Wednesday, January 27, 2016

More on the MD-380, Experimental Firmware, and DMR setups.

So yesterday I got the radio and although the firmware update was straight forward...and using the radio programming software was somewhat straight forward...I still had no idea what to put into the radio programming software.

From when I wrote the last post till around noon today I was researching and editing and uploading to the MD380.

BTW, the Experimental Firmware lets you see (and hear) QSOs even if you are not listening on that network...So I made a contact on the Statewide net, and we figured out we could use the 'metro' net, he switched over before I did, and I could see his ID, the net he was on, and here him check into the new net while I was still on the statewide one...I can see some issues on a busy net, so I need to figure out how to toggle off that 'feature'.

I would say the single most important thing to do to program your radio...if you have no clue about DMR (like me) is find a "Codeplug" for your radio and your area (although if none exist for your area...any one will help you understand what goes where and why).

So on the TYT-TYTERA MD-380 USERS GROUP  in the Files section you will see a folder called "Country Codeplugs" download the appropriate ".rdt" file and use that as a starting point for programming your radio.

The one for my area had a bunch of the local repeaters...but not the one closest to I had to edit the file.

While I was sifting through the internet I came upon this page which has a lot of links on the MD380 organized.

But it was on Youtube where I found this channel and specifically this video on how to use the programming software.

So using that info, and the specific Repeater info from here...I was able to program my radio.

The quick summary on how DMR works for dummies is...each repeater has a handful of networks they are connected to...or they will allow you to connect to...more like echolink than linked repeaters.

The following is not a step by step of how to edit and program the channels...I think the video does a better job, but between the "rdt" file you downloaded, the video and these notes, hopefully you can figure it all out.

For example, if you pull up the repeater info for Houghton MI in the U.P. you will see the Rx freq, and the Tx shift (you have to do math an either add or subtract a few MHz)

The Repeater has a Color Code of 1...
It shows Time Slots...the MD380 software calls them "Repeater Slot"

That info goes into the individual channel you are trying to program.  For this example of Houghton MI, if you wanted all the channels they had would need to make 7 channels.

All the Group Call stuff goes here...under "Digital Contacts" .   That is where the "Contact Name" from the channel (above pic) comes from.

Now, the screen shot has some different ones than the Houghton repeater just add them...

The only one I don't understand is the "Digital RX Group Lists"...but once you have populated the "Digital Contacts" (pic above) you will see them and can move them over...

I hope those screen shots help a little bit...

I had a nice conversation this afternoon, great sounding radio, pretty good range from inside my car.

Monday, January 25, 2016

TYT MD-380 DMR Firmware hack etc...

I will apologize in advance for not having all the answers on the subject.   The purpose of this post is to give the background info, step through the programming, and results so far.

The Tytera MD-380.

So this is a DMR radio, comes in 2 versions, VHF and UHF.   I have the UHF one...mine cost $110.

A group of Amateur Radio hackers figured out how to get into the firmware, and wrote their own to reflash the radio...the future purpose is to hopefully add some additional digital features to the radio.

According to this article.

And this Hackaday article...with this link to the groups notes (near end of PDF)

 Not too long after the first hack,  a firmware was written that supposedly will allow the radio to act as a DMR scanner.

This article talks about it.

And here is the TYT MD-380 Yahoo Group.

I know nothing about DMR setups, but I wanted to learn, and this seemed like a interesting way to do it.

...DMR  is Digital Mobile Radio...voice calls are converted into packets of data and sent over the airwaves...Icom's D-STAR, Yaesu's System Fusion are two of the popular Amateur radio versions.

This PDF has all the background info.

And while I am listing links, this one shows all the DMR-MARC linked repeaters.

 That is all I know about DMR at this second...I just got the radio an hour ago or so, so that's my excuse.

But here is the meat of the to get the hacked firmware loaded (and how to load future firmware) and how to program frequencies etc.

The same website with the news on the new firmware also had the various firmwares.

I needed the "Experimental Firmware" V1.0 as I write this.   And the Programming Software to program the channels...I used the latest which was 1.30.0

My radio came with a programming cable (looks exactly like my Baofung one) that worked with no drivers needed (Win7 64-bit...I am not sure if I have programmed the Baofung on this Windows install).   EDIT:   I did install the programming software before doing all this  MD-380 v130.exe ...that might be necessary.

I plugged the cable into my USB port, and with the radio off plugged it into the radio.

I held the top two buttons (PTT and the one above it...NOT "M")

As I held those buttons I turned the volume knob to power the radio on.

I heard the Win7 beeps as hardware was added...I think I already had the firmware uploading software running...but am not sure if that makes a difference.  (I did NOT have the radio programming software running)

If it is going good so far, the LED at the top will alternate Red/Green. throughout the process...and the colors hold
 steady a few times during the actual firmware load.

Now to the software.

