Dec 19 2014

New DMR Radio – Motorola SL300

Just received a new SL300 display radio today.  Here’s my initial thoughts:

Pros:

1). The form factor is really nice.  Very thin.  It fits nicely in the holster, which is a little bulkier than I expected, but I’ll know more tomorrow after I’ve carried the radio.

2). The active display is nothing short of cool.  It’s hidden until it’s on, then it’s hidden again.  It’s not as informative as an LCD screen, but there are give and takes for such a small package.  And with a little understanding of the icons the display is quite intuitive.  More so than I initially expected.

3). The antenna is extremely small.  This particular radio uses an active antenna setup that allows for a very small external piece.

4). The buttons are easy to use and after a little playing I find that I can manipulate the functions of the radio quite easily.

 

Cons:

1). This is the first Motorola radio that doesn’t allow direct cut and past between other code plugs and the the SL300 code plug.  This was a major disappointment.  Since this is a new radio, I’m hoping we see some firmware upgrades soon to resolve this and some of the other Cons that follow.

2). Digital contacts can only be FOUR characters in length.  I’ve seen mention of this on some of the boards, but it is very limiting.

3). No support for anything but alpha and numeric characters in various fields throughout the config.  No dashes, etc.  So when copying anything into the code plug that contacts a dash or # or anything other than a letter or number, the field is renamed to Channel 1, Channel 2, etc.

4). Channel names can only be 12 characters in length.  Any channel that you copy in over that gets renamed as noted above.

5). The channel clear tone evidently ignores the setting in CPS.  So any time a channel clears the radio beeps.  I find this behavior very annoying.  I actually got rid of my Hytera P362 because of this feature.  I’m hoping Motorola fixes this soon.

6). Inability to cut/paste contacts is a major drag.  They paste into the code plug just fine, but rename to 1,2,3,4, etc.  There are 124 contacts in Indiana.  I’ve tried cutting and pasting from various code plugs generated from the trbolnk.com website.  Hopefully this gets fixed soon, but I’m likely going to find myself typing in the contacts at least for Indiana.

7). While not a major, you are limited to 256 contacts with the SL300.  I just selected IN and OH on the generator and it wound up being 304, so I had to just drop back to IN.  No fix for this and I’ll learn to live with it, but I figured it was worth mentioning.  Beats the 32 contact capacity of the Hytera PD362.

So that’s pretty much it.  I’m sure I’ll learn more as I continue to play.  Any questions, please feel free to ask.  I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.

Dec 08 2014

DMR Repeater Talkgroup Renumbering

In an effort to be as scalable as possible, I’ve decided to renumber the talkgroup on Time Slot 1 of the NF9K DMR machine.  Previously Talkgroup #6395 (Metro Indy) was the primary talkgroup on this time slot.  It is also the one that is linked via IRLP to the other NF9K repeaters as well as those of K3HTK via the W9ICE IRLP Reflector #9737.

Talkgroup #6395 (Metro Indy) will become Talkgroup #63951 (Metro 1).  This change will happen on Saturday, December 13th, 2014.  This renumber will provide a scalable foundation as we look to launch new features on this machine.

Please note:  Only talk groups published by a repeater trustee may be used on his/her repeater.  Using anything put the current/published talk groups may have a negative impact on repeater operation and could potentially cause the offending user to be banned from the machine.  Additionally, using unpublished talk groups is a violation of FCC Rules and Regulations as such activity will be interpreted as an attempt to obscure/hide communications.

 

Again just to summarize, after December 13th, 2014, talk group #6395 (Metro Indy) should no longer be used on TS1 of the NF9K DMR Repeater.  Talk group 63951 (Metro 1) should be used instead.

Any questions, please feel free to contact me.  And as always, enjoy the repeater!

Dec 06 2014

November 2014 Technical Specialist Report

And here we are in December…..  Where has this year gone?

Received all of the hardware for my second Raspberry Pi’s IRLP Node (#8154).  This node connects TG #6395 on Time Slot #1 of my DMR machine to IRLP.  As mentioned previously, I have that Time Slot disconnected from the DMR-MARC network.  That node is currently connected to the W9ICE IRLP Reflector (#9737) along with my other node connecting my 70cm analog and 33cm analog machines.  Ed’s (K3HTK) machines are also connected to that reflector as well.  I’m using an XPR4350 mobile radio for my link.

