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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Digital Voice Capable Radio (DMR) Made In South Dakota?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website has all sorts of interesting information.

You can find out where certain frequencies are licensed to be used, look for information on who should be using certain frequencies and also learn about what RF equipment is certified for use in the United States to name just a few.

Over the past few years, not every device that gets sold in the United States seems to be 100% certified under rules such as Part 22, 90, 95, 97 or many other FCC laws that determine things like "acceptable interference", "operation on amateur radio spectrum" and "equipment regulations for specific services".

If you have a device that transmits some form of RF energy in the United States, it should have an FCC ID.  But, as it turns out....not every FCC ID is real or are they?

K66 03770X30
The new Yaesu FT-818 FCC ID is real, but what makes
it real and how can you tell?


There are a number of manufacturers that sell equipment that list an FCC ID, but do not often follow the correct format or procedure that the FCC manages, so this article will cover a few examples of this.

Where is this on the FCC website?

The Office of Engineering & Technology is responsible for the certification of devices at the FCC among other tasks, many amateur radio and electronic hobbyists should be aware of prior to "experimenting" with different devices.

Here is the current link to where all sorts of searches can be run:

https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/GenericSearch.cfm

TYT BTECH YAESU KENWOOD ICOM ALINCO FCC ID
Many different searches can be run on the FCC OET website, but you need to
know a few things in order for it to work


Using the FCC OET Search Tool

Every manufacturer is assigned a 3 or 5 digit grantee code. This is the most important part in finding out information about a vendor. Some vendors have multiple grantee codes for different product types, but many only have one.

In the case of Yaesu of Japan, they have been assigned "K66" and doing a search for that will return the following results of 642 devices. You can further filter things by date range, frequency range and also how much information is shown in a table or what you can export as a file.


Yaesu had an FCC Grantee code of K66. There are 642 devices in the FCC database for this
grantee code, but the FCC site will only allow you to see 500 of them until you filter to a smaller date range.

Details For Each Device


If a piece of equipment is capable to operate in different parts of radio spectrum, the FCC must approve everything.

The Yaesu FT-818 radio for example lists four different areas of certification and there are many details that can be found by looking at the files attached to each.

While Yaesu is a company of Japanese origin, they do have a US office in Cypress, California and known as Yaesu USA  and this is widely accepted by most of the amateur radio community in the United States today.


Proper FCC ID process for the FT_818 Yaesu radio

You can usually find operating manuals for most amateur radio equipment, smartphones, Wi-Fi devices and so much more which is a handy thing to have.

You can also find some internal and external photos as well as a number of certification documents. This represents a milestone achievement for the United States government in offering a clear benefit beyond spectrum allocations to the amateur radio community.

The FCC OET database is also a great tool for finding out about near future release products since a manufacturer is supposed to have an FCC ID and all the related testing completed prior to selling an RF emitting device in the United States.

Some Strange Results...

Sometimes there is a small gap where a product is already for sale, but the FCC ID process has been delayed. If doing a search for an FCC ID or even just the grantee code and not coming up with much, what could that mean?  It could mean a lot and here are a few examples of this.

TYT MD-UV380

HVDN has reviewed the new dual band TYT MD-UV380 DMR handheld radio back in May 2018 when it was first released. As of August 16th, the FCC ID still is not listed.

Searching for the grantee code of "POD" does not show this. Much of this radio is based on the MD-2017 released a year prior under the FCC ID of "POD-DMR2" and everything you should find is easily accessible on the FCC OET website.

TYT MD-UV380 released in April 2018 

It is not clear if TYT needed to apply for a new FCC ID for the MD-UV380 or have they just been able to "sort of" use the MD-2017 one to cover the MD-UV380. 

Compared to Yaesu, the FT-818 is an updated version of the FT-817 released over 15 years ago. Both radios are identical, but because of a need to source updated components, some efficiency was gained in the FT-818 allowing 6W of power output instead of the 5W in the FT-817.

It is not clear if this is why the FT-818 has a new FCC ID of K6603770X30 and the older FT-817 has the FCC ID of K66FT817.

Could the RF parts of the MD-2017 and MD-UV380 be so similar to not require public listing in the FCC ID database?

So the question remains about why the TYT MD-UV380 still can not be found as a certified device on the FCC website even though it lists an FCC ID of POD-DMRUV very clearly as shown in the HVDN MD-UV380 teardown.

FCC ID POD DMR2
The TYT MD-2017 under the FCC ID of  POD-DMR2 was easily found when looking up the POD grantee code.  Other products were listed too, but not the MD-UV380

Ailunce HD1

Ailunce is a premium brand assigned to another dual band DMR radio that is manufactured by Retevis.

Retevis offers product that look identical to the TYT or legacy Tytera branded radios prior to being forced to re-brand and re-certify due to patent infringement situations between Hytera and Motorola Solutions.

