Our friends at Anytone have made long model name even longer by adding ‘Plus’ or ‘+’ to the Anytone D878UVII. The ‘Plus’ adds additional on-board memory for DMR radio IDs, which are loaded from RadioID.Net. The current DMR database is approximately 218,000 entries as of this writing. If that seems like a lot, it is. But the Plus has room for up to 500,000. The point of having them all loaded in the radio is that when you’re having a QSO on DMR the radio displays the contact’s name, city and state as well as their DMR radio ID and call sign. While I have a strong affection for Motorola radios, the folks at Anytone and BridgeCom have worked pretty hard to make DMR consumable to the average ham. As for the rest of the particulars, this radio is UHF/VHF, analog and DMR, with built-in GPS and APRS features. You can also program it to receive Air/Marine band and NOAA weather stations.
The CPS (programming) software for the radio, like all Anytone radios, is free to download and use. No license, no hoops to jump through (Motorola!). I blanched at the shipping containers of Baofeng and Wouxon radios that have been flooding the US market but Anytone (Quixiang Electron & Technology Co) and Bridgecom seem to be on to something. They have lots of resources including pre-built code-plugs and lots of videos to explain how everything is supposed to work.
I use the term ‘supposed to’ because sometimes things don’t quite work as expected. Despite being on the latest software, I can’t seem to get APRS auto-beaconing to work. There have also been a few display glitches, where characters are overlaid on each other in some screens. Like most software driven products these radios are a bit of a work in progress. But the value for money cannot be ignored. The latest and greatest Anytone (this model) HT is $299 plus shipping and taxes at Bridgecom. They include a key for license and support on a piece of paper in the box. The radio itself is fairly solid/robust and not overly bulky. The display is clear and readable (save for the occasional glitch) and the keys have a quality feel to them. I would not hesitate to use this radio outdoors, in weather like my tried-and-true Yaseus.
What do you get? In the box you’ll find the radio, it’s stock rubber duck antenna, a lanyard strap, battery, charging cradle, AC adapter and programming cable as well as the belt clip and screws to attach to the radio. It’s well-packed and tidy. I unboxed mine, assembled the clip to the back and let it sit for a couple of hours to warm up to the indoor temperature, as it had been riding around in the back of the UPS truck all day and was quite cold. I charged the radio in it’s cradle overnight and waited until the next day to program it. This isn’t my first Anytone, nor my only DMR radio, so figuring out the new version of CPS and flashing the radio with the latest software was a trivial exercise. I exported my contact list and channel configuration from the old CPS (for the previous radio), imported them into the new version and loaded it out to the radio. I also downloaded the latest version of the database and loaded that in the radio too. This process takes about ten minutes for the 218,000 entries.
So, how does it work? Pretty well. I’ve tested it on the local DMR repeater, the .88 machine in Jackson, and the W8DIEL repeater in Chelsea, and currently am using it for DMR on my hotspot. The APRS leaves a bit to be desired. I had to check a lot of boxes in CPS to get it running, but when I did, started receiving perfectly. I have banged my head a bit though that it won’t auto-beacon. A problem for another day, if not a new version of code. It’s doing 90% of what my Yaesu FT-series HTs do (DMR instead of Fusion, obviously) for about $150 less an an FT5. Is it as well made as an FT5? From a hardware perspective, probably. From an ease of use and software quality perspective? Maybe not. But it’s definitely got me on the air and enjoying radio.
Pros: Value for Money, Build Quality, Audio Quality
Con: The software in the radios is… not quite finished. (apparent APRS bug)
(Update – After tinkering a bit, I was able to get APRS auto-beaconing to work! But it wasn’t clear or easy)