Hi I’m N8EFJ Bob from Toledo Ohio,
I work at a commercial 2-way radio shop in Toledo and have been there since 1982 in this profession. I have been a ham since 1995.
This is my review and explaination of the RFinder M1DU analog/DMR 2-way radio and android cell phone as I understand it. I have the 440 to 480 Mhz version.
First of all it is in my opinoin a software defined radio run by the mini computer called a smartphone.
It is currently running android 6.0 and who knows it might be upgraded to 7.0 someday.
I have the (Nova launcher) app launcher overlay with customizeable icons and gestures to fully customize the user interface of the phone.
As a cell phone the RFinder does a pretty good job utilizing the AT&T network in the USA and does run and support the LTE or 4g network connection. Voice quality is as good as many other cell phones.
I also run the Zello PTT app for ptt radio like calls to friends over the network just as many cell phone users can do, talking quality in this mode is great also. The cellular signal quality is as good as many high-end cell phones if not better in many cases for calls and network connectivity.
Now for the meat of the review – the 2-way radio portion.
With the RFinder app up and running and connected to the internet, the repeater list is constantly updated following your current GPS location and displaying all the repeaters in your area as long as they are coordinated and the proper information is listed with the coordinatiog body of the repeater. You can set the distance of the listing from your location in the settings menu and what bands are listed as well.
Much of the information Rfinder gets is also outside of those bodies scouring the web to fill in any missing information to provide the user with the most up to date listings, such as frequencies, “pl” and “dpl” tones, echolink information, system fusion information, DMR color codes and talkgroups, IRLP connections and many more.
This information list is worldwide, so no matter where you go you should have the repeater list for your location.
So just by selecting a repeater in your area and touching the corresponding talkgroup desired, in the case of DMR and then touching send to radio. The software sends the information to the radio module thus programming it for what you selected. You are now ready to start talking on the system selected, it’s just that simple.
The RFinder application is constantly being updated by Bob Greenberg and his engineering staff, They actually listen to their customers and implement some of the changes requested.
If there is a problem, just simply report it to RFinder and they will shortly in many cases have it fixed in the next release of the App. Some releases are 2 in one week.
After all it is a software defined radio! Problems can be easily fixed and new features added. As the movie producers say (we’ll fix it in post).
The radio performance in as good as many other DMR radios I have used. These results were attained from my 2 service monitors – the Aeroflex 2975 for analog testing and the 2017 Aeroflex 8800SX for digital testing.
The results of my particular radio are as follows – – –
Receive sensitivity is .20 microvolts for both analog and DMR. The Transmit deviation on analog is 2.2 khz for narrow, 4.2 khz for wideband. The TX power out is 3.2 watts for high power on analog, 3.9 watts for DMR on high power. Low power is 1.9 watts for analog and 2.0 for DMR. DMR bit error rate was 0 or .1 % at worst.
In high RF environments I do not get much intermod as with cheaper radios, that have not much in the way of front end filtering. After all I do work in the 2-way service environment where often times I’m up at a site with many repeaters on the roof or tower sites where intermod is a known problem with cheaper radios.
I mostly use low power to conserve battery and the local repeater (N8EFJ) is no more than 5 miles away centered in the city roughly.
I did switch to a Motorola XPR6550 whip antenna for the radio as the performance and match is slightly better than the stock antenna.
Speaking of battery life, it comes with a 6200 mah battery thats 6.2 amp-hours, more than enough for a day of use. But if you have the gift to gab and somehow you do run the battery down…. you can buy a second battery and just swap it out. I mean it’s not like many phones that have a permenant battery in it, this one is removable /swapable.
This has been my independant review with the RFinder radio/phone set, and yes I did buy one in May of 2017.
I personally met Bob Greenberg at the FortWayne Indiana hamfest in November 2017, He is a great guy, very helpful and informative.
I hope you find some of this information useful, and if I left something out please add to the review!
