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I ordered a ham radio from eBay (doesn't matter which one) and I have gotten a completely different one than what I ordered. I'm quite new to amateur radio so please excuse my innocence/idiocy. I received a ZaStone D900 and while I wait for eBay to fix the order, I thought I would learn a bit more about it.

  1. How is this different from a normal ham radio (like a Yaesu or a Kenwood)?
  2. If it is different, is there a way to use it like a ham radio?
  3. How useful is UHF compared to VHF (the radio only came with a UHF antenna)?

Thanks in advance guys!

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To answer each point in turn:

  1. DMR radios are different from "normal" ham radio equipment in that it uses a digital voice encoder/decoder rather than the more traditional FM analog voice mode that you're probably used to. Fun fact: Kenwood makes DMR-capable radios in their NX series of digital (commercial land mobile) radios, and the mode was made popular in commercial circles by Motorola. So the voice mode has been around for a while, just more recently coming to amateurs via the explosion of Chinese-made models
  2. As mentioned, this voice mode was originally found in commercial rigs. Two of the most appealing benefits of DMR (and generally, YSF/C4FM falls into this as well, D-STAR a bit less so) is that the voice quality is extraordinary, no background hiss that you get from analog FM; additionally, the range of DMR radios (for the same amount of power output) is far superior to analog FM radio. In fact, you'll generally get very listenable content up until you're right at the absolute range limit for the power level of the radio. There are more benefits (and a few drawbacks even) but this is a high-level overview, right?
  3. DMR radios these days very often come in dual-band VHF/UHF models. However, most of the big names (Kenwood and Moto) are UHF or VHF, not both. Since Motorola was early on the scene with DMR, a fair number of repeaters use Motorola hardware, and use UHF frequencies. More recently, there are voice modems that you can patch into analog repeaters to bring digital voice modes like DMR to existing analog hardware. It's a pretty wild scene out there.

Bonus question:

Since you asked about simplex in your comments, DMR can absolutely be used for simplex comms (this would be what people would call "Tier 1" DMR) and the general consensus for amateurs is as Glenn W9IQ put it here: program your DMR radio to color code 1, time slot 1, and talk group 99.

All the vocabulary (color codes, time slots, talk groups, and the oft-misunderstood CPS software) are all challenges that await your interest or pleasure, depending on what you're into with this hobby.

Have a great day!

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The radio you received is a UHF DMR HT. If you have a DMR repeater in your area, you will be able to do some testing of the radio. You can locate a repeater by visiting RepeaterBook.

The first step is to register with radioid.net to get your own Radio ID. This will then need to be programmed into the radio in order to make it usable on a repeater. If you change DMR radios later, you can use the same DMR ID with the new radio.

After that, you may find it helpful to review how DMR works and what are some of the best practices. There are several nice on-line guides for this purpose such as DMR for dummies.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can this radio still be used for direct communication (without a repeater) $\endgroup$ – Iain Rosen Sep 4 '18 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @IainRosen Sure if there are other simplex users in your area. Generally the talk group ID is 99, Admit is always, Timeslot is 1, Color Code is 1 and In Call is always for simplex. $\endgroup$ – Glenn W9IQ Sep 4 '18 at 10:45

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