Operation on the DMR protocol is very similar to what you’ve become used to on a VHF/UHF FM repeater, with a few minor differences.
- Use the repeater that gives you the best signal. Remember to use the Parrot channel on each repeater to see what your audio sounds like.
- Check your audio level. Since the audio is digitised on your radio, and there’s no leveling happening in transit, it’s very important for you to send a proper audio level. Use the Parrot, or ask your friends to verify that your audio level is proper, and remember the mic to mouth distance for your radio. A lot of these radios are operated very “HOT” and need to be adjusted in the CPS
- Use the smallest area talk group to make the communication work. If you and the person you’re talking to are using the same repeater, be sure to use the Local talkgroup.
- Remember that there’s two different timeslots on each repeater (1 & 2). You may see your radio indicating a receive light, and hear nothing. This traffic may be the CWID, or on the other timeslot, or a talk group that you’re not listening to.
- When you press the Push-To-Talk (PTT) button, wait to hear the confirmation tones before you start talking. When you push the button, your radio contact the repeater, and makes sure it’s not busy, and that you can hit the repeater. A long tone or brrp, or no tone when you hit the PTT means your transmission won’t go through.
- If you’re in a conversation with another person, and for some reason you lose contact with them, it may be that either end has traffic that blocks your conversation. Watching your receive light will let you know if the blocking is happening at your end. Simply wait for a clear condition, and try again.
- Each channel is allowed to have a receive list, that lets you listen additional talkgroups, on the same timeslot, at the same time. So, if you’re listening to a Local talkgroup, you can add a receive list that will let you listen to other talkgroups at the same time. This may let you hear what’s happening on this timeslot.
- Many zones can be set up to keep your radio organized. One way to set up a zone is to have a different zone for each repeater. That way you can cycle through all of the talkgroups on a given repeater by twisting the knob.
- Scanning is allowed among the channels on a given zone. Remember that you can have analog channels set up, and that would let you scan between the UHF analog channels, and various DMR repeaters and timeslots.
- Codeplugs are personal. Your very first codeplug has enough to get you going. You’ll find that you work differently from the next person, and start making changes that match your use of the radio. Make sure you keep a copy of your codeplug on your computer, so you can reload this into a new radio as one appears.