I know they are cheap and very tempting to those who may be financially challenged. However, the old adage of, “you get what you pay for,” has never been more true.
May 09 2016
May 07 2016
I never, ever, want to move again! So much still in tubes, boxes, etc. With any luck, we’ll make the last run to the old place for the biggers stuff and can start thinking about getting it on the market.
I’m still getting settled in the new home and getting the shack back together. As the shack is located in the lower level of the new home, coax runs are a bit of a challenge. As of this writing, I have a four inch hole drilled in the wall out to the brick. As soon as time/weather permits, I’ll punch through the brick and insert a PVC pass-through and get some antennas outside. Believe me, I’m ready.
I started down the road to convert my 33cm Quantar to P25. Alas, it appears that I need to upgrade the ROMs on my SCM, wireline card and my exciter module. Luckily, I’ve located a source for the upgraded ROMs and am working out a deal to get the parts or maybe just ship the boards off and let the guy upgrade the ROMs and align everything as neither of my service monitors do P25. Once this is complete, the repeater will join up with the Quantar Site Connect network. This particular network intrigues me because of its use of Cisco routers to make the connections. Serial Tunneling or STUN. Something new to me, and I’m excited to take what is normally the source for my daily bread and butter (Cisco Networking) and bring it into my favorite past-time.
One other similar crossing of my full-time with my hobby… A Motorola employee and fellow ham who maintains part of the TN statewide public safety network reached out for some Cisco asssitance in linking two of their sites via two routers and a serial tunnel. Very similar to the Quantar Site Connect. Due to the age of the gear they were trying to use, EOL (end of life) in 2008, I recommended either upgrading to something newer or falling back on another option for connectivity. As always seems to be the case with public safety, the funds were not there, so they stepped back to a fractional T1 for now. It was still a very cool opportunity to learn something about how they do things and I was honored to be able to lend my expertise.
Work continues on the IRC website/back end systems. The original email system proved to be less that expected, so we migrated to a different platform this past month. It’s always a challenge to provide feature rich functionality for zero cost. Luckily, I’m able to piggy back onto existing systems that I already use in order to make this happen. Of course, there is always more than one way to do things, so we’ll keep on it. I believe we will finally be able to put the email situation to bed. The repeater directory was updated and some miscellaneous posts to the website as well.
Investigated a local radio code plug issue for a local ham. After an initial look, all appeared to be normal and I continue to work with him to determine what might be the cause of the issues/symptoms that he’s reporting.
Two hams traveling through Indy reached out looking for a way to stay in touch back home via the Crossroads DMR network. Due to affiliations with multiple networks, in each case, we were able to find a common talkgroup to accomplish what they were looking to do. Very cool to be able to help out fellow hams in such a fashion.
Worked with a TN Ham on an interface of the AllStarLink network into a FreePBX system. FreePBX is exactly what the name implies. It is an open source PBX (phone) system based upon Asterisk and running on linux. I’ve used it in various capacities over the years, but this was the first real foray into Ham Radio, beyond what I’d done in the past with AllStarLink. Once our work is finished, endless possibilities exist from being able to dial into a repeater/talkgroup, etc., to trunking that traffic between sites via a SIP (session initiation protocol) trunk, etc.
I bought a couple of Stick PC’s. One by Lenovo and the other by Intel. I’m using these in the shack to control a unitrunker display and a local radar display. These things are pretty cool and about the size of a couple of packs of gum. Each has a quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and 32GB storage along with a micro-SD slot. Both run Windows 10 out of the box. I’m still working on exactly how hard I can work them, but they are doing what I need. I am only able to get one RTL2832 SDR to work, but I hope that additional power to the USB hub will fix that problem. Now if I can only remember which box my USB hub power adapter is in…..
Consulted with a long-time friend who is interested in becoming licensed. We sat down over lunch and discussed the various aspects of the hobby and I’m happy to report that he’s planning on attending the WD9BSA Testing Session on 5/14. So hopefully next month I will report that we have new ham among the ranks.
Continued to experiment in various capacities with the DR-1X Fusion Repeater, DV4Mini, and P25. No major earth shattering initiatives or discoveries thus far, maybe next month…..
I think that about wraps it up. Until next month!
Apr 07 2016
Due to our recent move from N/W Indianapolis to just west of Noblesville, I’m now located too close to some neighboring repeaters. I’m working with the Indiana Repeater Council to re-coordinate new frequencies for the three machines located at my QTH. Additionally the IRC is requiring PL tones based upon geography, so that will be changing as well.
