Alinco: Alinco DJ-MD5T thinking of getting into DMR

K4FLB

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I am thinking about getting into DMR on the Amateur bands. I do not want to spend very much, and the Alinco costs no more than a decent analog only handheld. I would welcome any responses regarding this radio's performance. One of my biggest concerns with any handheld is inter-modulation distortion in crowded RF regions. Does this radio suffer much intermod on analog? I would suspect it would still suffer intermod as well on digital if it does on analog, but of course it would be garbled audio due to packet loss. Also, do I really need the GPS version? From my reading you cannot read your GPS position on the radio. It only sends your position. Is that true? If so, I see no point in having GPS for Amateur use. Thanks
 

bb911

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I've had no experience with the DJ-MD5T, but my first experience with an Alinco handheld started about a week ago. I purchased their DJ-VX50 a 2m/75cm handheld for just under $100. I see that the DJ-MD5T is being sold by HRO for $130, so here's my story. I was amazed that anyone could build such a solid, user friendly radio (definitely not Baofeng style), and keep the retail price near $100. Unfortunately the radio has numerous problems. There is a small gap between the battery and the case on one side. The other side fits perfectly. Also, the battery doesn't come off as easily as it goes on - it takes some manipulation. After discussing the problem with the seller (a long story), I decided that I could live with it being that way. I've since discovered that the radio has 2 other problems. One is that the radio makes an intermittent sound akin to a steady low volume tic-tock on both bands - VFO mode and memory mode. The other problem is a background noise (like an open squelch) even when it's receiving very strong signals, at least on 2m and extended band. (Weather freqs, for example). REMTronix handles warranty repairs for Alinco in the US. Possibly returns, too. I have no info about them, other then what's on their web site. Maybe pay more and go with Yaesu, Icom, or Kenwood?

BTW, if you do buy the radio, buy the programming package (cable and software) made by RT Systems. Alinco's free software (at least for my radio) is near useless, and the cable made to use with it won't work with RT Systems software. REMTronix (above) admitted that the Alinco software is not very good. (RT Systems is a "partner" of Alinco. Go figure).
 

AK9R

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There's a thread in the Digital Voice forum about this radio:

 

K4FLB

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I don't see that Yaesu has DMR, but all my other radios are Yaesu except one Baofeng which is ok. I have owned Alinco in the past and had good luck except for one radio. I have had good luck with Kenwood as well, but prefer Yaesu features and operation. I have RT Systems programming software for a few radios. Good stuff!

Thanks W9BU for the tip on the review.
 

jets1961

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Jan 21, 2002
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182
I have seen good reviews of the Anytone AT-D878UV portable. I think it's in the $240 US range have also seen it at $300 Canadian.
 

Kaleier1

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Dec 27, 2019
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I have the Alinco DJ-MD5T and like it very much. However, there are two things I don't like about it.

1. For DMR, if you are in digi moni mode (promiscuous mode) there is an annoying pop sound from the speaker at the end of every transmission when listening to a time slot or talk group not programmed for that channel. The work around is to program it for any time slots or talk groups you want to hear and turn off digi moni. In other words, instead of just programming a single channel for a DMR repeater frequency with one time slot and one talk group and then using the digi moni mode to listen to the other time slot and any other talk groups, you would have to program multiple channels for that DMR repeater frequency with the time slot (1 or 2) and the talk groups you want to hear.

2. Even at the lowest volume setting it can be too loud depending how loud someone is speaking. To make things worse, the range of volume using the volume knob is not wide enough. You run into the problem of one guy talking so loud that even at the lowest volume setting he is too loud, and then the guy he is talking to is so quite that even at the max volume setting he is too quite to hear. Doesn't happen often but it is a possibility. The radio allows you to listen to FM radios statiosn but because of the volume level they are way too loud. NOAA weather broadcasts are too loud as well but not as bad as FM radio stations.

As for intermod and distortion, even though it is a direct conversion receiver, it works very well. I have a $700 Uniden SDS200 scanner that is completely useless to listen to analog FRS and GMRS frequencies due to all the intermod. The DJ-MD5T blows it out of the water and is a pleasure to listen to.

The channel scan rate on the DJ-MD5T is slow, 3 or 4 channels per second so if you want to use it as a dedicated scanner it wouldn't be a good choice. It is perfectly fine for me as I only use the scan function to find something to listen due without having to flip through the channels manually with the channel selection knob.

