Digital Mobile Radio DMR FAQ

1. What is DMR Digital Mobile Radio?

DMR, which is short for Digital Mobile Radio, is a published standard for digital voice communications utilizing TDMA technology. There are several manufacturers that build DMR radio equipment, including Motorola, Vertex Standard, Kirisun, Hytera and Connect Systems to name a few.

2. What is MOTOTRBO or TRBO?

MOTOTRBO, or sometimes called “TRBO” for short, is the brand name for Motorola’s suite of DMR capable radios.

3. What are the benefits of using DMR?

The common benefits of using DMR for ham radio users include:

  • Keep in contact with your ham radio contacts using hundreds of interconnected repeaters world wide;
  • Enjoy static free communications using the latest in digital voice technology;
  • Talk longer with extended battery life, allowing up to a 40% improvement in talk time as compared to FM;
  • Choose from a wide variety of radio models from a growing list of manufacturers;
  • Take advantage of global text messaging capability;
  • Enjoy automatic roaming capability, allowing operators to keep in contact with one another hands free while on the move.

4. Who can I talk to using DMR?

Using DMR, you can talk to other thousands of other DMR users world wide using hundreds of DMR repeaters located all over the globe. Unlike using IRLP or EchoLink where other repeaters are dialed-on-demand using a node number, DMR users can communicate with one another simply my meeting one of the available “talkgroups” or channels. The most commonly used
talkgroups  include:
  • World Wide talkgroup;
  • North American & English speaking countries talkgroup;
  • National, regional, state or provincial talkgroups;
  • Local communications talkgroups.
For Canadian DMR users, the following talkgroups are also available:
  • Canada-wide talkgroup;
  • Provincial/territorial talkgroups;
  • Regional talkgroups (i.e. the Greater Toronto Area).

5. Does DMR provide better coverage than analog FM?

Not really. While DMR communication is completely static free, once it reaches the threshold of coverage, it will become unusable, whereas with analog FM, users may continue to be heard even when the signal is mostly noise. As such, usable coverage is very much subjective from one operator to another.

6. What Canadian license will I need to be able to use DMR?

Users will only need their Basic Qualification license to be able to use DMR on either the 2m or 70cm bands.

7. Is DMR compatible with D-STAR, System Fusion or NXDN?

No. These are separate digital technologies and are not compatible with one other.

8. Is DMR compatible with P25?

No. P25 is a digital standard used for public safety and is not compatible with DMR.

9. How is the VA3XPR DMR repeater linked to the global DMR network?

The VA3XPR DMR repeater is linked to other DMR repeaters globally using the DMR-MARC network. This linking is accomplished using the Internet.

10. Can I use my DMR radio if I travel outside of my local area?

Yes! Users with DMR radios can use any repeater on the DMR-MARC network when they travel. You just simply need to add the frequency and channel information specific to other DMR-MARC networked repeaters into your DMR radio. Please note that DMR repeaters are available around the world on both the 2m and 70cm bands, so you would need a DMR radio on the appropriate band to access repeaters in these areas.

11. Will DMR radios work on analog FM also?

Yes. Most DMR radios will work on both DMR and analog FM.

12. Where can I find information on various DMR words, such as “talkgroup”, “timeslot”, etc.?

For a list of definition for DMR-related terms, check out or Definitions page.

13. What DMR radios can I use?

Since most DMR operation on the ham bands is on the 70cm UHF band, it is recommended that any radios for DMR use operate in the 403 – 470 MHz band split. There are also DMR systems on the 2m VHF band, however these are usually limited to areas along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The recommended radios for use with DMR include the following:

Mobiles
  • Motorola XPR4550
  • Motorola XPR5550
  • Vertex Standard VXD-7200
Portables
  • Connect Systems CS700
  • Hytera PD782
  • Kirisun DP770
  • Motorola XPR6550
  • Motorola XPR7550
  • Motorola XPR3500
  • Motorola SL7550
  • Vertex Standard VXD-720
  • Vertex Standard EVX-539

14. Can I directly enter frequencies and other information into my DMR radio?

Most DMR radios do not support the direct entry of frequencies and other channel related information, otherwise known as being Front Panel Programmable (FPP). There is, however, an option board that can be purchased from a 3rd party for some models of Motorola’s MOTOTRBO DMR radios that will enable them to be FPP capable.

15. Where can I buy DMR radios?

DMR radios can be obtained from a number of sources, both new and used. Below are the common places
Used Equipment
  • eBay
  • Kijiji
  • Craigslist
  • Batboard
  • Facebook DMR Equipment Buy and Sell
New Equipment
  • Connect Systems
  • Hytera
  • Kirisun
  • Motorola Authorized Dealers
  • Vertex Standard Authorized Dealers
Please note that many dealers are willing to provide “ham friendly” prices to hams for new equipment.

16. What is a Subscriber ID?

A Subscriber ID is a unique identification number that allows your DMR radio to operate on the DMR-MARC network. All DMR radios require a unique Subscriber ID and they can easily be obtained by completing a request form. If you intend to have multiple DMR radios active at the same time, then you can request a Subscriber ID for each radio. Please do not transmit with your DMR radio until you have received a Subscriber ID and have this programmed into your radio. Using ad-hoc Subscriber ID numbers will cause conflicts with other users on the network.

17. What is the “Privacy” option found in the programming software?

The “Privacy” option found in the programming software is to enable encryption on your signal. Since enabling this option is illegal both in Canada and the US, users are required to ensure that they do not enable this option.

18. What if I decide to sell my DMR radio?

If you decide to sell your DMR radio, you should remove the Subscriber ID from the radio before it is sold. The person who purchases the DMR radio should request a new Subscriber ID of their own.

19. How can I get started?

To get started with DMR, follow these steps outlined on the Getting Started page.

20. How can I find out more information?

For more information about DMR, check out the following websites:
  • Motorola Amateur Radio Club (DMR-MARC)
  • Facebook DMR Discussion Group
  • Wikipedia
  • DMR Association
  • MOTOTRBO Yahoo! Group

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