How To Build a Code Plug for BrandMeister MMDVM Repeaters and Duplex Hotspots.

The CPS.

Firstly I must check that my personal settings are correct in the CPS and my DMR ID is in place otherwise my next QSO will be a non-starter.

Talk Groups and Reflectors


No matter what Code Plug Software I use, the principles are the same, I cannot build a code plug without talkgroups, so if I have not already done so, then I compile the list that I think I may need, then I add them ALL anyway for future expansion. I add also TG 4000, as this will be invaluable. Once I have all the talkgroups as Group Calls then I add any remaining reflectors as Private Calls, but quite frankly, if I have all the talkgroups I will not need reflectors, as they are really referenced to the relevant talkgroups. However Private Calls 4000 & 5000 might be a good idea. Finally I add any DMR ID’s I know such as friends and colleagues, and any repeater DMR ID’s that I will use. I will explain further on down. I try and get them in numerical order if I can, but if needs be, later on, I can use N0GSG’s DMR Manager to re-sequence all the information.

Frequencies

Now it really is down to me to research the repeaters or hot spots that I may use. I have to ensure the transmit and receive frequencies in my radio are the correct way round, the colour code is correct, and the timeout is set to a reasonable time – anything greater than 180 secs is unreasonable in my book (wafflers to note!).Most local repeater keepers will have given some basic information on their repeater, and some of them are Reflector Based, that is to say TG9 on slot 2 may have Reflector 4400 active and fixed. Some however may have fixed TG 2350, but either way the result is the same, everyone will be on TG 2350 none the less. But for the moment let’s look at GB7SO.
GB7SO
This repeater in the South of England has No Fixed Talkgroups on Slot 2, but Fixed Talkgroup 235186 on Slot 1. TG 2350 is the centre of activity for the most of England, and TG 235186 is the ID Talkgroup of the repeater. Alongside these other talkgroups TG 9 on either slot are still available as dynamic (user activated) as are ALL talkgroups.Fixed talkgroups (shown as Static) cannot be overridden or disconnected. Any other talkgroups are Dynamic that is to say are activated at the local repeater that remain available for a time usually 10 minutes after activation despite no longer being used. Fixed talkgroups become dynamic when are activated at the repeater as well, which might seem a little confusing. Read on.Let’s for example have a QSO on GB7SO with a user on TG 2350 who is elsewhere in the country and is for argument’s sake is on Reflector 4400, and we elect to QSY to TG 2352 for a longer chat.In my code plug I have conveniently programmed TG 2352 so for me it’s a quick two clicks from TG 2350 on the zone channel changer and I’m there. For my correspondent he has to private-call his reflector based repeater or hotspot with 4402 and wait for the acknowledgement, before we can continue out chat that we successfully conclude.

Now it has to be remembered that for the duration of our chat, that GB7SO has been unavailable for use on Slot 2 because I was operating on TG 2352, and the correspondents hot spot or repeater has likewise been unavailable to other traffic. This is quite normal and to be expected. The rest of the network has been unhindered by our QSO as we have activated a dynamic path between us.

The proper thing to do after our QSO is for the correspondent to make a private call to reflector 4000 to return his system to standby and perhaps automatic reset to 4400 if that has been set up, and for me to turn my zone channel change knob to a TG 4000 channel on GB7SO and press PTT. The network via repeater automatically responds by “Not Linked”, and the repeater becomes available again on slot 2 for all traffic. TG 4000 works only on slot 2, and not on dynamic talkgroups on slot 1. A private call to Reflector 4000 is not the same as a group call to TG4000.

Let’s add a second scenario where I am out of the area of GB7SO but I make contact with someone local on the repeater, and together we elect to move to TG 235186, where we can chat until the cows come home. See the Repeater ID talkgroups below.


Zones


To explain the above scenario, it is a good idea to be aware that a zone has 16 channels each of which can have a different frequency and or talk group allocated. I can program more than one zone to cover one repeater, for example one zone can have GB7SO with all the Slot 1 talkgroups, like 9, 80,81,90,91,113,235 etc and another zone can contain all the GB7SO talkgroups normally found on slot 2 like 9,2350,2351,2352,2353,2354,2355 (if I want to talk to Scotland HI), and so on. I can also program a zone for tcnravelling so that all the Repeaters from the South to the North of England on TG 2350 (TG9 Reflector 4400) are in one zone, making it simple to change channel as I move through the country.

