DMR Stuff

I just finished doing radio for the first time this week. Somehow, I just couldn’t get motivated to turn on a radio until our weekly DMR net tonight on TG 31515, Tidewater VA. Each week, we have a few more join us … this week we had thirteen check ins. As the word gets out, people who are interested drift in on Thursday evening at 9 PM.

Most of the discussion tonight was on DMR programming … specifically simplex programming. WZ4K had some pearls of wisdom to impart, and thanks to him for his research and for passing it on. The official DMR simplex frequency for the Virginia Beach Hamfest is 441.000 MHz. I’m really looking forward to the hamfest this year. It’s a chance to put some faces to the net members. WZ4K, Howard, will also be presenting a SKYWARN forum, so that’ll be interesting. I think I mentioned in a previous post that the forums actually interest me more than the sales at the hamfests. There’s also a forum on Mesh Networking that I want to attend.

73 de Dick N4BC

Lots of Action Yesterday

I was pretty busy yesterday afternoon after work. I downloaded the software for the new FT8CALL and installed it, and then fired it up. It’s a very easy setup, especially if you’re already running FT8 … it’s almost identical. I’ll have to admit, keeping track of all the functions and following the QSOs on the screen can be confusing at first … there’s lots going on. It’s really essential to read the documentation first and then keep it handy to refer to. Will it become a popular mode? I don’t know … it is sort of a ragchew mode, and many don’t seem to be interested in interacting beyond the minimal exchange, but time will see. It does have its place.

Last night, we had our weekly DMR net on TG 31515 (Tidewater, VA), with a good, lively crowd and some interesting discussions. We hesitate to call it a “net” … it’s more of a very loose roundtable. Very casual compared to a formal net. We had eleven area hams check in, which was a record, I believe. We discussed “Static TGs vs Dynamic TGs, a Meet-Up at the Virginia Beach Hamfest on the 6th of September, Talkgroups vs reflectors. I noticed that a couple of the guys were showing up as unidentified on my display, which reminded me that I hadn’t updated the DMR user database in my HT for a while. I did a quick download of the data into my portable and VOILA! … they were no longer unknown!

The DMR 31515 Thursday Night Group keeps growing. If you’re a participant, invite a friend! Everybody is welcome! If you’re not a participant, here’s an open invitation to just ‘holler’ at us when we pause for people checking in.

We also talked about a local DMR simplex frequency and decided that we would adopt 441.0000 (TG99,TS1,CC1) as our common simplex frequency. We’ll try it out and see if we can find each other at the hamfest in a few weeks.

73 de Dick N4BC

Holy Cow! Another Win!!

You may remember, not too long ago I mentioned that I had won the Icom HamNation weekly “swag” contest. Well, they take all the weekly winners and draw for a monthly Grand Prize. I WON THIS MONTH!!! The Grand Prize is an Icom ID-51A Plus 2 D-Star transceiver. Thank you, Icom!

I’m just starting to get a reasonable understanding of DMR, and now I’ve got to learn about D-Star, too! Well, they say the way to stay young and keep your wits is to challenge and exercise your brain. Thank you again, Icom!! You’re obviously thinking about my mental health!

Last night was our monthly club meeting, and Charlie, WB4PVT, did a presentation on connectors … PL-259 vs Type N. Even an old-timer like me learned a few new things. I also picked up my ticket from Rob, KE4JDY, for the Virginia Beach Hamfest in early September. There’s a forum on implementing a mesh network that looks interesting.

You know, I find that I’m becoming less interested in the equipment for sale at the hamfests and more interested in the forums. There’s a lot of good knowledge presented. And, it sometimes leads you in new directions … that’s how I got interested in amateur DMR.

I haven’t done a lot of operating this week. Lots of reasons (excuses?) … Thunderstorms, other commitments, and just pure, unadulterated laziness. Hopefully this weekend will bring some relief from my static state.

73 de Dick N4BC

 

FrostFest 2018

FrostFest was last Saturday, so I made my annual trek to Richmond to attend. It was clear, but cold, and waiting in the line outdoors to enter was not pleasant for me. I was bundled up in a heavy coat, and I was amazed at the people standing with me in just a T-shirt and seemingly comfortable!

The first thing I noticed was that the layout in the exhibition hall was different this year. All of the empty space was moved to the center aisle, making it a wide expanse and much easier to navigate than prior years. I was told the real reason was to allow less chaos with vendor vehicles coming in to offload equipment … evidently in prior years, navigating the narrower aisles was not pleasant.

One consequence of the wide open center of the hall was that it gave the impression of a smaller crowd this year. I read that the organizers have unofficially said that this year’s crowd was the largest yet. We’ll have to wait for the final count, I guess.

The only significant manufacturer there was Elecraft, but there were lot of second-tier vendors there, and LOTS of “tail-gate” individuals with tables. There was much nostalgic equipment there, and I did see quite a few “boat anchors” being carried out to waiting vehicles.

I spent most of the day attending the forums … DMR, Puerto Rico recap, ARRL, SkyWarn, and I did wander the sales floor several times, too. I actually didn’t buy anything this trip … my big purchase for the winter was a new IC-7300 on  Black Friday last year. I was looking for a shielded USB A-B cable, but didn’t see any, so I ordered one from Amazon when I got home.

It was a pleasant day, and worth the trip. I did take some things away from the forums, and I reconnected with several friends and acquaintances that I only see here every year at FrostFest. My congratulations to RATS (Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society), the club that puts all this together and coordinates this. Well done!!

73 de Dick N4BC

Planning a road trip

I had a call from Charlie, WB4PVT, last night about our trip to Richmond, VA on Saturday morning to FROSTFEST. He’s going to pick me up about 0630 and we’ll have a bit of breakfast before we set out for the approximate one-hour drive to the hamfest.

FROSTFEST is a big hamfest, but even they don’t rate an appearance by the big three (Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood). The only major manufacturer there is Elecraft. Quite a few second-tier dealers there … Quicksilver, Hamworld, etc. All of the tables were sold out this year, so the individual sales will be there. I’ll bet I see the same guys with the same stuff again this year that I did last year, though!!

It should be a nice trip. I’m not planning any purchases this time, but you never know.  Maybe some BNCs and PL-259s. There are some interesting looking Forums, so maybe I’ll learn something. I always see at least a few people that I only see about once a year, so that’s always a pleasant surprise when it happens.

73 de Dick N4BC