Apr 03 2015

New DMR-MARC Talkgroups

The DMR-MARC has recently added two new talkgroups:

  • UA English 1
  • UA English 2

These are meant the be used in a similar fashion as TAC-310/TAC-311 have in the past.  They’ve opted for the term User-Activated, hence the UA in the name vs. PTT, since technically every talkgroup is PTT-activated, because you have to key up your radio, right?

As a reminder, the wide-area talkgroups such as Worldwide, Worldwide English, North America, etc. key up hundreds of repeaters and the preference is to use them as hailing channels.  Once a contact is made, you can move your QSO over to one of the UA’s and only key up those repeaters that have “activated.”

The TG’s are connected to the Crossroads DMR c-Bridge and will be live on the NF9K Repeater by the end of the weekend.


Mar 20 2015

DMRplus MBridge

I’m currently working on a project that will bridge the MotoTRBO and Hytera IPSC networks.  Up until now, those networks have been incompatible.  You can read more about the software here.  This is an exciting project as it has the potential to bring together two previously incompatible DMR networks furthering the possibilities that can be accomplished with this cool tech.

Mar 02 2015

February 2015 ARRL Technical Specialists Report

Happy snowy March to all my fellow Technical Specialists!

As I’m sure will be a big surprise to most, I continued my DMR exploits this past month.  First and foremost, my DMR repeater (441.025+, Color Code 1) was moved at it’s new home on the east side of Indianapolis.  The antenna is a 9dBi gain at 250′ and on an analog watt meter, I was pushing 25W into the feed line.  ERP was calculated at 130W.  I’m rather excited to see this machine at a higher profile and have been getting some good coverage reports from HT users around Marion and the donut counties.

Along with the DMR stuff comes my adventures into c-Bridge administration.  I’ve had to troubleshoot a few issues that ultimately were not c-Bridge related, but given that I’m still a young Jedi in the c-Bridge ways, that is where I started looking first.  It’s always nice when you can trace the problem to an external source and learn some new troubleshooting skills at the same time.

For those that are friends with me on Facebook, I posted a picture of a pile of Pick-Up-Sticks (who remembers that game?) and how it related to c-Bridge administration.  Every single change spawns multiple additional changes.  This past weekend, I was introducing Ed (K3HTK) to c-Bridge administration and the one example I gave him of adding a new talkgroup to the c-Bridge required ~30 programming changes to other super-groups just to accommodate the new TG.  That did not include the changes required just to get the new TG on the c-Bridge.  I have to say, it’s been fun, and I feel like I’m learning something new all the time, which is great!

I migrated the c-Bridge from a large server at my QTH to a hosted cloud-based server.  While the machine was quite resilient in terms of failure, I still had only a single internet connection.  Given the fact that more than just my repeater would be on it, I decided to go the hosted route.  I found a great deal for $10/month and they can spin up virtual servers in 55 seconds.  Pretty cool.  The migration process when quite well and was easier than expected.

Contacts were established with other c-Bridge partners including the NC-PRN network and MIT’s network.  While NC-PRN does not have any TG’s to share outside of their network, they have a great technical pool, so having someone to bounce ideas off of is always welcome.

I participated in a DMR Newbies Night at the IPSC building on E. 21st street on the 19th.  Due to poor weather we only had about five people not counting the host and the two presenters.  The evening sort of turned into a Meet the c-Bridge, which was a bit of a surprise to me, but I was happy to share my experiences as well as give folks a look at the mysterious inter-workings.

My membership was accepted into the North American DMR Council, which is a fledgling organization to foster communication and cooperation among the various DMR entities.  To say that there are politics in DMR is an understatement and unfortunately somewhat of a sad situation.  I’m just glad that most of it is hidden from the end users, at least at this point.

The Brownsburg Hamfest was held on February 14th.  I went out and made my rounds and did my part to support the Hamfest.  I enjoy them all, even the smaller ones for nothing else than an opportunity to get out and meet people.  Of course, the opportunity always exists to uncover a diamond in the rough on the tables.  Although this trip netted no such treasures for me.