There are further regional talkgroups, and language talkgroups and national talkgroups, equally available to me via GB7SO, but I have to be sensitive to the local needs so I shall be prudent with my talkgroups selection. TG 9 slot 1 and TG 9 slot 2 are necessary, and if possible TG 99. TG 99 has additional properties in that it is network accessible. I will include TG235 on slot 1 as that gives me a national reach, and I could include TG 91 on slot 1 as well as the the DMR ID TG 235186. On slot 2, I program TG2350, TG2351, TG2352, TG2353, TG2354 as I might need to QSY. As a mobile it is not so easy for me to call reflectors as I’m driving, so I’m hoping other repeaters are as amenable. But in any case it would be a good idea for me to program TG 4000 in one channel so that I can kill the dynamic channels if necessary once I have finished with them.


DMR ID Repeater Talkgroups.
GB7SO has available on slot 1 talkgroup 235186, so that any user of the repeater can talk to an affiliate of the repeater as if they on a local talkgroup. It leaves slot 2 free for TG 2350 traffic as normal. I was pleased to see this has now been adopted by a repeater in the US whose page I encountered this morning.TG 208688 is available for F5ZLW, TG 208687 on F5ZLR and TG 208987 on F1ZKD all by prior arrangement of course. GB7CO in Fareham has TG235272 on slot 1 and TG23527 UK Military and Veterans on slot 2.
In Summing up


So I have all the talkgroups I need, I have programmed all my frequencies and necessary talkgroups attached, and I have created the several zones that I may need. All I have to remember is that if I call up a dynamic talkgroup on a repeater or duplex hotspot, I tune my channel to TG 4000 after my qso to kill the dynamic talkgroup. It will necessarily kill a fixed talkgroup if it has become dynamic through use, but it will not disconnect it from its status as permanently available. 

Foot Note.This is an update of an earlier article that is still relevant.
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Today on DMR…. Phoenix-Why?

Having now the capability of traffic on IPSC 2 Phoenix UK, it makes sense to me as an English ex pat to connect to, and to participate thereon. So I sought an answer to my question as why some folk on reflectors couldn’t hear me and those on talkgroups could; as I use talkgroups I didn’t consider that I was the problem.

So the answer appears to be that while I can use talkgroups on the network, my DMR ID is said to be filtered out in the reflector software between IPSC2-Phoenix-E and IPSC2-Phoenix-F. Just to explain this a little deeper, the F server is where we connect our hotspots and the E server where the repeaters are connected. Why my “Foreign” ID is filtered out through the reflectors is incomprehensible (and reprehensible), as I can use the TalkGroups 235,80,81,82 etc and successfully appear on the repeaters on Server E. It seems that reflector users are penalised from communicating with my good self. (I wonder if this was ever enacted on BrandMeister?) However I have noted a delay between me pushing the PTT and my appearance on the dashboard – I hadn’t considered that.

Second on my spot list today is the recently moved DV-Scotland group and why you can’t see them on the IPSC2-phoenix-E link I posted?

It’s because the DMR+Phoenix people had hidden them then on a separate dashboard, here DV-SCOTLAND.

I notice here that some English Callsigns have also found themselves here, whether by choice or by error who knows, but shows a lack of uniformity on DMR+.

Finally the North East England group. A few members of the DMR community have chosen to join the TGIF network – Thank God It’s Friday. Those people with PiStar who are experienced enough can find this network in their MMDVM configuration page near the top of the network list. The talkgroups are not standard and can be found on the TGIF support page. Search TGIF network on Google. It is already enough for me that the DMR World is divided, without looking for splinter groups, so if you want to go there it’s your decision.

73 Chris F5VMR and G4NAB.

Do you detect an angry tone my writing today? You may well ask. But I’m not going to share.

Today on DMR…. Reflector Problems?

