Managing DMR Contacts in your Radio

For those DMR users out there, if you own a Motorola Radio, and have a subscription to the MotoTRBO CPS, then you don’t have an issue with importing new contacts into your radio.  The DMR-MARC website has tools to download the latest userlist of contacts for several models of MotoTRBO XPR radios, from which you can drag and drop new contacts to your existing codeplug.  Vertex Standard CPS works the same way, and the new Connect System CS750 has updated software that will let you import from a Comma Separated Values (.csv) file.
For those of you with a Chinese radio, you lucked out with the free programming software, but sometimes you might be adding contacts and new groups by hand.  Let me show you a better way.
N0GSG from Missouri has written a program called “Contact Manager” which will let you export the contacts from a variety of different radios to a .csv file.  Then you can open the .csv file, add more contacts, save it, and import it back into the radio.  The software also lets you add contacts from one codeplug directly into another codeplug, though I admit I haven’t tried this method.  The first time I used this software, I somehow ended up with duplicate contacts in my codeplug, so I am careful not to make that mistake again.  Adding contacts from one codeplug to another, effectively bypassing the .csv file, might work fine – I just haven’t tried it.
For today, I will show you how I use this software, and it will save you lots of time in updating your codeplug.
The following radios will work with this update.  Others might too, but this list are the only ones I have tried.
I will try to test other radios as I get my hands on them.
Steps for updating:
  1. Download the Contact Manager software from this website.  It is a free download, but N0GSG asks for a $1 donation if you find the software useful.  I have already donated my $1 and I feel I received more than my money’s worth.
  2. Open the program and click the “Open Codeplug File..” button.  Find the location of your codeplug on your computer and open it.  I suggest making a backup of your codeplug before changing it with this program.
  3. N0GSG1Once you load your codeplug into this program, it will populate all of the contacts into the field at the bottom of the window.
  4. N0GSG2Use the button on the right side to “Export All Contacts to a CSV File”  Save the file to your computer wherever you like.
  5. Use Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calculator to open the CSV file.  In this file you will find a tab with 4 columns.  The left column is the DMR subscriber ID, the next one is the contact name, then the next one is “private” or “group”, and the last column will usually be “No”  For the purposes of this demo, we will not change anything in the 2 right-hand columns, and will only update the 2 left-hand columns.
  6. At this point, you want to add more contacts.  You can get these contacts from an existing file you might have already, or from a friend’s codeplug that they sent you.  If you are in the Texas, Arkansas or Oklahoma area, you can get the codeplug from my website at this link.  You can also go to the DMR-MARC website and lookup contacts in your area or State.  Personally, I usually copy all contacts from my State so that I have a complete list.
    1. Go to DMR-MARC and click the Databases tab at the top.
    2. N0GSG3On the next page, check the box for “Query User Table” and in the search box to the right, type in the name of your State.  Click Search
    3. The results of the search will be displayed below.  In this part, I simply use my mouse to highlight all the contacts (expand the display at the bottom of the page to 100 contacts, if you want) then I copy the selection and paste them into a new spreadsheet.
    4. From this point you can copy/paste subscriber IDs and names from the new spreadsheet you just created into your CSV file.  Be sure to keep the subscriber ID a full 7 digits.  You can name the contact whatever you want. And for the last 2 columns in the CSV file, just copy/paste the same info down to all columns.
    5. Once you are finished adding all the new contacts, save your CSV file.  You can close and discard the other spreadsheet at this time.
  7. Once the CSV file is saved, go back to the Contact Manager program and click “Clear All Contacts in Work File”  Remember to make a backup of your codeplug before starting these steps.  After all the contacts are gone, click the button for “Import More Contacts from a CSV file” and go to your newly saved CSV file on your computer, and select it.  Once the screen refreshes, you will have all the contacts, old and new, from the CSV file you just updated.
  8. Click “Save Codeplug File” at the top of the window, and close the Contact Manager program.
  9. Go back to your programming software for your specific radio, and use the newly saved codeplug to shoot into your radio.  Again, having a backup is a good idea.
I always keep backups of all my codeplugs.  Every time I make an update, I re-save the plug as a new name, usually with the date.  For example, if I am saving a new codeplug for the TYT MD380, I will save it as the name “MD380_20150914” meaning that it was saved on 9/14/2015.  The next time I update it, I will save it with that date, and so on.  So I have multiple backups for my codeplug that I can go back to at any time, or load into other radios for friends or customers – just make sure you update the Subscriber ID.
This program is a nice and easy way to add to your codeplug without having to do it all by hand.  I took the codeplug from my old CS700, exported it, added a few new contacts, then I wrote it into my MD380 and my DP880 with this software.  I basically programmed 2 radios in less time than it would take to program 1 by hand.
I hope this guide was helpful, feel free to comment.