As for GPS, I believe you are correct and I did not get the GPS version for the same reason. The radio doesn't do analog APRS but does do digital APRS. If you have GPS it will broadcast and update your location as you move, which people can see on the map at aprs.fi . On the non GPS version you have to set your coordinates and option for "fixed location" so if you enable digital APRS your location will always show the same location on the aprs.fi map no matter where you move. The advantage to GPS would be if you wanted someone to be able to see where you are (track you). Some people say for only another $20 it is worth getting GPS but for me it was worth saving $20 not to get GPS.

I got the Alinco DJ-MD5T because, just like you, it doesn't cost much more than a decent analog radio. The key word being "decent". I saw a video on You Tube where they compared a Baofeng UV-5 against the DJ-MD5T on a spectrum analyzer. The Baofeng UV5 had all sorts of spikes on frequencies above and below the frequency it was transmitting on but the DJ-MD5T was completely clean with no spikes on adjacent frequencies. I feel good knowing when I transmit I am not possibly causing interference on a bunch of adjacent frequencies.

Ham Radio Outlet has the Alinco DJ-MD5T for $129.95 and the DJ-MD5TGP for $148.95 which is the cheapest I have seen and why I bought mine from them a couple months ago. It says they are on sale but that sale has been running for months (despite it saying it is over at the end of the month they just restart it at on the 1st of the next month). Usually they are $149 and $169 and have seen them as high as $169 and $189 at other sellers.

The Anytone AT-D878UV is very popular and is similar to the Alinco DJ-MD5T but it costs around $220 (has GPS) which was more than I wanted to spend and I liked the smaller more compact size of the Alinco.
 
Last edited:

Kaleier1

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Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
227
I've had no experience with the DJ-MD5T, but my first experience with an Alinco handheld started about a week ago. I purchased their DJ-VX50 a 2m/75cm handheld for just under $100. I see that the DJ-MD5T is being sold by HRO for $130, so here's my story. I was amazed that anyone could build such a solid, user friendly radio (definitely not Baofeng style), and keep the retail price near $100. Unfortunately the radio has numerous problems. There is a small gap between the battery and the case on one side. The other side fits perfectly. Also, the battery doesn't come off as easily as it goes on - it takes some manipulation. After discussing the problem with the seller (a long story), I decided that I could live with it being that way. I've since discovered that the radio has 2 other problems. One is that the radio makes an intermittent sound akin to a steady low volume tic-tock on both bands - VFO mode and memory mode. The other problem is a background noise (like an open squelch) even when it's receiving very strong signals, at least on 2m and extended band. (Weather freqs, for example). REMTronix handles warranty repairs for Alinco in the US. Possibly returns, too. I have no info about them, other then what's on their web site. Maybe pay more and go with Yaesu, Icom, or Kenwood?

BTW, if you do buy the radio, buy the programming package (cable and software) made by RT Systems. Alinco's free software (at least for my radio) is near useless, and the cable made to use with it won't work with RT Systems software. REMTronix (above) admitted that the Alinco software is not very good. (RT Systems is a "partner" of Alinco. Go figure).
In your last paragragh I am not sure if you are referring to the DJ-MD5T or the DJ-VX50. The op asked about the DJ-MD5T but your last paragraph says "if you buy this radio buy the programming package (cable and software)". The DJ-MD5T is programmed through a micro USB cable which is supplied with the radio. The free CPS programming software works fine on the DJ-MD5T so no additional programming cable or software is needed. Just wanted to clarify got the OP.
 
Last edited:

K4FLB

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Kalier1,

Thanks much for your very thorough review. It is most helpful. I had to mod a radio once that the audio was way too loud with the volume turned all the way down and the volume control range was also narrow. Not sure if it would be possible with the DJ-MD5T. Some things are easy to figure out and do, and some circuits are completely within one IC and not easy to modify their behavior. Getting much harder to modify circuits recently. It could even require a firmware update if the volume control does not set the volume in the conventional analog manner. What you described about the audio seems like it isn't really bad, but annoying sometimes and usually not an issue.

Very glad to hear intermod isn't an issue. Never would have thought it possible with direct conversion. Some radios are useless due to it. We both have the same attitude about the GPS. I will opt for the non-GPS version as well. Also glad to see there are no out of limit spurious emissions.

