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Anytone AT868 Skipping Transmissions

mfn002

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I have an AT868 that seems to skip or ignore DMR transmissions on the local DMR-MARC repeater. Everything is programmed correctly but it will skip over one side of the conversation completely or simply not show the transmission at all. It will show there is traffic on the talkgroup but won't break squelch, despite the fact that I am getting a very good signal from the repeater. There is no specific talkgroup it does this to, it is seemingly random. I checked it against an XPR4500 that I also use on the system and that radio picks up all of the transmissions. I discovered that the AnyTone picks up roughly two thirds of the transmissions that the XPR does when monitoring a single talkgroup. What's going on?
 

TassieJay

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Interestingly my 878 does the opposite with a hotspot - it consistently hears all transmissions, where my Motos will turn up it's nose at any transmission that has the slightest corruption.
But your situation is with a repeater... though you don't mention if it's a proper repeater like a DR3000 or a MMDVM based repeater (effectively a hotspot with a RF amplifier)?

In any case, a few ideas for you to follow:
  • 99.9% of problems are caused by minor corruptions that creep in to the codeplug over time. A codeplug that was created many firmware versions ago, then added to piecemeal bit by bit, then shared around from ham to ham to ham is almost guaranteed to cause problems. The solution to this is to memory reset the radio to clear the corruption, and then re-build the codeplug. This is made a lot easier using the export-all and import-all features of the programming software. Doing this ensures the underlying data that your codeplug is built upon is fresh and consistent with the CPS and firmware version currently in use. Don't use the original saved codeplug as that will only re-introduce the problem.
  • Update your baseband SCT3258 to version V2.01.07BA. This update aimed to improve the DMR decoding under adverse conditions.
  • Try a smaller antenna. Sounds counter-intuitive, but there is such a thing as too much signal, causing receiver overload. On FM this might not be so noticeable, but on DMR can cause strange things to happen.
 

mfn002

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Although I'm not 100% sure, I think it might be a standard commercial-type DMR repeater, most likely a Motorola. It's owned by a guy who also built a state-wide network of DMR-MARC repeaters called the Lone Star C-Bridge. It shares a tower on the Texas A&M campus with the local PBS TV and radio station. It's only maybe 5-10 miles from my house.

I built the codeplug from scratch when I got the radio new a few years ago, although its been updated several times since then. I was unaware of a baseband update, but I'll try that and see if it improves.

It was put away for a while when I was using an MD-2017, until that radio stopped communicating with the computer when I tried to program it. I forgot to mention that the MD-2017 was doing something similar to what the 868 is doing--skipping transmissions.

Another thing: The clock inside the radio doesn't seem to work. Whenever I power on the radio, it seems to show a random date and time. I tried to adjust it, but for whatever reason when I go to the section of the radio menu where you can set the time, it won't let me. Pressing an arrow key to adjust the time or date simply sends me back to the main menu.

EDIT: I just tried searching for the baseband update you mentioned, but I can't seem to find it on the AnyTone website. Can you send me a link to it?
 

mfn002

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UPDATE: Disregard about the link. I found it.

Since I installed the new firmware, I noticed that there is a red speaker icon on the top of the screen. I've never seen this before. What does it mean?
 

TassieJay

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The sudden appearance of icons that were not there before means you either didn't reset the radio after firmware upgrade, or you didn't rebuild the codeplug and re-write the rebuilt codeplug. Both are mandatory after firmware upgrades.
The red speaker is the monitor (aka promiscuous) feature, allowing the radio to hear active talkgroups when you don't know the talkgroup number, the timeslot or colour code.

The clock doing strange things could be a clue as well. There's a tiny lithium backup battery inside the radio that powers the CPU while the radio is off so it can keep time. If that battery is dead and approaching a short circuit, it can load down the CPU power line and cause strange things to happen. I've seen it happen to another user once... her issue started with menus not being able to be selected, progressed to random reboots, then not communicating via USB, and finally not turning on at all.
 

mfn002

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I forgot that when I reprogrammed the radio after I updated the firmware, I enabled the "Promiscuous" mode.

As for the clock, I simply disabled the "time display" display option on the software, so it's no longer a real issue. I was just wondering why it was doing it despite buying the radio brand new and not using it that much. The internal clock battery issue worries me some, is there any way to change the battery?

I also changed the Pre-Wave Time and the Wake Head Period to 0 milliseconds from 100 milliseconds. It seems to pick up more transmissions now. It's also picking up brief key-ups that not even my XPR4500 is.
 

TassieJay

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The internal backup battery is soldered in on the main PCB - some disassembly required :)
While it is rare, it's not completely unknown for these little backup batteries to be bad right out of the factory... seen it happen with other domestic devices too. If you want to find a spare to have on hand, they're a MS412 lithium battery, 3 volts.
Probably no need to do anything right now, but keep an eye on things. If more odd things start happening, then it would be worth further investigation at that time, if and when it happens.

Good to hear you are missing fewer transmissions now. The pre-wave time could well have been the answer (wake head is a funny translation for transmit preamble - nothing to do with RX). Mine is set to 100mS and seems fine.

This has jogged my memory a bit, another thing that could be responsible is the power save. Make sure it's off, and see if that improves things even more?
 

KE5MC

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I forgot that when I reprogrammed the radio after I updated the firmware, I enabled the "Promiscuous" mode.

As for the clock, I simply disabled the "time display" display option on the software, so it's no longer a real issue. I was just wondering why it was doing it despite buying the radio brand new and not using it that much. The internal clock battery issue worries me some, is there any way to change the battery?

I also changed the Pre-Wave Time and the Wake Head Period to 0 milliseconds from 100 milliseconds. It seems to pick up more transmissions now. It's also picking up brief key-ups that not even my XPR4500 is.
Depending how far back you firmware was bring it up to date and using the corresponding CPS is important. Possible that completely missed transmissions are TalkGroups not in your codeplug that promiscuous mode will help discover. Half missed transmission fall into the updates you were missing category.

P.S. I recall the internal battery is charged when radio is on, so keeping it on as much as possible for a few days might bring back time keeping when off.
 

mfn002

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Like I said at the beginning, it was skipping transmissions on talkgroups that I was monitoring. Sometimes, it would consistently receive only one side of a conversation but not the other. Other times, it would skip the entire conversation. It seems that both the firmware update and the adjustment of the Pre-Wave and Wake Head times fixed the issue.
Anyway, thanks for all the help. I was almost ready to just get a new one.
 

KE5MC

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I can't say that I was able to discern from your 1st post that both sides of a TG were missing for a programmed TG. Promiscuous mode helps fill-in for RF activity seen but not heard lacking that TG in your zone programing. Before we had promiscuous mode available RF activity without decode was an indication of TG in use, but not programed.

Good that you have gotten it all sorted out.
Mike
 

mfn002

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It still does it somewhat, but only when there's a lot of traffic, such as during a check-in period for a net.
 
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