My DMR work/experimentation continues.  I’m looking at interfacing a time slot/talk group to the AllStar repeater network.  At this point, I’m just beginning to look at hardware/interfaces.  But this will provide something new to the Indy Metro area.  I’m also very close to being able to relocate my DMR machine to a much higher-profile site.

I also purchased a new BridgeCom BCR-40U Repeater to replace the Kenwood TKR-820 on my 70cm analog system.  So far the repeater is working great and I had no issues interfacing it to my Arcom RC-210 controller.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the TKR-820 that I took out of service.  But I’m considering keeping it around as a spare or trying to build a DSTAR repeater out of it.  I’ve heard good things about this board: http://arsrepeaters.com/D-Star_Repeater_Control.php and it sounds like a fun project.

And if I don’t have enough repeater projects on deck, I’m also going to work on building a machine for The Boy Scouts at Camp Belzer this winter.  I have an offer of a donated machine, but it’s an old crystal controlled unit and I’d like to use something synthesized if possible.  I have a couple of MaxTracs that I was originally planning to use for my 70cm machine before I acquired the TKR-820.  Their machine will be a low profile machine, so we don’t need a whole lot of power, etc.

Speaking of The Boy Scouts, we had our final VE session for 2014 on November 8th.  Here is a summary of our 2014 VE testing with the BSA from Brian Murrey (KB9BVN) – “In 2014 had 31 people test with us, we issued 33 element exams, 27 of  those exams were passed. 22 of these people were Boy Scouts or Scout
leaders. We ran a total of six testing sessions, our four regular sessions, and two special sessions for the Scouts.”  I look forward to continued participation in 2015!

Continued to exchange emails with Howard (W6IDS) regarding Broadband HamNet.

That’s about it.  I’m on vacation the last half of December and am looking forward to some bench/shack time.

I hope that everyone has a safe and very Merry Christmas and may one of those presents under the tree be something ham-related!

Nov 21 2014

New 70cm Analog Machine

The heart of the NF9K 70cm Repeater (442.850+) has been replaced.  Formerly I ran a Kenwood TKR-820 repeater, which has been replaced with a BridgeCom BCR-40U repeater.  Nothing else has changed with the machine.  So far I’m quite impressed with the BCR.  It has a great form factor and the rack mount case it quite welcome.

Nov 10 2014

New IRLP Node #8154

As of this evening, my second IRLP node is online.  Node #8154 is interfaced to TS1, TG #6395 of my DMR repeater via a Motorola XPR4350.  The node is currently connected to IRLP Reflector #9737, connecting it to my other two repeaters as well as those of K3HTK in Noblesville.

Nov 03 2014

NF9K October 2014 Technical Specialist Report

The watchword for October was DMR….  Basically a continuation of my exploration of this up and coming digital mode.  I’ve added a couple of new DMR radios to my collection, sold a couple and traded a couple…..  All the updates on various models can be found on my website (www.nf9k.net).  If you have any questions surrounding a particular radio that I’ve worked with, please reach out and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that I can.  I’m also happy to provide a sample code plug to get you started.

 

The culmination of October was my acquisition of a new XPR8400 DMR repeater.  I’m currently exploring a couple of different options for sites around Indianapolis, but for now, it’s running from my QTH along with my 70cm and 33cm analog machines.

 

Since we have one high-profile DMR machine here in Indy already, it made very little sense to offer the exact same options, so in the spirit of our hobby and experimentation, I’m doing things a little different.

 

As mentioned last month, DMR offers up two time slots allowing two simultaneous QSO’s at a time.  I’m going to leave my second time slot (TS2) connected to the DMR-MARC network, so initially it will be offering the same talkgroups:

 

Local, TG #2

IN Statewide, TG #3118

Midwest, TG #3169

 

Randy (WB9VLE), Dave (N9CZV) and I have a vision for a true statewide talkgroup that does not have contention for a time slot like the current setup.  With the current setup, anyone talking on Local or Midwest will busy out the time slot and make TS2 unavailable resulting in a, “Bonk” if you try to key up statewide.

