Review: Radioddity GD-77
Type: 2m/440 FM / 2 Timeslot DMR HT (OpenGD77 firmware adds 220 band)
MSRP: $94.99 on Radioddity’s website
TLDR – Outstanding, robust, and capable HT with OpenGD77 firmware
I wasn’t asked by Radioddity to do this review. I’m just an average guy who wants to share his experiences. I was not compensated in any way for this review or asked to write it.
So you slapped your Benjamin down on the counter and walked away with a brand new GD-77 in your hands? Excellent! I’m sure you’re going to be as impressed with this little radio as I am; especially after you flash the OpenGD77 firmware. I’ll take a moment and give a shout out to W5JER Jeremy who was my lab rat for getting a new amateur into the GD-77. What’s in the box?
- The GD-77 HT
- A long 1/4 wave whip antenna
- A “rubbery duck” antenna
- A 2200 mAh battery
- A charging cradle
- A programming cable
- An owner manual
Now that you have everything out of the box, unless you’re just *REALLY* sure you are only going to use your GD-77 for DMR via the hotspot in your house and never anywhere else, throw that rubber duck antenna away. It’s bad. Just get rid of it. Good. Moving forward.
Attach the long whip antenna and power the radio on. Have a look around the menus and functions, but be aware that the radio isn’t going to be good for much until you set up your code plug. And yes, I do have a guide for installing OpenGD77.
This radio feels solidly made. I like how it feels in the hand and it even seems to fit my hand very well. The buttons are rugged and have a very positive click and push feedback. You know when you press a button and when the button is no longer pressed. The screen is bright and, with the OpenGD77 firmware, can be inverted to white letters/numbers on a black background. But I do prefer the white screen. The button functions change completely after installation of OpenGD77 so I’m not really going to talk too much about how to move around in the menus or etc.
The charging cradle seems a little tight to me. Sometimes, it seems like I can fling on my Baofeng radios in the general direction of their charging cradle and it’ll just land and be fine. No, not really. But almost. The GD-77 cradle I struggle with getting the radio seated correctly. But once set, it doesn’t fall out of the cradle either.
If you intend to use the default firmware, the manual does document most of the functions. As with most of the newer Chinese made equipment, it does have some sorely lacking areas. I strongly, STRONGLY suggest OpenGD77 for this radio.
This is my first DMR radio and I use with with my Pi-Star MMDVM hotspot here at the house. I have a local group of misfits I chat with regularly and I really enjoy frequenting Texas Statewide and Brandmeister Talkgroup 91 Worldwide. I recently was able to do my first few private calls (person to person) which was a new experience too. DMR is a different beast. It’s still radio as you’re transmitting, albeit very low power, to your hotspot which then send your modulated signal over the internet to whichever master server you happen to be using. I’m not going to even acknowledge the DMR detractors. Your radio hobby isn’t my radio hobby, and that’s ok! If you’re one of those judgy HAMs, all I have to say is leave people alone and let them enjoy their hobby! 🙂
Provided you have a solid internet connection or the DMR repeater you use has a good connection, audio quality is slightly better than RF audio as fading, picket-fencing, and other forms of QRM do not affect your XMIT’d signals. However, the other station may have a compromised internet situation and their signal isn’t as great getting to you. Pretty much the same as every other aspect of this hobby. But that also makes it a challenge! Keep trying new things and trying to improve. To me, that’s what is fun!
The GD-77 is advertised as a 5W HT. I can confirm via meter that power is above 4 watts on a fresh battery with power set to 5watts. If you are kind of new to HTs, you’ll be confused by that statement, so I’ll explain. HTs may say they are 5W radios, but that 5watts may be a rounded up number based on what is generated on the board. It’s almost never what is actually radiated at the antenna. So for an HT to be on max power and the antenna receives more than 4watts on 2meters is actually something pretty impressive to me.
If you want to get a Nagoya NA-771 antenna for this radio, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. The Radioddity whip seems flimsy some how compared to the Nagoya I have for my Baofeng. BE AWARE! The GD-77 needs a sma-male antenna! The market is saturated with antennas made for Baofengs which need sma-female antennas. Make sure you order the correct kind!
That all said, the GD-77 is my running around radio. I take with me everywhere even when I’m not doing DMR because the RF output is great, reliable, and gets the job done. In addition, you can program RX only frequencies and have a pretty capable scanner radio with you too, if you like scanning. Since it is an FM radio, it does have some limitation on what it can scan though.
I am very impressed with this radio. The price point for the level of performance you get is just above expectations. I recommend this radio to anyone radio operator, new or veteran. There is so much it can do and do well with the help of the OpenGD77 firmware. And I haven’t even talked about how it can track satellites and adjust frequencies auto-magically for when you want to work amsats!
If you’re looking for a new HT to add to your collection, this is it.