The Hytera TD580 is a monoband UHF or VHF DMR radio that is offered by Hytera – a Chinese radio manufacturer that has been making significant inroads into the global two-way radio market. The TD580 sports a sleek orange and black housing and is intended for use only in Chinese market, however these units can be purchased via various online sources and shipped worldwide. The TD580 is available in either VHF (136 – 174 MHz) or UHF (350 – 470 MHz) models and features excellent audio, a monochrome OLED display, front panel programmability, rugged construction that is IP67 and MIL-STD-810 G compliant, plus much more. This is a great radio for anyone that needs a ruggedized radio – especially one that is flashy orange and can live with its limited 256 channel capacity and programming challenges. At the time of this review, the selling price for a new $264 USD.
- Audio Volume and Quality: The audio from this radio is full, with a good response to low frequencies, making it pleasing to listen to and it will get heard, even in the noisiest environments;
- Rugged Construction: This radio feels well-built and is IP54 and MIL-STD-810 G compliant, mkaing it dust and water-resistant;
- Orange Case: Having a bright orange case makes this radio stand out and quite unique;
- Front Panel Programming: This radio is capable of being programmed via the keypad, allowing users to make changes without the need a PC;
- Antenna Connector: The antenna connector for this radio uses a male SMA connector, allowing it to easily be connected to an external antenna;
- User Experience: The user experience within the radio’s menu is very simple and straight forward, making it easy to accomplish desired tasks;
- Bluetooth Capability: This radio is Bluetooth capable as a factory option, allowing wireless audio accessories to be used for hands free use.
- Programming Software: To program this radio, users will need a copy of the Hytera CPS that is intended for the Chinese market, which is not available in English;
- Limited Channels: With only 256 channels, users will be constrained unless they only use the radio with a small number of ham DMR repeaters.
- Price: With a selling price of $264 USD, this unit would be considered as expensive for the features it provides for the ham radio user.
The Full Review
The Hytera TD580 radio comes standard with the following items out of the box:
- Desktop charging cradle
- 120/240V desktop charger power supply
- 7.4V, 2,000 mAh Li-ion battery
- Belt clip
- Wrist strap
- User manual
The TD580 is a compact and rugged DMR radio, which is intended for commercial users. As such it is about the same size as the TYT MD-380 and slight shorter than the Motorola XPR7550 and the similarly colourful blue Motorola XPR7550 IS portable radio. The most striking feature of the TD580, aside from having its antenna located in the centre of the radio, is its bright orange and black housing, which is rather unique in the world of DMR radios. For those that can do without the orange housing, the TD580 is the same radio as the Hytera PD482, which is readily available in the North American market with a grey and black housing. Also, the radio has a very solid feel with the battery and the protective covers fitting very tight to the unit, so the radio should withstand a great deal of abuse. Given that the radio is IP54 and MIL-STD-810 G compliant against dust and water ingression, this radio is likely to keep going where made-for-ham radio units will likely make an early exit the radio graveyard. While most of us take good care of our radios, there are times when having a waterproof radio sure comes in handy and saves us from having to buy a new one when it gets wet.
With regard the radio’s controls, the TD580 features two knobs on the top – one for on/off and volume control, and another for channel changes. As for buttons, the TD580 features an 18-button keypad on the front, two programmable side buttons and a Push to Talk (PTT) button on the side, plus a programmable top button. The function of each of these programmable buttons can be assigned in the programming software to perform the desired task. It should be noted that the TD580 does not include the DTMF keys “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”, which are sometimes used with ham radio applications, however the standard DTMF keys work as expected. Also, the keypad buttons are backlit, which helps a great deal when using the radio at night or in dark environments. As for indicators, there is a LED indicator on the top of the radio for TX, RX and scanning notification.
With regard to the programmable side buttons, they are constructed of high grip material, making them easy to push without having the fingers slip accidentally. The Push to Talk (PTT) button on the other hand does not use high grip material. It is important to note that the PTT button is slightly raised above the radio’s body, which could result in the accidental keying of the radio, so users should consider this when picking up the radio or carrying it in tight-fitting carry cases.
The TD580 includes a monoband stubby antenna for the specific band version of the radio. This supplied antenna is supposed to cover the full VHF (136 – 174 MHz) and UHF (350 – 470 MHz) bands, however if top performance is important, then users might want to consider finding another antenna specifically cut for the ham band. Finally, the antenna connector used with the TD580 is a standard male SMA connector, making it easy and inexpensive to connect it with an external antenna.
One of the features that we like best about the TD580, aside from its cool orange colour, is its audio quality, which is impressive for such a small form factor. Not only does the radio have loud, clear audio, but it also has a wide audio frequency response, providing good response to low audio frequencies. When programming the radio, users can select a number of preset audio profiles in the Equalizer section of the CPS, which allows the user to tailor the audio to their liking. We found that the Bass Mode was very pleasing to listen to, as it emphasized the lower audio frequencies. Similarly, the user can also tailor the audio response of the microphone as well.