Here are the proposed frequencies as of this point in time:
- 70cm Analog: 444.625+, PL: 151.4 (Old Frequency was 442.850)
- 33cm Analog/P25: 927.5375-, PL 151.4/NAC 293 (Old Frequency was 927.0125)
- 70cm Analog/Fusion: 441.575+, PL 151.4/DSQ 69
Due to the frequency changes I’ll have to retune duplexers, etc. I hope to start bringing the repeaters back online very soon.
Apr 04 2016
I think Spring’s spring is frozen, because it certainly hasn’t sprung! March was a very busy month for me, as we moved from the NW side of Indy to the Noblesville area. Despite all of the move activities, I still found some time for amateur radio. I’m still working on getting things setup in the shack and am currently operating a very modest setup off of a folding table.
Had an email Q&A session with one of our TS’s regarding DMR basics.
Resubmitted my repeater coordinations to the IRC. Due to the move and the shift in distance, my 70cm and 33cm machines will be changing frequencies. At this point, I believe we’ve identified new frequencies and are going through the process. Additionally a new frequency was assigned for my fusion machine.
I finished up the IRC email server and successfully tested it. All seems to be going well there. We continue to work on the website to ensure that it’s up-to-date and useful. The online repeater directory had been updated as of 4/3/2016.
Received in inquiry from a local ham regarding Broadband Hamnet and how much activity is in the Indy area. Ed (K3HTK) and I have been unsuccessful in sparking any major interest, but perhaps this is an opportunity. All big things start small….
Began the process of upgrading my 33cm Quantar to P25. I’ve purchased the wireline interface board for the repeater and have the WIC-1T card for the Cisco router as well as the DCE cable. Currently working on upgrading the SCM and Wirelink cards in order to support P25. Once this is complete, the repeater will join the Quantar Site Connect network. I’m really looking forward to exploring P25 and the new network.
As part of my P25 exploration, I’ve also had to do some research on P25 mobiles/portables. I currently only have a single radio (EFJ 5100) capable of P25. So when I move my Quantar to P25, I’ll be looking at the XTL line of mobiles to replace my Kenwood TK-981’s.
Making arrangements to help an Indiana Ham with the re-programming of his XPR6550. Since he doesn’t have the cable/software, I’m going to meet up with him near the office one afternoon and get him squared away.
That’s about it for March. Looking forward to some warmer weather and getting some antennas in the air at the new location.
73 until next month! de NF9K
Mar 06 2016
Spent a lot of time last month finishing the closing on our new home and preparing for the big move. As I write this I’m sitting on the couch in our new place in Noblesville with some seriously sore muscles. A lot done, but still work to do. Despite all of the house action, I still found time for the hobby, so here we go:
Assisted a local amateur who tracked me down via my website with some DMR radio configuration. With a little nudging in the right direction, he was able to program some channels on his own as well as the DMR Simplex configuration.
Continued work on the IRC website…. We continue to make improvements and have received a lot of positive feedback.
Bought a Yaesu FT2DR HT to play around with the Fusion repeater I purchased late last year. Very interesting HT, and the touch screen is pretty slick. Still working on learning the nuances of the Fusion Network. I horse-traded for the HRI-200 box, which is required to connect the repeater. After dealing with software issues, etc., I was finally able to get connected and stay connected. Ed (K3HTK) and I are keeping our UHF systems connect via Fusion for the time being while we explore the options available.
Provided some DMR support for a new user out of Hartford City. He had enough questions that we decided to get together on the phone to discuss. Of course the questions he came with ended up spawning other questions. I think we spent about 90 minutes on the phone, but he walked away from the conversation with a better understanding of how things work.
Received a comment via my website from a Canadian Ham. He’d found my post about the EF Johnson 5100’s on 33cm and had a software question. Pretty cool to get requests for help from outside our country!
Participated in a VE Session with the Boy Scouts on 2/13. Shortly there after I was ask to teach a class in April for the Radio Merit Badge. So if you’re a scout and are attending this years University of Scouting, look me up, I’ll be there!
Received my MMDVM board, which when combined with an Arduino Due will allow me to build a DMR Repeater out of two analog mobiles. Due to our move, I unfortunately did not get to dig into this project in time for this report, so hopefully I’ll have something to share next month.
During the Month of February the NA Hytera DMR repeater owners split off of the German written and maintained DMRPlus network. They are hopping on board with the BrandMeister folks, who have a vendor agnostic solution for DMR networks. This changed the way some talkgroups were carried from the DMRPlus network. I’m still hearing traffic from that side, so I guess time will tell what the future holds.
