Dec 21 2015

DV4Mini

K9WTH (Mark) turned me onto this neat little device.

 

DV4miniHR

 

For $129 you get a small USB stick that along with a control panel will give you the ability to have a DSTAR, DMR+, BrandMeister, APCO P25, dPMR, and Yaesu System Fusion (C4FM) hotspot.  Unfortunately, there is no direct support for Motorola DMR Networks currently, however, via the BrandMeister system there are ways to link up to certain talk groups on the DMR side.

I have successfully tested all modes, except for dPMR.

My preferred control panel is DF4MF2 and I’m currently running the beta 1.64 firmware.

 

Dec 05 2015

Connect Systems CS700 to CS750 Upgrade

After sending one of my CS700’s off for the upgrade to a CS750, I’m sending off my second one for the same work.  The improvements were worth the additional $60 in my opinon.  The expanded memory and the ability to field upgrade firmware, etc. are a must.

 

I keep some of the cheaper DMR HT’s around, because during demos, I know that’s what most hams will buy because of the price point.  For those of you who follow this web page, you know I’ve tried multiple DMR radio vendors.  In the end, I’ve settled on Motorola due to their superior software feature set (cut and paste, specifically) and their reliability.  I know this isn’t an option for many of you due to the costs involved.  So I urge you to find a radio that works for you and go with it.

Nov 17 2015

BridgeComm BCH-220 1.25M HT

While attending the Ft. Wayne Hamfest, I happened by the BridgeComm booth.  I’ve been a BridgeComm customer for quite some time now, owning both a c-Bridge and a BCR-40U 70cm Repeater.  I’m here to tell you that I cannot think of a single vendor anywhere that has better customer service than the folks at BridgeComm.  For ~6 months after I purchased the repeater, I’d get an email once a month just checking in to see how things were going.  Who does that these days????  Ron @ BridgeComm does!

 

I’ve been a fan of 220Mhz for a long time now.  I’ve owned various 1.25M radios over the years.  There are plenty of imports out there offering cheap radios, but I challenge you to pop off the battery and look for a legit FCC tag.  Most of them will not have it.  However, you will find one on the BCH-220.

 

I purchased the radio with the programming software, but decided to fiddle around without the software and as of this post, I have yet to install it.  I’ve been able to do everything I needed to do from the keypad.  There are few learning curves, but those are easily overcome.

 

So far, I’m liking the HT and if I were to pick a 220MHz carry HT, the BCH-220 would be it, hands down.

Nov 16 2015

TransTRBO DMR Dispatch Console

More information can be found HERE.

Will offers a free license to amateur radio operators.  I’ve been using it for weeks now during Net time to help distinguish who’s checked it, etc.  It’s a great little piece of software.

So far I’ve tested it with:

  • XPR4350
  • XPR5550
  • XPR7550

Nov 14 2015

IRC Appointment

Today, I was appointed as the new web master of the Indiana Repeater Council website.  I’ve been working on this off and on over the last few months, but could not officially do anything until the appointment was well….  official!

We hope that the new website will go live around the first of the year.  If you have suggestions for improvements, please reach out.

Nov 02 2015

Code Plug Repository

We’ve finally found a good file management system for use on our website. The Crossroads DMR Codeplug Repository is now live:

http://www.crossroadsdmr.org/?page_id=298

We’re going to take a different approach to how code plugs are provided. Instead of providing a single code plug with what we think you might want or arranged how we want, we’re going to provide multiple examples by various hams. If you’d like to submit your code plug, please email it to us at codeplugs@crossroadsdmr.org. Please name it in this format: “Callsign – Radio Model.xxx”

The hope is that by being able to review various examples and methods of arranging code plug information you’ll find something that you like or perhaps even improve on an existing method. If you do, please submit your improved codeplug so that others may benefit. The added benefit of examining various methods is that you might learn something in the process, I know I have!

Enjoy!

Nov 02 2015

New Talk Groups

As word continues to spread about the proper use of the wide-area calling talk groups (Worldwide, Worldwide English, North America, etc.) utilization of the PTT activated talk groups have increased. The idea is to make your contact on one of the wide-area TG’s then move off to a PTT activated talkgroup in order to carry out your QSO but tie up as few repeaters as possible. TAC-310 has traditionally been the go-to TG as well as TAC-311. DMR-MARC has also added the UA-English 1 & 2. Since TAC-310/311 are now seeing increased use, DCI has added TAC-312, which has now been added to our c-Bridge. This is nothing more than another option to use to take your QSO off of a wide-area talk group. Currently the talk group has only been added to the c-Bridge, but will we be rolling it out to repeaters as trustees ask for it.

 

Talkgroup #4639 has been added to the NF9K Indy Repeater. This TG is part of the Hytera DMR-Plus MotoBridge and connects TG #9 up to the Nationwide Hytera reflector. I’ve also updated the MotoBridge configuration so that TG #4639 is the default TG. Should you wish to connect to the Georgia or Texas Reflectors, you can key those TG’s up and then switch back to TG #9 for the voice traffic. Remember at the Hytera implementation is similar to DSTAR in that the 4000 series TG’s are control only and all voice traffic takes place on TG #9.

Nov 02 2015

NF9K Technical Specialist Report – October 2015

Well, there went October….

I continued my work with the various DSTAR Raspberry Pi images and have settled on the Maryland DSTAR Image as they are the only ones who support the dual-band DVMega board out of the box.  While dual-band, the board shares it’s serial interface, so only one band is usable at a given time.  There are some plans in place for a true dual-band board at some point, however.  I seem to have resolved my lock up issues with my DSTAR Hotspot and the culprit was a bad Pi 2.


