Oct 19 2014

New DMR Repeater

I will be receiving a Motorola XPR8400 this week.  It’ll spend some time on the bench, but as soon as I can get an antenna up and duplexers tuned, I’ll be putting it on the air.  Right now, my network affiliation is up in the air, as I’m not sure if I’m going to hop on board the DMR-MARC network since we already have another high profile repeater there.  I’ve been looking at the DCI network.

 

I will update this post as I make progress.  I intend to get the repeater up and running and joined to the network, but will likely run it from the bench into a dummy load for a few days while I work out any bugs.

 

Frequency coordination is also pending and subject to change.  See the repeater info page for details.

Oct 13 2014

Hytera DMR Radio Reviews

I have three Hytera DMR radios.  The MD782G Mobile, PD782G HT and the PD362 micro-HT.

 

MD782G

This is a nice mobile.  Unlike the XPR4550 is has a color LCD screen, affording you a little more information in an easier to read format.  Beyond that, the radio is very similar to the XPR4550 in form factor and feature set.  I plan to make this my primary mobile in my vehicle and put the XPR4550 with it’s separation kit in the XYL’s car.  There is also a remote separation kit for the MD782G, but it runs ~$300.  I’m not sure why it’s so expensive.  I plan to investigate at some point.

One slightly annoying think is that the Hytera’s all display an “End of Call” notification when the repeater closes squelch.  Even though you don’t hear the squelch close, it’s the best way that I can explain it.  On your traditional analog amateur repeater, we’re used to hearing the courtesy tone followed by a short squelch tail.  Imagine that at the end of the squelch tail the radio would display “End of Call.”  It also beeps when ending the call, but I was able to find a software setting to turn that tone off, which makes this notification significantly more tolerable.

The programming cable for this radio ran me ~$50, but I think I could have bought it for a little less, maybe $35ish.  YMMV.

 

PD782G

This is basically the portable version of the MD782G.  Very similar to program and very similar in feature set and operation.  Right now this is my primary DMR carry HT.

Like the MD782G, the programming cable for the PD782G ran me around $20.

 

PD362

This is the micro-HT.  It is slightly bigger than your average cell phone.  Very nice little package.  However, smaller package in this case equals less features.  The shortcomings as I see them:

  • Only two RX Group Lists.  So even if you’re not scanning you’re pseudo scanning because the channel you’re on will receive any talkgroup that is in the RX Group List.  In the other radios, you’re allowed multiple RX Group Lists, allowing you to place each talkgroup in it’s own list and assign that to a given channel.  Thus if you’re not scanning and are sitting on that one talkgroup, you’re going to only receive that one talkgroup.  I don’t know if this is a hardware limitation or a firmware limit and if anything can be done about it.
  • The end of call tone cannot be turned off.  You can work around this by turning all tones off, but then you lose keypad, talk permit and all other tones.  I’ve done this in hopes that they will develop a firmware update to allow more selective control of the tones.
  • No nuisance delete option when scanning.
  • For some reason this radio used a special CPS as opposed to the MD782G and the PD782G which use the same CPS.  It is somewhat limited and does not allow the import of contacts like the previous two radios.

Those are my two biggest complaints with the radio.  Beyond that, I love the form factor.  The belt clip could be improved to have a spring loaded clip vs. a molded one.

The programming cable in included with the radio.  So once you locate the CPS, you’re ready to go.

 

Hytera CPS and Firmware are freely available from dealers as I understand it.  But you have to find a dealer willing to give it to you.  You cannot download it form their website without becoming a partner and the qualification for partner requires credit applications, minimum purchases, etc.  Not something the average Ham is going to mess with.  As with Motorola the CPS can be found in the wild as well as the Firmware upgrades, but it does take a bit of searching.

