Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Anytone AT-578UV Review / Thoughts & Nits


Below is my review of the new Anytone AT-D578UV DMR/Analog radio. I won’t drag you through the specs of this radio, I’ll post them below.  I’ve been using the radio in my cat and my QTH for over a month now.  If I think of anything else, I’ll update this article so think of it as a living doc.

I, like many others, had been waiting for this radio to come out for over a year.  I have Anytone’s AT-D878 hand-held (HT (handy-talkie) radio which is awesome.  I’ve written about it here.  The reason I’ve been looking forward to this radio is because using an HT as a mobile radio (in my car) only provides a max of 6 watts.  Also, I kept my Yaesu FT-100DR analog radio in my car for analog use since it is a 50w radio.  I mainly do SOTA, so having a little extra power in the back country is important to me.  That meant that I had a funky setup with the DRM HT with a battery eliminator on the back plugged into the car’s acc port (think cigarette lighter).  What I really wanted was a full power radio that did everything and that had all the features of the Anytone 878 HT.  It also allows me to get down to one antenna on the car as well. 

What I got was even better than my wish list.

New Features that I”ve Never Had Before

 220mhz  
The radio covers 220mhz band, something that I’ve never had before.

Dual independent receivers. 
The radio has dual independent receives, both supporting analog and DMR.  They have separate volume controls on the face and the radio supports a separate external speaker out for each.

Repeater capability. 
Because the radio has independent receivers, it supports duplex repeater function. I have to experiment with this feature.  For DMR, I’m guessing it would need to be setup as a cross mode repeater since it may not have multiple time slots.  Not sure how this would work.

Things I Like

     Included programming software and cable.  Like all of the other Anytone radios, the software comes with it along with the cable at no additional cost.  On a lot of my more expensive Yaesu radios, you have to shell out additional bucks for this.

     CPS programming software is easy to use and works just like the other Anytone 868 & 878 radios.  It’s much better than the RT systems software made for Yaesu radios.

     A lot of functionality in the mic. 

     Speaker in the mic.

     For me, it fit nicely in the previous home of the Yaesue FTM-100D, not having a removable face plate isn’t a big deal.

     I’m told my sound quality is excellent on FM and DMR.

     I now have enough power (at 25w) to use a single repeater around San Diego most of the time.  I run at high (which is 25), and turbo (50 - 55) only when needed.

     If you want to use an external speaker, there is a jack for each receiver.

Things that I don’t like or could use improvement

Anytone, are you listening?

You need separate CPS software for the 578. I like to keep all of my radios setup the exact same way so that I can pick up any of them and not have to re-learn how that particular one is programmed.  One CPS software package would keep everything in sync.  Yes, it will open the AT-878 code-plug (data file that I keep all the setting in) but when you try to load that onto the radio it gives you the error “band error”.  OK, I export and imported the file to the 578 CPS, fine..  I want software that I can use that will be a one-stop shop for all my Anytone radios.  I realize that the 578 will have different features in the “optional” settings but geeze guys, make one CPS software that will use the base channel, Zone, and talk groups for all the radios.
     Deploy one CPS that allows users to enter the radio specific settings for all radios.
     When programming, either a) detect the radio model; b) have the write dialog prompt the user for which radio is currently being written to.

Why is the programming cable on the side?  If this thing is mounted in the vehicle, which it’s designed for, it’s highly probable that you won’t be able to get to the mini USB socket on the side.  Why not put it on the front? I’d actually prefer that they use a memory card, like my Yaesu mobile, so that I didn’t have to haul a laptop to the car to make programming updates to it. (Please don’t put the usb jack on the back either).  I recommend keeping a cable interface as a failsafe, add a flash card interface to the front like Yaesu.  Imagine having to program a fleet of radios in vehicles with the current situation.  Ultimate would be a wireless interface. 

The speaker fidelity isn’t great as the FT-100D in analog mode.  It’s not horrid but I would have expected better.  I’ll get around to trying an external speaker some time.  What is cool is that there is a jack for each receiver.