Features to test:
– goes out of promiscuous mode consistently when a new station is tuned from anywhere
– promiscuous mode toggle button properly reflects state and also hides itself in FM mode
– screen wake on receive in promiscuous mode
– rounding error in memories fixed
– crash bug in locales with comma decimals fixed
– phone call turns off module, module comes back on properly with settings after call
-While in Promiscuous mode, the TX stays on the previously programmed F, TS, TG, CC…you can TX but you will recieve on all…
NOTE: should ask for a new permission on install, monitor outgoing calls (that and reading phone state are necessary for the radio to work with the phone…
Still open…Volume knob…
PTT cancel promiscuous mode seems technically unfeasible without a change to the RF module firmware.
The Promiscuous mode is a game changer in DMR operation. It lets you listen to all talk groups on any time slot on any color code. When you receive a signal and you want to switch to that time slot – talk group combination, you just press a button on the RFinder M1 and the radio changes to it. So, basically, you can monitor a repeater for all communications. How about that?
I’ve done several videos on the RFinder devices, including interviews with Bob, W2CYK, who is the creator of RFinder. This video shows how to setup a new M1DU device from scratch – out of the box, upgrading and installing apps, to full normal use.
In this episode, I talk about the 2 RFinder devices – the original H1, and the new M1. The M1 is now my daily carry Smartphone and 2-way radio. I’ll talk about differences between the 2 models, and we’ll do some QSOs on DMR with the M1.
So what do you get if you cross a DMR handheld and an Android Smartphone?
The answer is the RFinder M1!
Hi, everyone this is Eric with Hamradio Concepts and you’re looking at probably the best purchase that I’ve ever made in ham radio technology – is the Rfinder M1 hamradio smartphone.
If you have seen my little teaser video or my post on Facebook, this thing is a game-changer. A complete Android 6.0 phone, a powerful phone, a submersible drop-proof military standard phone that incorporates a software-defined DMR 4 watt transmitter inside. This one here specifically is the UHF DMR version. It’ll do analog 3.2 Watts on UHF and DMR digital at 4 Watts but now you can get these in FM versions on VHF only analog or I think FM digital. But I choose the UHF DMR model.
And if you are not familiar with RFinder, basically RFinder is an app of a worldwide database. It’s not just an app. It’s online as well but RFinder brand shows you quite possibly the largest list of repeaters in the world that you can see based on your location and shows you all the the frequency and the tone and all the aspects of the repeater and the cool thing is now that Bob has integrated custom software on this device with his app in order to allow point-and-click programming on the DMR or analog on this radio.
So there is no more code plugs. It’s just as easy to look at the repeaters in your area on the list based by GPS, find one that’s in your area like this K4CPJ Vero Beach and, basically, clicking on it and setting the radio to that.
You don’t have to worry about what’s the tone, you don’t have to worry about the offset. It’s done. DMR, the same thing. The color code, the talk group, all of its in there. I’m impressed. And being the first video on YouTube to show you the M1 from RFinder, where to go in and out of it. I am using this daily as my phone.
I’ve tested a while and the coolest thing is that I have Bob, the creator of this, as support. I mean, there was a couple little quirks, honestly, and I work with Bob a couple times and Bob says “We’ll fix this, we’ll fix that” – Released an update and it was fixed! You get support with this. You’re not having to communicate to a third party in China who is selling devices that don’t know what they’re selling. I mean he wrote the software for this. This is his creation so he has the ability to fine tune and offer support. And that’s pretty much the reason that I spent the money I did on it. It’s because I have support for future updates, for future ads and improvements and that’s going to make the device, you know, up to date and not have to worry about buying another one a year from now.
So let’s go into complete in-depth of it, I wanna show you few key feuatures. RFinder app and how powerful that is. I want to show you on-air testing and use my Hotspot. Show you some audio. This thing is loud!
I mean, talking about a loud radio radio. If you’re out in the field or driving with your windows down, this speaker right here is loud. I mean you don’t have to worry about this thing not being hear.
Let’s talk about the phone for a minute. The phone in itself. Submersible, again look at the screws on this thing. Look at how many screws are on this thing. This thing is like bolted together and the case design keeps it waterproof, submersible ,drop proof. It really is sturdy unit.
