Anytone 878UV

The AnyTone AT-D878UV took the ham radio DMR market by storm starting with the 868 and continues to be one of the most popular models.

Anytone 878UV
AnyTone AT-D878UV W/GPS

Like seemingly every ham, I now own an Anytone 878UV.  Not the Plus, not the II, just the AT-878UV with GPS.  The Bluetooth module sounds somewhat interesting to monitor traffic using a Bluetooth earpiece but wasn't worth the additional $50 for me.  And the II has a few interesting upgrades, but again, not worth the additional $90 at the time.

I replaced an Anytone 3318-E with this radio, effectively, and while it's a pretty decent replacement there are a few things I'm missing.  The dual receive was pretty nice on the 3318-E.  However, I do not miss the 3318-E's quirks.  

I've been taking some notes on the 878 that might be of interest to someone, who knows.  It's not really a review, but more tips/tricks/workarounds.  Hope it's of use to someone, I know it will be to future me when I forget something ;)

There are a few tips/tricks I want to mention here, things that I've never seen officially documented but either were disclosed in some terse release note or found by the community but are seriously useful.

Tips

Here is some quick mention of tips and workarounds I've found, they are more deeply explained in the document linked above on where to find them in the CPS or Radio but wanted to expose some of the ones I find the most useful here.  Perhaps I'll slowly migrate everything from the google document into this post at some point.

Quick Talkgroup Entry

If you hold the 0 button while on a digital channel the radio will prompt you for a talkgroup number.  It defaults to a private ID, but you can hit the # key to switch it to a Group.  Type in the number and hit the PTT and it'll send straight to the private ID or Group you typed in.  Do note you have to set the Manual Dial timeout in the CPS or it'll quickly revert to your previous talkgroup.  Your needs and how you use your radio will determine what settings you use here but I personally set it to Infinite so it stays on the talkgroup I dialed in.  I can switch channels to switch back if needed.  Unfortunately, the talkgroup displayed on the screen does not update to show the group you've typed in, maybe they'll fix that someday.

Scan current zone

You can initiate a scan by long-pressing Up or Down, no need to assign Scan to a P or PF button.  It works for zones or VFO.

Volume is too LOUD

The volume on this radio is unfortunately not analog; there are 15 steps and there's nothing in between these steps.  The volume knob might as well just be an Up/Down button.  It would be nice if there were 30 or even 60 steps here for more granularity.  However, overall you can adjust the range of volume of the radio, sort of.  The Max Volume lets you shift the volume range up and down, which means the lowest volume can be set lower but it also means the max volume is also lower.  You may find yourself indoors wanting one setting and outdoors or in the car wanting a different setting which is unfortunate.  I set mine to 1 for now, which is still too loud for indoors but a lot better than the default.

Analog signals can cut in and out

Those of us who have used superhet receivers over the years are a bit baffled why modern inexpensive radios literally receive worse the better the antenna system is.  They just simply get overloaded and can no longer decode a signal.  It makes sense on a technical level but not on an intuitive level.  This is exactly what I initially thought was happening when I found some analog signals to cut in and out while listening to them and was initially quite disappointed that the radio had that poor of a receiver.  However, with some digging, I found that this is actually related to the Squelch Tail Eliminator setting.  If you turn off STE the problem goes away.  Basically, STE is designed to close squelch when a certain frequency is transmitted, eliminating the loud hiss at the end of a transmission.  On this radio, for some reason, this seems to happen quite often mid-transmission when the radio detects the STE frequency.  Perhaps it clamps down faster than other radios, not sure.

There may be other reasons for audio to cut in and out, I am sure this radio still suffers from intermod and RF overload but in normal use, I have not experienced any issues once turning off STE.

APRS transmissions don't start automatically

It's said that if you set up APRS on the radio but turn off the GPS, the radio will not do anything related to APRS until you turn the GPS on.  After the GPS is locked it will immediately begin to beacon APRS packets as configured.  Neat!  Except it really doesn't work, at least not for me.  I've tried it on both Analog and Digital and while PTT does transmit automatically once you've used GPS as a toggle in this way, the automatic timed beaconing does not.  I've tried changing channels, changing zones, manually initiating it via PTT, etc, none of these seemed to matter.  The quickest way I've found to get it to start beaconing is to go into the APRS menu on the radio and exit out.  You don't have to actually change any settings.  I don't know if this is a regression in a firmware version but it's pretty disappointing that I can't assign GPS to a key and just turn it on and know APRS is beaconing.

And once it's beaconing using D-APRS, any DMR activity will stop it from beaconing again until you intervene, such as changing channel, zone, VFO, etc.

CPS does not keep track of talk groups or channels if moved

Every DMR CPS automatically updates references if they are moved, such as if I have channels 1-10 in a zone and swap 10 and 11, the zone will have 1-9 and 11 in it.  The 878 CPS still has channels 1-10 in it, so now the channel I previously had in this zone is no longer in it.  Same issue with Talk Groups; you can assign default talk groups to channels and if you move that Talk Group to another position suddenly your defaults are all wrong.  I suspect this problem also happens on Receive Groups and in various other areas I'm not thinking of.  It's pretty frustrating to not be able to organize your codeplug without having to fix all of your references.