Over the last few days I’ve been aware of a difficulty that a lot of people seems to be having with connectivity with each other. I cannot explain it adequately but it is as if reflectors have parted company with their associated talk groups in some way. More noticeable on IPSC2-Phoenix-E but also sometimes on BrandMeister.

Those amateurs who are still communicating with a single talkgroup TG9 and relying on the reflectors to make the connection to the real TG in action are finding that they can hear only their fellow users on reflectors, and not always those folk who are on the talkgroups direct.

Reflector 4400 still seems blocked to certain devices trying to connect to TG235 due to alleged abuse, according to the DMR-phoenix pages. But that doesn’t solve the problem TG80-Reflector 4401 scenario where I have been talking with another user direct on the TG81 and although I have heard another person connected via a reflector, he hasn’t heard me. I suspect it’s like this.

Person A activates TG81 on his repeater and I activate TG81 on my hotspot and we can talk together. Person B calls in on Reflector 4402 on TG9 slot 2 on his repeater and cannot hear me but can hear person A. I can hear Person B. When person B goes to TG81 directly he can hear me, as he dynamically activates the Talkgroup on his repeater. I know it’s not my problem, but who has a handle on it?

The IPSC2-PHOENIX-E dashboard shows the uniformity of DMR+ repeaters across the UK, with a single fixed talkgroup 235 and the rest supposedly dynamic, although I have noted that TG1 worldwide has shown active across the board at times.

Anyway back to my query. On a number of occasions I have tried to join a conversation on these talkgroups, like TG810 or TG810, when I have seen people on the dashboard apparently activating them via a reflector and found either that they ignore me or more likely cannot hear me.

This still occurs on BrandMeister, which is more difficult as most of the repeaters are reflector dependent. I have written enough of my views of this connectivity, but to the point of hearing across to the real talkgroups, the problem had not been so apparent recently. But knowing about it can alleviate distress if it occurs again.

Today on DMR…. Where’s the activity.

There are significant number of folk on DMR but so very little activity. It is a bit reminiscent of the first days of EchoLink, with several hundreds of registered users, but no-one activating their links.

I remember going through the list on EchoLink one day and calling successive stations in the list and receiving absolutely no response.

Here is the dashboard of hot-spot users currently on IPSC2-Phoenix-F and you can see the enormous amount of activity as the panel lights up with voluminous QSO’s.

Here is the dashboard of IPSC2-Phoenix-E repeaters, in case you thought the other one was not interesting enough.

If you haven’t got the idea yet, I think you will after about 10 minutes of watching those links.

I’m not picking on Phoenix but there isn’t a comparable dashboard on BrandMeister, without making a search pattern in the BrandMeister web page on the “hotspots” or “repeaters” shortcut, or selecting a published Repeater Dashboard such as mine, but you’ll soon grasp the same notion.

The technology is great, but once you’ve got it there is little else you can do with it except talk, so why isn’t there more activity.

The significant numbers of repeaters, analogue and digital, bare witness to the same semblance of a desert. SO many repeaters, SO little activity. I monitor my own repeater dashboard, and see page-fulls of call-signs scroll by with barely a splutter on the radio, so what are you guys doing? There are some stations that still do not understand their own hotspots, and have set up the beacon to the net so that every few minutes, there is an ugly burp with 30% loss. I could name those callsigns but it would be unfair. You only have to watch the repeater dashboard for 30 minutes and you too will know them.

If you want to check your own audio or your own connection, then do so using 9990, or if it’s an open spot then check your instruction manual and do it locally. If you call on the air for a test call, then have a proper call and don’t say that you were just testing – There’s no point to you having a radio or a hotspot, otherwise.

So if you have a radio and/or a hotspot, then check in, get a contact, get to know your DMR capabilities, and learn to communicate properly, for that is the purpose of obtaining your licence.

Today on DMR…. Talkgroups? What are they?

Talkgroups !

Ah! An easy subject if you can forget analogue for a moment.

Imagine it’s a telephone exchange and you’re just dialling a number to a destination. Some folks all dial the same number and you have a party call. Or on a scheduled call, two folks dial the same number to talk to each other. A bit like “The Matrix” really except you don’t go anywhere.

Reflectors can be considered as proxy calls, where the second part of the link to a talkgroup is already made permanent, and you choose to push buttons in an analogue fashion to connect to them.