Thanks for the tips about digi-moni. I am a little bit concerned about the volume issue, so I am not buying one just yet. I have to decide for me if it is acceptable, and it probably is, especially considering I can get the non-GPS version for only $129.95 . It may be worth it for seeing if DMR interests me. I can also use it to monitor other services using DMR, without paying Uniden for an upgrade for one of my scanner radios.

73, Harold
 

K4FLB

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Thanks Popnokick! I will check that out
As with other DMR radios of this type, the Alinco DJ-MD5T offers audio volume level adjustment in the CPS under "Optional Settings"
View attachment 88884
Thanks, Popnokick! I will check that out when I receive the radio. Hope that helps with the volume. I decided to order the GPS version anyway. The price on HRO for the GPS version is the same as the non-GPS version elsewhere and it is still a cheap entry into DMR. I was wondering if there would ever be a time I wish I had DMR. I do not currently participate in any emergency relief organizations or emcomm, but if I ever did maybe GPS could be useful. I am retired from the military, but not civilian just yet. Soon! I will likely volunteer with some sort of organization to provide communications.
 

AC9BX

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Jun 11, 2011
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Lockport, IL
I don't much care for the digital modes nor repeaters with several Internet connected talkgroups. I like NXDN best.
I have that Alinco and must say it's a pretty good radio, worth every cent versus more and less expensive units. Sensitivity could be a little better, the menu could be a little more intuitive. I've had no trouble with it at all.
 

bb911

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Joined
Sep 30, 2006
Messages
237
Location
Southern California
In your last paragragh I am not sure if you are referring to the DJ-MD5T or the DJ-VX50. The op asked about the DJ-MD5T but your last paragraph says "if you buy this radio buy the programming package (cable and software)". The DJ-MD5T is programmed through a micro USB cable which is supplied with the radio. The free CPS programming software works fine on the DJ-MD5T so no additional programming cable or software is needed. Just wanted to clarify got the OP.
Your correct. I made a mistake. RT Systems sells programming packages for 12 Alinco DJ handhelds but not for the DJ-MD5T. Just out of curiosity I checked the site for Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu digital handhelds, and found some packages for all 3.
 

Kaleier1

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Dec 27, 2019
Messages
227
As with other DMR radios of this type, the Alinco DJ-MD5T offers audio volume level adjustment in the CPS under "Optional Settings"
View attachment 88884
As I mentioned even when this option is set to the lowest setting, called indoor, it is still too loud depending how loud someone speaks. It is always too loud when listening to FM radio and only slightly less loud when listing to NOAA weather.

Also this option does nothing for the lack of volume range. If you increase this to hear quite people, the lowest volume you can set with the volume knob is too loud.

This volumn option setting isn't a mystery to anyone. It's simply worthless. The volume is too loud on the lowest setting and not enough range using the volume knob to compensate between loud and quite talkers.
 

Kaleier1

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Dec 27, 2019
Messages
227
Thanks Popnokick! I will check that out

Thanks, Popnokick! I will check that out when I receive the radio. Hope that helps with the volume. I decided to order the GPS version anyway. The price on HRO for the GPS version is the same as the non-GPS version elsewhere and it is still a cheap entry into DMR. I was wondering if there would ever be a time I wish I had DMR. I do not currently participate in any emergency relief organizations or emcomm, but if I ever did maybe GPS could be useful. I am retired from the military, but not civilian just yet. Soon! I will likely volunteer with some sort of organization to provide communications.
Everything I mentioned in my first reply applies when using this volume option. The option is worthless. Even at the lowest setting the volume can be too loud and does not have enough range, If you use this option to increase volume to hear quite people the lowest volume you can get using the volume knob will be even louder.

Unless there is a firmware upgrade this option will continue to be worthless.
 

K4FLB

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Aug 29, 2017
Messages
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I have the Alinco DJ-MD5T and like it very much. However, there are two things I don't like about it.

1. For DMR, if you are in digi moni mode (promiscuous mode) there is an annoying pop sound from the speaker at the end of every transmission when listening to a time slot or talk group not programmed for that channel. The work around is to program it for any time slots or talk groups you want to hear and turn off digi moni. In other words, instead of just programming a single channel for a DMR repeater frequency with one time slot and one talk group and then using the digi moni mode to listen to the other time slot and any other talk groups, you would have to program multiple channels for that DMR repeater frequency with the time slot (1 or 2) and the talk groups you want to hear.

