Most HAM’s have big problems to understand codeplugs, but actually they are not so difficult to understand. A codeplug is nothing else than a bunch of csv (comma separated files) like an excel spreadsheet, just in ASCII format, each cell separated by a comma (or semicolon), each row separated by CR+LF (Carriage-Return+Line-Feed or simply ENTER). These files are than imported and compiled by the manufacturers program for the radio into the codeplug (CP). This CP-program needs some basic settings how the radio should behave in general i.e. Audio-Settings, DMR-ID, Bluetooth-Settings, How the keys should work etc.. Have you used CHIRP before to program your radio ? Well this is basically the same, but you don’t have only one file to upload to the radio, you have many in different formats.
As I mentioned before: Please search for an existing CP like the one from the Dutch HAM PC5E, export the CP entirely into CSV files (in a separate directory and inspect them. What you definitely need is Ron’s CSV Editor which can be downloaded and bought from Ron’s Website.
The interesting information can be found (after exporting to CSV) in a fair amount of CSV-files. Now you can start experimenting with it, using Ron’s editor, Excel also works but it’s too heavy for my taste. A complete export of the whole codeplug into CSV files looks like this:
Please do not forget to save the initial codeplug (factory setting) as the first task after unboxing, to be able to set the radio back into “as delivered” mode.
The files interesting for us as beginners are: Channel.csv, TalkGroups.csv, Zone.csv, DigitalContactList.csv. These files are quite hard to edit just through the manufacturers software, but Ron’s CSV Editor speeds the process of modifying/editing up by the factor of 100.
Now collect from different souces the necessary information, like repeaters analog and digital as well as your hotspot frequencie(s), the DigitalContactList and the TalkGroups you are intersted in. You will see that this will be one of the hardest tasks, as you find so much outdated, non-accurate lists and you may have to edit a lot. How do these files look like ? Just click on the below file name to download and view it in the editor:
|Channel||Here you will find all channels (all frequencies) you will use. Analog, Digital in Duplex or Simplex Mode|
|Zone||Zones are frequencies grouped together as a zone, for easier selection. A zone can be a functional group like i.e. hotspots, all repeaters in your state or in a country|
|TalkGroups||TalkGroups are areas you are interested in your communication, like i.e. Talkgroup 91 (=Brandmeister World), Talkgroup 262 (=Brandmeister Germany)|
|DigitalContactList||Is the “Phonebook” of all registered DMR/CCS7 users worldwide (CCS7 is your registration id for DMR and DStar) i.e. my callsign is DO1AWD and my DMR/CCS7 Id is 2644671|
Where to start ? I started with the codeplug from the Dutch Amateur PC5E. I exported everything and started carefully to edit i.e. the channel list by adding some local repeaters, my hotspot frequencies, my analog repeaters and so on. After modification I imported these files into the CP-Software, saved the CP and uploaded the information to the radio.
The easiest is the DigitalContactList. For some bucks per year, you can download (after registration and donation) the worldwide DigitalContacts for the Anytone radios directly in the right format. Import this file into Anytone’s CP-Software and write it to the radio. I do this once every week, because otherwise I see only the CCS7 Number of new HAM’s instead of details like CCS7, CallSign, Name, Town, State, Country. This magic URL is AmateurRadio.digital.
I modify Channel and TalkGroups exclusively with Ron’s CSV Editor. Some other information I change within the Anytone CP-Software like the creation of Zones from the Channel list. When you get more experienced and want to create RoamingChannels, you will also use Ron’s Editor for the RoamingChannel list, but the CP-Software to create RoamingZone’s.