When talk groups are used, it is like an autodialer. Some destinations are pre-set to already-open, and some open when you call in. That’s the difference between fixed and dynamic, or static and user accessed put another way.

Simply put, when you install talkgroups in your code plug, you are making the directory, so put all 998 talkgroups in even if you might not use them yet. That’s a rough estimation on my research of BM DMR+and TGIF. There are more but your CPS will complain.

Then you make a bunch of channels with frequencies of your hotspot, your local repeaters or whatever, based on your needs with their color code, but create copies of each primary Frequency each with their own talkgroup. If it’s simplex always use slot 2, if it’s duplex, then check with the repeater keeper for the protocol, which groups on what slot, if that is your primary access point. Then you add the frequencies to your usable zone.

Although you can dial 2350 on either slot it will be accepted and work, to do it on slot 1 will tie up both slots as 2350 should be on slot 2, and the repeater will open your call on both slots on that repeater only. Your call however will still pass to the correct slot on other repeaters, as it’s the destination code that is set which is important. The servers also know that reflector 4400 is jacked into 2350 so the call is routed there as well.

Absolutely any talkgroup can be used anywhere, with the proviso that if you fabricated one from the unpublished “list”, then unless you arrange with someone else to use the same TG your call will go unanswered. Try TG 151 for example. No one lists it, but if you and I “dialled” it, we could, even if you were on slot 1 and I was on slot 2. It is the dialling code that is key.

Repeater groups or clubs could add the repeater ID as a talkgroup to their code plugs and make the talkgroup fixed on the repeater, so this way folks in range of the repeater and those outside can come together in one group.

Two friends in different states can each create talkgroups from their personal IDs, rather than use the private call method. That’s another two talk groups.

Private calls do the same thing but you talk to him on his ID, and he replies on your ID. Two calls for the price of one.

Here are two links again for your entertainment.

A BrandMeister link, and the UK IPSC2 link, where you can see talkgroups at work.

Today on DMR…. Reflectors and Talk Groups.

Reflectors on DMR, simply put, are a microfiche or pointers in part of a library, that ultimately point to the real books on the shelves that everyone else, the repeaters and the servers use to make the pathways across the networks. In short for example if you connect via Reflector 4400, the server knows to make the ultimate connection to destination talk group 2350. So you are on TG 2350.

There are two ways that users on DMR can access the pathways to their intended destination.

The simple Reflector operation is to work on only one talk group TG9 slot 2, and private call the reflector of your choice. This can be done on a repeater or a hot spot. Or alternatively it can be a very simple code plug, with the one channel for the hot spot or repeater, and other channels with private call reflector numbers. It means switching between the various channels to call the reflector and going back to the TG9 channel to talk, not forgetting Reflector 4000 to disconnect, before reconnecting with another.

The more complete Talk Group operation is more complicated to begin with, but once done will give unlimited options to access not only the known talk groups, but direct calls, repeater groups, club nets, and calls to individuals, which the reflector operation cannot. It requires intimate knowledge of the complete list of available talk groups, observation of network dashboards to see other talk groups in use, and an enquiring mind.

Those who are tethered to their PC’s with Hot Spot control software are at a disadvantage, so either of the two methods above are a significant step from that. You can now step away from the computer.

Nobody has said it is easy to make the transition, but the more reliant on Talk Groups we become, the ease of using DMR will become more apparent.

It has taken some trimming to include those most relevant to the BrandMeister, DMR+ and TGIF network world-wide. Sadly due to the limits imposed by the CPS of 1000, you may wish to consider some changes, dependent on where you live and to whom you wish to connect. The 6-digit talk groups have had to be dropped, but those who use them know where to locate them. These include the Repeater ID groups, the 950 series. However three examples of the GPS talk groups have been included.

In building a code plug whether it is for a hot spot or a repeater, the principles are the same. Talkgroups, Frequencies, Zones in that order.