For example, the earlier mono band VHF and UHF versions of the Tytera or TYT MD-380 also go under the brand of Retevis RT-3 and RT-82.

Looking for the grantee code of 2AAR8 lets you easily find more information about Retevis, who incidentally according to the FCC is really doing business under the name of HENAN ESHOW ELECTRONIC COMMERCE CO., LTD. out of China.


Today, TYT is doing business under the name of  TYT ELECTRONICS CO., LTD  of China but when they sold product under the name of Tytera, they were known as Shenzhen Tianjian Telecom Technology Co.,
The Ailunce HD1 created by Retevis has an FCC ID that is not found in the
 FCC database, but has been on the market for over a year

The FCC ID for the HD1 as printed on the radio is 2AAR8AILUNCEHD1 and was released for sale almost a year prior to the TYT MDUV380, but still does not appear in the FCC ID database and it is not clear why that is the case. There is no other radio similar in design cosmetically or electrically to explain this currently.

Anytone AT-D868UV

Anytone released a dual band DMR handheld radio for sale in the United States and the official business name of Anytone is Qixiang Electron Science& Technology Co., Ltd and lists different  addresses in China, just like Retevis and TYT do as where they are headquartered.

Anytone has the FCC grantee code of T4K. The Anytone AT_D868UV FCC ID of T4KD868UV is listed and it appears that Anytone has gone to great length in certifying this radio for different services covered under FCC Part 90 as well as Part 22.

This company even registered for separate  VHF and UHF only versions which is interesting and who they say it will and will not be marketed to which shows a focus of compliance not found with other Chinese brands.



The Anytone AT-D868UV, TYT MD-UV380 and Ailunce HD1 are the three current dual band DMR/FM radios that seem to be most in demand by the amateur radio community a the time of this article, but there is a new radio offered by BTECH called the 6x2 that has some even more background than many might be aware of.

BTECH 6x2

Every DMR radio mentioned in this article clearly has Chinese origins just by looking at the addresses listed as part of the FCC ID listings. Even the engineers that certify the products are of Chinese origin, so it does show there has been mostly great care in trying to follow US FCC related regulations, but some interesting points to be discovered.

BTECH is sort of the new name for the Chinese company that made most people aware of amateur radio equipment that was low cost named Baofeng.  Baofeng started to release product in the US market as early as 2010 and got many people into the somewhat expensive amateur radio hobby.  Analog dual band radios before Baofeng came to market were mostly over a $200 USD price, but Baofeng was able to offer a fairly capable radio for under $60.

The inexpensive Baofeng UV-5R that has helped
 get more people interested in amateur radio since 2010


Recently, companies like Baofeng have been in the news for manufacturing products that are capable of transmitting on frequencies in use by licensed public safety  and GMRS or other unlicensed services such as PMR, FRS and MURS. Certain re-sellers have gotten in trouble for who they have sold these radios to because the Baofeng radios are not certified to be used on frequencies other than those used by amateur radio.

BTECH is based in Arlington, South Dakota now according to the FCC OET database.
  Here is where they are on Google Maps


It is an interesting discussion to have when talking about who is liable since a manufacturer can not enforce who its sales channel sells its product too, so this gives some companies a bad reputation.

Many well known amateur radio brands such as Kenwood, Icom, Yaesu and Alinco have always had the capability for out of band transmission, but required a modification to do so. Baofeng and other companies like it could have taken this precaution, but have not.

Radios reviewed in the 2017 entry level DMR article on HVDN
An updated article for release for 2018 will appear in September or October 2018


All of the DMR radios mentioned all are capable of out of amateur radio band transmission and require no modification, so what makes the BTECH 6x2 different? Its still possible to transmit where you are not supposed to, so that is not it.

For starters, its "identical" to the Anytone AT-D868UV. Most people already figured that out, but there are some "special" functions that help make it different like a store and forward voice recorder also known a a "simplex repeater" and also some more convenient scanning/priority options.

BTECH 6x2, designed in China and certified for the US market.


What many may not be aware of is that BTECH now technically is a company based in South Dakota, United States.  This was learned by looking at the FCC OET database.

The BTECH 6x2 hails from South Dakota, but with permission to rebrand it by Anytone.

Here is a letter found  by clicking for "details" for a change of ID request between BTECH, formerly sort of known as Baofeng Technologies and Qixiang Electron Science& Technology Co., Ltd. who is better known as Anytone.



Now What?

Its clear that there is a lot of confusion on who designed a radio, who really owns the brand and if it is legal to operate certain equipment on certain frequencies in the United States. The FCC website can help determine legality by doing your own research instead of believing what others may say or report on.

If there are any errors in this article, HVDN wants to know about them and hope you enjoyed this article. Please rate this article below so we know we are doing a good job or not.

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