Setup a new email server for the IRC. Once we’ve moved everything over, this will complete our transition of all online resources from the previous host/webmaster.
Answered some Motorola DMR Radio model questions from a Pennsylvania Ham. He was confused by the various band splits available and was looking to get some answers before he made a purchase.
Started looking into AMPRNet who provides public IP blocks from a Class-A IPv4 address space that was set aside for amateur radio operators. I requested and was granted a /22 block of IP’s that I plan to use for part of my IP network that are ham radio related. You only have three options for delivery of your granted IP space and those include Radio, Tunneling or BGP (border gateway protocol). I’m currently working on the tunneling optioin, but may setup a linux based BGP router and go that route.
Answered some questions from an NC Ham who discovered my work with the TransTRBO dispatch software. I was able to answer a few of his questions and referred him back to the software author for the remaining ones as they were regarding a manner in which I have not used the software.
Learned about a new Raspberry Pi model coming out which has built in Wifi and Bluetooth! And it’s still only $35. Amazing. Perhaps I’ll find enough time in March to try and pick one up and can share more next month.
Answered some questions from one of our very own Technical Specialists regarding DMR. Answered them as well as additional questions that came up as they often do. So we’ll see if we hear him on the digital side, but what am I saying he’s a big CW Op… The Original Digital Mode…..
Started the process to move my analog machines to Noblesville. Unfortunately the >20 mile move has moved me within the 100 mile radius that the IRC likes to keep between machines, so I’m looking at having to change frequencies on both my 70cm analog and 33cm analog machines…. The 70cm frequency I’ve had since the late 90’s…..
That’s it for February…. 73 until next month!
Feb 14 2016
I have the following Bearcat III Crystals up for trade/sale:
154.250 x 2
I’d prefer to trade and I’m particularly interested in amateur radio frequencies or ones still in use for Central Indiana. I also have 3 parts radios and a couple of band modules.
Feb 04 2016
Almost spring…. Since I was down with bronchitis last month, I’ll roll my December and January work together. So here we go:
While doing some work on an IRLP node for another repeater trustee, I stumbled across some DB9 and DB25 breakout units that make it much easier when working
out the pinouts of a particular connection. Basically our DB9, M or F, is built on a circuit board along with a set of screw terminals. Once your project is complete, you can then note your pinouts and build something more permanent.
The new website for the Indiana Repeater Council went live on January 1st. I was officially appointed as the webmaster at the November meeting of the IRC. hwi Prior to that meeting, I’d some some work with the site, but once the appointment was official things went into high-gear. If you have any suggestions for the website, please let us know. The IRC serves the amateur community and the tools we have should be useful to you. Next step will be migration of the back-end email, which while transparent to the end-user, will facilitate improved communication.
I was initially introduced to the DV4 Mini in December. If you aren’t familiar with this little miracle, it’s pretty cool. Basically it’s a USB stick that has a built-in 70cm transceiver. It allow you to establish a hot-spot for D-STAR, Yaesu System Fusion (CF4M), APCO25, DMR+, BrandMeister and dPRS. It does not include an antenna, and I polished mine off with a 90 degree SMA adapter. It runs $129 plus shipping and the software is freely available on the internet. Additionally there are some alternate third-party control panels. As of this writing my DV4Mini is running on a $99 WinBook TW700 from Amazon. The control panel I’m using also allow it to function as a link for a Fusion Repeater, which I’m doing right now. Of course, that pretty much makes the unit in-use all the time, so I guess that means I need to get a second one????
Continued my work on K9MMQ’s IRLP node. At this point, it’s ready to deliver. I plan to make an image of the micro SD card before I turn it over, so that Randy has a backup should the SD card fail. I’m not sure which machine he’s planning to connect it to, but those of you in the Ft. Wayne area can expect to see IRLP functionality on some of Randy’s machine in the near future.
Did some troubleshooting with IRLP cron jobs. I’d hoped to have the IRLP node connected TG #63951 on my Indy DMR machine automatically connect to some of the IRLP nets. After wrestling with it for quite some time, I reached out to IRLP support and they confirmed that what I had should be working. At this point, I need to circle back around and figure out how to get that fixed. For this of you who are linux savvy, I set CRON up just like you would on any other box. I can see in the logs where the job is getting kicked off, but the actual script never runs. I suspect there is something awry with the customizations done on the IRLP side.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been contacte by numerous hams with DMR questions some general, some code plug related. In each case, I was able to answer their questions or get them some examples to learn from. The DMR technology continues to expand throughout our hobby, which is rather exciting.