One cool feature is the ability to import a Excel contact list into the software.  There are some nuances to preparing the contact list, but once you do it, it does make it easy.  I have a spreadsheet used to prepare the contacts I pull from the N6DVA website.  One important note:  In you want to import 50 contacts, then your exported spreadsheet must also contain 50 contacts.  Otherwise it just won’t work.  And no error message is generated to tell you why.  I wrestled with this for a couple of days before getting it all figured out.

While the Hytera CPS does all some copy and paste operations, it’s not nearly as nice as the MotoTRBO software.

Oct 13 2014

Motorola DMR Radio Reviews

As mentioned previously, I have two Motorola DMR Radios.  The XPR6550 HT and the XPR4550 Mobile.  Here are my thoughts on each:

 

XPR6550

I have nothing that I dislike about this radio.  It is a compact rugged unit that has all the features that one could ask for.  If I could ask for anything it would be a larger display, but then one could just say, go buy an XPR7550 (albeit at twice the price!).  The unit I have has an IMPRES battery and charger.

I paid ~$60 for my OEM programming cable.

 

XPR4550

Again, a real rock solid mobile.  It is rather larger, though so mounting might be a bit of a challenge.  I was able to locate a remote separation kit for it, however.  Be careful if you’re shopping for one, because the remote mount comes in two pieces.  The head mount and the remote radio face place and a cable kit.  If you look carefully you’ll find package deals with both pieces going for about the same price as the single kit.  If I had to pick something I didn’t like about the XPR4550, it would be the orange emergency button is on of the regularly programmable function buttons.  After nearly 20 years as an LEO, I purposely do not program the orange button on any of my radios, because it has been instilled in my that it is an EMERGENCY button and that’s it.  However, there is a button kit out there that will allow you to re-purpose that button for something else.  I think the kit cost me less than $10 shipped.

The programming cable ran ~$50.

 

The only downfall to these radios, is the same that befalls all Motorola radios.  The requirement to purchase a CPS license to program them.  While you can find copies on the wild internet, these are not legal for use and as of CPS 8.5, they only program narrow band.  So if you plan to mix analog repeaters with your DMR channels, you’re stuck at 12.5KHz spacing.  You can get an entitlement key to enable 25KHz spacing, but part of that process is verifying that you have a valid MOL account and a valid/current CPS license.  At last look the MotoTRBO CPS was $265 for three years of coverage/support.  So purchasing the MotoTRBO software will allow you to download CPS updates, firmware updates and get support for a period of three years for the entire line of MotoTRBO gear.  When you think about it, that’s less than $8 per month.  But when some manufacturers give away their software, that has some appeal.

The Motorola CPS does have a very good copy and paste operation, making it easy to move configuration items between radios.  Out of all the radios I’ve played with thus far, the MotoTRBO CPS is superior.

Another Motorola CPS note:  Once you write to a radio with say v10.0 of the CPS, all earlier versions can no longer read the radio.  This is important to remember when purchasing a used radio online.  It’s always good to know what version of CPS is was last programmed with.  Of course, with a legal license for CPS, you can just go to the Motorola website and download the needed version.  As with anything, the most recent isn’t always the best.

Oct 05 2014

DMR radios I have experience with

In my exploration of DMR, I’ve owned the following radios:

 

Motorola

  1. XPR6550
  2. XPR4550

 

Hytera

  1. PD362 – For Sale: $325
  2. MD782G
  3. PD782G

 

Connect Systems

  1. CS700 – Amateur Radio Operator price is $180 direct from CSI.  If you’re a licensed Amateur, do not buy it anywhere else and pay more!

 

Kirisun

  1. DP770

 

As I get some more experience and use these radios in various ways, I’ll post more about each one.  If you have any questions about a particular radio, I’m happy to answer what I can.

Oct 05 2014

NF9K September 2014 Technical Specialist Report

September was a bit of a slow month due to our regular vacation to Gatlinburg, TN and a business trip to South San Francisco.  However even with losing two weeks out of the month I still found some time for experimentation.