Looking at the top, so you have a channel indicator. 16 channels. Now, the channel indicator really wouldn’t be used through the RFinder app. There is a another Chinese standard PTT app on here, that you can set 16 channels on and change the channel on the knob on the top.
There is a male SMA on the radio so with thread, so you use a female SMA antenna which it comes with. The SMA antenna here, a standard antenna with a SMA female on it.
The red button on top, not used at this time, as far as I know, that’s for a programmable button but we are not going to use that.
Let’s go to the left first. There is two PTT buttons, a SIM slot and memory card slot up here. This does use a micro SIM card, a micro SD as well as a nano SIM card, in here.
Now, I will tell you this is one major thing that has to be closed in order to keep these submersible water proof, is that that the rubber grommet here you have to make sure it’s close.
Two PTT buttons, so the radio PTT button would be the top one here and there’s a second PTT button which I can show you a glimpse. If you’re familiar with the Zello app, you can use this similar to like a Nextel with an app that’s totally not related to Rfinder, but a free to download app for friends and, you know, nothing to do with ham radio but that’s a second dedicated PTT button, that can be used with PTT apps such as Zello, or some other ones.
On the right side, there’s another button, that looks like a PTT button. There’s no use for that at this time that I can see. I don’t get any response from it but maybe can be assigned third app. See, there are three buttons: power button here.
This is what a lot of people asked about: the charging port. The charging connector is not a standard USB, it’s not a standard connector at all. In fact it’s charging cable is a magnetic 6 pin connector. Do you see it out there? So it’s like the Apple MacBooks. It is capable to put this connector on, It’s got USB on it as while you charge it but also you can connect it on the computer and download stuff to the SD card and do updates and stuff like that.
So, it doesn’t have a headphone jack, case you’re wondering but, from what Bob has told me, they are going to have accessories for a headset and possibly Bluetooth or a Bluetooth PTT functionality with this. So, that’s going to be a proprietary magnetic with a screw connector for the Rfinder, for additional accessories in the future.
Regular buttons on the front here, your home button, back button and that would be your menu button.
So, the bottom connector with the battery is: You can take the battery out. Again, this is another major waterproof connector that you have to make sure, looking at the door here, has the Rubber seal. This has to be closed and locked, in order to maintain its submersibility. Here’s the battery. I’ll pull out and show you. So, that’s got like a nice fit in there but that is a 5200 milliamp battery, on here, so this thing, I’ll show you, last a long time in order to have the DMR or FM or analogue transmit ,as well as use it for a phone all day, you are gonna need a battery that lasts! That battery really is a huge capacity battery. It lasts a long time on here. I haven’t killed this thing in one day, yet. Looking at the battery here all day, 9:03 p.m, I use an RF all day, use it as a phone all day, that’s the battery I have left. Doesn’t even have a red X. Basically, 7:30 this morning to 9 at night using it quite a bit and my battery really does hold a charge all day long. That’s 4 watt at DMR, using it, sometimes with the hotspot, or low power and using as a phone all day.
The microphone is down here, on the bottom right. So you have to make sure with the waterproof of this phone. You don’t talk on the middle of the screen. You won’tl talk up here in the speaker. You talk down here on the bottom. I haven’t had no problem yet talking into that microphone whole and people saying that can’t hear me. I know that with other brand name Icom and Yaesu radios, with the waterproof always had an issue where it sounded muffled. The sound is pretty good.
To my understanding, you can not get a case for this but you don’t need one. It’s got the belt clip on the back. Someone would say “Could you put an outter box on it?” I would you want to? The case is the phone! So, with the belt clip here, clip’s right on your belt and you are good to go.
Does have a camera on the front. A 2 MP on the front and 8MP on the back, with a flash and does take pretty good video and photos. Let’s look into the internals of the phone, such as the app and the software.
As far as the phone, here, we are going here to Settings, About Phone, Android 6.0 Marshmallow. So, on a previous video, someone said “well you know where up to Android 6 & 7 while you’re on 6” and I’m sure that there can be a build later that I will upgrade that but Android 6, that’s almost the newest version and definitely has a lot of the features that you’re familiar with in a phone. Camera, it’s got a 8 megapixel on the back and 2 megapixel on the front.
