Manager - NA4M
Manager Notes

Reviews For: Connect Systems CS800

Category: Transceivers: VHF/UHF+ Amateur Base/Mobile (non hand-held)

eMail Subscription

Registered users are allowed to subscribe to specific review topics and receive eMail notifications when new reviews are posted.
Review Summary For : Connect Systems CS800
Reviews: 11MSRP: $280
DMR Mobile (Digital Mobile Radio) Voice Radio
440 45 watt Digital Voice Radio (mototrbo)
Product is in production
More Info:
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KT4WO Rating: 2022-02-26
Ehhh...Here too Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I have had many of he issues the gent. below has had.
I also have motos that work fine.
********Update 26-FEB-2022*******
I want to add---
When CS came out with this radio, it was cutting
edge! AND-- much lower cost vs Motorola.
I still use mine and its well built. But-
It is getting "long in tooth" Lacks the features
of lower cost "chinacom" radios now. This is
about a $150.00 radio now. I also use it for public
safety and it works very well for that(analog).
If this was 2015, I would buy again-- but in 2022...ehhhh
KN4YBP Rating: 2022-02-26
Good little unit Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I purchased an 800 in 2020. It worked great as I needed the power to traverse 25 miles to the target DMR repeater my HT couldn't do. I sold the 800 after upgrading to another radio from Jerry Wanger. I found I'd made a mistake letting that 800 go. Now after months I can't find another 800. Used 800's have dried up. Jerry Wanger came to my rescue again and sold me an 800 from his B stock. We both won at the deal. The 800 is a quality-reliable-powerful mono radio that I need. I have a good mix of different radios in the camper and in the truck. So now I have the best selection of equipment possible. I'll not let this 800 go. I should have been buying the 800D model from the beginning. Be wise when deciding to sell equipment. I regret all three radios I've sold.
WB8NUT Rating: 2020-03-19
Great Radio, Solid Performer Time Owned: more than 12 months.
03/19/2020 Update: While this radio works well and still available as new, it is now very outdated, limited and overpriced compared to competitive offerings.

There are much better DMR radios out now that are more suitable for hams. Newer radios are now dual band or even tried-band, hold more contacts, zones and channels, have much better displays with more information displayed, and have better CPS software (Connect Systems still requires that you have Excel on the same computer as the CPS to export and import a contact list).

Also the newer CPS from Anytone and Alinco (does NOT require Excel on the computer) keeps the Talkgroup list separate from the contact list. You can download pre-formatted contact list off the web and without any manipulation, import that list to the CPS in Alinco and Anytone and easily update the radio.

Original Review from 2016: I read some of the previous reviews and was quite puzzled by some of the comments. Not saying they did not have the experiences they noted, but I have not had similar experiences and I use this radio all the time without issue.

I purchased the radio a year ago in June 2015. At that time the radio worked well, but the firmware had a ways to go. I can now say that the firmware is very well along, the radio has tremendous functionality for hams (can have 2000 channels and over 64,000 contacts - no other DMR radio I know of has this capability).

With this amount of space to store contacts, I am able to load the entire database of worldwide amateur DMR users. So when they make a call, or I am conversing with them, their call and name appears instead of the meaningless registration number which you will find on other DMR radios limited to 1000 or so contacts.

The radio is stable. I have none of the issues previously mentioned. Complete instructions on upgrading the firmware for the radio and the panel are available for download on the Connect Systems website. I have upgraded the radio firmware at least 8 times and have upgraded the panel firmware at least three times - each time using the instructions I downloaded from their website.

The audio is excellent. The buttons on both the radio panel and the mic are all programmable. I have the radio customized exactly like I want it to operate.

Unlike many DMR radios, the CS800 can now be programmed without having to use the software program (free download), some people call it "front panel programming" since it is usually associated with a handheld.

The CS800 comes with mic, mounting bracket, power cable and programming cable.

If you want to DMR radio for mobile or home shack use, and don't want to pay a fortune for a Motorola commercial radio and software subscription, for under $290, this is a great value.