2. Even at the lowest volume setting it can be too loud depending how loud someone is speaking. To make things worse, the range of volume using the volume knob is not wide enough. You run into the problem of one guy talking so loud that even at the lowest volume setting he is too loud, and then the guy he is talking to is so quite that even at the max volume setting he is too quite to hear. Doesn't happen often but it is a possibility. The radio allows you to listen to FM radios statiosn but because of the volume level they are way too loud. NOAA weather broadcasts are too loud as well but not as bad as FM radio stations.

As for intermod and distortion, even though it is a direct conversion receiver, it works very well. I have a $700 Uniden SDS200 scanner that is completely useless to listen to analog FRS and GMRS frequencies due to all the intermod. The DJ-MD5T blows it out of the water and is a pleasure to listen to.

The channel scan rate on the DJ-MD5T is slow, 3 or 4 channels per second so if you want to use it as a dedicated scanner it wouldn't be a good choice. It is perfectly fine for me as I only use the scan function to find something to listen due without having to flip through the channels manually with the channel selection knob.

As for GPS, I believe you are correct and I did not get the GPS version for the same reason. The radio doesn't do analog APRS but does do digital APRS. If you have GPS it will broadcast and update your location as you move, which people can see on the map at aprs.fi . On the non GPS version you have to set your coordinates and option for "fixed location" so if you enable digital APRS your location will always show the same location on the aprs.fi map no matter where you move. The advantage to GPS would be if you wanted someone to be able to see where you are (track you). Some people say for only another $20 it is worth getting GPS but for me it was worth saving $20 not to get GPS.

I got the Alinco DJ-MD5T because, just like you, it doesn't cost much more than a decent analog radio. The key word being "decent". I saw a video on You Tube where they compared a Baofeng UV-5 against the DJ-MD5T on a spectrum analyzer. The Baofeng UV5 had all sorts of spikes on frequencies above and below the frequency it was transmitting on but the DJ-MD5T was completely clean with no spikes on adjacent frequencies. I feel good knowing when I transmit I am not possibly causing interference on a bunch of adjacent frequencies.

Ham Radio Outlet has the Alinco DJ-MD5T for $129.95 and the DJ-MD5TGP for $148.95 which is the cheapest I have seen and why I bought mine from them a couple months ago. It says they are on sale but that sale has been running for months (despite it saying it is over at the end of the month they just restart it at on the 1st of the next month). Usually they are $149 and $169 and have seen them as high as $169 and $189 at other sellers.

The Anytone AT-D878UV is very popular and is similar to the Alinco DJ-MD5T but it costs around $220 (has GPS) which was more than I wanted to spend and I liked the smaller more compact size of the Alinco.

Kaleier1,

I will not have my radio for 2 days, but I am curious about something regarding the audio on the NOAA channels and FM broadcast. Reading the manual, the radio is capable of 2 audio bandwidths (deviation). 12.5khz and 25khz. If it is not set for 100khz deviation receiving FM broadcast, then the audio will be quite loud and distorted. I would bet the radio is only capable of 25khz deviation when tuned to FM broadcast. I expect FM broadcast receive is an incidental ability and not really designed to receive it correctly. I really couldn't care about FM broadcast receive. However, if when receiving the NOAA broadcasts, if the audio bandwidth is set to 12.5khz it will be louder and possibly distorted if not set to the correct 25khz. Do you have the NOAA channels set for 25khz, or 12.5khz? I wonder if that is making a difference. And 25khz would be correct for most analog operation on repeaters, but unless a person is talking loud or has a hot mic, it may not be too loud or distorted if it is set for 12.5kz.
 

K4FLB

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Received my radio yesterday. It is a little bit of a learning curve on operation and programming a code plug, but I managed to figure it out. It has a few nice features that I like such a ZONES. I programmed the NOAA channels with 25khz deviation and they sound just fine. I do think the radio sets itself for 100khz deviation when receiving FM broadcast, because I hear not obvious distortion although it is much louder, I can turn down the volume low enough. The only audio issue I have so far is the earpiece volume is pretty loud on the lowest knob setting, and the earpiece Vol limits in the radio settings doesn't seem to affect it. Overall pleased so far.
 

jets1961

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Jan 21, 2002
Messages
182
K4FLB, see post 10 about the volume try the option for "Max Headphone Volume". If it's not working write Alinco.
 
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