And now, let’s talk about the the cellular portion of it. So, the cellular, for my understanding, I have T-Mobile and what Bob has told me is it will do LTE 4G on AT&T. I don’t have AT&T. A lot of people have asked the question “will it do 4G? Will do LTE?”
You know, when I scan for Network operators, it does show me to 2G, 3G and 4G networks. With my T-Mobile in my nano SIM card, by the way, it uses a nano-sim won’t show me 4G. Not maybe a T-Mobile issue because Bob says with the AT&T, it will do 4G LTE. Not a big deal. A speed test that I did on 3G on here I was getting about 16 megabits down and about 5 up. Not terribly bad for, you know, it being on a 3G.
So here you’ll see the network setting. So it says 3G, 2G, 4G it’s family mobile T-Mobile, you know, it’s what I’m on, AT&T, Verizon 4G so, it will see those those networks on here. That maybe my T-Mobile, it doesn’t. So that’s one big question a lot of people asked: “Will it do 4G?” For my understanding. it will. The radio is in their 4G.
Wifi in here is dual band 2.4G and 5G. So it will handle of 5 gigahertz Network on Wi-Fi. In fact, if I’m going here… Let’s see, I wanna run a speed test right now for you, on WiFi, because some of the older phones won’t handle the fast WiFi. So I have 75 Meg internet I use it at about about 86. So I’m paying for 75, I’m getting 66. 12 up which is usually what I get all the time. So, it does have the good Wifi in it. If you have a 5G fiber WiFi it will handle that just fine.
Let’s talk about the RFinder app for a few minutes now. This app is available in the Play Store. Not only on a device like this, but on any Android. I think the app is available and they have a website. The Rfinder app: first off if you’re not familiar with it, shows you all the repeaters and it’s in their information in your area, based on GPS. That, in itself is a necessity in hamradio if you’re traveling. A lot of people just have 2m handhelds, or dual band handhelds and they always want to see the repeaters that are near them. And this list is a worldwide database that is updated constantly and goes by GPS. So you can see here, based on my GPS, the closest repeater: 3.5 miles south. That’s our W4PHJ repeater. That’s now a hybrid fusion machine, so will do analogue and digital.
So, clicking on that repeater, if I was traveling would show me the offset, the tone, and all that and you can set your radio to that frequency and information without having to Google or go on a repeater book and flip the pages. It’s there! And the best part is I can click on the coverage map and with Google Earth, I can pull up the coverage map of that repeater and, where it covers, and this repeater usually covers really good. Look at the coverage one that, ok? You can see how far you can get in that repeater.
Now, if I go back, it shows me all the information.
With this device (this is a UHF device) but if this was the VHF device, I can… Oh, I’ll show you. Here’s a VHF Repeater. Lake Worth. Right here. 444.850. Shows me the offset, shows me the tone, shows me a IRLP number and if it had Echolink, it would show me that also.
So, if I click “Send to device radio” that’s! It’s done! I can press the PTT button up here and I’m on that repeater I don’t have to worry about programming or code plugs or hooking up to a laptop or anything! For instance, a DMR machine: Here’s one! Here in Fort Pierce: 10.9 miles west, so if I click that ,it shows me the information and if I hit “send to device radio” it gives me the available talk groups that are on there. They have time slot 1, group code talk 1, worldwide, on there. I can click that and that’s it it! It sends it to the radio, join group time slot 1, talk group one. That’s it and now I’m ready to talk on DMR on that unit. Another cool thing is you see here Echolink. Let’s say you wanted… This is create, I like this! Let’s say you want to talk on a Echolink through your phone on that. You can click the Echolink number and it’s going to open the Echolink app you have on your phone. Connected! That’s pretty cool! So the Echolink app is a whole seperate entity here, not owned by RFinder or anything but you can download the Echolink app free. Now, you can check in while you’re traveling to a repeater- I can go right now through cellular and come out on the W4AKA. in Fort Pierce. That is pretty cool! So the echolink, a lot of people is familiar with that too.
So I can check out of this, check out of the echolink portion of it, right? And in the app itself is so powerful. As you move and travel, it’s going to update this list and show you the closest repeaters to you.
