F5ZLR – Change of Operating System.

From today 11th September 2018, DMR BrandMeister Repeater F5ZLR at Limoges has been upgraded to Pi-Star.

Formerly running on Ubuntu Xenial, the Raspberry Pi 2 now displays a very elaborate array of live conditions of the repeater to everyone, using a cut-down version of Raspbian Jessie, and a dashboard derived from the previous model by DG9VH but considerably enhanced by Andy Taylor MW0MWZ.

The repeater can be viewed at http://f5zgm.f8kfz.org:19389 but only viewed. The administrative functions are protected.

A partir d’aujourd’hui 11 septembre 2018, DMR BrandMeister Repeater F5ZLR à Limoges a été mis à niveau vers Pi-Star.
Auparavant sous Ubuntu Xenial, le Raspberry Pi 2 affiche désormais un tableau très élaboré des conditions de vie du répéteur pour tous, en utilisant une version réduite de Raspbian Jessie, et un tableau de bord dérivé du modèle précédent de DG9VH mais considérablement amélioré par Andy Taylor MW0MWZ.

Le répéteur peut être consulté à l’adresse http://f5zgm.f8kfz.org:19389, mais seulement visualisé. Les fonctions administratives sont protégées.


DMR – BrandMeister Hotspot Use

So many ways, so many modes, so much confusion. The only stupid question however is the one that is never asked,

The one I hear most however is “How do I change Reflectors/Talkgroups” on my Hotspot?

The answer is very much dependent on what hotspot you have and on what network you intend to transmit. I can only answer for DMR Brand-Meister.

For some hotspots, particularly the new duplex hotspots, then you are independent of Reflectors and can move around any talkgroup by creating a codeplug that has the frequency(ies) of your hotpot and the talkgroups that you wish to use.

For the simplest of the hotspots that are single frequency then you are locked in to using Reflectors and one talkgroup TG9.

There are basically two ways to use these hotspots.
The first is by pushing a private call to a reflector number. In this method you need to watch the screen to see that the hotspot does register the change of reflector with the server.
The second and easier method is to select 4999 as the reflector on the hotspot and use the BrandMeister Self-care web page to change talkgroups. You log in to your own self-care page, and select services and extended talkgroups on the left hand side. By selecting your device from the drop-down box, you can then select any talkgroup anywhere.

Re-vigoration of Violette – F5ZQF The Repeater at Guéret

I realise that I have never reported on this repeater, maybe because at the present time it has no internet connection.

Violette is based upon the same design as Virginie, having two Motorola transceivers, a GM350 on transmit and a GM950E on receive.

A Raspberry Pi B+ drives the repeater with the software SVXLink at its heart. Until the internet is connected permanently I have no way of directly updating the software.

The Duplexer has 5 cavities with three on receive and two on transmit. The antennas are a pair of phased folded dipoles at 22 metres above ground level, but on a hill top site known as Maupuy at JN06WD, alongside a very prominent TV pylon of significant height.

DMR BrandMeister – A Point of View

I have been active on this mode for the last two years and feel that I have acquired sufficient knowledge to form an opinion. I am not an expert in the precise technology, but I am well versed in human interaction to see where some are going wrong. some have it right, and some are in the middle and need a bit of guidance.

This information will serve primarily the repeater keeper/sysop, but give rise to questions by the users of the sysops as to how best to use their local repeater. My experiences relate to MMDVM-Type repeaters of which I manage two and help out with a third.

Which Slot?

In examining worldwide usage of slots there appears to be a consensus that Slot 1 on a repeater is used for World Wide Talkgroups, and Language based Talkgroups.
Slot 2 on repeaters appears to be used in the majority for National, Regional, as well as local use. Talkgroup 9 is local use on Slot 1 and Slot 2.

Fixed (static) or Dynamic talkgroups?

Fixed talkgroups do not as a rule have a time-out, that is to say they remain permanently ON Bi-Directionally. Dynamic Talkgroups remain available from the repeater side by PTT, and stay Bi-Directional for 10 minutes until they time-out from the server. Fixed (static) talkgroups are made so in self-care by the sysop or on Pi-Star. Available static* talkgroups on the servers also have to be equally available in the repeater. (See next paragraph). *I really do not like the use of this term as it implies an elevation to high voltage.

I have recently moved one repeater F5ZLR from an Ubuntu based MMDVMHost to Pi-Star without any changes to the operation of the repeater, other than the improvement of the addition of the Dashboard – http://f5zgm.f8kfz.org:19389 will show the live operation.

Whitelisting and Blacklisting.
In my view there is no need to whitelist or blacklist any talkgroups as BrandMeister and MMDVM control everything for you.

In an MMDVM repeater all talkgroups are available as dynamic on either slot. This is a very wide selection, meaning that two users of the repeater can program their radios to use the same talkgroup but on different slots. NOT a good move. I have seen this on one repeater I have been observing.

