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Product Review

DMR Tier II  Handheld


John 'Miklor'
November 2016


The TD-9800 is a single band DMR Tier II handheld with dual mode (FM) capability. Although not well known in the US, this radio has been available in Europe, Middle East, and Africa for nearly two years.  Available in both UHF 400-470MHz, or VHF 136-174MHz, the radio being reviewed below is a UHF model.
In the Box

Included with the radio are the:
-  7.4V  2500mAh  Li-Ion Battery
-  Charger base & AC adapter
-  Antenna (UHF) – 3.5" (8.5cm)
-  Belt clip
-  Hand Strap
-  Programming Cable
-  24 page English Manual

It weighs in at 11.8 oz with the battery.

General Description
-  UHF  400-470
-  DMR   Tier II
-  FM capable   (CTCSS/DCS)
-  1W / 4W transmit
-  1024 channels
-  256 contacts
-  64 Zones (max 16 channels per zone)
-  Fully Upgradable Firmware
-  Supports separate 50,000 DMR ID contact list
-  4 line Black/White OLED
-  Detailed Specifications
The TD-9800 case has a solid feel and weight that comfortably fits my large hand.   The backlit keypad buttons are large and require little pressure to make a positive contact.  There are two programmable side buttons and one top button key that can be assigned to any of 28 available possibilities. The keypad is backlit and very easy to read.
Here is a size comparison to other popular DMR handhelds.

click to enlarge
The frequency range is UHF 400-470 MHz.  Along with Tier II DMR, the radio also supports both Wide and Narrowband FM.  As for the transmitter power, it was right where it should be.

The transmitter has two audio gain levels settings. I run Gain 1 at 20db and Gain 2 at 0db for the best audio response.  Additional mic gain can be added but I found it tends to easily over drive if you raise your voice or speak too loudly. My OTA audio reports at 20db/0db are very good, but you may want to set the gain to what best suits your voice.  Definitely don't run it wide open.
TD-9800 446 MHz
FM High 4.3
FM Low 1.4

Although not in the manual, the latest firmware does provide for DTMF tones which can be generated on either DMR or Analog. These tones can be generated either by Keypad entry or pre-programmed in the software.
The receiver sensitivity is excellent, and the audio quality is loud, clear and undistorted. Typical of DMR, there is no squelch tail at the end that let's you know that a person has completed their transmission. Some handhelds have an indicator tone that let's you know that the transmission has completed. This radio does not have that option.
Receive Options
TheTD-9800 supports both scanning and group receive.
Group Receive allows you to load up to 32 contacts into a single receive group. If any one of those channels becomes active, that's what you will receive.  When transmitting, the pre-assigned transmit contact for that channel is the one selected.
The supplied antenna is 3 1/2" (8.5cm) long and cut specifically for the UHF band and performs well. Although the radio is terminated with an SMA-F connector, the antenna seat may not be compatible with the standard replacement antennas with an SMA-M.
Here are Antenna Sweeps performed by Ed N6YN showing the sweet spot on the antenna as well as the antenna base mentioned above.
I found the Black/White OLED display extremely clear and sharp. Unlike some displays, this has the option of 10 difference brightness levels. The amount of information is very basic, but easy to read. The display measures only 3/4" x 1.5" excellent resolution. The power and battery levels are easy to read, and the signal indicator does function properly although small.
As shown below, the radio has the capability of loading the current DMR ID database, which allows you to see the name and callsign of the person being received.

Programming and Software
If you are entering the world of DMR for the first time, be aware that programming a digital radio is a bit different from a standard FM transceiver. Although the FM side is standard, with Freq, Offset, CTCSS, the digital side requires a bit more in depth knowledge. I would personally recommend that you find someone in your area or radio club that can assist with a basic understanding of how it all comes together.
Here is an excellent DMR Guide to also help you get started. Once you understand the basics, everything will fall into place nicely. TD-9800 software is available here:  Software
The TD-9800 firmware is fully upgradable. When changes and upgrades are introduced, the firmware can be upgraded with a standard Windows based PC.
Programming Cable
The programming cable is compatible with that used by Motorola. Once placed in position and screwed down, the connection is 100% positive, eliminating the possibility of a bad connection.  The programming UART chip is in the radio, not the cable, and the proper drivers load automatically making the cable virtually Plug and Play with my Windows7 PC.

click to enlarge 
The side port is configured the same as the Motorola GP328plus. Accessories for this radio are the same as the Motorola GP328plus, GP338plus, PTX700plus, PTX760plus, EX500, EX600-XLS Model Portable Transceiver, as well as the Tera TR-7400.

Battery and Charger

In the DMR mode, it was easy to get a full day out of the 2500mAh in the digital mode. The battery slides on securely which I'm sure contributes to the moisture proofing of the radio.  The charger has a positive LED indicator. A dull light when empty, bright red when charging and bright green when fully charged. The AC adapter output is 12VDC at 1.0A, which takes the battery to a full charge over night.

One of the programmable key options is Battery Power. When pressed a voice announces Battery High, Middle, or Low.  My personal preference would be to see a voltage reading or just look at the battery indicate on the LCD.
IP67 - Waterproof
I always hold this test for last, just in case. According to the IP Rating system, IP-67 states: "Protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.2ft) for up to 30 minutes."
Is it hype or reality?  Well, this one did pass the Miklor test of 8" of water for 10 minutes. It did take a few droplets of water between the battery and the radio, but not enough for major concern. I dried it off and it still works perfectly.

click to enlarge
It's a well made sturdy handheld that should stand up to the harshest conditions. If it falls in the water, it should survive with no issues.  Although the LCD display is very clear, there are only two lines of 12 characters each, but the ability to view the name and call sign of the station being received is a nice touch.

The 2500mAh battery will give it plenty of run time on digital. The 3.5" antenna works well, but for long haul contacts, an upgrade might be in line. The TD-9800 is also available in a GPS version.

Overall, I found it to be solidly built, with the look and feel of a commercial radio.
Available from:  Amazon

DMR Handheld

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