 

DMR, or Digital Mobile Radio, is a new mode that seems to be growing like wild fire.  Others may recognize MotoTrbo which is Motorola’s take on DMR.  While stlll maintaining basic compatibility with non-Moto gear, there are features that may not work when using non-Moto radios with Moto repeaters.  However, I have yet to find any such incompatibilities.

 

Indianapolis got it’s first DMR repeater online while I was on vacation.  It’s a UHF machine on 441.200+ (Color Code 1) and has fairly good coverage.  As this repeater participates in the DMR-MARC network, it is a Motorola Repeater.  The DMR-MARC Network currently only allows Motorola repeaters (XPR8300, XPR8400, etc.) to join because other manufacturers (Hytera for example) do not have a compatible version of their IP Site Connect.  Additionally the MARC stands for Motorola Amateur Radio Club, so even if a Hytera repeater were compatible, I’m not sure the politic would allow it to join, but there are talks of trying to do just that.

 

The interesting thing about DMR is that it takes a standard repeater frequency pair and splits it to two time slots via TDMA.  So a stand alone repeater is capable of carrying two simultaneous voice/data channels at one time.  Those times slots can be further split up into talk groups, although only on given talk group can be active at a given time.  The standard offering here in Indiana looks like this:

 

TS1:

TG1 – Worldwide

TG3 – North Amertica

TG13 – Worldwide English

TG310 – TAC-310

 

TS2:

TG2: Local

TG719: Eastern Indiana

TG3118: Indiana Statewide

TG3169: Midwest Regional

 

For this who are carefully playing at home, you’re probably wondering how two time slots and eight talk groups work.  The answer is as you suspect, only one talk group can be active on a time slot at any given time.  So while tie model is a based a bit on over subscription, what I see happening is that the broad contacts are made on TS1 and perhaps then transitioned to TS2.  I’ve been playing with DMR for the last two weeks and have found it enjoyable and rarely have I been “bonked” when trying to use the system.

 

I’m currently working with several radios including:

Motorola XPR6550 Handheld

Motorola XPR4550 Mobile

Connect Systems CS700 Handheld  (Available to licensed amateurs for $180)

Hytera PD362 Mini Handheld

Hytera MD782G Mobile

Hytera PD782G Handheld (still on it’s way)

Kirisun DP770 Handheld (still on it’s way)

 

My experience has shown the mode to offer very reliable and good quality voice with great range.  I’ve done a lot of ops from an HT with a stubby duck inside of a car miles from a repeater with great results.

 

For those of you who might be experimenting, I’m usually monitoring the Local TG2 on the W9AMT repeater.  And in the spirit of things, if you have any questions regarding the mode or specifically any of the radios I’ve worked with, please feel free to let me know.  I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.  I’m also updating my website on a regular basis with my findings.

 

Let’s hope by this time next month we’d not putting down the HT’s and picking up the snow shovels!

Sep 27 2014

Radios for Sale!

Clearing out my inventory to make room for some new DMR gear.

 

Wouxun KG-UV6D

 

Kenwood TK-481-1 900MHz Radio

 

Motorola XTS 3K/5K Advanced XTVA

 

Motorola Saber 2 UHF

 

Motorola HT-1000 UHF (2)

 

Motorola DTR 550 (2)

Sep 20 2014

Hello DMR!

Indianapolis has it’s first DMR repeater online.  W9AMT (441.200+) using Color Code 1.  The repeater is a member of the DMR-MARC world wide network and carries multiple talkgroups across it’s two time slots.  I have eight talk groups programmed into my HT across both time slots.  For reference:

  1. TS1/TG1 : DMR-MARC World Wide
  2. TS1/TG3 : DMR-MARC North America
  3. TS1/TG13 : DMR-MARC World Wide English
  4. TS1/TG310 : DMR-MARC TAC310
  5. TS2/TG2 : DMR-MARC Local
  6. TS2/TG719 : DMR-MARC Eastern Indiana
  7. TS2/TG3118 : DMR-MARC Indiana Statewide
  8. TS2/TG3169 : DMR-MARC Midwest Regional

My first radio, the Connect Systems CS-700, was ordered while I was still on vacation.  I was able to work out most of the programming so that when i arrived home, all I needed to do was connect the new radio to my laptop and download the radio template that I’d been working on.  I also added the N9CZV systems in Muncie, IN and Lynn, IN.