The rated speaker output from the vendor is 500mW, which is plenty loud for the radio to be heard in noisy environments where many typical ham radio portables will be inaudible. With regard to microphone audio, the audio appeared to be fine, right out of the box. Should users need to adjust it, the microphone audio level is adjustable in the radio settings.
One feature that the TD580 supports as a factory option, which is becoming more commonplace with DMR radios, is Bluetooth capability. This feature enables the use of wireless audio accessories and with the advent of distracted driving laws in North America, this feature is being used more and more by hams during their mobile operations. For the TD580 unit that we tested for this review, the Bluetooth option was not installed, so unfortunately, we were unable to test it.
Display & Indicators
The TD580 comes with a monochrome OLED display that measures about 3.2mm x 1.5mm. This OLED display while small, is well organized and Hytera has done a good job in arranging the icons and information on the small screen. In addition, users can adjust the timing for the backlight and also, the brightness of the backlight, which is very useful when using the radio is dark areas.
The menu structure of the TD580 is very easy to navigate and is quite intuitive to use, so most users should find it a pleasure to use. There is a user manual included with the radio that covers its basic functions, so this can help in the event that users have troubles.
Some possible usability improvements Hytera could employ with future firmware updates would be:
- Zones: Allow more than 16 channels per zone, as many DMR repeaters now use more than 16 talkgroups, requiring multiple zones per DMR repeater.
- Radio ID per Channel: The radio only supports a single DMR radio ID, however by having the radio support multiple DMR IDs on a per channel basis, users would be able to use the radio much more easily on multiple DMR systems where different IDs are required for each system.
Modes of Operation
With the TD580 being a dual-mode radio, users can use either DMR or analog FM modes. When in analog FM mode, the radio will support either 12.5 or 25 kHz channel operation. This will allow users to easily make the switch to DMR while continuing to allow them to operate using traditional 25 kHz FM repeaters or simplex operation.
The RF performance of the TD580 compares specification-wise pretty much on par with most other DMR radios available on the market today. The transmit power of the radio can be set to either low power (1W) or high power (5W VHF and 4W UHF), but it is not adjustable in terms of the wattage values associated with each of these settings.
The TD580 comes standard with a 7.4V 2,000 mAh Li-ion battery, a 120/240V desktop charger, a belt clip, a stubby antenna, a wrist strap and a user manual. So when ordering a TD580, users should ensure that they request a that their charging adapter provide a plug for North American outlets, plus purchase a Hytera PC76 programming cable for $27 USD, as one is not included with the radio. Additional batteries and accessories, such as a speaker microphone and programming cable, can be purchased directly from one of Hytera’s authorized dealers. It is important to note that all accessories for the Hytera PD482 will work with the TD580.
CPS Programming Software
To program the TD580, users will need a copy of the Hytera CPS that is intended for the Chinese market version (CH0). Not only is acquiring this version of the CPS difficult, but it is not in English. To program this radio, we needed to take the configuration files from the CH0 version of the CPS and use them with the North American (NA2) version of the CPS. If users try to use any other version of the CPS with the TD580, they will get an error whenever they try to read or write to the radio, as other versions of the CPS will not recognize the radio as a valid unit. If you are not comfortable with making such changes, then this radio is not for you. Otherwise, programming the radio was straight forward and the CPS provides help menus if you need assistance to accomplish certain tasks within the CPS. To acquire a copy of the Hytera CPS, users are encouraged to reach out to an authorized Hytera dealer, as they have full access to this software.
One of the limitations of the TD580 that prevents it from being a great radio is that fact that it only support 256 channels with 16 channels per zone. Hopefully at some point, Hytera will consider a a firmware update for this radio that would expand this, making it much more useful for ham users. Also, for users that purchase the TD580 for commercial use, the radio supports three levels of encryption, allowing for 10, 32 or 64 character key lengths, thereby helping them to communicate securely. With regard to the ability for the user to upgrade the firmware of the TD580, Hytera provides a firmware update program with new firmware versions, making firmware updates very straightforward for users to complete. The key to doing this is to ensure that the PC76 programming cable is set in the firmware upgrade position and that the radio is set in the firmware upgrade mode.
Front Panel Programming
The TD580 comes standard with the ability to be programmed via the keypad, including for both DMR and analog FM operation. While it technically supports this functionality, it is somewhat complicated to use versus programming it using the provided programming software with a PC. Given this, many users will likely find that programming it without a PC is really only good for fixing errors in programming or accomplishing simple changes, as adding new DMR repeaters, talkgroups, zones and contacts is a very slow and painstaking task. As a result, it is recommended that users will want to keep their laptops nearby, as it will save a great deal of time when it comes time to load their favourite DMR repeaters into the radio.
The Hytera TD580 is a great radio for anyone looking for a rugged DMR radio with a sleek orange and black housing. At a $264 USD price point, this is a good mid-tier radio with lots of great features, however with only 256 channels and the challenges associated with programming it, it is definitely not for everyone.
Overall, we feel that the TD580 is a great monoband DMR radio that is sure to please a niche of ham radio users that only need a limited number of channels and are technically savvy enough to program it.
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