Oh, one final thought, while the radio is made in China, it does have U.S. support from Connect Systems. That is another reason to buy it is the excellent support if something were to go wrong.
VE6DO Rating: 2017-07-28
Pretty good little radio Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
I wanted something a bit better than a MD380. So looking around and seeing that many of my friends own a Connect Systems radio, I looked at the CS800. I decided that it would be a great addition to my Yaesu FT-7800R in my car (using it on 2m only with a diplexer). So after programming my code plug, and tweaking things I installed the radio and it worked as designed. It receives DMR and analog well with great audio and overall a pretty good little radio. I added an external speaker and no complaints. I am very happy with my purchase.
KY4TS Rating: 2017-04-24
Good so far Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I won this radio at the 2016 Dayton Hamvention. My only other experience with DMR was a Tytera MD-380 that I purchased at Dayton. At first, the initial setup of the CS-800 was a little confusing, but after a few re-reads of the documentation and a few "oops" moments it finally came together. The actual programming of the "code plug" wasn't that difficult since I had already been working with the 380. I've had a few unexplained glitches such as the short and long presses of the programmable buttons not working the way I programmed them, but that could have been an error on my part. All in all, it has been a solid performer both in the digital and analog modes. Right now it is operating as a base station in my shack, but at some point, I plan on mounting it in the car to see how it holds up.
K6LO Rating: 2016-12-17
A good radio but... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
A good radio. Nice audio on both conventional FM and DMR. My radio failed (operated only in temp controlled shack) twice in the first year. First the 16.8 mhz TCXO became extremely unstable with temperature. This is an inexpensive part readily available from Digikey. Three months after that, one of the 8 volt regulators simply quit. Again inexpensively remedied from Digikey. Fortunately the service manual is quite good, and can be downloaded from Connect Systems. You may find it a necessary resource. This is a single board design and it is actually pretty easy to troubleshoot and work on if you are comfortable with small SMD. Test points are well
KB2KOS Rating: 2016-08-16
nice radio Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
works great
ON3TVC Rating: 2016-07-09
Simple but the best for me Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Have it now almost one year in daily mobile use. Since the last firmware updates it is perfect in use. Loaded all the dmr id callsigns worldwide in the transceiver. Also the amount of channels is amazing. It is not a modern looking transceiver but it is easy in use. Very good radio reports also.
KC7YRA Rating: 2016-06-21
Ehhh. It works most of the time Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
Owned this for the past 6 months and have put it through the paces. Here are my findings.

First the pros. The radio is affordable, the CPS is easy to use, and the radio generally works quite well.

Now the cons. BUGGY!!! Everything about this unit is buggy to the point of barely being acceptable. The display will lock up often. If you are receiving a conversation on a distant repeater then drive out of range, the display will continue to show the last heard ID and whatever data you have programmed for it. You either must restart the radio or transmit to get it to pop back.

The other issue I have is if I am sitting on a simplex frequency but scanning a repeater which is in use, I will then transmit on the simplex channel but the display will act as if I am transmitting on the received repeater (No, I do not have talkback turned on. Yes, I am sure it is actually transmitting on the simplex frequency).

Another problem I have been having is one where I will be having a conversation and suddenly others hear me briefly transmit then stop nearly a half second later, despite me keeping on the PTT and talking away. The only way to remedy this is to turn the radio off and back on again. This issue has been observed on several different units all running varying degrees of firmware.

Speaking of firmware, how does one go about upgrading it in the radio and head? The instructions are non existent and it is not intuitive AT ALL!! I own and upgrade firmware on everything from Motorola to Icom equipment without issue, but the CS stuff is killing me.

Our group has also had a couple situations where the radio will be performing correctly then, without any programming changes, spontaneously change the function of buttons. So, for example, if you lose the zone down button, you will reach the top of the zones you've created and be stuck. They are not cyclical like other manufacturers. The only fix is to haul out the programming equipment and blow in another CP.

The few issues I noted (and almost a dozen more) is why I'm not super stoked about this radio. It works KINDA, and it does it on a budget. Good enough for me in this particular use. But name brand commercial mobiles (of which I own several) all function perfectly. They are polished to a degree which I now expect. If CS can just get the bugs worked out in following firmware (then make a decipherable path to upgrade that firmware), they will have a competitive product.
NT9M Rating: 2016-05-31
Affordable DMR mobile Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
I was surprised that there was just one review of this radio.

I've had my CS-800 for nearly a year now. Firmware's been updated a couple of times. Mine developed a strange problem that was temperature related. But I give kudos to Connect Systems for great support and taking care of their customers. It's been working great ever since.

I nearly purchased a Motorola mobile, but changed my mind and went with Connect Systems instead and it was the right decision for me. At nearly one-third the price I got a mobile that works analog and DMR with plenty of power and free programming software. I've heard plenty of Motorola's on the DMR system and they don't sound three times better on the air. Some sounded the like the audio was over-driven. I've always received good audio reports on my 800. I think much depends on how you handle the microphone of any radio.

There's a learning curve in setting up the radio since it's got more in common with LMR than the amateur service. But there are helpful videos on YouTube and many groups and state networks have code plugs you can adapt to your locale.

This is my second radio from Connect Systems. A CS 700 is the first and I love that radio. A solid 5 on that one. I would rank the CS 800 radio as a 4 and the customer experience with Connect Systems a solid 5. That's 4.5 and I'm rounding up to a 5 on this one.