Maximum Coverage from DMR systems

So recently heard on the air was a discussion about working DMR systems from an airplane; During that talk, there was a claim the repeater was able to be worked with a full bi-directional conversation from a couple hundred miles away.

I was really surprised. I’m fairly sure reception is possible over tremendous distances, but you would be unable to hold the proper time-slot with a TDMA network like Tera and DMR.

Here’s a discussion I found online:  And here’s an FAQ from Tait:  and:  and:

I thought I’d toss this out there to see what others may know or think about this?

I wondered if maybe its possible but you risk stomping on the other time-slot had there been two time-slots in use towards the repeater?

I’m quite certain that with DMO mode aka a Simplex radio connection where there is no need for syncing or precise timing, there would be no problem. This impacts only repeater operation where both time-slots are in use.

For anyone wanting to claim D-Star and Fusion are better than DMR, this might be one example of where they may be. But I’m happy with DMR and it’s ability to carry two conversations from one pair and it’s lower power consumption. The world is full of trade offs.

I love Brandmeister – Easy as Pie to manage Talk-Groups

I’ve uploaded a video to show you how easy managing talk-groups is for repeater owners/operators.
You can make changes in mere seconds and any hour of the day or night without bothering anyone with your request.
I do hope other repeater owners in Minnesota will consider moving over someday. If you as a user prefer Brandmeister connected repeaters, please mention that to the repeater owners you talk to.
Check out this video.

Minnesota Statewide Talk-Group 3127 moving on many repeaters to Time-Slot1


In an effort to make the repeater network available to all users, many of the repeaters in town are moving Talk-Group 3127 (Minnesota Statewide) over to Time-slot 1 and thereby opening up Time-slot 2 for Push-To-Talk (PTT) activity. This clears the way for QSO’s to move to TAC channels or Local9/Local2 without conflict from MN Statewide. The Brandmeister network supports thousands of other talk-groups too. Anything can be brought up on either Time-slot PTT.

The following repeaters have Minnesota Statewide on Time-Slot 1 Full time…
BLM(Bloomington), (CSK)Chaska, MTK(Minnetonka), CTV(Centerville), STP(StPaul)

For the next 10 days or so… CSK and MTK also still have 3127 on TS2 full time… Yes 3127 is full time on both time-slots. This was done to support users of roaming and those who have not yet updated their code-plugs.

All of the above repeaters also support PTT for 3127 on TS2, again, so if you have not yet updated your code-plug, you still have Talk-Group access. Galen has already released code-plugs for the TYT radios and he expects to have the other radios done tonight too.
Dave will be releasing updates for the Motorola repeaters shortly.
Thank you to all the site providers, repeater owners, code-plug and cbridge/network maintainers.

There are a few other repeaters also likely moving, so I’m expecting a couple code-plug changes in the near future.
73 – NØNKI – Eric Osterberg

Microwave Link Equipment Update

I’ve been asked if I would share what equipment is being used for the Microwave links.

At the airport for this week and because of it’s low cost we have a LiteBeam 5AC-23G2. I have two of these radios here now sitting next to me.

For this week we’ll also attempt the same equipment at MSP Riverview but will be replacing with one of the ISO models at a later date. For example PBE-5AC-400-ISO

I do have a 620-ISO radio on the way here. It is the largest of the radios. It’s not been assigned to any link just yet; I simply wanted the unit to show and tell and discuss the issues of size and wind loading for the worst case.

If we build a link to Minnetonka, the antenna is rather large at 620mm. I don’t think we’ll have a problem downtown with its size, but I’m not sure Don’s tower is up to this wind load. It’s 24.6 inches in diameter.  PBE-5AC-620-ISO.

Each of the downtown locations should use an ISO version of the radios. They have better isolation or shielding from interference sources and a radome can be added to keep snow and ice from building in the face of the reflector.

It all depends on the distance and budget for oversizing to ensure there’s no amount of rain, snow or signal that would overpower the link.

Each link will have lightening protection, mounting hardware, “double shield, double sheath, UV protected cat6 tape (flat wire)” and special modular crimp ends.

Then each site will some day have a router/linux host that manages the “mesh” which is actually not a mesh but rather a network with redundant paths. There’s also a VPN network used so that we have usable/managed IP space regardless of who the Internet access provider is.

There are a couple locations where I’d like to place sector antennas for portable links for public service agency uses… Events basically. Riverview looking over the stadium/downtown is one example. The sectors are also perfect for cases where we can find a volunteer to uplink an Internet connection to the network. I think it’s likely someone knows someone downtown in a condo who can spare a tiny bit of Internet.

Moving Minnesota Statewide to Time-Slot1 on BM-(BLM/CSK/MTK)


As I shared on the Wednesday night net @7pm June 7th, I’d like to move all our static talk-groups to Timeslot1 and encourage the use of Timeslot2 for only on-demand or dynamic talk-groups. This follows the time-slot / talk-group layout idea that appears to have started in Iowa.

This will free up Time-slot 2 across any repeater that is not actively involved in a particular QSO, (any repeater that follows this convention). I’ll be removing US Nationwide and Worldwide + WWEnglish from static assignment to Timeslot1. Anyone can still bring up these talk-groups on demand on either time-slot when using a Brandmeister connected repeater. Your old code-plugs will work, but you are encouraged to update so that Minnesota state appears on your radio as full-time and so that you do not consume both time-slots while operating with your old code-plug.

These changes will become effective on July 1st, 2017. This is for BLM, CSK and MTK. This allows everyone to plan ahead and for our code-plug volunteers to release updates ahead of time.


DMR Breakfast Yesterday and a few more TYT radios updated

Yesterday was the DMR breakfast at Fat Nat’s. We meet bi-weekly so your next opportunity is only 12 days away. June 3rd, 2017. I hope we see you then! 8am is the official start, but many arrive about 7:30 and a few earlier than that. Service is great and the food even better.

I was able to update a few MD380 radios with the “hack” or “patched” firmware which allows the radio to hold the entire world wide contact database, all 61,625 of them. The software package that performs the modifications is called MD380-Tools. It provides front panel programming, the ability to directly enter the talkgroup ID number you’d like to use. Provides a Morse code menu, backlight programming for variable brightness, diagnostic and signal information, last heard lists, VU meter, changing roger beep tones, contact editing, adds “talker alias” display, additional options for programming the side buttons, keypad entry of your DMR ID, and countless other features over and above the stock firmware.

73 – NØNKI – Eric Osterberg

Announcing firmware updates on Minnetonka repeater

I wanted to share some technical news that’s only relevant to those of you interested and aware of some intermittent problems with the Minnetonka repeater not transmitting.

This evening the firmware on the XPR8400 repeater serving the Minnetonka area was updated to the newest available and several revisions newer that it was previously running. It is still Brandmeister connected. I’d like to thank all of you who have contributed. NØBVE, Don Rice for hosting my equipment at his site! Thank you Don! Thank you for all of your support to our community in so many ways. Thank you to Galen for answering and becoming our first successful contact on the new firmware version. Thank you to John Burningham for technical assistance and code-plug review. Dave KEØNA for access to the tools to keep our Motorola components working across the entire state of Minnesota. Todd, Kent and others for detailed technical reports of performance and observations that lead to our troubleshooting the ghosts in the network. And to all of the rest of you I’m forgetting to name specifically, and everyone of the rest of you reading this message. THERE ARE NO CHANGES OF ANY KIND REQUIRED ON YOUR RADIOS. This is simply a major update to the repeaters low level firmware. Only wanted to let folks know changes were made as well as the installation of some equipment to enable better network diagnostics.

73 – Thank you!

NØNKI – Eric Osterberg