I received quite a bit of communication from my website this past month.  Folks asking about radios that I’d worked with and taken time to write up reviews on.  I also received question looking for clarification on the various digital modes available to amateurs and how compatible they were.  Unfortunately, very few offer any interoperability, but it was nice to be able to help out a fellow Ham.  Another request was from a new DMR repeater owner who had not had luck contacting others for help.  I was able to give him some guidance and help him understand his options.  Lastly, I received a comment from someone who has been visiting my website and is now interested in getting his license.  I made some book recommendations to him and made sure that he understood that I’m available for any questions he might have and who knows, perhaps he’ll end up at one of my VE sessions!

A few emails were exchanged between other DMR authorities and I with Don West, who is the Communications Director at IDHS.  Basically they were looking to understand how DMR could function in a an emergency type setting.  We provided basic information and answered a few questions.  Not sure where that will lead, but hey, you never know.

My broadcastify feed that was originally setup for the Tuesday night DMR nets has been a hit.  A couple of times I’ve forgotten to switch it back over to North America after the net, and people have noticed.  I received a couple of emails from folks in the NE US who do not have a local DMR presence and enjoy listening to the feed.

Lastly I’ve functioned as primary net control for the Tuesday Night DMR net a few times over the month of February.  It was nice to see the numbers of people checking into the net grow each week.  Keeping people engaged in the net and keeping a round-table going has been an interesting learning experience.

Well, I think that’s it for February.  Looking forward to a break in the weather and perhaps the appearance of some spring-type weather.  While I enjoy the snow, at this point whatever else we get will be short-lived so might as well be done with it.

73 until next month!

Feb 27 2015

Charlie Sears, N9MEW, SK

Charles “Charlie” David Sears, of New Whiteland passed away on Feb. 25, 2015 at the age of 81.  He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Elfriede.  He is also survived by his six children, Jane Sears, Ken (Cindi) Sears, William (Shelly) Sears, Richard (Carrie) Sears, Chris (Jennifer) Sears, and Rob (Jenny) Sears.  He leaves behind 13 Grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

He entered the US Army after high school and learned radio and electronics, which formed the basis of his lifelong career. He served in Germany during the Korean Conflict which is where he met and married Elfriede.

Charles was a broadcast engineer for WTTV 4 for over 50 years, and worked for many other TV and radio stations, including the one at Franklin College.  He was a member of The Society of Broadcast Engineers, ARRL, and several other professional and recreational  radio and computer clubs and societies.

He was a member of the New Whiteland Christian Church for many years, and recently Christ’s Church.

Visitation: 1:30-3:30 Saturday, Feb. 28 at G.H. Herrmann Greenwood Funeral Home at The Gardens at Olive Branch, followed by the service at 3:30 PM. Entombment will be at The Gardens at Olive Branch.

Feb 08 2015

NF9K DMR Repeater – New Home!

At 11:00am this morning, WA9FDO, N9DOO, K9DKC and I set about installing my DMR repeater in its new location.  It took us about 90 minutes to get everything put in, cabled up and tested.  This time also included relocating another unrelated feed line.

The 9dB gain antenna is sitting at 250′ and I’m getting 24W out of the duplexers, so that’s an ERP of about 120W.

Here are some pictures taken today and a new coverage map:




Here is the machine and duplexers installed in the rack.


Here I am doing a quick test.  Thanks to K9DKC for taking this picture without warning!

antenna location

This picture shows the location of the antenna (inside the red circle).

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 7.11.46 PM

This is what the coverage should look like.  I’m interested in hearing from you regarding its accuracy!