The Pi-Star software is not a fix-all although some control is maintained over some talkgroups, through the use of the BrandMeister API in expert settings.

Talkgroups or Reflectors.

Repeaters should function entirely on talkgroups, but the facility exists on TG9 slot 2 to open a reflector to another talkgroup not already available on the repeater.
Most sysops have almost completely dis-opted talkgroup activity on a repeater and made it function entirely on reflectors. This is situation limiting by far, but at the same time provides a little experimentation for the users. However I have noticed that it also shows selfishness by some operators who prevent others from accessing the repeater or change the reflectors without consideration to others. While a repeater is open to a reflector the issue of a 5000 private call can elucidate the current connection, and a private call of 4000 can disconnect the current connection.

Simplistically, all one needs on a repeater are TG9 on both slots, but this makes for slight complications when changing reflectors. Having a range of talkgroups programmed in to the CPS is far simpler by turning a knob.

I find it very frustrating that some repeater users disconnect their routing on a repeater to the network, thus preventing me from contacting users subsequently within that repeater’s coverage.

HotSpot users have little option but to use Reflectors, unless they have recourse to Reflector 4999 and/or extended Talkgroups, as I do when I use a DV4Mini.

Special Note: If Talkgroup 2350 is available on the repeater and in the users codeplug, then it is absolutely pointless for that user to issue a 4400 private call on talkgroup 9 to connect to the reflector that corresponds to the 2350 talkgroup. It means effectively that Slot 2 has two pathways open to the same server talkgroup via two talkgroups on the repeater.

Too many Fixed Talkgroups available?

It depends on how useful you want your repeater to be. If you have no fixed talkgroups then no one from outside the repeater area can access it after the time-out on the available talkgroups has expired. If you have two, one on each slot, it begins to have an impact. Let us for example fix 91 on Slot 1 so that it is connected to the available world wide network, and fix 2350 (England) on Slot 2, then there will be lots to hear and invite a lot of interaction worldwide and locally (relatively), but the repeater will have a high duty cycle. If you make 235 (National UK) fixed on Slot 1, and 2350 (England) on Slot 2 then this duty cycle will drop considerably.

I run a repeater on soak-test at the moment with several fixed talkgroups on each slot, but as these fixed talkgroups are relatively inactive, there is very little chance that the slot will be blocked by other transmissions. I do not use reflectors. I see no need. I can have a contact on 2350 and QSY to 2352 without issue.

Available Talkgroups.

It is very clear to me that that some users do not look at the services provided at the repeater by the sysop. They make calls on non-existent talkgroups, They call up reflectors when there is no need, and they don’t take advantage of all that is available. Most of this is generally lack of knowledge, but I have found the stuff, why not them?

Code Plugs and Hot Spots.

So many time I have heard people on the air bemoaning the lack of knowledge or experience of this mode. This is a learning hobby – get over it and learn! There is a simple aid in these blogs, read it in conjunction with you CPS and make your own code plugs. If you have a hotspot, you need only TG9 and the frequency of the device at the very least. If you want to add more then do your own research and don’t rely on others, as you may be picking up bad advice.

A Final note to Sysops. Think about adding a Talkgroup with the repeaters ID number in one or both slots. Then if users have this in their codeplugs, and scan this talkgroup, users of the repeater can still call into the network when not within the repeaters coverage.

A final note to everyone, never ever consider DMR in its current state as a supplement to an emergency network. If there is an true emergency, the infrastructure may be the first to suffer. Use analogue communications or HF. If you come across a local emergency whilst mobile necessitating attendance of the emergency services, use a telephone or someone truly local to you. To pass information pertinent to any emergency requires local knowledge. Someone on a DMR network NOT in your locale cannot provide this as a service.

Building a code plug for BrandMeister.

When building a code plug there are three stages.

1. Installing the talkgroups, reflectors and personal identifications.

2. Building the frequency tables.

3. Building the zones.

These have to be done in this order as you can’t build frequency tables without groups and you can’t build zones without frequencies.

1. When creating the talkgroups and reflectors in the contacts list, add all of them. Research all the sources. If you want to add personal calls do so, but only those you believe you will need for personal interaction, you’ve room only for a 1000. Talkgroups are Group Calls, Reflectors and Personal contacts are registered as Private Calls. In the Tytera and Retivis CPS you can clearly see the numbering is unique for each group. When creating a named Talkgroup 9 for example, it should appear in the table as 9 in the associated group call list, or it won’t work. I know; I mistakenly one time only programmed TG 9 and found it didn’t work, only to find that TG9 on the screen was talking on TG 4.

