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And we say…
The MD-UV380 is a mid-2018 dual-band variant of the popular MD-380. Web searches do not yield much information about the radio. In my opinion, the manual could be improved. The following items are notes and observations made since purchasing the radio in July 2018. My radio firmware version is 16.006 and the CPS software is version 1.03. I haven't perceived a need to upgrade either, and I don't recommend upgrading either the firmware or software unless there is a need. At introduction the radio cost ~$140.
I bought a second MD-UV380 in March 2020, also purchased from my favorite retailer Buy Two Way Radios. My radio firmware version is 18.011 and the CPS software is version 1.07. The price of the radio has dropped to $110. Additional comments and observations are noted.
The charger is not a rapid-charging unit. It takes 6-8 hours to charge a dead battery. I bought a second battery at the outset.
When unboxing your new radio, first load the TYT CPS (Customer Programming Software) onto your computer. Locate and install the supplemental USB drivers. The drivers must be installed for the Windows computer to recognize the radio. Depending upon the vendor, the drivers may be in a subdirectory on the software CD (perhaps as a ZIP file) or supplied on a separate CD. When I purchased the new radios, my vendor supplied the drivers on a separate mini-disc. If you are buying a previously used radio as your first MD-UV380, ensure the seller supplies the USB drivers. The reason? Unfortunately the TYT website does not clearly label and identify its files available for download.
The very first thing to do is READ the radio, and save the initial file elsewhere as a 'do not touch' safety valve backup just in case. I name files in the the format of 'uv380-yyyymmddhhmm.rdt'—facilitates sequential file sorting—so I can revert to previous versions.
An MD380 codeplug will not directly load into a MD-UV380. Let's leave it at that. If you seek a MD-380 codeplug (as a sample, starter or to study) in lieu of building your own, in my opinion the easiest solution is to use the N0GSG DMR Contact Manager to read in an MD380 codeplug and write it out in the UV380 format. (If you are a new user of the N0GSG software, I strongly recommend first reading the PDF user manual.)
As an aside, there are a few "tools" software packages for tweaking the MD-380 firmware. Note these will not work on the MD-UV380. There are no MD-UV380 "tools" packages that I am aware of, nor do I expect there ever will be.
The dual VFOs are not ganged. When one has UHF and VHF repeaters and simplex frequencies in the same zone list, you can listen to traffic on both receivers simultaneously. VFO A audio has priority over VFO B if both receivers are active.
If scanning a zone list with analog FM frequencies and the scan stops, the radio will continue to check for other activity approximately every 3 seconds. A momentary "blip" interrupts the audio.
The MD-UV380 has 3—H, M, L—power levels; page 51 of the manual states only there are only two. The manual shipped in 2020 still contains the power level error. I like to have a quick button programmed to change same. To conserve the battery, I program repeaters at M and step to H if needed. Program one of the buttons on the left side of the radio.
If implementing the Pi-Star Remote commands—these should be set up as private, not public, calls—on your radio for use with your hotspot. For the reboot and shutdown commands, there is one more step to be done. The reboot and shutdown command fails unless you uncheck the "Private Call Confirmed" checkbox on the codeplug's "reboot" and "shutdown" Channel Information sheets. Otherwise, on the hotspot, the DMR logo just shows up on the OLED screen over the rolling MMDVM logo.
The Remote commands svckill and svcrestart should be ignored by repeater users. Andy Taylor, MW0MWZ, the developer of Pi-Star, explained these commands are intended for "repeater keepers".
For each zone list with hotspot talkgroups (BrandMeister, in my case), VFO B entries are (1) Unlink 4000, (2) Remote's Reboot—enables waking up a hotspot that dropped a WiFi connection—and (3) Remote's Shutdown. Shutdown can be helpful. It lets me quickly turn off the car's hotspot as I pull in the driveway so I am not additionally transmitting through the house's hotspot; I don't have to reach to pull the car's 12vdc plug.
For me, the MD-UV380 has been a bulletproof radio. (Your mileage may vary.) In my opinion, the dual-band MD-UV380 is akin to the classic single-band MD-380. Compared to the expensive and complicated (more settings to sort through) Anytone radios, the MD-UV380 is a "plain Jane" radio with a simpler, less complicated, screen and easier CPS programming. For me, simpler is better. Think about it. In the end, it is just a conversation.
For what it is worth, I use a hotspot virtually all the time. I don't set static talkgroups or use the digital monitor mode (promiscuous). The latter seems obtuse to me. Look for the CPS' "group call match" to explore promiscuous for yourself.
Further, I don't bother loading the contacts database into the radio, but that's me. I do add some calls manually. These are persons I talk to on a regular basis. If you opt to load a contacts database, the entire file exceeds the space available. Use the N0GSG DMR Contact Manager software to filter and select entries.
Some persons complain about the digital audio quality. The audio quality is fine. Digital audio is communications quality, not high fidelity, and sounds different than analog FM. Some persons may need to adjust the radio's microphone gain, using the CPS, but that's no surprise.
The new UV-380 radios may be "locked" in response to the September 24, 2018, FCC advisory on import, sale and use of unauthorized VHF/UHF two way radios. Also see an informal explanation here. Although one can load a codeplug into the radio, transmit will not work. If the radio won't transmit and has a Menu > Utililities > Radio Info > Versions firmware version of 18 or higher, unlock the radio thusly. (1) Turn off the radio. (2) Simultaneously depressing the small buttons above and below the PTT button, turn the radio on.