Feb 05 2015

NF9K DMR Repeater Talkgroup Configuration

Time Slot 1 Talkgroups

Talkgroup Name Talkgroup ID Status PTT-On Timer Hold-off Timer Notes

CA Statewide

3106 PTT-Activated 30 3 Ohio Statewide


3777215 Full-Time N/A 3 Open wide-area talkgroup


63951 Full-Time N/A 4 IRLP Node #8154/Echolink NF9K-L (815131)


3181 Full-Time N/A 5 True local talkgroup

MA Statewide

3125 PTT-Activated 30 3 Massachusetts Statewide

MI Statewide

3126 PTT-Activated 30 3 Michigan Statewide

OH Statewide

3139 PTT-Activated 30 3 Ohio Statewide


9998 PTT-Activated 1 0 DMRLink's Echo Server for testing your audio

TN Statewide

3147 Full-Time N/A 3 Tennessee Statewide

UA English 1

113 PTT-Activated 15 3 User Activated talkgroup for North America (English Only)

USA 1776

1776 Full-Time N/A 3 The Spirit of 1776!  International english-only talkgroup

WA Statewide

3153 PTT-Activated 30 3 Washington Statewide

Time Slot 2 Talkgroups

Talkgroup Name Talkgroup ID Status PTT-On Timer Hold-off Timer Notes

Audio Test

9999 PTT-Activated 1 0 NorCal's VU Meter (only works in Chrome) talkgroup for testing user audio


3100 Full-Time N/A 3 Wide-area inter-network tie for c-Bridges


3777216 PTT-Activated 15 3 Open wide-area talkgroup


8710 Full-time N/A 3 Crossroads DMR Statewide Talkgroup


3166 Full-Time N/A 5 True local talkgroup


8951 PTT-Activated 15 3 TAC-1 is a talkgroup distributed worldwide


310 PTT-Activated 15 4 TAC 310 is a North America English language talkgroup


311 PTT-Activated 15 3 TAC 311 is a North America English language talkgroup

UA English 2

123 PTT-Activated 15 3 UA English 2 is a North America English language talkgroup

Jan 31 2015

January 2015 ARRL Technical Specialist Report

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.

Jan 29 2015

ARLB004 FCC “Paperless” Amateur Radio License Policy Goes into Effect on February 17

ARLB004 FCC “Paperless” Amateur Radio License Policy Goes into
Effect on February 17

ARRL Bulletin 4  ARLB004
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  January 29, 2015
To all radio amateurs

ARLB004 FCC “Paperless” Amateur Radio License Policy Goes into
Effect on February 17

Starting February 17, the FCC no longer will routinely issue paper
license documents to Amateur Radio applicants and licensees. The
Commission has maintained for some time now that the official
Amateur Radio license authorization is the electronic record that
exists in its Universal Licensing System (ULS), although the FCC has
continued to print and mail hard copy licenses. In mid-December the
FCC adopted final procedures to provide access to official
electronic authorizations, as it had proposed in WT Docket 14-161 as
part of its “process reform” initiatives.

Under the new procedures, licensees will access their current
official authorization (“Active” status only) via the ULS License
Manager. The FCC will continue to provide paper license documents to
all licensees who notify the Commission that they prefer to receive
one. Licensees also will be able to print out an official
authorization – as well as an unofficial “reference copy” – from the
ULS License Manager.

“We find this electronic process will improve efficiency by
simplifying access to official authorizations in ULS, shortening the
time period between grant of an application and access to the
official authorization, and reducing regulatory costs,” the FCC
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) said. According to the WTB,
the new procedures will save at least $304,000 a year, including the
cost of staff resources.

In comments filed November 5, the ARRL had strongly recommended that
the FCC “give serious consideration to continuing a default
provision for sending an initial paper license document to new
licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, along with detailed, simple
instructions for how to make the elections set forth in the notice
relative to future modified or renewed licenses.”

The FCC said that applicants or licensees who include a valid e-mail
address under “Applicant Information” in the ULS will receive an
official electronic authorization via e-mail. New license applicants
who do not provide a FCC Registration Number at the examination
point will receive a printed license as well as an FRN and a
temporary password to access the Commission Registration System

The ARRL and other Amateur Radio commenters also worried that unless
a license document is printed on distinctive paper stock, its
authenticity could be questioned in such situations as obtaining
vanity call sign license plates. To address this, the FCC said the
watermark “Official Copy” will be printed on each page of an
official authorization that a licensee prints out from the ULS. The
WTB recently stopped using distinctive paper stock to produce hard
copy licenses and has been printing these on “standard, white
recycled paper.” The Bureau noted that the distinctive paper stock
it had used was six times more expensive than the plain recycled
paper it now uses.

