I have been active on DMR now for over three years, firstly active on BrandMeister, and now on both BrandMeister and DMR+ via the DMR-Gateway facility built into the MMDVM package. This has enabled me to access both the worldwide facilities on BrandMeister and the UK DMR+ facilities on the same repeater and the same zone of my code plugs with the minimum of fuss and key pushing.
I am not going to discuss the politics of why there are so many networks, but it is clear that many people cannot come to terms with the fact that they exist.
As a psychologist, albeit in a small way i find it both interesting and frustrating that the users of the various networks cannot get along.
My experiences in DMR are based almost entirely on the UK and France, but it is clear that in both countries, some users cannot understand what they have their hands on, from any perspective.
I have heard the following commentaries from both sides of the fence.
“I don’t go on the other network, I don’t like it.”, “the quality of the audio isn’t the same”, “I don’t like to do what I’m told and what talk groups to use”,”I can’t go to my own talk group and give it a name.”, “The server keeps going down”, “I can’t get a bridge to the other network”. “I’m not allowed to bridge to another network”…… and the list goes on.
You the user, have the right to go on to the network of your choice, subject to the available nodes. If you can’t, then get your own hot-spot or build your own repeater. The quality is typical of DMR, it is either typically DMR or it’s poor, and more often or not, it’s your own node that is the problem, or the proximity to it. For any network there has to be a protocol or there is anarchy. There is a centre of activity and there is a method to move to a chat channel. The MCC gives adequate guidance in that regard, that all talk groups start with the Country Code. I will not entertain the arguments for or against International Exchange Groups in the lower order numbers, as the procedures there are already available in all the forums. Just leave big enough gaps for folk to disconnect.
If you like to have a private chat or a group channel, why do you have to give it a name, like you want your own domain and control something. I have a talk-group like that and it’s called 20823…No naming required, or you can use your own ID, or that of a repeater, all perfectly acceptable.
All servers have issues, and some more than others. They are not necessarily under our total control and subject to the whiles and vagaries of the internet and the data centres in which they are held.
Bridging networks introduces other issues that are far too technical to describe individually, but needless to say I have to ask the question “If you have access to a network in one domain by existing means, why do you have to complicate it by connecting two domains together?” I already know the answer. You just want control! You want to jealousy guard your own little empire, that has so little activity, you want to bridge back to where the main players are so giving your members a little more action than they have at the moment. Don’t play politics, play radio!
Now having played with HBLINK3 and built a server, I can see where the interest lies, but there needs to be a great deal of manipulation of the software to
1. Correctly enable sufficient numbers of the desired groups to make HBLink3 useable,
2. Correctly disable certain actions to prevent the misuse of this software in bridging networks together where there is a distinct prohibition to do such a thing without certain safeguards being applied and permission specifically granted by the network administrators concerned.
HBLINK3, can be useful for independent and specialised groups, such as Radio Amateur Emergency Networks. The potential abuse exists where talk groups of different networks could be linked together if they appear in the same Bridge, on the same Master, and appear in the same context.
The only permissible use for HBLINK3 on BrandMeister is by using OpenBridge, but only with permission of the networks involved, a permission that is not granted lightly.
Unless you know what you are doing, leave it alone.
Finally – if you want a choice of Networks and you have access to an MMDVM Hotspot, or you are an MMDVM Repeater keeper, then the way to go is the use of DMR-Gateway. Details for this are found in Github under G4KLX under the section for DMR-Gateway, with the Talk groups Rewrite Functions. The Gateway is best configured in Pi-Star Version 4.1.1 when run from a Raspberry Pi.
Full explanation on the DMR-Gateway is available elsewhere in these articles.