The other thing to consider is what slot you need on which to place your channel. Simplex hot spots have only slot 2 active that that is easy. If you are to use a duplex hot spot then you indeed have a choice, but look at the convention that put the talk groups on a certain slot on a repeater, for example 235 on slot 1, and 2350 on slot 2. Ultimately it doesn’t matter on a hot spot as it’s the destination that is important. If you are programming a repeater channel then it does matter. Look at your local repeater’s home page or dashboard.

If you download the above .xls, save it as a .csv first. Remove those talk groups that are not relevant to your situation, and save it again under a new name. If you already have a code plug, import it into N0GSG’s code plug editor and import this.csv into the contacts list. The software will weed out duplicates. Click on the DMR-ID to sort them into order and save your code plug.

Go to the frequencies panel, and create 15 copies of your hot spot or repeater channel and give each a new name with the intended talk group in the heading. Then edit each new channel inserting the new talk group in the appropriate place, ensuring that Admit Criteria is “COLOR CODE” and save the code plug, before moving to zones. Remember to create a channel with TG4000 that will disconnect any dynamic talk groups that you create when communicating.

In Zones create a new zone and name it, then add each of the new channels to it. You can change the order in which they appear.

In code plugs with 16 places available you should have enough in the zone to make full use of what you have. In code plugs that support 64 positions on each of two banks, that leaves huge opportunities for multiple channels or two adjacent repeaters/hot spots. Save your code plug and load it in your terminal with your standard CPS.

Today on DMR…. Continuing the DV4mini experiment Episode 2.

First of all I need to correct a statement from my last post, in that two things must occur to get the set up correct on the DV4Mini dashboard.

Firstly if you enter your DMR-ID in the box provided, there is a second smaller box to the right into which you can add your extension in the series 01-99. Then that will distinguish your personal ID from your Hotspot ID.

Secondly for the QTH, until recently I was unaware that a 10-digit QTH Locator was even possible. Given those a 6-digit code presents you with a huge area in which people can find your location, a further two digit and two letters 00AA for example can more precisely give your location. You may wish to ignore this entirely in which case your location on your hotspot self-care page will default to somewhere in Austria, or you can opt for 00AA that sort-of shows where you are. I can understand for security reasons, you might not want to enter your precise square.

I have opted to select IPSC2-Phoenix-F as the server of choice at the moment that grants me access to a selection of talk-groups in the UK. Below this drop box there are a series of 10 boxes into which you can place fixed talk groups of your choice, as to their slot position at the destination. Incidentally as the DV4Mini operates on a single slot, you will only need to create individual channels for each talk group you will use on slot 2. The network takes care of the rest of the pathway.

If you are not interested further then that’s it for you. For the UK users it may be interesting to note the following, otherwise you may wonder if you are actually getting anywhere.

On Phoenix there is only one talk group that is always on – 235. All the other talk groups that might be available are user access or dynamic to give the proper term. The following Web addresses will be very useful to see where your transmissions end up.

This link will show you all the repeaters in the UK and their activity.

This link will show you all stations currently connected to the network and their activity.

It is important to note that there is a delay between your transmission and what appears on these dash boards, so bear this in mind when transmitting anywhere on DMR. The various sites have to sync one with the other and the server(s).

235 – Centre of activity or more appropriately a hailing channel, from which on contact you should move to:

80, 81, 82, 83, 84 or if the correspondent suggests it, to one of the regional talk groups 801, 810, 820, 830, 840, 850, 860, 870 or 880.

TG1 and 2 are worldwide and Europe, TG13 Worlwide English Speaker are on all the repeaters too, but as Dynamic talk groups, which drop out of use after a time if there is no further activity locally to the repeater activated. The full list can be found here. There is no need to use reflectors.

Today on DMR…. Continuing the DV4mini experiment.

On 26th February, Peter DG9FFM issued an updated version of the DV4mini software, follow the link on xreflector.net.

When loading your personal information, you will need a 10 digit qth locator, in order to overwrite the location built in the DV4mini software, a 6 digit qth locator won’t do it.

For DStar users there was an initial problem with the lack of IP addresses for the Xreflectors, but the new version works.

The only remaining issue is the inability to edit the website address that appears in self-care for the hotspot. But we’re working on it.

Peter suggested that suffix 01-99 can be added to your DMR ID, but I found that this is not the case. A maximum of 7 digits.

That was quick.