Ham Radio – setting up the TYT MD-380 DMR Radio

One of the things I found most interesting about getting into Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) as a Ham, is that all of digital voice radio seems to have its own language.  There is a lot to learn, things like going to DMR-MARC.net to get a DMR user identity number assigned, codeplugs, zones, contacts, it goes on and on and is rather confusing.  I literally immersed myself in everything DMR to try to learn that “language” as fast as possible.  One item that really helped was a kindle ebook copy of:

DMR For Beginners: Using the Tytera MD-380 Kindle Edition

While I was at it – also picked up an even cheaper ebook named:

The DNA of Digital Mobile Radio Programming: The TYT MD-380 (The DNA of DMR Programming) Kindle Edition

Both are a huge help in simply learning the language of DMR, which is applicable to both the MD-380 and GD-77 radios.

Software and Firmware editor/installers

For this I went to the VA3XPR site and to their download page.

From there, I scrolled down and downloaded/installed “TYT Tytera MD-380 CPS v1.32” which is the current version of the codeplug editor for this radio as of Sep. 22, 2017. Scrolling just a bit farther down, I downloaded/installed “TYT / Tytera MD-380 & 390 Firmware Upgrade Tool” for later use.  With Windows 10 on my notebook computer, I did not need to download the USB driver file also on that page.

I must note here that, everywhere I went, there was a consistent recommendation to get a “codeplug” from someone in our local area to help with the initial programming of the radio.  From here on, I will focus on the TYT MD-380 radio.  Ours is UHF only, (400 MHz to 480 MHz), and has no GPS capability.


The next thing I did was to create a guest account on the local Papa System web site.  Such a “guest” account is good for 90 days, during which time you can decide whether or not to become a member of the Papa System, (there are dues which help maintain the repeaters, etc.).

Having logged into the site I discovered the PAPA System DMR page – and from there a link to codeplugs, and darned if there wasn’t one for the TYT MD-380 which I immediately downloaded and saved to my hard disk.

Spent a couple days editing/hacking/nosing around that codeplug downloaded from papasys.com/dmr/ for the MD-380 until heck wouldn’t have it – decided I was making things more complicated than they needed to be, (a bad life-long habit), so downloaded a fresh copy

About that time, I received the following message via eMail from the folks at PAPA System:

PAPA DMR Roundtable

Mondays starting at 8:00pm PDT, tg 3106 (California)

Join us on the California 3106 Talkgroup:

This time the ONLY editing I did was go to the general settings and insert my call sign, and the id number issued by dmr-mark.net – saved it to a “work” file, then uploaded it to the radio via the provided USB cable. Said it was successful, so turned off the MD-380, unplugged the USB cable, turned it back on and hit “Menu” – then, using the down arrow button, scrolled down to “Zone” and hit the green button again.

In “Zone” scrolled down until I found the “OTAY HOME” selection, (I have a great shot at Otay repeaters from my home QTH), selected that and went back to normal operation. Twisted the knob until I got to Channel 5 on the Otay repeater, which is TG 3106, keyed and waited for the “beepbop” that indicates you made it, then transmitted “W6TUX testing”. Eureka! I could “hear” myself at the above brandmeister link coming out of the computer speaker! YAY!

Thursday evening, had a loud/clear report and nice QSO with Leo NC6B up in Ramona on TG 3106, and later that evening, I was able to check in on the PAPA DMR Roundtable discussion on Talk Group 3106 and found that very gratifying.  A good week of learning and making progress with Digital Mobile Radio!


Not a week later, I was tickled to hear from another local Ham that he had succeeded in getting his MD-380 going, kind of following along with these same instructions – I gave him a successful radio check on talk group 3106 and immediately afterward he had a nice QSO with a Ham operator up North of Sacramento, CA.  That put a huge grin on my face!

This entry was posted by dave on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 at 6:32 pm and is filed under Amateur Radio, General Ham Stuff . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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