2. When creating your frequency lists, research each repeater and hotspot and look for the norms, that is to say determine on which slot certain talkgroups should be active. A simplex hotspot isn’t a problem, as normally TG9 is norm. This is not restrictive practice, it’s just common sense. In most cases talkgroup 9 should be found on both slots of a repeater, possibly talkgroup 10 and talkgroup 99 as well. Every available talkgroup on each repeater or hotspot needs to be programmed individually. Consider programming in simplex channels as well. There are channels available for DMR simplex, and PMR/DMR as well. Why not add them while you are at it.

3. Zone choices are a lot more difficult to make. On each named zone you can fill 16 channels with information preprogrammed in the first and second categories. You can have more than one zone to cover a repeater, its talkgroups and its slots, and mix a selected zone with adjacent repeaters if you want for an easy change of channel.

When considering the three factors above look at the following information when talking either on a hotspot or your local repeater.

On slot 1 normally single digit, double digit and triple digit talkgroups are standard. Slot 1 should normally contain international, national and language based talkgroups. But this is not always the case. Check your repeater’s home page.

On slot 2 are generally found the 4 digit talkgroups like UK calling 2350 and chat groups 2351-4. If needed talkgroup 9 can be used to make reflector calls to other reflectors, but it is superfluous to connect to 4400 reflector as this corresponds to talkgroup 2350 already available in an open unrestricted repeater. Again check your repeater’s home page.

For repeater sysops it is a matter of balance, either you want a repeater for the users or you want a repeater for accessing the wider world, or a mix of the two. If you are running multi-mode, then you have to juggle the needs of the many to outweigh the needs of the few. Dynamic talkgroups are those that are activated by PTT at the repeater, and remain active for 10 minutes and only for as long as no one reactivates in the time period. Fixed or Static talkgroups are those that are locked open 24/7 or by schedule, by activating this function on selfcare, or by the functionality of PiStar software, or forced by MMDVM changes.

By and large UK Brandmeister repeaters are open to the UK on slot 2, and internationally on slot 1, except where they have chosen to cluster with other locally grouped repeaters.

This means 2350-2354 are either dynamic or fixed (static) on slot 2. 80,81,90,91,235 etc are dynamic or fixed (static) on Slot 1.

Talkgroup 9 is standard for local users on both slots, with the addition that on slot 2 a user can connect a reflector on this talkgroup. As I commented above, there is little point connecting to reflectors 4400-4 as the associated talkgroups are already available in this scenario. However it leaves the possibility of connecting to a foreign reflector on talkgroup 9 slot 2 should a user demand it, such as 4639 USA national (3100). There is the possibility of leaving open talkgroup 3100 as dynamic but there is a problem here. Dynamic talkgroups have that fixed time-out and cannot be disconnected while they are alive, but reflectors do not time-out, but they can be disconnected by private call to 4000. I say they can’t time-out, but a sysop can force a time-out in selfcare. What I have noticed however is that a dynamic talkgroup called up by a user can supplant one called earlier. Talkgroup 9 should not be a static talkgroup, but left dynamic. It is what it is, local and PTT operated. Planting a reflector on it changes its nature, and takes on the characteristic of the talkgroups in the reflector. As it has been connected locally there really is no need to leave it connected when it has finished it’s task.

As I see it Mmdvmhost, as in most homebrew repeaters like F5ZLR and GB7SO have all talkgroups unrestricted, which can create issues on a repeater unless the sysop takes a handle on it. Generally such talkgroups are dynamic, activated by PTT by a local user. They permit two way traffic for the duration they are active normally 10 minutes after last transmission outbound. A sysop can fix (make static) selected talkgroups in selfcare, so that they all remain open bi-directionally for the period selected, either full-time or part-time.

There is also a way whereby a sysop can partially block unwanted talkgroups from being accessed, and that is by using the whitelist command. By listing acceptable talkgroups in each slot, he effectively removes the unwanted talkgroups from the repeater, but this does not prevent their associated reflectors being accessed should the need arise. I have deliberately excluded how this is achieved, unless a sysop asks for it. It should not be applied lightly.

By removing this command, the repeater reverts to fully open as standard. There are methods to do this in pi-star but does not appear to be well documented.

Remember there are only two available “channels” and we all have to share. As I see it if a dual mode is operating D-star on one slot then DMR is NOT available on the other.

In Summary then if you have a UK BrandMeister repeater that you would like to populate to the best advantage, This is my recommend.

For Slot 1 TG9, TG80,TG81,TG90,TG91 and TG235 in other words National and International.

For Slot 2 TG9, TG2350, TG2351, TG2352, TG2353 National and regional and local chat.

If you want Scotland then add TG2355 as well.

There are other talkgroups for clusters, and for bridges to other modes, so you can add those as well.

TG23522 is a bridge to Wires-x and TG23526 is a bridge to the AllStar hub.

For other Talkgroups consider using Reflectors on TG9 slot 2.