As some of you may know, Yaesu extended their System Fusion Repeater deal until 12/31/15. Figuring I couldn’t go wrong with a $500 repeater, I pulled the pin and ordered one. It arrived on 2/3/15 and so far I’m pretty impressed. I’m currently running it on a test pair at 5W into a dummy load for testing purposes. But as previously mentioned, I have it connected to the Fusion Reflectors via the DV4Mini and a cheap Windows 8 tablet. I do have a WiresX HRI-200 that I horse traded for and am currently waiting for Yaesu to approve my application before I can use that device. So far I’m pretty impressed with the repeater. The interface is nice and I was able to get it up and running with only minimal reference to the manual. Now to figure out how to interface it to a DMR TG…
I became involved with a vendor/protocol agnostic network known as BrandMeister. The system was original written in Russia and is currently supported out of the Netherlands. We do have a server here in the US. Basically this software, which runs on top of linux, has the ability to connect Hytera, Motorola repeaters as well as make connections to c-Bridges. There is additional functionality planned and I think this is a great thing. Since none of the vendors can seem to get on the same page or open up support for other technologies, this could be the one thing that blends them together. I currently have a connection to them for their USA Nationwide talkgroup, and am working on allowing DV4Mini hotspot access to the Crossroads DMR Statewide TG as well as a DSTAR Reflector (XRF317) that I’ve recently setup.
Had a very interesting c-Bridge outage. The coders of the c-Bridge software made some changes in how the licensing models worked and that negatively impacted the Crossroads DMR c-Bridge. However a quick call to BridgeComm and they put me in direct contact with the guys doing the c-Bridge work. They were able to remedy the issue and thanked me for bringing it to their attention as it would have impacted many other c-Bridges throughout the world as the day progressed. One cool thing that came out of our discussions was the topic of SIP capability of the c-Bridge. I’ve worked with the SIP protocol for over ten years now and the c-Bridge developers have ask me to bring my expertise onboard to help with functionality as well as documentation. I’m in the process of building new test c-Bridge that I can interface with Asterisk PBX as well as some IP phones. I’m really looking forward to contributing to this great product.
We built out a link to the Grant County ARC’s analog repeater (146.790) to the Crossroads DMR system. This will allow folks to only carry one radio and still be able to access their systems. Additionally they use this repeater for Skywarn activities, so we’ll see how that performs from the DMR side. Since this is mostly used into a local machine, if the IPSC network were to go down due to the storm, it will not impact the link’s functionality. While most of the work on this was done by Kevin (KB9CRA), I did all of the c-Bridge work to add it to the requested repeaters. I really enjoy opportunities to make technologies work for the end users.
Did some playing around with Global Tuners. If you’re not familiar with this website, basically folks with receivers connect them to a computer and make them available for use to other folks via the internet. It’s a great tool if you want to see what’s out there or if you want to check and see what you sound like. And there are some foreign countries that provide some interesting listening.
Received an email from Bob, N1XBM, who was setting up a club website based upon WordPress. As I use WordPress for all of my site, he somehow figured that out and reached out for some assistance. Much of it was questions on how I’d accomplished certain types of functionality within WordPress. I was able to share some of my tricks with him to help him get things rolling for his club.
I’m officially on the list to receive on of the first runs of the MMDVM board. This board will basically take two analog mobiles and convert them into a DMR repeater. The board itself speaks the Homebrew Repeater Procotol, which is something else that’s new. While you likely won’t see much adoption from commercial vendors, those of us in the amateur community will make use of it as it continues to develop. I’m excited to receive the board and home it gets here soon so I can play. Look for future updates here or on my website.
I’m not sure how many folks have heard of AMRPRNet, but basically they own a Class A (184.108.40.206/8) block of publicly routable IP addresses that are available only to amateur radio operators. You can apply for whatever block size you need and they can deliver it via BGP (border gateway protocol), IP tunnel, or Radio. More info can be found here: http://www.ampr.org
Lastly during my efforts to setup XRF317, I stumbled across a new reflector software called XLX Multiprotocol Gateway Reflector. The software was just released in December and supports DCS, DExtra and Dplus connections. The dashboard is quite well polished. You can check it out here: http://xlx317.crossroadsdmr.org
That’s pretty much what I’ve been up to. See you in March!
Dec 21 2015
K9WTH (Mark) turned me onto this neat little device.
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
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
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.