google has brought you here!

 

Unlocking the radio is a bit fiddly, so make sure you take a snapshot of the empty codeplug in the radio before you start. It was a bit hit and miss for me as I had to use the factory software AND the P1/P2 unlock sequence to get it going. PITA but all good now.

Programming Software

I know I said I like the software, but there are aspects of it I don’t like. The terminology has limited help. I’m still not sure of what all the checkboxes do. The other annoyance is that there is no sort feature for making things order in alphabetical or numerical order. Sure you can export the entries as a CSV file, but if you edit their order, random and unwanted things can happen. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Make sure you keep sequential backups as you go.

The Manual

Once you open the supplied paper manual or download the PDF, it’s pretty clear to see that the money invested in the radio went into the electronics. I found that it will mostly add to the confusion. A quick Google search is the best advice for getting things going or tweaking options within the radio.

The Microphone

In my opinion, the one thing that lets the radio down is the microphone. It’s BIG! well, bigger than any other mic in the shack. A radio check on air indicates that the audio is crystal clear but little thin. My biggest gripe is that like the mic, the plug on the front of the radio is also big. This makes it awkward to get to the talkgroup channel changer above it.

Delayed TX

The delayed TX when you hit the PTT button is annoying. I’m using firmware 6.009 and there’s a good 500ms to 1 second delay on both digital and analogue.  If someone has a workaround please let me know!

Sluggish Program Key Response

The four function keys on the fronto of the radio can be programmed as you require, but if you use them to change zones in the radio as I do, it can take several seconds between pushing the Program button to it’s ececution. Very annoying.

~ Conclusion ~

This is a solid, good performing DMR transceiver which doubles as an FM transceiver on the same band.  It’s a solid well-built device. It may not be the best-looking radio on the market, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in features. Some features go wanting in this cheap radio, like the ability to run just one VFO. There are even hacked versions of the radio firmware with even more options for the adventurous. For the price, it’s a great way to get started in the world of DMR digital.

~ Radio Tricks ~

There is an option with the CPS in regards to zone – basically a single or dual zone. When you change zone you can have VFO A & B on the same zone or be able to change them independently so you can essentially listen to two talk groups or repeaters as the radio will switch back and forth between the two channels – the active one being that with the A or D (analogue or digital) next to it. If you wish to stop the monitoring function, press the ENT button (for 2-3 seconds) to temporarily disable the function.

Each radio used on the DMR network is programmed with a unique user ID number and
y
ou MUST register your radio for it to work correctly.

 

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.

VK3FS