The only drawback on building a standardised zone in a codeplug is that some repeaters will have talkgroups blocked or simply not-open.

Each repeater keeper has the right to govern his domain as he sees fit, but this becomes more problematic when it is a repeater governed by committee. It is even more difficult when there is a multi-mode repeater in use.

When it comes to it, any repeater will have a settling-in period for the sysop to examine the use of the unit and tune the use of it appropriately.

Primarily this is a hobby, a pastime, and not a job, a fact that some people frankly forget. By all means enjoy it but do consider others. Any opinions expressed are mine.

Regards, Chris F5VMR G4NAB.

Kiss Comms



•Nothing is worse than a radio operator that never listens first and talks over a conversation already in progress. There could be vital communications already in progress.
•Announce your presence clearly and concisely, then wait and listen again.
•Make your call then and only then if the channel is clear, and do so in a fashion that if you were the intended recipient of such a call, you would be in no doubt of the identify of the caller and his intended message. Prolonged calls are unnecessary on accepted calling channels.

•In establishing a contact, the essential parts are that you have correctly identified your correspondent and that he and you are in the position to exchange information. There is nothing worse than being asked to repeat vital information. Proceed only when you are both ready.
•M3xyz from g4abc, are you ready to copy, over!
•G4abc from m3xyz, ready to copy, go ahead, over!
Yes, these two examples are extreme but illustrate the message.

•If you are going to conversation mode, restrict your topics.
•Talk no longer than 3 minutes at a time, and less long on a repeater. This allows you to think more about what you are saying, rather than thinking about what you want to say next.
•Censor yourself. Not everyone wants your full station details from the outset. Too many items in the list risks information overload, and loss of interest. Not everyone has the same level of enthusiasm for certain subject matter as you. If you wander on, your correspondent may get interrupted in his listening by local matters such as a phone call, or disappear to make coffee due to boredom. Offer only essential information at first.
•At the and of such an extended transmission always re-identify yourself and your correspondent on conclusion, m3xyz from g4abc, and leave good breaks between transmissions.

•Remember that any remarks you make are not private.
•Your language, including remarks that may be less complimentary about a third party are open to interpretation by others.
•Say nothing that you would not like said to you, or about you, if spoken by others. If you cannot say anything nice, then say nothing at all.
•Try to use accepted speech rather than acronyms, mnemonics, or catchwords as not everyone may be as fluent as you. If you use a short cut, know what it means if it calls for explanation. This is especially important in the emerging technologies, as a lot of terminology has been confused, such as in talkgroups and reflectors in Digital Mobile Radio.
•Politeness costs nothing, if you disagree, agree to disagree, don’t argue about a point, as in the end neither of you will be right and you will hate each other.

•If you are the respondent to a call that is not of the standard that is outlined here, raise the standard and apply this etiquette. Just because the other caller lacks the expected protocol, it may be that he or she has not yet had the benefit of receiving the appropriate tuition, and you will now be best placed to give it by example.

•Where possible leave listeners in no doubt that you have finished the conversation, or that you are leaving the channel.
•Naturally there are times when batteries fail and correspondents are no longer in range, that is inevitable, but clear the channel anyway for the benefit of others.

•Chris G4NAB/F5VMR is a retired Hampshire police officer (1971-2003), where for many of his 30+ years of service was a professional radio operator/ dispatcher/ controller in all the county control rooms during their evolution from VHF to UHF over the past 45 years. He gained his first amateur licence G8POB in 1977 with a pass in the City and Guilds Amateur Radio examination, and having passed the Post Office Morse test at Niton on the Isle of Wight, gained the call G4NAB in 1983. He retired from the police in 2003 from the police control room at Netley, Southampton. He now lives in France and continues his amateur activities in French as well as English.

Aargh! I hate that!

Bad Spelling, Bad Grammar, Using the Wrong Word, Ill-considered comment, and the list goes on.

Since the advent of public media such as FaceBook some people have shown themselves in poor educative light through one thing or another.

Do simple things get up your nose?

When you say the letter “h” there is no “h” in “aitch” so when you say it so don’t say “Haitch”!

Allowed or aloud. Is it “allowed” or permitted? Or do we say it aloud or out loud?

There, their, they’re: There it is! It’s their problem. They’re not in possession of all the facts.

Your, you’re: Your mood is an indication of how you’re feeling.

Where, wear, ware: we’re, weir: Where are we? What shall I wear? Ware the danger of werewolves! We’re all aware of the water going over the weir.

Would have, should have, not “would of” or “should of”. If I had the money I would have bought it. If it was necessary, I should have.

Why use expletives when there are many words available? Yes of course you might be annoyed at something, but your state of mind will not enable you to deal with the situation. You will be considered more intelligent and comprehensible if you have a more fully developed vocabulary.