I chose the CS-700 based upon it’s amateur radio price of $180.  The programming cable was $5 and shipping was $10.  So for $195, I had the radio shipped and ready to rock and roll.  The software and drivers area available on the CSI website.

I suspect that I will expand my DMR inventory over the next few weeks

If you’re interested in DMR, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned as well as details on radios that I have.  Just shoot me an email!

wpid-20140921_205521.jpgwpid-20140921_205658.jpg

 

Aug 15 2014

Scammer Alert: Hijacked Call – KD0UYD

I received an email from ryankd0uyd@outlook.com in response to a wanted ad I posted on eham.net.  After being ask to send an USPS MO to an address in a different state that the QRZ registration, I was immediately suspicious.  In checking QRZ, I noticed a different email address, so I reached out via that address and made contact with the real Ryan.  He confirmed his call had been hijacked and informed me that someone in Canada was taken for ~$200 last week, probably by the same scum bag.
The address where I was told to send the payment is as follows.  After a little googling, it appears that address has been used for other scams:

 

Maryjo Mellor 
5700 windy gorge street Las vegas, 
Nevada 89149

 

Potential Scammer warning signs:

  • Request to send payment via Western Union
  • Request to send payment to a different address than listed on QRZ or FCC ULS
  • Use of one of the many free email services (not a conclusive indicator, but when combined with other warning signs, take heed).

Aug 05 2014

NF9K July 2014 Technical Specialist Report

 The first half of the month was primarily devoted to putting the final touches on the Raspberry Pi presentation for the Indianapolis Ham Fest.  Both Ed and I finished up the live demos we were going to be presenting and made sure that everything was in order.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to present and look forward to future opportunities.

     Dick McKenna (W9FG) who is a member of the Indianapolis HamFest Association told me that we had ~55 people at the seminar, which was the most of any seminar held that day.  We’ve been ask to consider presenting again next year and were also ask by a few local clubs if we’d be interested in bringing the presentation to their club meetings.  So if we can coordinate schedules the “Meet the Raspberry Pi,” may become, “The Raspberry Pi Road Show!”

     That pretty much wraps up July.  After the HamFest was in the books, life kept me busy for the rest of the month.

     See you next month!

Jul 12 2014

Meet the Raspberry Pi @ The Indianapolis Hamfest

A few months ago, I was approached by members of the Indianapolis Hamfest Association about doing a presentation on the Raspberry Pi at this year’s Hamfest.  Naturally with anything like this, I immediately thought of Ed, my fellow ARRL VE/Technical Specialist.  Today we were called the Ham Radio Mad Scientists of our generation.  As I think about that, I can’t disagree.  Ed and I work very closely together on a regular basis experimenting or trying new things within this wonderful hobby of ours.

That brings us right up to today.  The weeks/months since I was initially ask have flown by and today was the day.  I’m happy to report that what I’m now called, “The Raspberry Pi Road Show,” was a great success.  The road show moniker was adopted as we were as immediately after our presentation about doing it for another Central Indiana Amateur Radio Club.  So it seems we’ll be taking it on the road, which is quite an honor.

Today, we had 55 attendees and the audience remained interested and engaged throughout the entire presentation.  I was a bit surprised at the number of people in the audience who owned a Pi.  That allowed me to quickly move through some of the technical specs of the device and concentrate on the projects that Ed and I have been working on.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ed for his help. We made a great team and it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without him.

If by chance, you’ve found yourself here because you were one of the attendees, first off thank you very much for attending.  Over the next few days, both Ed and I will be gathering together the various materials that we used for the projects and making them available both here and on Ed’s website.

 

meet the raspberry pi

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