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Nov 01 2016

NF9K ARRL Technical Specialist Report – October 2016

I received a new firmware to test for the the scan bug that I reported in BridgeCom’s 220Mhz Mobile.  Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to apply the new firmware, but hope to shortly.  From reading the info provided, they’ve fixed part of the issue I reported, which was while in memory scan, power cycling the radio lands you in VFO mode upon power up.  I’d also ask about having scan start back up, specifically for memory scan, but that might take them some more work.
I got bit by the Astron loose screw bug.  For those of you who are familiar with the larger Astron power supplies that have the screws in the top of the capacitor, you’re familiar with this issue.  This particular amplifier powered the amp on my DMR repeater.  The loose screw cause things to get a little warm, but I believe it can be repaired and put back in service.  It’s on the bench now with hopes of returning to service soon.
Received a website comment regarding my BlueDV project.  I was able to answer the questions posed as well as provide some insight regarding firmware upgrades to the DVMega boards.  For those interested in reading more: http://www.nf9k.net/?p=698
Upgraded a fellow ham’s Pi-based IRLP node to include functionality for Echolink.  Also order pieces to build another pi-based EchoIRLP node for another ham.  Those pieces should start to arrive shortly and I’ll start working on building that up.
I received my SharkRF openSPOT box.  For those not familiar with it is yet another hot spot solution, but what makes it different from the others (DV4Mini, DVMega) is that is can transcode one digital format to another.  So it’s possible to carry on a DMR QSO using your Fusion radio, for example.  You can also do DMR <-> CF4M, etc.  Very cool little package.  I haven’t had much of an opportunity to dig in yet, but do have it up and running.  You can read more here: https://www.sharkrf.com/products/openspot/learn-more/
Fixed a small cosmetic display issue with the IRC website.  Still not sure why it occurs, but thankfully it’s not service impacting.  I suspect something to do with the way the template is coded and the various browers that visit the site.
Fielded an initial website question regarding the new Alaska DMR repeater (more on that in a minute) which lead to an email exchange and a primer on DMR and other technologies, including DV4mini and reflector linking, etc.  There are a lot of folks out there working on many of the same projects and it’s great to collaborate and share knowledge/experience.  This particular ham is working on an MMDVM project, which I have partially built myself….  If only there were more time in a day.
The crowing achievement of the month was the installation of a DMR repeater in Homer, Alaska.  This project has been going on for several weeks.  I was initially contacted by a Indiana Ham who had sold one of his DMR repeaters to a ham in AK.  He wanted to know if I’d be interested in helping them get started and if they could join our network.  The answer of course was a resounding yes.  After many emails and a few phones calls, the c-Bridge programmed, the repeater configured and tested and shipped to AK.  An XPR7550 was shipped from AK to IN for initial programming, so they could have an example to work from and to provide a nice tool for learning.  All in all, many hours were logged by myself and one other ham here in IN and the local Hams in AK.  It all came together on Saturday, October 29th at 16:30EST when we held our first DMR QSO to the state of Alaska.  Since then, every time the guys key up on any of the wide-area talkgroups, they are getting mobbed by people from all of the country and in some cases the world.  DMR contacts with AK are quite the rage.  I continue to receive emails from the locals on how much they are enjoying this new mode of communication and how interest in continuing to flourish.  They’re already talking about bringing another machine online!  The next step for me will be to prepare four TYT MD-380 with the MD380Tools firmware as well as a Raspberry Pi with the scripts necessary to install the upgraded firmware so that they can do it on their own.  This has been so much fun and just goes to show what can be accomplished when you have the right folks involved.  Truly a team effort and my thanks to those involved that helped make this happen.
Well, that’s it for this month.  I wonder if it’ll be snowing by the time we’re all doing this again?