Continuing to explore Digital (Amateur) Radio

Well it’s been a while since my last post on digital radio. And as expected, things have moved on.

I now find myself with four Jumbospot (MMDVM hotspots), and an equivalent four digital radios. In addition to the Anytone 868, I now have a Retevis RT3S, a Yaesu FT-70D and an Icom IC-E92D. In short I have all the (in my view major) digital modes covered (DMR, C4FM and D-Star).

I now normally monitor CQ-UK on C4FM, REF001 C on D-Star, Brandmeister TG 2350 (as G4EID) and TAC-310 as KM8H (although using my UK call on voice) on DMR. This may seem a little excessive, but I like keeping all options open. But it has presented with challenges (or ‘learning opportunities’) along the way. First, you can’t really operate (simultaneously) with two DMR radios using the same DMR ID. I’m lucky I was able to use my US callsign on the second radio. The caveat being that any voice ID has to be with my UIK call. Second, there’s a tweak you need to do when entering your DMR ID in the different hotspots. It seems you use your DMR ID and add 01, 02, 03 etc for each different one. Well it works for me anyway.

Since I have four hotspots, what frequencies do I use? Well there are the two allocated (in the UK) frequencies, 434MHz & 438.8MHz. In addition I’ve chosen to use 434.5MHz and 439.975MHz. it’s interesting to see what others are using, and it appears I’m not alone in choosing the above options. The main thing is to avoid the satellite sub band and existing allocated frequencies.

I’m sure some might suggest why I don’t use just one hotspot and have it scanning all three modes? Well yes, that (technically) would work, but all radios would then be on the same jumbospot frequency, and the result I find of that, is that while one ‘mode’ is transmitting (and being received on one radio) the other radios make the most dreadful racket which I can’t seem to silence with any squelch method at the radio’s disposal. Plus, as you’re listening to one mode, you can miss calls on the other modes.

I have a fairly regular contacts with a couple of local amateurs, but tend to drop into listen mode on the other reflector(s) and talk groups. There can be some very interesting QSO’s to listen into 🙂

So, now I’m settled, I do intend to get on a little more now, digital radio offers some excellent opportunities to having world wide contacts without having to have substantial aerials outside.

If you hear me on at anytime, please give me a shout!

73, Mark, G4EID / KM8H.

Time Team Dig Village – Interim Report Launch

Since 2012, I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with the Time Team Dig Village project, currently running down at Dunster in Somerset. You’ve no doubt seen the pictures and posts that periodically show on my little used social media sites when an event is taking place.

While the project is still ongoing, there comes a time at which an interim report is needed to let everyone know what the latest findings are. Ideally it needs to satisfy both the professional archaeologist(s), plus, be readable by the general public so that they can easily understand the content without having to know too much about archaeology itself.

Down in Dunster this last weekend (26th January 2019), that interim report was launched. Sufficient copies were printed to be able to freely distribute it locally to those who are involved in the project, plus some copies for the necessary archaeological records. I’ll amend this post in due course since the intention is to make a PDF of the report freely available online for anyone to look at. I’ll post that link once it’s available,

While the project continues, it was really great to see the culmination of several years work make up the content of the report. We held the launch in the local Dunster Museum. A small video of the event can be seen here.

I’ve really enjoyed working as part of this project, it’s been both rewarding and educational. Long may it continue!


Digital Mobile Radio (DMR)

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. It’s over ten years since I got involved with internet linking on Amateur Radio with IRLP and Echolink. But I was never really swayed by the upcoming digital modes. At the time D-Star appeared to be the front runner, and since then there have been others, including (probably) the two most popular other ones, Fusion (C4FM) and DMR. But Analogue was (and probably still is) my preferred option.

However, things move on, and I’m now developing an interest in DMR. For those that understand the technology, it’s essentially a time division multiplied system that splits one 12.5kHz channel into two 6.25kHz ones. From a telecoms point of view it’s something I’m very familiar with, but the implementation of it for Amateur Radio is another thing. In my experience the best way to learn is to play. So I’ve acquired a couple of pieces of kit which will allow me to do just that.

I’m now reading up about it, and as ever, as with other aspects of the hobby, there are various ‘factions’. Straight away I can see there are two variants I can use, both of which in their own right are I’m sure perfectly fine. But it’s one or the other. Both will have pros and cons. What I need to work out is which one is the best for me. I then need to work out how to programme all the options. This may take some time. Anyway, within a few days, expect to see G4EID appear on one or other of the DMR systems.

73, Mark.