In the DMR world, I installed a Henry Amplifier on my main DMR machine in Indy along with a different set of duplexers.  The difference was amazing.  while the coverage area hasn’t increased that much, penetration has.  Doing some research on a pre-amp based upon the recommendation of a fellow Ham in Tennessee.  If this continues to work well, I will look to replicate these changes on my Monrovia machine.


Received a call from a fellow Ham asking for some help in programming his new Tytera MD-380.  After sending him a code plug and answering some of his questions, he was off to the races.


Took a quick look at the SmartPTT DMR solution, not so much for it’s c-Bridge like capabilities, but for it’s dispatch console feature.  I’m still gathering information at this point, but it looks like it might be possible to use the dispatch console and a PC with an audio device as a “DMR hot spot.”  I didn’t get too deep into it, but hope to continue my experimentation in November.


Sent one of my Connect Systems CS700’s back for the upgrade to a CS750.  I’m pretty happy with the results, especially the large number of contacts that the radio can hold as well the ease by which they can be imported.  At this point, I’m planning to spend the $60 to upgrade my other CS700, which is currently loaned out.


Formalized my plans to attend the Ft. Wayne Ham Fest.  I’m looking forward to that as it’s been a good time.  Unsure at this point if we’ll have a table or not.


Made a few changes to a c-Bridge manager at the request of the trustee and began building out a new manager for an existing trustee.  Slowly but surely hammering out the latter while balance work and life.

Added a control talk group for the Hytera Nationwide reflector to my Indy machine.  They seem to be making improvements in that slowly but surely.  I think it’s pretty cool toy see Hams finding ways to bring dissimilar technologies together.

One of my long time projects finally saw the light to day this past month.  I’ve been wanting to build an APRS IGate/Digirepeater for quite some time now.  I stumbled across an update notice to the Dire Wolf linux package and that got the creative juices flowing.  Initially I had some trouble with the audio interface and since I was bringing several different pieces of puzzle together, I needed to establish a baseline.  To that end, I pulled my audio interface and replaced it with one of my SignaLink boxes.  That was what I needed to finalize the Pi 2 configuration and it’s currently running on my bench connected to a dummy load.  Given my proximity to several high-profile Digis, I will likely cut it back to IGate only functionality down the road, but it’s been a learning experience and a lot of fun.  Now that I have it running and know that the Pi 2 config is good, I can start working with the other components to get them figured out.

Until next month….  Let’s remember our Veterans on November 11th and may you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.


73,
Bill Atkinson, NF9K
ARRL Technical Specialist
ARRL VE/OO
Laurel VE
PODXS 070 Club #1595
30MDG #6014

www.nf9k.net
www.crossroadsdmr.org

Oct 15 2015

Repeater Upgrade

This evening the following upgrades were installed to the NF9K Indianapolis DMR Repeater:

  • Installation of a Henry Amplifier for 100W output with 20W drive
  • Changed out duplexers
  • Swapped out the Verizon internet hardware

 

 

Before

repeater upgrade before

After

repeater upgrade after

Sep 24 2015

DSTAR Hotspot

I’ve done some experimentation in the past with a DVAP DSTAR Hotspot running on a Raspberry Pi.  Prior to my latest vacation in the Gatlinburg, TN area, I wanted to play around with another setup.  I borrowed a hotspot setup still based around the Raspberry Pi, but using the DV Mega Board instead of the DVAP.  This is a much cleaner installation as it doesn’t have the extra cables, etc., that come along with the DVAP.

The one thing that is missing for either setup is a nice case to keep it all contained and neat.  A fellow ham in TN, turned me on to Hardened Power Systems who makes a 3D printed case for a DSTAR Hotspot using either the DV Mega Board or the DVAP USB Adapter.  They call it the DHAP or Digital Ham Access Point.  Note that the link I provided goes to the DV Mega version.  If you have a DVAP, make sure and order the proper one.

Noticing that the company was in TN, I reached out with hopes to be able to pick on up in person, but alas they were ~2 hours away from Gatlinburg.  After talking to them, they said I could order one online and have it in a couple of days so well before I left.  An important note, the DHAP is designed for use with the Raspberry Pi B+ or the Raspberry Pi 2.  It does not work with the original A or B models, which of course is what I had on the trip.  Enter Amazon Prime and I had a new Pi 2 the next day well ahead of the arrival of my DHAP.

The DHAP has a DC/DC Buck Convertor in it able to take input voltages from 5VDC to 36VDC and also includes a built in battery case for four 18650 LiPo cells.  There is no transition between power options so plugging in an external power supply cuts the batteries.  The batteries must be removed and charged external to the DHAP.  I ran on two LiPo batteries for a few hours before they went dead.  Obviously your mileage may vary given TX duty cycle, etc.

Here are some pictures of my setup utilizing the single band (70 cm) DV Mega Board:

dhap-1 dhap-2a dhap-2 dhap-3

I’ve followed 3D printing with mild interest, but obviously wondered what one could seriously do with it.  The folks at Hardened Power Systems have showed me exactly what some good engineering can turn out.

As these are 3D printed and very rugged, the finer parts are a bit brittle due to the 3D printing process.  I ended up stripping out one of the screw holes that anchors the Pi to the case and there is a small piece of printed plastic that serves as a wire guide which I snapped off accidentally as well.  I was being careful and not torquing things down, etc., and still had these minor issues.  Perhaps in time, the product will evolve and reduce the possibilities of incidents like I had.  The have already evolved to use rare earth magnets as a closer mechanism vs. plastic tabs on the earlier versions.

The one thing that I really felt was missing from the package was a 90 degree SMA adapter, which I obtained from Amazon for ~$5.

The DHAP sells for $99 and is available direct or from GigaParts.  In fact, the latter sells complete DHAP setups including the DV Mega Board and Pi.  It is a really nice setup especially if you plan to travel with your hotspot.

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