When you unzip the "Experimental Firmware" file you get about 14 files...The TXT file will explain the same process I used.   The Upgrade.exe file is what we will use to load the firmware.

Not much to it...and note the gibberish characters...we will see more in a bit.

In the middle you see "Open Update File", click on that and select the file you want, the TXT file explains the choices...and if you ran the program from the same folder all the files were in, then you should see some ".bin" files.   I chose the "experiment.bin" file   ( "experiment.img and experiment.bin: patched to monitor all talk groups, private calls, and sideload alternate firmware")

Now click on "Download Update File"...that loads it into the radio.   The TXT file says it takes less than a minute...mine took more than a minute.

When it was done I got this...

Apparently it means the load was successful.   I clicked OK, turned off the radio, exited the program, unplugged the cable, and powered it back on.

Great Success!  (that is what the patched bootscreen looks like)

Now time to program some frequencies.

That is the Programming software MD-380.   I hooked the cable back up to the radio, turned it on normally (not holding any buttons).

Then on the software I selected the icon that looks shows yellow arrow away from the radio.

You click that then the radio shows this.

After a bit you get this...

Then do your editing...much like using Chirp or other radio software...I don't know all the ins and outs of DMR, so I don't have everything loaded...but it does receive.

When you are done editing, save a copy for yourself, then push the icon with the red arrow pointing toward the radio.

Looks like this while writing.   You can see the expanded menus on the left where I poked around trying to find where to put in frequencies.

That's about it for now,  I programmed the local DMR repeaters and have been listening to Amateur radio conversations from London and all points of the U.S.

Hopefully they will figure out some advanced firmware soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to get 3 times faster internet download speed...otherwise known as upgrading your router.

This will be quick.  I have Charter cable, and they have been advertising 60Mbps download speeds.  I really didn't pay attention to what I was getting vs what they advertised until a few days ago.

The only reason I did a speed test is to see if I had the minimum for 4K streaming (25Mbps down according to Netflix).

Well I only got 22Mbps down...and sometimes my standard Netflix buffered a bit.

So I spent some time on the phone with Charter, they did some tests and reprovisioning etc.   Still I got no higher than 22Mbps down.

I scheduled a tech to come to the house and check things out...

...then on a whim I googled 'router for 60mps'  and quickly found out that my old router was the bottle neck...

I had a WRT-54G running DD-WRT on it.  Apparently the 54G cannot handle anything higher than what I was getting.

And with a bit of further reading I found the Asus RT-N16 router  (about $70 at Amazon) could handle the speeds AND fully compatible with DD-WRT.

I followed the flashing directions and put on the VPN version (first you put on the basic version, then upgrade...just follow the directions)  There was a note that some people had to use IE to do the flashing.   I used FF for the initial DD-WRT install, but I had to use IE for all the settings and when I upgraded to the VPN version.

That definately solved my problem...I get more than 60Mbps down now.

Monday, January 4, 2016

MDSR BiLIF assembly

So quite a while ago I built the LIF circuit to take IF from my Yaesu radio and use it in a computer for SDR (computer controlled radio with waterfall features...all the bells and whistles).

The second part of the task is to build the BiLIF circuit.

LIF simply takes the IF and receives it.

BiLIF sends IF back to the radio...the BiLIF circuit uses the LIF board, so it is all in one TX/RX circuit.

The LIF came as a complete kit...just need to add power source, and the ability to connect to your IF source.

The BiLIF had some harder to procure parts...but I still needed to order a large number of components, and assemble the whole thing...the additional components were around $40 at Digikey.

 I had the parts that came in the kit spread out in this container. In this photo only an inductor, a relay and some connecting pins remain.


My stack of components were shipped like this from Digikey...To make my life easier, I used the component name from the parts list in the comment section as I added each part to my 'cart'.  i.e. 2k7.   I could more easily match it to the parts list.   Then when I received the stack of parts, I compared the part to the list and in marker listed the individual parts on the bags... i.e. R1, 7, 23, 42 (made up example)   You can see the labeling in the picture above.

I did a fourth of the board here before i took a break for the day...put in most of the supplied components.

 Mostly done...

Done sitting next to the modified LIF board.   Added a cap (luckily I ordered spares for the BILIF) .  Removed the power regulator, and added a jumper wire in place of it.

Note the cap laying on its side, the parts list calls for 2 low profile caps because they sit under the LIF board...One low profile cap fit nice...the other one was way to wide to fit, so I had to lay the normal cap over (again luckily I bought spares).  I think the other cap can lay over also, and you don't need a low profile cap.  (C31 and C33)

Here is the modified LIF board  Added a cap (luckily I ordered spares).  Removed voltage regulator and installed jumper wire...also added one more pin header.

Finished assembly with LIF board mated on top of the BiLIF board.

I have ordered some pin headers and wires to connect the board to the rest of my stuff...including the Asus Xonar U7 USB audio board.