TYT MD-380

Chinese ham radios often get a bad reputation among enthusiasts. But the TYT MD-380 is here to show that there are always exceptions to the rule. This HT (Handheld Transceiver) is an excellent entry-level radio for those who want to get started in the hobby. It combines excellent features with a reasonable price point. That adds up to some pretty fantastic value.

Good

  • Up to 5W transmission power – The TYT MD-380 can transmit in either 5W or 1W modes. It’s a bit disappointing that it lacks an in-between mode like 2.5W, but that’s okay given its low price point.
  • Support analog and DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) – This unit is a great starting point if you’d like to try out the DMR standard, yet still have access to analog ham radio channels.
  • Sizeable battery – The 2000mAh Li-ion battery is larger than most competing units in this price range, allowing you to easily get 12+ hours out of the unit, depending on your use case.
  • Save 1,000 channels/contacts – Programming channels and contacts into the TYT MD-380 is quick and easy. And with a capacity of 1,000 different channels, even power users won’t run out of space.
  • Comes with programming cable – Unlike some other competing HTs, the TYT MD-380 comes with a USB programming cable, so it can easily be used with popular desktop programming software.

Bad

  • Quiet built-in speaker – The speaker built into the TYT MD-380 isn’t bad, but it’s not as loud as competing models. You may want to consider using headphones or an external speaker in loud environments.
  • Poor programmability without a computer – Programming options are very limited unless you connect the TYT MD-380 to a computer. This may make it a poor option for those who regularly travel without a laptop.

Bottom line

Though it has some obvious limitations, the TYT MD-380 is an excellent HT, particularly for newer ham radio users who want to explore the possibilities offered by DMR. It also has some surprisingly great features for its price point, like a color LCD and 5 full watts of transmission power.

Product Specs

Frequency RangeVHF:136-174MHZ  / UHF:400-480MHz
Channel1000 Channels
Channel spacing12.5KHZ
Operating voltage7.4v
Battery typeLi-ion
Operating temperature-30℃+60℃
Store temperature-40℃+85℃
Antenna Impedence50Ω
Audio output power[email protected]Ω
Battery capacity2000mAh standard Li-ion battery
Dimension(H*W*D)131*61*36mm
Weight258g
Output powerHigh: ≤5W(HI) / Low: ≤1W(Low)
Frequency stability+/-1.0ppm
Adjacent channel Power≤-60dB
Free time slot powerTDMA: ≤57dBm
Hum and Noise-40dB @ 12.5KHZ
Spurious RadiationAntenna:9KHz-1GHz≤-36dBm
1GHz-12.75GHz ≤-30dBm
FM modulation mode12.5KHZ:11K0F3E
4FSK digital mode12.5KHZ(data only):7K60FXD
12.5KHZ(data+voice):7K60FXE
Modulation Maximum Deviation[email protected]
Nonactive slot power-57dBm
Digital protocolETSITS102 361-1 -2 -3
Vocoder typeAMBE+2TM
Audio response+1dB~-3dB
Modulation BER(Bit error rate)≤5%
Analog sensibility0.35uV/-116dBm(20dB SINAD)  /  0.22 uV/-120dBm(Type)
Digital sensibility0.3 uV/-117.4dBm(BER 5%) /  0.22 uV/-110dBm(BER 1%)
Co-channel Rejection≥-12dB
Spurious responseTIA603C: 75dB  ETSI:  70dB
Adjacent channel selectivityTIA603C: 65dB  ETSI:  60dB
Rated audio power1W
Audio response=1dB~-3dB
Rated audio distortion3%(Type)
Spurious radiationAntenna:9KHz-1GHz ≤-57dBm  / 1GHz-12.75GHz ≤-47dBm

Expert reviews

  • YouTuber radiosification reviewed the TYT MD-380, praising the battery life. He concluded that it’s a great option for ham radio operators who want to experiment with DMR while still being able to talk on analog FM repeaters.
  • Ham Radio Concepts liked the overall design of the TYT MD-380 and its ability to talk on DMR and analog channels. He had particularly good things to say about the sound quality, calling it the “best sounding handheld he has ever used.”
  • VA3XPR reviewed this HT and had a lot of good things to say. They praised its construction and overall build quality, as well as the multicolored LCD display. However, they did have some issues with the desktop charger and noted some “oddities” with the firmware that made the user experience a bit difficult.

User reviews

  • On eHam.net, reviewers have given this radio an average rating of 4.3 stars across 37 reviews. In general, they had good things to say about the audio quality and low cost of this radio. The most common complaints were related to the difficulty of programming the unit. A few users also noted quality control issues that led the unit to fail prematurely.
  • Shoppers from Buy Two Way Radios have given the MD-380 a rating of 4.75 stars across 71 reviews. They noted some clunky programming and UI interface issues. However, most buyers highly recommended this radio thanks to its great overall quality and features, with one user noting that it has features that “cost 2 to 3 times more” in some other ham radio HTs.

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