Tuesday, July 2, 2019

DMR Tip 4 - Setting Up A New Anytone DMR Radio for the first time

You just received your Anytone 868 or 878, took it out of the box... Now what do you do?  Obviously you should be able to use it simplex by entering in a frequency from the VFO but if you want to use it for DMR, you’ll need to put a few channels into it.  One of the things that I like about this radio is that you can enter everything you need from the front panel.  The other thing I like is that the programming software is free, any they are continually enhancing it.  This article explains the high level steps to follow when setting up a configuration file, called a code plug, from scratch.

Using the PC to program it is preferable when setting up the radio mainly because you need a channel setup for each repeater talkgroup combination.  If you have three talk groups and three repeaters you want to use, you’ll probably setup nine channels.  There is a way around this however.  You could just setup a channel for each time slot on the repeaters you want to use and then just override the current talkgroup from the list on the radio.  I cover this on my 868 / 878 radio tips in the “Using a talk group on the fly” section.

The first thing you will need to do is install the USB cable driver and the programming software also known as the CPS (Customer Programing Software).  You can download this from any dealer support page, like Connect Systems, Bridgecomm, or Powerwerx.  If you have the new 878 unit, the driver may install automatically from the windows repository.

I started with a “code plug” from the papa systems guys to better understand how things fit together.  A “code plug” is just a file that has all the settings in it.  It looks daunting, but I think you’ll agree that once you follow the general steps below, it all makes sense.  If nothing else, opening up a pre-built code plug and seeing how things go together will have you understanding it in just a few minutes. If you want to use mine, click HERE.  If you download mine or one from the Papasystems guys, then all you need to do is then open it with your programming software and complete step 1 and then jump to step 6 & 7 to write it to your radio.

In summary, follow this order using the programming software:
  1. Once you open the programming software, you’ll want to enter your DMR ID.  If you don’t have an ID yet, you’ll need to get one here.  It takes just a few minutes and I’m told they send you your ID in under an hour.  It’s in the”Radio ID list” under the Digital section (click on the little box with a + on it if you don’t see it)

  2. Create a list of DMR talk groups you want to use  These items become a pick-list in the next step, setting up a DMR channel.

  3. Create channels.  (look at the example code plug)  For analog, there is nothing surprising.  For DMR, you just say it’s a digital channel and tell it the time slot and choose the talk group that you added in the first step.  Also, you’ll need to choose the color code.  Color Code is basically the same as the PL tone on analog repeaters. 

  4. Create one or more zones (this is just a group of channels) and then add the channels to it.  Zones can have as many channels as you want and you can have the same channel in the multiple zones.  Getting started, you can create one zone, and put all your channels into it if you have just a few.  You can’t use the channel unless it’s in a zone.
    Zones are very cool.  I have one that I use a lot when I’m at home but I have a separate one that I use when vacationing in Arizona. If a channel isn’t in a zone, you can’t use it.  

  5. Optional, If you are going to use DMR, you need to import the contact list that you pull of the internet.  If you don’t have an address book loaded, you’ll just see the operator’s DMR ID displayed. This is how the radio knows to display my call sign and name instead of my DMR ID.  Since people are being added to the list all the time, you need to import a new list from time to time.  A prebuilt code plug will have one, for instance the papa system or mine. You can get updated contact lists for the AnyTone at kf5iw.com.

  6. Ensure that the programming software can see your radio on the correct port. 
    1. Plug your radio into your computer using the supplied USB cable.
    2. Turn your radio on and wait for it to boot up.
    3. Go to the menu “Set”, then “Set COM”. 
    4. You should see at least one comm port.  Select it.  (If you see more than one com port, you may need to do a little trial and error). Typically the correct COM Port will be the highest one listed.
    5. Choose “Program” menu, then Read
    6. If you were able to read your radio you are all set to move to the next step.

  1. Write the settings to the radio (Program / Write). 
    1. Make sure to open your code plug of choice and make sure your DMR ID is updated in it.
    2. Choose “Program” menu, then Write
    3. Confirm that you really do want to do this.
    4. The first time you write to the radio, you need to check both boxes.  This ensures that it writes the channels and the address book.  The next time you update your radio with settings, uncheck “Digital Contact List” to save a LOT of time (unless you need to refresh the list).  Future updates just take seconds.

  2. Let your radio reboot and give it a try.
 I realize this is a very high level set of instructions and it’s not meant to be a replacement for the manual but more of a high level script and impress upon you the order that you need to follow because one thing builds on the other.  If you did this from scratch, you’ll still need to import addresses.  See my tips article and scroll down to “Importing a contact list”.

Thanks to Brian, KC2GNV for his editorial support and recommendations for this article.

Enjoy and 73,
Christian Claborne
(aka Chris Claborne)

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