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Using GPS on TYT MD-380

The TYT MD-380 as well as a few other DMR radios have alternate versions that incorporate a built in GPS.

There has been a lot of misinformation about using this capability. This article discusses:

  • How to use the built in GPS to report into APRS.FI for APRS location
  • How to set up a TYT MD-380G UHF version for this feature

First Step - Getting a GPS signal lock

Chances are that your radio's GPS was last tested in China, at the factory or never at all.

You may need to wait a while to get a signal lock. Be patient.

But first, program the following into your radio to get the GPS actually working.

Digital Contact

Create a new "Digital Contact" and label as "APRS-310999". Make the contact "Private Call". Set the Call ID to "310999". Do not enable a call receive tone.

It should look like this when done

Channel Setup

Create a new channel on a frequency (UHF or VHF does not matter) of your choice, such as the one used on your hot spot, like an RF Shark OpenSpot. Label the channel "APRS GPS ON" . Enable the "Send GPS Info" and "Receive GPS Info" settings.

Select the Contact as the "APRS-310999" one created.

Select an appropriate group you may already have in your radio that includes TG 9 and any of your other favorites.

Use the same color code as your hotspot. Use time slot 2.

Make sure there is "None" in the Privacy setting.

Select "1" in the GPS System setting.

Your channel should look like this when done

GPS Settings

Go to the GPS Settings in the CPS and enable GPS Revert Channel to the channel you created called "APRS GPS ON"
Set your default GPS report interval to a value of "180". If you select a smaller value, the GPS will affect your battery life.
Set the Destination ID to the Digital Contact you created called "APRS-310999"

When finished, it should look like this

Create Another Channel

Follow every step as above, but the only thing to do different is to not enable a GPS System. So, instead of "1" make sure that box is set to "None". Label this channel "APRS GPS OFF"

Before you write file to radio

Put both of the channels created into a new or existing zone.

Check to make sure GPS is enabled in the Menu Item setting like below

Getting CLOSER!!!

Write the file to your radio and then go to the channel you made called "APRS GPS ON"

Key your PTT for a second or so.

Go put your radio outside or where it could get a good GPS signal. WAIT about 10 minutes!

You will get a GPS lock when the globe icon changes from red to green.

Confirm you have GPS Lock

Go into your MD-380G radio menu under "Utilities" and "GPS BeiDou Info"

You should see your latitude, longitude, altitude and number of GPS satellites your radio can receive.

Like below

If you do not have that, you either set something up wrong or did not wait long enough in a good location for a satellite lock. Try again. If you have location data, proceed as follows:

Brandmeister Setup

Log in to your Brandmeister Network account and go to the SelfCare section. The below URL "should" work if you can not figure it out.

Select "Chinese Radio", enable a 60 second APRS interval and select the appropriate SSID for your call sign and icon. Generally, a portable HT should be -2, a mobile, -7 or -9. A detailed table to consult can be found here.

See what happens next at

If you have done everything correctly and key your PTT and have a GPS signal lock, you should be able to now see your DMR MD-380 on

NOTE: This will only work through a hotspot. Many repeater operators may not let private calls or TG 310999 pass through, so just want to be clear about that.

Next Steps & Future:

Much like there how APRS has RX only iGateways, it is entirely possible for different areas to start supporting a DMR gateway by repurposing a hotspot or simplex link radio using MMDVM. This will then enable your position to be shared without having to use a hotspot or repeater.

Actual use cases:

Maybe you travel? Take your hotspot with you in the car and talk on your DMR HT? Now, you will have GPS APRS on from anywhere (That has mobile phone coverage)

Via simplex communication, you and another radio can exchange location and altitude data independent of any infrastructure at any time.

Excite the amateur radio community to continue development for non-network infrastructure use cases possibly by incorporating local cached maps, mesh networks and iGateways on coordinated frequencies to support another layer of communication and situational awareness.



  • here I am! (Via

    How long before someone else gets this working and shares a screen capture of that here?

  • edited December 2017

    For a quick update:

    Follow the same instructions on creating the TG 310999 contact in your radio and setting up a GPS system, but add this detail to a channel your home hot spot is set up on.

    This will give you GPS and voice on the same channel on the same frequency.

    NOTE: This has only been proven to work while using a hotspot. Many repeaters, including the ones local have not yet set GPS traffic to be passed.

    When I use my OpenSpot in the car connected over cellular modem, this gives me the ability to talk on Mid-Hudson TG 31368 from anywhere (in NY or not) and also share my location too.

    To do this on APRS, you need to remember to turn APRS on and one side of the radio, like Yaesu FT-2DR, Kenwood TH-D74, Icom ID-51, etc and a voice channel on the other side. Plus, ensure your radio can support the QSY function to advertise which voice frequency you might be on, such as a local repeater. And, also have voice alert enabled on 144.39 if there is any local simplex quick activity which many people do not always monitor since not every radio supports voice alert.

    This approach via DMR is possibly more simple. Yes, you need a hotspot with you for it to work, but then not having a repeater in range is never an issue. The only problem is you are totally reliant on the mobile cellular network for everything to work.

    I WISH DMR repeaters would start thinking about supporting GPS or for a universal UHF frequency can be adopted for DMR GPS we could all use. All a repeater owner would need to do is locate an igateway for this at the repeater site tuned on that frequency for it to work.

  • For about 18 months that I have had a MD-380G version - only recently have I cared enough about the GPS because there was not a way to share the GPS data across a network easily until somewhat recently.

    What I had known for a while is that the GPS seemed to take forever to get a satellite lock and thought it must have used some older GPS chip in use since this is a "cheap" radio.

    Not the case....its bad antenna placement.

    Contrary to what I read, the MD-380G does not use the SMA antenna port as part of the GPS receive chain. It has its own antenna. I verified it by taking the radio apart!

    Here is where the antenna is in the MD_380G

    I am pretty sure that the volume knob just above the antenna along with the cast aluminum back plate of the radio creates bad GPS reception.

    Here is what the actual GPS antenna looks like in the MD-380G


    When I put the radio outside, it picks up GPS much quicker than inside, but much MUCH longer than any other GPS enabled device I own including the TH-D74 and picoAPRS recently reviewed.

    If I face the MD-380G in a window with the display facing in, it does not ever get a GPS lock. When facing the display out, it gets a lock pretty quickly.


    Bad design for placement of the GPS antenna and selection of the actual antenna that influences the poor GPS reception of the MD-380G. Placement outside and in certain directions has a lot to do with how well the GPS works.

    There is not enough room towards the top of the radio to easily integrate a new and different antenna I think, so I may start looking at:

    • Relocating the existing antenna in the radio in the opposite location plane close the top of the speaker inside the radio.

    • Passively coupling some sort of external antenna to enhance reception.

    What ever I decide, it has to reassemble the same was as any unmodified radio, so will start researching vendor antenna patterns and parts.

    Most GPS enabled devices seem to use more of a rectangular patch antenna and I have confirmed the upward placement of them in the picoAPRS and TH-D74.

    Why the TH-D74 uses concentric channel/volume knobs makes more sense now. IT does not block the GPS antenna! The top of the radio says "GPS" and that is where the antenna is directly underneath.

    The inside of the picoAPRS also shows the GPS antenna facing up and uses a square patch antenna like the TH-D74.

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