Radioddity GD-77 vs. Baofeng DM-1801

A brief comparison of two similar radios running on custom openGD77/openGD1801 firmware

To me, the Radioddity GD-77 is one of the best, if not the best, DMR portable as long as you’re running the openGD77 firmware on it. Frankly, the stock firmware on both GD-77 and DM-1801 sucks! But the openGD77 firmware drastically changes the user experience and functionality of the radio.

I have previously written about openGD77, and here are some of the benefits:

  • Simplified user interface
  • Ad hoc talkgroup entry
  • Fast scanning
  • Promiscuous or “monitor” mode — Color Code, TimeSlot, and TalkGroup (several levels can be defined)
  • Flexible power levels, from 50 mW to 5W and beyond
  • You can practically program the radio without relying on a computer (except for zones and TG lists)
  • You can use the radio as a DMR hotspot connected to a computer running MMDVMHost/Pi-Star/BlueDV

The openGD77 developers have done a great job at porting the firmware to radios with similar hardware, including the Baofeng DM-1801 and Baofeng RD-5R (or the Tier-2 capable DM-5R), plus the GD-77S.

This means the Baofeng DM-1801 is a good alternative to the GD-77, especially since it costs around 30–50% less. Some points of comparison:

Package inclusions

  • Both radios include: Radio, battery, antenna, belt clip, charging cradle, charging adaptor
  • GD77 includes: programming cable
  • DM1801 includes: earpiece and lanyard

Personally, I prefer having the cable, since I don’t really use the earpiece, and I do have an abundance of extra compatible earpieces from older Baofeng radios.

Programming cable

Programming cables are not compatible between GD77 and DM-1801.

Radioddity uses a similar cable with TYT. Meanwhile, Baofeng has reversed the data + and – so this means you can’t use them interchangeably. However, what you can do is either modify an existing Radioddity/TYT cable (by crossing over the white and green data lines) or use a USB extender that crosses the data lines over.

Note that the Baofeng DM-1801 programming cable is not similar to the programming cable for the UV-5R and other analog Baofengs. Cables for the analog radios have the Prolific chips in the USB cable itself.

Antenna connector

  • Radioddity uses the Yaesu-style SMA connector.
  • Baofeng uses the typical reverse-SMA common in Baofeng portables.

Keys and keypad layout

DM-1801 has two extra keys:

  • VFO/MR switches between memory mode and frequency mode
  • A/B switches between VFO A and VFO B in memory mode

On the GD-77:

  • The red “END” key switches between memory mode and frequency mode, apart from being the “END”, “BACK” or “EXIT” key
  • The orange key serves as the context menu, where the VFO A and VFO B toggle can be found

The “blue” key:

  • You will notice the openGD77 manual saying to press and/or hold the “blue” key. On the DM-1801, it’s simply the lower of the two side buttons below the PTT button.

The PTT button:

  • The GD-77 uses a plastic PTT, while the DM-1801 uses hard rubber. The rubber button feels more premium, but it’s easier to press the plastic button. You need to press the center of the Baofeng’s rubber PTT to trigger it.

With these additions, the arrow keys on the DM-1801 are now a rocker that goes 4-ways. For me, the dedicated up, down, left, and right buttons on the GD-77 are easier to press. But the Baofeng’s arrow keys are OK, too, just smaller.

Clip

The stock clips are the usual alligator spring-type clips. The Baofeng’s clips is a bit larger, and the spring seems stronger, though.

On my GD-77, I swapped the clip from my GD-73, which is made of metal (pic below).

Visual differences

  • The GD-77 has the yellow “Owner” strip common in TYT radios. Are we supposed to use a sharpie to write our callsign here? The DM-180 does not have it.
  • There is a slight difference in contour in the case. The Baofeng is a bit curvier than the Radioddity.
  • More speaker “grill” lines on the Baofeng.
  • Oval-shaped orange key on the GD-77; Circular orange key on the DM-1801.
  • Slightly smaller signal LED indicator on the Baofeng.

Some additional comments

There are minor differences in the hardware, which results in some nuances. For example, when you set the keypad tones to a minimum, the Baofeng gives a slight audio hiss every time you press keys.

Some users also report differences in calibration, but I think that’s device-dependent. Even GD-77 radios vary in calibration. Thus, it’s important to backup your codeplug and calibration before you do any firmware updates.

Conclusion

The Baofeng DM-1801 is a good deal. For $65, you get a radio capable of running openGD77. It also has better availability in some markets, compared with the Radioddity GD-77.

The GD-77 might be a better package if you don’t mind spending the extra 20 bucks or so. It also comes shipped with the programming cable (I have several of those lying around, from my other TYT radios). If you are buying the Baofeng and don’t have a cable yet, online sellers do offer it for around $2-$3 or so. Just make sure to specify that you need the Baofeng cable.

Some photos

Note that I am not using the stock antennae on either radio. My GD-77 uses the antenna from the Retevis RT-8, while my DM-1801 uses a Cignus stubby antenna.

The function key is colored blue on the GD-77. You might read on the guide that you need to press and hold Blue plus another key to access certain functions. on the Baofeng, it’s simply the lower sidekey.
Notice the bulge at the top part of the front fascia on the GD-77 (left). The DM-1801 (right) has a more flushed front design.
Note: I used the GD-73’s metal clip on my GD-77. The stock clip is similar to that of the DM-1801

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