What is Ferring Radio Operators’ Group?

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Ferring Radio Operator’s Group is a group that has been set up to run the GB7FR DMR repeater in Ferring, as well as to promote Amateur Radio in the local community.

One of our core aims is to encourage more young people to get interested in science and technology through Amateur Radio. To this end, we hope to work with Sustainable Sussex which is run by a good friend of mine, in offering training, mentoring and hopefully also a Hackspace.

Please see the blog posts for news and updates.

73 de Simon – G7RZU (Keeper – GB7FR)

Changes to XLX reflectors

It is now possible to connect to all of the modules on all of teh XLX reflectors listed here.

This works as follows:

To change XLX reflector – prefix with 68 – e.g. to connect to XLX235, you send a private call to 68235.

To change XLX module, it’s the same as before, e.g. 64001 connects to module A, 64002 to module B etc.

You should hear voice prompts when you do this.

Many of these reflectors have a D-Star <->DMR transcoder, so you can talk to D-Star users.

 

Possible slightly better RX

I have finally got around to making new, double screened patch cables for the duplexer. This means, if there was any desense this should have improved so weak-signal performance could be better.

Phoenix 235

I forgot this update this before. It seems Phoenix reconnected 4400 on DMR+ to their TG235 again!

Saving up for new antenna.

I’ve been thinking about the antenna for FR. I have decided to seek to fund a new antenna with greatly increased gain. It will be big, apparently a full 17ft tall, but this will also provide an advantage. It has about 12dbd gain. Also, it has more gain at the horizon than the current antenna and a narrow vertical beam width which, considering that FR is not sited at a high point, will likely provide better coverage.

Phoenix TG 235

The Phoenix people have decided to disconnect their TG235 from reflector 4400 on DMR+ so this can no longer be accessed from FR. The rest of the DMR+ <-> Phoenix linked TGs, including the regional ones, remain unaffected.

A further update on new functionality

SMS, Parrot etc are now all working as expected.

XLX reflectors have moved to TG6, with a prefix of 6 before the commands – e.g. 64005 to connect reflector E on XLX 950.

I have chosen to use a different TG and prefix for each network, so that contacts for private calls in your radio don’t clash as most radios won’t let you have two different named contacts with the same ID. So:

TG 6 slot1 – XLX sytem – prefix 6 to commands
TG 7 slot1 – as yet unused. Reserved for another XLX connection
TG9 slot1 – linked to PK and BH as before
TG23510 slot1 – SouthEast TG

TG8 slot 2 – DMR+ reflectors. Prefix 8 to commands. Defaults to disconnected.
TG9 slot 2 – BrandMeister – no prefix required.

Private calls, SMS and UA talkgroups on either slot are directed to/from the BrandMeister network.

Multiple networks

All,

I have a new and exciting feature to announce. Jonathan, G4KLX has written a new piece of software that allows the connection of more than one DMR network at once, so as of today, FR is connected to Brandmeister, DMR+ (and by extension Phoenix) and XLX. Note, this is still experimental so some of these options might change. Feedback appreciated.

Talkgroups:

Slot 1

  • TG23510 – South East
  • TG 9 – Regional link – FR, PK, BH
  • TG 8 – XLX reflectors

Slot 2

  • TG 9 – Brandmeister reflectors – default 4400
  • TG 8 – DMR+ reflectors – linked to Phoenix

Using XLX

XLX implements 26 lettered reflectors, A-Z. These can be connected by making a private call to IDs 4001-4026 on slot 1. I am told most DMR activity is on 4005. These reflectors are cross-mode, so you can speak to others on D-Star, YSF etc. To disconnect, use 4000. To get status, use 5000. This is basically the same as BM/DMR+ reflectors.

A list of XLX reflectors is here:

http://xlx950.epf.lu/index.php?show=reflectors

Using BrandMeister reflectors:

This works exactly as before, so you can continue to use the system as you already do.

Using DMR+ reflectors

All DMR+ reflector activity will be transmitted on TG8. To connect, you prefix all commands with an 8. (Similar to using a phone in an office; dial 8 DMR+ “line”!)

So, for example, a private all to 84400 connects you to DMR+ reflector 4400 / Phoenix TG 235 UK Wide.

A list of DMR+ reflectors is here:

http://www.dmr-uk.net/index.php/hotspots/

 

FR back on air.

It is my pleasure to announce that FR has been on-air since this morning.

One of the GM350 units had developed an intermittent fault, believed to be in or around the AF IC, which provides AF processing for both TX and RX audio paths. Fault-finding proved frustrating!

Andy, G3UEQ assisted with the kind offer of a GM900 unit, but I couldn’t get it to programme. Paul G7KBR then kindly posted me a GM350 4ch unit, which I was able to programme and is now acting as the RX for GB7FR.

As always, setting up the TX deviation was a bit of a fiddle as I don’t seem to have any luck with the theoretically correct deviation, as tuned using an RTL SDR. The signal was received fine on my MD380 and PD365 but not on my MD650, which is extremely fussy when it comes to TX deviation. However, a slight tweak allowed the MD650 to receive the repeater and now all seems to be working well.

Reports are welcome, especially from owners of radios from manufacturers other than Hytera and Tytera.

 

FR off air

You have probably noticed FR is off the air. This is due to a TX fault. I will update you when everything is up and running again.

 

Talkgroups vs reflectors

I’ve been thinking recently about talkgroups and reflectors.

In the beginning, I saw that the UK had chosen reflectors, so I went about trying to build a repeater that only used one talkgroup (TG9 on both slots). I experimented with TalkGroup rewrite to allow access to other talkgroups but still rewrite them to TG9 at the repeater. This was interesting and educational, but it was not perfect.

Later, for technical reasons, the code I had contributed to the MMDVM project to make this happen had to be removed.

Recently, I’ve been pondering this “sitting on the fence” approach of having reflectors and talk-groups. To be honest I think it’s messy to use both and perhaps we should choose one or the other, or at recognise that they have different purposes. In particular, it makes things harder for mobile users as manual-dialing reflectors can be to taxing whilst driving. Also, many radios don’t actually support this functionality, e.g. my MD650 I use in the car does not.

So what do you, as users, think. Should we remove the default connection to 4400 on TG9? Reflectors would still be available on demand but would disconnect after 10 mins or so of inactivity.

This does not mean we have to give up 4400. 4400 is also TG2350 so in place of an always-connected reflector 4400, I can make TG2350 static. This gives an option to use roaming on this TG too.

Note, we are the only country in the world that has this obsession with reflectors. Everywhere else the primary access method is talk-groups, with reflectors available to connect when required. This is sensible because regularly used talk-groups are always there, but if you want to try something new, just connect it as a reflector and try it out.

Thoughts?