Ham Radio – Installing TYT MD-380 Tools

I had been reading various reports about the TYT MD-380 Tools and was intrigued.  Then, late in the Thursday night PAPA DMR Roundtable discussion, listened as advice was given to a user with a menu problem.  Joined the associated Facebook Group at TYT MD-380 Tools, and my curiosity grew higher.

Finally I found a page listing the Features associated with the Tools and I was hooked – primarily by the ability to display the user database information from DMR-MARC.net when a DMR ID was heard – instead of just getting his/her first name and call sign, you also get their name in full and home QTH data displayed on the same screen.  How cool is that?

In the early days, the tools had to be installed via Linux, today there is a means of installing via Windows, but I chose to go about it using Warren Merkle’s scheme of using a virtual Linux machine under Oracle VM Virtual box.

First of all – let me say this is a great way to brick your radio if you miss a step or screw up typing/etc. The following “worked for me” and a whole bunch of other folks, but your mileage may vary. I just finished reading of a guy who did just that and wanted to blame the author, (Warren Merkle), who simply ignored him in the MD-380 Tools group on Facebook.  Having said that, I was very careful and had a blast.

Before getting started, I would recommend you download and study a copy of MD380tools_VM_installation_3.08.pdf from github.com – I actually studied this document for about an hour all totaled.  Its a fairly large document and only part of it applied to what I wanted to accomplish.

Here is a relatively quick summary, with links, of what I did – all based on poring over that PDF file for about an hour:

1. Downloaded and installed the latest Oracle VM Virtual Box for Windows from:
(I clicked on “windows installer”)

2. From that same page on oracle.com I scrolled down and downloaded a copy of the Oracle VM VirtualBox Extensions.  Do NOT skip over that – later on you will need the extensions so USB will work right on your machine, along with a few other things.
(I clicked on the “5.1.28 ExtPack” download link)

3. Installed Virtual Box going with all defaults in the config, opened it and installed the extensions.  After the extensions are installed, it is a very good idea to close VirtualBox, then reboot your computer – the next time you open it after the reboot, those extensions should do a fine job of finding your particular USB ports and be ready to use them.  I wouldn’t skip this step either.

4. Downloaded the virtual machine image file (tyt_kd4z_3.0.zip), (called the “VirtualBox Appliance image file” in some of the docs), from this link:
(Save it to a spot on your hard disk you can get at in the next step and extract everything from the zip file – you should wind up with a copy of the appliance image file named “tyt_kd4z_3.0.ova”)

5. After re-opening VirtualBox, click on “File | Import Appliance” and navigate to the file tyt_kd4z_3.0.ova, select it and import it – this will take some time to accomplish. When it is done, you will see a virtual machine named “tyt”, which you can highlight by clicking on it once, then click on the green “Start” arrow to load that virtual machine.

6. I got a warning message and a couple of advisory messages at the top of the tyt vm that I just closed/ignored after reading…

7. You should now have what appears to be a script running from the command line that is pretty self explanatory.  The next step is to type  glv and hit the enter key, (that stands for “Get Latest Version”, (it gets both the experimental firmware *and* the User database),  and this also can take a long time depending on your internet connection speed/etc. – be patient.  When it is finally complete, (seems to make a couple of passes at updates), you should wind up once again at the command line.  (It should looks something like ” tyt@DmR~$ _” when its done updating itself.

8. Now its time to get the radio ready. Plug in the USB cable to the computer and (currently “off”) radio – then open the radio in DFU mode by holding both the PTT switch and the button above it in while turning it on.  Give it a minute here, just in case Windows needs to go out and get the associated DFU driver or verify its got the right one.  Windows 10 will tell you if it is updating, and when it is done. (It may not need to if you have recently updated firmware for something else).  Next you will type flash and hit the enter key.  That script is going to run for what seems like a *very* long time, it will also pause and not appear to be running, don’t be fooled into doing *anything* – let it run until it finally comes back to that command line I previously described.  Once done, I turned the radio off – then back on with it still plugged in, and observed the opening screen for the MD-380 Tools just before the normal welcome screen with my call sign and id number.

9. OK – the following may not be necessary, but I wanted to make certain the UserDB actually got loaded – so I turned the radio “on” again, (just normal rather than DFU), watched it load, then typed flashdb and hit the Enter key.  It was off to the races again – took quite a bit of time, but eventually got back to that same command line.  I turned off the radio – unplugged the USB cable and set it aside for testing.

10. The way I closed the virtual machine was to click on “File | Close” – selected “Send the shutdown signal” and clicked on OK.  Of course, then I shut down VirtualBox itself by simply clicking on the “X” button in the upper right hand corner.

That was it – and it was successful.  Again, the link for what functions the MD-380 Tools Project currently enables is located at:

Here is the first thing I set up after completion – it is a post from Warren:


If your radio doesn’t display the contact information when a station is transmitting, you might need to set the Show Calls menu option to “User Db” This menu item replaced the original menu “UsersCSV”



This entry was posted by dave on Friday, September 22nd, 2017 at 7:27 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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