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Monday, August 13, 2018

60 Days with the TYT MD-UV380

On May 31st and June 5th of 2018, HVDN released a two part internal tear-down of the new TYT MD-380 dual band DMR radio.

The TYT MD-UV380 was released in May 2018 and will only get better with time. 


Since there were still many quirks and curiosities in the actual operation of the radio still be explored, starting a review from the inside out seemed a better way to go about determining if the "UV380" was a keeper or not and avoid getting frustrated by any potential lack of polish on the user interface of the radio.

If you missed those articles, here are the links to check them out:

Far too many new amateur radio products have been rushed to market over the past few years due to the growing complexity of them, but have later been fixed and transformed into much better user experiences.

Some of these of rushed products include the Icom IC-7100, Yaesu FT-991, TYT MD-2017, Icom IC-7300, Baofeng DR-5R and Ailunce HD1 to name just a few.

ham radio firmware upgrades



As of August 10th, much has been learned directly and from other early adopters of the TYT MD- UV380. Here is a more "operational" review of this latest mid tier digital voice radio.

Please note that this review is of the GPS enabled version only.

Firmware and Programming Software Review

The firmware shipped with the MD-UV380 was S15.021 and quickly upgraded to S16.06, but then downgraded to S16.05. The reason for the backwards downgrade by Steve K2GOG was because at the time the programming software seemed to work better with 16.05. 

As of the time of this article, there is a version 17.xxx firmware that has been shipped from TYT vendors for the non-GPS version, but this is not to be found on the TYT or any vendor website.

The Radioddity GD-77 has also started to see new firmware loaded from the factory, but not to be found on the manufacturer website. If this is a trend, it is worrisome for users looking to upgrade or downgrade radios.

The current most up to date "official" radio programming software or CPS as of the date of this article is 1.07. There has been a version 1.08 and 1.09 floating around some user groups, but seems to "sort of work" and it not being recognized as official.

For those with the MD-UV380 GPS version, its suggested to actually use the CPS and FW for the MD-UV390 which is slightly larger and offers water resistance capability.

MD-UV380 Suggestions

As of August 10th 2018, I would suggest using S16.05 as the firmware and CPS 1.05 as the programming software as they seem to have the least issues for the MD-UV380 with GPS.

MD-UV380 Improvements Since Official Release

#1) Probably the greatest improvement since the release of the radio is Tom N0GSG's popular contact manager software being able to support the TYT MD-UV380.  This freeware with suggested donation allows easier moving of programmed channels and contacts into a more usable order compared to when programming the TYT MD-UV380 with the manufacturer supplied programming software.

TYT MD-UV380 software contact manager
N0GSG's popular "Contact Manager" software
as of August 1st 2018 supports the TYT MD-UV380

#2) Another improvement since the TYT MD-UV380 was released is better handling of loading in the user contact database to the radio. This is helpful in order to show call-sign, name and location information for each DMR user instead of either trying to memorize the 7 digit ID's for everyone or loading them one at a time.

The AmateurRadio.digital website is the best place to get the current version of the user database for the TYT MD-UV380.  As of the date of this article, the user database has 105,212 registered users and all of them fit within the UV380's memory. It is believed however that once the user database exceed 120,000 contacts, the radio will ignore all users over the maximum number the radio can hold.  Users not stored in the database will show up as "unknown". 

After you create a user database file from the AmateurRadio.digital, such as this sample created for the date of this article, there are a few things to be mindful of:

#3) The TYT MD-UV380 uses the same format for contacts as the TYT MD-2017.  Code plugs can also be directly imported which is nice.  If you have an older mono band MD-380, you can first open that code plug in the MD-2017 CPS of choice, save it and then load it into the MD-UV380.

#4) Before loading contacts, save your code plug often. The CPS may crash sometimes and not save recent changes.

#5) When loading contacts into the TYT MD-UV380 via the CPS, after using the "import button" you need to wait for the "Import Succ" message to appear before then writing the database to your radio

Make sure after importing the database you get
 the "Import Succ!" message before writing to the radio

#7) On your MD-UV380, you will need to enable CSV database for the contacts to appear. You  do not need to have Microsoft Excel to do this contrary to what some people say.  If you do want to edit the contact file, you can use freely available OpenOffice

#8) Almost everything can be programmed without a computer, but requires a certain order to do it. First you need to create a channel and create a zone.  You then need to assign the channel to a zone in order to use it.

#9)  Its possible to enable a VFO mode in the CPS, but its not 100% clear how to access this mode if you reassign any of the buttons on your radio.

#10) If you program a side button for "monitor" you can see frequency and channel info which is nice

There is a lot more to say about this radio and the only thing it seems to miss out on is better "keypad" dialing of talk groups like what MDtoolz does for the MD-380 series or even the Anytone D868 and BTECH 6X2.

Share your observations and tips here if you want or in your favorite Facebook group.


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