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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Teardown & Comparison: TYT MD-UV380 Part 2

Last week saw HVDN post a partial tear-down and comparison of the newly released dual band TYT MD-UV380. And, it seems to have gotten a lot of attention too!



The follow up article that you are about to read goes into more detail "under the hood" on the MD-UV380 compared to the MD-380G mono band version.  There is also some further explanation of features found in the user interface along with some other discoveries that may catch your eye in the RF portion.

FCC Type Acceptance

The FCC ID for the MD-UV380 is "POD-DMRUV" and as of June 4th 2018, it does not yet appear in FCC OET records which is interesting.

FCC ID of MD-UV380 that is not listed yet on FCC OET website

While querying the FCC Office of Engineering & Technology website, here are the only ID's associated with TYT.

All recent TYT FCC OET IDs that have been approved

The first three records for "POD-DMR3" are for the TYT MD-9600 mobile radio.  FCC ID's of "POD-DMR1" are for the mono-band UHF version and finally "POD-DMR" is for the VHF version of the MD-380.  Notice the 2017 certification dates for the mono-band radios. These are actually re-certifications for TYT. In the past, the radio was branded as "Tytera" and is no longer able to be used due to brand infringement with Hytera, a totally different radio vendor.

When a vendor lists various documents as part of the filling, its common to include some internal photos, but they are usually not the most interesting. HVDN has decided to go the extra mile in showing whats really going on within the MD-UV380.

Under the under side of the under the hood?

As noted in our part 1 tear-down, the MD-UV380 seems to have moved the base-band portion of the RF unit to the underside of the PCB. What was learned is that the HR C6000 is used in the MD-UV380 instead of the HR C5000.   The TYT MD-9600 for reference also uses the HR 6000 and this provides an overall better platform for digital voice compared to the older, but still capable, HR C5000.  The MD-UV380 will likely have a long shelf life ahead of itself.


HR C6000 base-band as found in the new TYT MD-UV380


With confirmation of the base-band chip and the STM MCU talked about in the part one article last week, perhaps the most exciting thing discovered is the AT1846S software defined radio chip.

This fairly common component and its RDA1846s cousin seems to make the TYT MD-UV380 just a little more interesting. Integrating this in addition to a much better front end offers much better performance compared to lower priced radios and something that also competes with higher priced models that do slightly less in a larger form factor.

The AT1846s SDR chipset as found in the new TYT MD-UV380


I do not know if its possible, but it should be theoretically possibly for someone to rewrite part of the coding and enable FM broadcast reception with reduced performance which is one of the only features the Ailunce HD1 offers.

Here is a close up view of the additional filtering found on the underside of the TYT MD-UV380.  A future project would be to use a vector network analyzer or signal generator and scope to see where the filtering low and high cut range is as well as any notches in between to see if FM broadcast reception would work or possibly add through software, the ability to use the MD-UV380 on the US 1.25, 220 MHz amateur allocation.

The underside of the RF deck of the TYT MD-UV380 front end filtering. The underside of the radio provides better shielding.

Here is a image zoomed out for more idea overall of how different the TYT MD-380G (UHF) and the new TYT MD-UV380 underside of the RF deck looks.

MD-UV380 at right and MD-380G at left from rear side of RF deck

So that does this all mean?

A main reason why HVDN felt a tear down would be important was because of the better than average audio signal reports provided over the air while using this radio. Same thing with the quality of the receive audio.

The microphone elements on both radios are identical. The MD-UV380 receive audio at the minimum volume level is quiet loud and favors the low end of the audio spectrum which provides a much fuller audio experience compared to the MD-380G (UHF) as well as commercial Vertex VXD-720 and the Radioddity GD-77.  On transmit with the MD-UV380 and the mic gain setting at the middle setting of "3"  comments on transmit audio have been quiet good.

This better sounding audio is likely due to the HR C6000 base band and related AMBE translation.

From an RF perspective, receive wise, signals for local analog repeaters, local DMR repeaters and public safety and utility in both analog and DMR also seem to come through more clearly on the MD-UV380 compared to the MD-380G (UHF) and also a MD-380G (VHF).

The signal meter though seems less sensitive compared to the MD-380G radios. Pretty much everything seems to max out at 3 of 4 bars.  There is also a "scanning" effect on the signal meter at times on DMR.

Here is a demo video of receiving an analog NOAA NWS weather transmission with the stock antenna followed by another of receiving a local hotspot with DMR audio.






Additional Review Notes

As mentioned prior, the radio shipped with F/W S15.021. It was soon after upgraded to S16.06, but then I decided to downgrade to S16.05 based on other users experiencing issues relating to compatibility with S16.06 and certain versions of the computer programming software  or "CPS".

There are a number of versions of the CPS available. I started with version 1.03 which works fine.  Version 1.05 also includes 1.04 which can only be found on the Grapevine Radio website download area and not the TYT website.  Version 1.06 available on the TYT website also includes version 1.07.

It is suggested that even though an MD-UV380 with GPS has software available for it, the MD-390 version firmware and CPS are suggested to be used directly by TYT.

There are no issues with any versions of the CPS I can find, aside from one major issue that users on Facebook user groups related to TYT are discussing.  The issue is the inability to upload the user database to the radio while using the appropriate firmware for CSV and GPS compared to the recorder and GPS version noted in the part one article.

Setting up short messages for use with SMS WX and GPS sending with the TYT MD-UV380


I am not sure how I did it, but I did have the user database working under F/W S15.021 but can not get it to work again in later F/W or even after rolling back to what the radio came with. Moreover, after experimenting with the user database in the MD-2017 format, it seems to write the contacts to the radio, but they are somewhat scrambled.

The GPS functionality also works fine and I was able to send location data to aprs.fi as well as receive SMS weather messages with the MD-UV380. If this interests you, please have a look at this article on how to set that up.

The user database feature will need some more time to get the bugs worked out, but otherwise should be an easy fix. I rather have a really good sounding radio compared to a user directory to start out.

Summary

Compared to all other TYT radios at the time of launch, the MD-UV380 seems be much further along than other radios, especially the MD-9600 and MD-2017. It should not take long for the user database issue to get officially sorted out. Right now the workaround is to convert files from an MD-2017 into the MD-UV380 format which is easily done. Its also possible to import MD-380G files into the MD-UV380, but first needing to be saved in the MD-2017 CPS.

What else was learned in the part two of the teardown

  • Uses the upgraded HR C6000 base-band
  • Integrates the AT1846s SDR chipset
  • Has a much better designed RF front end
  • Better audio on receive and transmit compared to MD-380G
  • Has some unique quirks such as flickering signal meter and user database
  • The smallest receive audio level is fairly loud and should be able to be fixed in the CPS
Next areas HVDN will focus on regarding the TYT MD-UV380 include:

  • Making some small "tweaks" in the configuration files for RSSI, squelch and audio
  • Staying up to date on all CPS and user database issues
  • Learning about other hardware potential "tweaks" to further unlock greater value in this radio


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