The screen is too small.  Keeping essentially the HT sized screen doesn’t make sense.  Who is going to lean way down to the radio to read 9 point font?  I’d love to see a larger screen in another model.  How about a touch screen?  My reference point is the Yaesu FTM-400. 

The scan behavior needs to be addressed.  I like that it’s consistent with the 878, and the idea of “scan groups, but usability sucks. 
     If you forget to set the scan group for a channel, you are hosed.  It now requires the user to go into the menus to set a current scan group.  Move the channel selector and you go back to square 1.  How about adding a “global scan group” to be used when the channel doesn’t designate one.
     When scanning, most of my radios will stay on the channel that broke squelch when you touch the ptt or stop scan button.  Why does the Anytone radio send the user back to the channel that started the scan.  This sucks because if you want to answer a hail while scanning, you need to a) look at the channel while it’s stopped;  b) stop the scan; c) find the channel; d) respond.  This is going to be real difficult if you are mobile, and if you are using the HT, it assumes you can look at the screen while it’s holding before it starts scanning again.  My preference is to be able to hit the PTT as soon as I hear the call and have it stop on THAT CHANNEL.

Issues I’ve had so far

     In analog on some repeaters, the radio seems to pickup something that causes it to possibly try to receive in digital, producing a bunch of static, and it doesn’t normally stop until I hit the PTT (or maybe I just need to wait).  This doesn’t happen often.

     Similar to the 878, it will just come out of transmist.  It’s possible that it lost the return signal from the repeater but it would be nice to be notified as I chat away with the PTT mashed down.

     The radio will get stuck in transmit mode when in digital.  One time it required me to reboot the unit with the power switch while I was running a DMR net at the time.

Review Summary

Overall, two thumbs up.  This is the radio I was waiting for and more.  I expect Anytone will get some of the bugs worked in future software patches.  I really like having just a touch more power to reduce the number of repeaters I have to bounce around to on my morning commute.

Info and Specs

INCLUDED IN THE BOX
     AnyTone AT-D578UVIIIPRO
     1-Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty
     Bluetooth Module Built-In
     External Bluetooth PTT key
     Handheld Microphone with Number Keyboard
     Mobile Mounting Bracket and Assorted Hardware
     DC Cable with Fuse
     USB Programming Cable
     Programming software
     Spare Fuses
     GPS ANTENNA

 DIMENSIONS:
     Length: 7.5 In  (19cm)
     Width: 5.5 In (14cm)
     Height 1.5 in (4cm)
Specs.
     1.77 Inch Color LCD Display
     Numbers Keyboard on Microphone, 10 Configurable Keys
     TRI-band US
     TX/RX 144-148MHz, 420-450MHz.
     Part 15 certification for 222-225MHz
     FCC ID T4K-D578UVIII
     IF Channel Width Selectable 12.5/25 kHz (Analog) or Fixed 12.5 kHz (DMR)
     Digital: DMR (Tier I/II) and Analog FM
     WFM Receiver 87.5 - 108 MHz
     Up to Five DMR IDs Programmable
     4000 channels, 10000 Talk Groups, 200000 Digital Contacts
     250 Zones (Memory Banks) Programmable
     Display of ID (Callsign), Location and Country of QSO Partner
     Two Time Slots Available, all Color Codes Available
     Transmit Power 5, 10, 25, 45 max (UHF) / 220MHz 5w max / (VHF) 50 Watt max
     Automatic Mode Selection Analog/Digital
     Tone Burst 1750 Hz
     Tone Squelch: CTCSS, DCS
     Tone Signalling: DTMF, 2 Tone, 5 Tone
     GPS Receiver
     Simultaneous Reception Analog/Digital or Analog/Analog
     Many APRS Parameters Settable on Radio, Without Computer
     Recording and Playback of Received Signal (DMR only)
     Roaming
     VOX Function
     Bluetooth Interface
     Individual Volume Controls Per VFO
73,
N1CLC
Christian Claborne
(aka Chris Claborne)

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