Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sure to OK: Fixing the HG-UV98


There is a fantastic upgrade that makes the Lanch HG-UV98 more than 30% better, according to members of the HG-UV98 Users Groups.io community. We have Kenny KT2KT to thank for this "surely" good to "OK" great upgrade among other things.

If you are in the market for a low cost and rugged dual band APRS radio, this radio is proof that community can improve on what a vendor offers by modifying its software, just like we have seen by the TYT MD-380,  Radioddity GD-77, Baofeng DM-1801, Anytone AT-878UV and Alinco DJ-MD5 series of radios. 

Who says hardware is the only thing worth modifying! 

Major Updates

One of the most easy to point out differences with Kenny's firmware update is the change of the main menu button from using the word "Sure" to "OK". 

Other big changes involve improvements for certain menu description such as the dual band display menu that now shows single or dual instead of words that made no sense plus improvements in the APRS and other function menus. 

How To Update

You will need good terminal software such as the free TeraTerm or Hyper Terminal  applications to upload Kenny's modified firmware to your radio.  His version is based on the latest official release by the manufacturer available as of the date of this article.

If you are a Linux vagrant rather than a Microsoft follower, you will likely understand how to take these instructions and get things to work on your computer to do the upgrade.  Apple hamsters will just need to figure things out on your own.

After unzipping Kenny's firmware somewhere on your local machine which will give you a *.bin file,  you will need to load this into your radio. 

The process is different than how Lanch administers its own firmware update process with a Chinese only language executable, but they do offer good English instructions. 

FOCUS:  You ONLY need the first link above for the new UI firmware. The other link is for the latest 9/20 APRS firmware from the manufacturer. The HG-UV98 needs both firmware and are separate from each other!!

Go ahead and plug in your USB cable to your radio and computer and figure out what COM port your USB cable has been assigned in the Windows Device Manager. 

On the computer used for this article, it came up as COM12, yours will be different but your cable will recognize as CH340. If you need the USB drivers, you can find them here.




Now we need to prepare TeraTerm or HyperTerminal to communicate with your radio.  

The process for both is below. Either software works just fine.  After you install HyperTerminal, your first step is to look below and then press OK.



Now go ahead and select the COM port your USB cable told you it got assigned and click on the "Configure" button right below.   

You will now need to change the communication speed from the default 9600 to the zippy 115200. 

Now go ahead and hit apply and OK.



Now its time to hold down the PTT button on your radio and turn on your radio at the same time. 

Your radio screen will show "Host UpData...." and your terminal screen will automatically display this:


Go ahead and press the "1" button on your keyboard and your terminal will now wait for you to upload the new firmware. Go ahead and go to "Transfer" and click on "Send File" in Hyper Terminal software.

You now need to navigate to where your freshly unzipped new firmware is on your computer and select the "Ymodem" protocol. 

Go ahead now and start the upload process and after a few seconds your computer will start uploading the file to your radio.


The transfer should take under three minutes to complete and be sure to wait for it to be finished.  

Once it has completed, now go ahead and turn off your radio, disconnect the USB cable from the radio and go ahead and turn your radio back on.

You will immediately know it was a success by seeing the word "OK" where your radio used to display "Sure". You can also navigate to menu 9 "About" and click into "Firmware" and you should also see the new KT version of the firmware. 

Go ahead now and enjoy better named menus on your Lanch HG-UV98.  There are no other improvements to the operation of the radio aside from just better naming.

If you ever wish you revert your radio back, you can use the other firmware from the manufacturer and its own how to guide.

Using TeraTerm instead of HyperTerminal

If you rather use TeraTerm, go ahead and select your COM port under the serial connection menu at program start.  

Then navigate to "Setup" and "Serial Port" in the top drop down menu and change the speed from 9600 to 115200. 



Repeat the same process of connecting your USB cable to your radio and computer and hold down PTT while turning on your radio.  You should automatically see the below on the Tera Term screen:


Be sure to press the "1" key on your keyboard so you get the "Waiting for the file to be sent...." message like above.  

Now you need to go to "File" and go to the "Transfer" menu and select the "Send" option and "Y Modem" just like we did with Hyper Terminal and be sure to find the new firmware on your computer that you will send to the radio.

It may take a moment for your radio and computer to decide its time to transfer the file, but you should start seeing it uploading. 

When its complete, that status bar screen will disappear and you will just see the Tera Term window.  

Go ahead and power off your radio, remove the USB cable and turn your radio back on and you will see the new firmware just like we saw with HyperTerminal.



Summary

If you are an intermediate to advanced computer user type of person, this extra clarity likely was not needed by you, but for those that are not familiar with these very useful terminal programs, I hope this step by step article was of use to you and your Windows computer.

As of late February 2021, the Lanch website seems to be back on most of the time, but still occasionally goes offline.  As reminder, here is that website as well as the vendor which is the best way to purchase the radio directly from.

It is rumored that a new version of the radio may come out, but its not clear if it will be a new model number or just fix a few things in the hardware that some users discovered that impaired some Bluetooth functionality.

Some later production model versions of this otherwise fine radio do not have all pins of the Bluetooth module soldered to the main board which prevents full functions as a KISS TNC via software like PinPoint APRS or APRSdroid for some unknown reason. This also seems to prevent users from using the Lanch HG-UV98 with WinLink as an example.

As we learn more about this, please check back here on HVDN. But, the radio still works fine for most users who may not want this advanced functionality.

Its time also we ACTUALLY do the long awaited APRS configuration update article, so watch out for that in the coming week or two.

Feel free to join the Groups.IO channel to give a thank you to Kenny KT2KT and to also keep up to date on the latest about this really nice APRS radio that does not cost a fortune.

1 comment:

  1. I just recieved my HG-UV98. I saw that I needed the September 20, 2020 firmware update, so I initiated the firmware update successfully. Next, I tried to upload Kenny's update for the enhanced features. It appears that I may have done that. However, my radio is now locked in a "host update..." Has anyone had this issue? Any possibilities to resolve this? I've tried reloading the origina l firmware update and Kenny's as well, unplugging the battery, etc. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks1

    ReplyDelete

We really do not want to moderate comments, so lets keep it easy to use until it becomes an issue.

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