The ULS License Manager now includes settings that allow licensees
to notify the WTB that they prefer to receive official
authorizations on paper. Once the final procedures go into effect
designating electronic access as the default, licensees can change
the ULS License Manager setting so that the Bureau will print and
mail a license document. Licensees also may contact FCC Support via
the web at,
http://esupport.fcc.gov/index.htm?job=contact_fcc_support , or via
telephone or mail to request paper licenses.

The FCC rejected as “outside the scope of this proceeding” an ARRL
argument that Section 97.23 of the Amateur Service rules be amended
to replace “licensee mailing address” with other alternatives,
including e-mail, for use in Commission correspondence. The rule,
which requires that any licensee mailing address be in an area where
the licensee has US Postal Service access, has precluded FCC
issuance of location-specific call signs in such areas as Navassa
Island (KP1) and some Pacific islands.

Jan 07 2015

First HoosierDMR Net

The first Hoosier DMR Net was a success!  We had 15 stations check in and with Tony (W9AMT) and me (NF9K) as Net Control/Alternate Net Control respectively.

Please feel free to join us on Tuesday nights starting at 20:00EST on DMR-MARC Talk Group #3118 (Indiana Statewide)

What’s that?  You don’t have a DMR radio yet?  No problem!  CLICK HERE! for our live audio feed.  During non-Net times, the stream will be feed from the DMR-MARC TG #2 (North America).  During the Net it will be switched over to Indiana Statewide.  While listening to the net, you can post questions on our FaceBook Page and we will address them on-air.


Jan 02 2015

NF9K Technical Specialist Report – December 2014

So long, 2014!

Experimented with the AllStarLink radio linking network.  Setup a server with two nodes and replaced my EchoIRLP installation for a few days.  Unfortunately, the system did not perform as well as what I had.  There is no centralized documentation for AllStarLink which made troubleshooting and fine tuning quite difficult.  Additionally the server seemed quite unstable, locking up fairly regularly requiring a power cycle to bring it back.  The lockup was usually a result of restarting the asterisk daemon.  So this particular project has been shelved.  I suspect that I’ll revisit it down the road as I have experience with asterisk and had some interesting ideas for integrating IP telephony to repeater systems.

In the world of DMR, I traded for a new radio.  The Motorola SL300 is a slick little radio.  My thoughts (pros/cons) can be found here: http://volkswagen.websitewelcome.com/~atkinson/nf9k.net/?p=431

I had some discussions with an Avon Ham surrounding the CS700 HT.  He was selected for their beta program and we’ve been comparing notes between the non-beta and his beta unit as well as sharing my acquired knowledge on the CS700.

Additionally, I began looking at an alternative DMR network to the DMR-MARC.  DCI is very popular out west and since we already have a DMR-MARC machine here, in the interest of providing the richest possible DMR experience to Indianapolis area repeater users, I thought that might be a nice alternative.  I’ve reached out to some Ohio-based DCI repeater owners to discuss finding a master to peer with.

Lastly in terms of DMR, I spent a good deal of time experimenting with a wireless internet option (AT&T) for my DMR machine when it moves to it’s new home.  Unfortunately I won’t be able to share existing internet at the new location, so I’m having to come up with something on my own.  AT&T is NAT’ing traffic to their wireless devices resulting in the end device receiving a private (10.x.x.x) address, which is non-routable via the internet.  Also since the NAT’ing means I’m behind an AT&T routing, I’m subject to their access-control lists, etc., which is also proving to be a problem.  Next stop will be to check out the offerings from Verizon as I have a spare USB card in a drawer.

I was finally able to spend some much needed time in the shack during my time-off over the holidays.  I had a pretty decent check list beforehand and as the sun sets on my Christmas Break, I think I’m about 80% through it, so not bad at all!

Looking forward to what I’m going to learn and accomplish in 2015!

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