Well, 2015 is off to a running start…..
I’m happy to report that I’ve emerged with most of my sanity intact after going through he process to setup a Motorola Online Account in order to purchase the MotoTRBO (DMR) CPS. I had to actually take a narrow-banding training course before they would grant me an entitlement for the 25KHz channel spacing in the software. And then go through the whole process of getting my account updated to reflect said training. But all is done now and I’m quite glad!
So the DMR adventure continues. January found me removing my machine from the DMR-MARC network and joining with the DCI network. Since we already have a high-profile repeater on the DMR-MARC network here in Indy and with the imminent move of my machine to a high-profile site only about four miles away, it just made sense. Additionally, I’m all about offering up a rich DMR experience to Indy and the surrounding areas. Assuming all continues on course, my DMR machine will be moving in the very near future to a tower site with a 9dB gain antenna at 290’…. Quite excited.
And with a new tower location comes….. drum roll please….. The awesome experience of performing an intermod study! This particular site had ~99 frequencies and we needed to do runs out to the 5th order. I searched high and low and could not find a decent free program to perform this type of operation on so many frequencies. There were, of course, options costing several hundred dollars and up….. At the end of the day, I received some much appreciated help from Jim Keeth (AF9A). He was able to do some Excel magic that calculated everything I needed and had an output acceptable to the tower owners. So hats off to Jim for the helping hand!
The DCI DMR network offers what they refer to as an Open IPSC (IP Site Connect) Master for people wishing to sample their network without committing. This particular Master comes with a de-facto set of talk groups broad enough to give a prospective member more than a taste of what they have to offer. So my repeater was joined to this “trial” Master and I set about reprogramming my inventory of DMR radios (no small task).
I wasn’t on the DCI network for too long before I realize that I was looking for something more permanent with a more customized feel as far as TG selection. So I worked with Mike Shirley (NO7RF) and he built out an Indiana Master on his c-Bridge for those of us looking to join up. Mike has been a fantastic resource and has been very responsive to requests/questions as I explored their network.
For those not familiar with Motorola IPSC, there is a hard-limit of 15 repeaters that can be connected together. Two companies, BridgeCom Systems and Rayfield Communications have developed a software package called a c-Bridge. This piece of software allows up to 45 peers on a single c-Bridge.
So I set out to acquire a c-Bridge and it was long afterwards I’d settled on their option for a virtual model instead of purchasing their hardware appliance. So off I went to build a CentOS 5.10 (yeah, very old version) VM on VMWare ESXi. Their documentation failed to indicate whether I should opt for 32-bit or 64-bit CentOS, so I went for 64-bit, which proved to be a mistake. After installing the software package and attempting to start the daemon, it promptly failed. A quick check of the log files showed some missing openssl libs. Due to not being familar with their software, I was hesistant to upgrade the openssl pacakge in fear of breaking other dependancies. At that point, I made a few inquiries and llearned that they are just now testing 64-bit. So I rebuilt the VM with 32-bit CentOS and it’s up and running.
So that brings me current with the DMR techie stuff. I now have the first DMR c-Bridge in Indiana and will be establishing bridge partner ships with NATS (DMR Core Talkgroup Server Project) as well as (hopefully) DMR-MARC and NC-PRN networks to offer a wide variety of TG options to those repeaters that choose to join up with my bridge.
I wrapped up January’s DMR efforts by participating in a presentation of DMR to the Michiana Amateur Radio Club in South Bend. Tony Tolbert (W9AMT), Brent Walls (K9CFE), and Steve Jones (N9KYB) and I made the trek up north to present to ~40 people. It was a great success and hopefully we’ll see a DMR machine pop up in that area in the not-too-distant future.
Ed (K3HTK) and I had a football/Geek out day where our major accomplishment was converting his EchoIRLP node from a micro-computer over to Raspberry Pi platform. It was a great day, even if the football was a little disappointing. I also sold Ed a DMR mobile to add to his shack, which gave me the funds to purchase an XPR5550. Looking forward to playing with a new radio soon. More on that next month…..
I’ve received some comments via email/my website surrounding DMR (I know, imagine that) and some future computer assistance to various Hams across central Indiana.
So I guess I’ll sign here and see about getting some French Toast supplies for Snowpocalypse 2015.