TYT TH-UV3R Review Part 2

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As I recently purchased a new PC I decided to program the TYT TH-UV3R using that – a departure from my Windows XP comfort zone as the new one is a Windows 8 machine. I had heard that the USB prolific serial drivers either didn’t work, wouldn’t work or required a load of hassle to get working so I was a bit perturbed. In the end it was all unfounded (for me anyway). I plugged in the USB prolific serial cable and waited. As Windows 8 didn’t install anything I checked device manager (under control panel) to see what was going on. Com 3 was showing up with an error so I downloaded the prolific serial drivers (Windows 7 as there are no dedicated Windows 8 drivers) and pointed the update driver command to the relevant file, whereupon installation took place. Within a few seconds the error had gone and communication had been established. Result!

No problems setting up a COM port on Windows 8
No problems setting up a COM port on Windows 8

With that out of the way it was time to load up TYT’s software. If you are familiar with radio manufacturers software you’ll appreciate that they all seem to operate in a very similar way. For the most part they get the job done, but unfortunately they aren’t overly user friendly and compromises such as no bulk copy, paste, insert, delete, move are common. And that is exactly what you get here. Having said that this is one of the best suites – better that BaoFeng’s and WouXun’s and despite not being able to organise my frequencies in the way I like its not too bad to work with, especially as I use CHIRP for bulk frequencies and then fine tune with TYT’s software after upload/download.

thuv3r_software_ch_edit
TYT’s software is fairly self explanatory and well laid out

The software uses a menu driven tree hierarchy system whereby all the options are hidden until needed. There are 8 menus listed as follows:

  • Radio Information (Unit info)
  • Freq Information (Individual frequency data)
  • Channel Information (Main frequency input screen)
  • FM Information (Broadcast FM stations/Tuning)
  • Vox Function (Voice activation settings)
  • Scan Information (Priority channel, scan modes, speed and delay duration)
  • Optional Function (Various options such as battery saver, screen display)
  • Key Function (2 side keys set-up: Monitor, Alarm, 1750Hz tone burst, off)
Radio information, no serial number is ever present even after downloading
Radio information, no serial number is ever present even after downloading
Individual channel edit screen
Individual channel edit screen
Broadcast FM information, note the spelling mistakes!
Broadcast FM information, note the spelling mistakes!
20 local FM presets can be stored and recalled, surprisingly reception is rather good
20 local FM presets can be stored and recalled, surprisingly reception is rather good

A quick click brings up a new window for each option/function. For most users software is probably only used a handful of times to program amateur radio allocations and CTCSS tones, but for general listening purposes (i.e. using the unit as a scanner) the shortcomings become more apparent and the quirky system soon becomes a chore when entering individual frequencies and parameters one by one. As mentioned for bulk entries use CHIRP, upload, download and adjust parameters that cannot be set-up in CHIRP via TYT’s software.

Batch editing is useful for fast inputting however its only consecutive format
Batch editing is useful for fast inputting however its only consecutive format

Incidentally there is a bulk channel edit feature (under the Edit menu) whereby a range of frequencies can be added to memory – 1-128 or a specific range) and offsets are automatically calculated. This is very useful for quickly loading up a band, though no good for non consecutive frequencies obviously. Good to have all the same.

Channel Information
Channel Information
... more Channel Information
… more Channel Information

The first screen that pops up by default is Channel Information. This is where frequencies are entered plus offsets (the repeater offset frequency has to manually entered as there is no pre-set offset facility such as -0.600kHz), CTCSS/DCS, add to scan and so forth.

Voice activation control
Voice activation control

I recommend downloading from radio before uploading that way you’ll have a template of all the default settings. Connect the USB cable to the mini USB port on the side of the TH-UV3R and select read from the menu (Ctrl+R). The LED on top of the radio will flash red and the LCD will display RW-COM. Enter some frequencies and select write from the menu (Ctrl+W) the LED will now flash green and the LCD will display RW-COM during the upload.

Default frequency ranges/bands
Default frequency ranges/bands

If you wish to extend the frequency range of your unit you need to select Setup and then click Model Information. You’ll note that there are pre-set ranges (listed as Freq Rang1-4, with corresponding lower and upper limits). By default these will (probably) be set to 400-470, 136-174 and 245-246 MHz (Asian CB band) respectively and a tick mark next to each indicates whether or not their active. Freq Range 4 (320-400) is greyed out and thus cannot be changed or selected.

Upper and lower limits and bands can be selected to suit
Upper and lower limits and bands can be selected to suit

The lower and upper limits can be changed to suit, for example if you only want single band uncheck all but one. In addition a specific frequency range could be entered such as 144-146 thus locking out access to other bands. Useful if licensed to a specific band such as 2M.

The max upper/lower limits: 400-520, 136-174 and 200-260 MHz
The max upper/lower limits: 400-520, 136-174 and 200-260 MHz

Some of the lower and upper defaults can also be changed for example 400-470 can be given extended upper coverage up to 520MHz and the 200MHz band opened up from 200-260MHz should that be required giving full tri-band versatility. Be advised that this procedure has to be done prior to entering frequency data and limits cannot be changed (i.e. an existing file cannot have this facility appended).

While 200-260 isn’t used by amateurs in Europe (220 MHz band is used in North America and Canada) it is possible to pick-up Brazilian pirates that frequent the military SATCOM system. I tried and picked up activity on quite a few channels namely: 252.150, 252.300, 253.500, 253.750, 255.350, 255.550, 255.600, 258.150 and 258.200, all with the supplied whip.

The 2 sidekeys can be assigned different functions. Note Monmome is meant to say Monitor
The 2 sidekeys can be assigned different functions. Note Monmome is meant to say Monitor

There is no documentation with the software and the help button doesn’t absolutely nothing so its fortunate that most of the functions are straightforward and require no explanation. It is useful to know that the scan delay function (drop out time) can only be set via software and as it is set to 15 seconds by default (i.e. the time the unit remains on the channel after last comms). As it is quite excessive I reduced this to 5 seconds. Scan speed is fairly good at the fast setting (100ms) but can be reduced in increments to 500ms if required, why you’d want to though is beyond me as its very, very slow.

Numerous scan options are available
Numerous scan options are available

I also noticed some CTCSS tones were missing from the drop down boxes. At first I though it may be a radio thing but nope, the radio supports all tones. A way around this is to manually type in the tone and that writes to radio fine.

Numerous other radio options are also available
Numerous other radio options are also available

Overall considering other manufacturers efforts this isn’t too bad. If it had a copy/paste/delete and the ability to insert lines like CHIRP, I’d give it a generous back slapping, as it stands its a could do better – a usable tool – ideal if you only use it a few times to load up a single HAM band plan for example. For frequent additions and changes it becomes challenging to say the least!

When all said and done its 100% free so I can’t complain too much.

Downloads

USB Prolific Serial Cable Drivers

TYT Programming Software



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2 comments

  1. N1RKR

    I see you state here that you plugged your programming cable into the usb port on the side. Every cable I can find for this radio seems to plug into the top.

    Also, If the radio is on, and I plug a regular usb cable between my PC and the radio, the PC detects something, but comes up with an “unknown usb device”.

    I’ve determined that programming in all the local repeaters into this new radio using just the radio will take too much time and hassle, so I want to figure out the programming via pc thing…