We’ll go up here in settings and show you some other features of the app. Android Radio is where in the app, you would use this to manually select or manually input frequencies. If you wanted operate on simplex or, in my case, a hotspot. I have a hotspot set to DMR 436 simplex to my SharkRF, my group ID, that I want talk on and just hit in “send the parameters” – send it the device. That’s it! Okay? So that’s basically where you say “what if I have something I need to connect to or talk to in simplex without with it not being in the repeater list?” You do it right through the app here.
Also, I want to show you something that’s a future update here. Brandmeister Hotspot Mode. This is phenomenal! Bob’s working on this to allow this device to turn into a Hotspot. Setting the receive and transmit frequency Radio ID and such, when they come out with the update, you can use the device on cellular or Wi-Fi as a hotspot have all the people around you transmit into it on the brandmeister network. That would be awesome to have a phone DMR Radio and hotspot all in one. That would be phenomenal! But as I talked to Bob, he said right now it’s not ready yet but again, a ROM update or over the air update would fix that when he decides to perfect it.
Another feature here: Echolink Nodes Worldwide! I can go in here (this is so cool) I can look through the Echolink Nodes worldwide. Well a lot of people say “Well I wanna get on Echolink but don’t know the node number.” I mean, all the network, look at this… All the network links are in here. I’m gonna back into repeater list and, again the repeater list on your phone, whether you an RFinder, I suggest you download it and for best results. I purchased the subscription info. I purchased the app and expires in 2018. This way, you get all the features of it and it supports the hard work of the creator of the app, as any app does in the market. You paying for it giving you full features without the trail expiring and support.
Let’s move on here. This is awesome. Let me show you the map, real quick. The map will show you all the repeaters here in the area and you can just click on it and it will show you the mode, the frequency and the PL tone of the repeater.
Looking at the size of the phone, that’s a comparison to an iPhone 6. Not 6 Plus not a 6S. The screen size is just about identical to an iPhone. As far as the body size, the body size is a bit bigger, you can see that.
Weight of course, a little bit heavier than the iPhone, but that’s a comparison. If you have iPhone 6, that gives you an idea of how big the screen is. Not small.
This is a partial transcription from the video https://youtu.be/kR-Xfw4gzdo
by Eric, KJ4WZI
The RFinder M1 is the most advanced DMR Transceiver combined with an embedded powerful smartphone. It delivers up to 4 Watt of RF Power out of its very robust case.
Running Android, you can install all the available Play Store apps. This means that you can install Zello, Team Speak, EchoLink and many others and use the built-in PTT button to key the transmission on such apps. Can you imagine that? If you don’t reach an EchoLink node, just use your RFinder 3G, 4G or even WiFi, and you are connected. Never miss a QSO again just because there isn’t a nearby repeater. And because the RFinder has an updated database of worldwide repeaters, EchoLink nodes and DMR talk groups, you never have to memorize anything.
You just search the station or repeater you want to connect, and the RFinder will change all the settings for you, either using DMR or conventional analogue FM.
The RFinder is so advanced that will allow you to see on a map all the available DMR/EchoLink/Conventional repeaters nearby. Just click on your selected station, and your radio settings are changed: RX and TX frequency, Tones, offsets, splits, color codes. Everything! Welcome to the first Click & Talk transceiver. If this is not phenomenal what is it then?
There is a special procedure to activate the 4G LTE service on your RFinder with AT&T Wireless:
Send an e-mail to email@example.com with W2CYK@rfinder.net in CC. SUBJECT: M1 CONVERT TO LTE BODY:
«JOSH, PLEASE CONVERT MY M1 TO LTE.
MY IMEI IS: <PUT YOUR IMEI HERE>
MY PHONE NUMBER IS: <PUT THE PHONE NUMBER OF OF YOUR M1 HERE>
MY AT&T PIN IS: <YOUR AT&T 4 DIGIT PIN>
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
YOUR NAME AND YOUR CONTACT NUMBER»
Then, you just need to wait up to few days until the activation is in place. Enjoy your RFinder LTE capabilities.
Such procedure is not necessary in other countries.