 

As we move forward over the next few weeks/months, we’ll be rolling out our statewide talkgroup on TS2.

 

My time slot 1 (TS1) will not be network via DMR-MARC and will instead be joined up with my two analog machines as well as those of Ed (K3HTK) in Noblesville via the W9ICE IRLP Reflector #9737.  I will be offering a single talkgroup on this time slot:

 

Metro Indy, TG #6395

 

Info for my new DMR machine:

 

441.025+, Color Code 1, with the above listed talkgroups.  The IRLP link is not in place yet as I’m waiting on the link radio and the IRLP board, but I expect them this week.

 

As proof that DMR is growing: On October 29th, 2014 the 10,000th DMR Radio ID was issued to Blane Wilson (K3LYE) of Jacksonville, FL.

 

I also received an email from a Ham in Richmond, IN (Howard, W6IDS), who is getting into experimenting with the Broadband HamNet solution.  Ed (K3HTK) and I have worked with the Broadband Hamnet stuff and continue to play around as time permits.  We’re currently listed as the Broadband Hamnet Elmers for Indiana.  Howard’s questions were around how to flash his router with the new image as well as a primer in how the network routing functioned.

 

Lots of stuff going on and it’s been a lot of fun so far!

Oct 30 2014

NF9K DMR Repeater Talkgroup Plan

Time Slot #1

TG #6395 – Metro Indy

Time Slot #1 will not be networked via DMR-MARC but will instead be linked via IRLP to the W9ICE Reflector #9737 linking this Talkgroup to the NF9K 70cm and 33cm analog repeaters on the N/W side of Indianapolis as well as the K3HTK 70cm and 33cm analog repeaters in Noblesvillle.

 

Time Slot #2

TG #2 – Local (Soon to be statewide via WB9VLE Master in Ft. Wayne)

Time slot #2 will be networked via DMR-MARC.

This plan will give a different offering to the DMR enthusiasts in the Indianapolis Metro area.  We already have one high profile DMR repeater (W9AMT) so it makes little sense to put up another one that carries exactly the same traffic.  That is the beauty of our hobby.  Technology is technology, but how you use it is what matters.

Pick any two chefs from The Food Network, give them the same ingredients and you’ll get two different plates, both equally tasty.

Please keep in mind that this is still in the planning stage and subject to change.

Oct 29 2014

Motorola & Hytera Contacts

I have personally dealt with both of these individuals and they provide outstanding pricing and customer service.  There is nothing in this endorsement for me, beyond steering fellow amateurs onto a positive purchasing experience.

 

Motorola

Ken Bryant, President/CEO
TwoWayDigitalRadio.Com
101 South Main Street Suite 8-350
Hiawassee, GA  30546
706-896-0000
ken@twowaydigitalradio.com
www.twowaydigitalradio.com

 

Hytera

Terry Gillard – NX7R
Hytera DMR Authorized Dealer
hytera.nv@gmail.com
Mobile- 702 491-3378

 

Oct 21 2014

DMR Repeater Update

The repeater is up and running on the bench running at low power into a dummy load.  It is currently peered with Randy Fisher’s 443.100 machine in Ft. Wayne to take part in their initiatives for a state-wide system.

 

I’m hoping to get the external antenna up at the QTH this weekend.  The antenna and mount should be here this week.  There is also the possibility that the machine may move to a much higher profile site, but that is still developing.

 

I’ve programmed up my SL7550 for it and while I’m home, I will be monitoring the various talk groups via my machine.  So far, so good.  It’s humming along.

Oct 20 2014

New DMR Radios

I’m the happy owner of the following Motorola DMR Radios:

  • XPR7550
  • SL7550

 

As I get some time, I will post a “review” thread on each.  Right now I have the XRP7550 programmed up for the DMR-MARC repeater (W9AMT) and the SL7550 is programmed up for both the W9AMT machine and my machine running on the bench.  As I continue to work out the details I will be updating code plus appropriately.

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