experimental allstarlink on-air

If you’ve been hearing more than the average number of DTMF tones on the repeater system lately, it’s likely because an experimental implementation of AllStarLink is now running on the SMRC linked repeater system.

AllStarLink is an analog FM linking capability which uses on-air DTMF tones to connect & disconnect from other system nodes via the internet. For those familiar with Echolink, AllStarLink provides similar functionality at a basic level, but allows some significantly more complex configurations when fully integrated. In fact, once the AllstarLink system is fully implemented, the SMRC repeater system will provide both Echolink and AllStarLink connectivity.

The experimental implementation provides basic AllStarLink connectivity. The following control codes can be used to interact with the system:

  • *3 + ASL Node Number = Connect to remote node
  • *2 + ASL Node Number = Connect to remote node (monitor only – no transmit)
  • *1 + ASL Node Number = Disconnect from remote node
  • *721 = ASL Link Radio ID
  • *722 = ASL System Current Time
  • *806 = Disconnect all links

Users are encouraged to test the system and provide feedback via email to my call at gmail.com. Adjustments to system audio, implementation of location announcements, periodic audio QST’s, Echolink implementation, and a nationwide VOIP autopatch are just a few of the system capabilities currently in work.

For a list of nodes to which you can connect, visit the AllStarLink node list and look for node numbers listed in green squares. A filter function at the top of the list allows you to search for specific callsigns, node numbers, and locations.

Have fun with AllStarLink, and watch this news feed as we bring more features to the system in the near future!

KE7KUS

2019 WFDA Winter Field Day

Come join the Club as we partner with Alamogordo Amateur Radio Club to participate in the 2019 Winter Field Day radio operating activity on Saturday, January 26, 2019 through Sunday, January 27, 2019. Winter Field Day is an annual activity which promotes amateur radio emergency preparedness by conducting radio operations under improvised field conditions during winter weather. The Alamogordo Amateur Radio Club supports this activity from their regular meeting location at the La Luz Fire Station in La Luz, NM:


View Larger Map

Setup for the event begins at 8:30am on January 26 at the fire station. Radio operations will commence at 12:00pm and run for 24 continuous hours. The Alamogordo club is planning on running 4 separate radios for the event on a wide variety of frequencies and operating modes. There is sure to be an operating activity of interest to all! This event is a great introduction to a broader range of radio operations for new hams or those potentially interesting in learning more about the hobby.

For more information on the local activity contact the Alamogordo Amateur Radio Club at: alamoradioclub@gmail.com

For more information on Winter Field Day visit the website.

SMRC LINKED SYSTEM ON-AIR

As of 12:30pm this afternoon, the full linked repeater system is back on the air for analog FM linking. I took a trip to Alamo Peak this morning to see if the road was passable. The short answer is … “barely”:

Alamo Peak Road

There is still about 24″ of snow on the ground around Alamo Peak, and several additional inches were dropped yesterday afternoon. I was able to crawl my way back to just short of the comm site turnoff. All stranded vehicles on the road have been removed; however, there is still a significant amount of ice under the snow, which made driving an exciting activity.

Due to the snow depth, I had to hike from Alamo Peak Road in to the repeater site:

Hiking in to Alamo Peak comm site

The ice on the snow was thick enough to hold my weight, which actually made the hike easier than I had planned.

Once at the equipment shed, I quickly installed the coupling cable from the DR2X repeater to the Radius link radio. The homework I’d done previously finally paid off. A quick comm check with K5WAZ proved the Alamo Peak machine was linked both ways with James. A subsequent check with KG5VIN confirmed the two-way link between Alamo Peak and the Weed repeater.

Now that we have a working, standardized DR2X configuration at Alamo Peak, my next efforts will be to construct “install-grade” cables for all three sites, and program a Motorola link radio to replace the TKR-850 at James Ridge. Once I have those two tasks done, replacing the legacy radios at James Ridge and Weed should be a quick task, and will bring C4FM access to the rest of the system.

Thanks to K5WAZ, KG5VIN, KF5VLJ, and KG5DAC for their help in getting the system back up and running. As always, if you have any issues with the repeater system, please shoot me a text or email and I’ll see what I can do to work the problem. 73 and see you on the linked system!

KE7KUS

ALAMO DIGITAL GROUP UPDATE

The Alamogordo Digital Group gathered at Plateau Espresso on Scenic Drive this afternoon to catch up on the latest in digital happenings around the Tularosa Basin and beyond.

Larry, WW6USA, brought a report on some complications on the D-STAR network resulting from the release of the Android app Peanut, which allows users to access D-STAR reflectors without the use of a D-STAR radio. Apparently some bad actors on the system have led to some D-STAR reflectors banning users of the app altogether due to issues such as inappropriate language and on-air behavior. Further issues have emerged on D-STAR networks as Peanut traffic is not routed to all network participants, causing broken 2-way communication in some cases. Larry indicated the best way to continue accessing D-STAR networks is via a D-STAR repeater, or a D-STAR hotspot when used with a D-STAR radio.

Rick, N7SGT, updated the crowd on his prolific use of a variety of digital voice hot spots. As an experienced digital voice user in all three major systems (D-STAR, DMR, and System Fusion), Rick reports he is spending most of his time these days on Fusion reflectors due to Fusion’s ease of use compared to other digital systems. Rick also reported on a project which allows a direct microphone connection to a Yaesu HRI-200 WIRES-X box, eliminating the need for a Fusion radio to access the WIRES-X network.

Bob, W5QCP, reported on utilizing an SDRPlay device to tap both the IF and RF output of his FT DX-3000 radio. Bob reported that when utilizing the IF Out tap on the back of the DX-3000, he was able to observe the 9MHz IF spectrum using SDR software; however, Bob noted when using LSB the tuning and spectrum displays were inverted, causing non-intuitive display of the received spectrum. When he switched over to use the RX Out tap on the DX-3000, Bob noted everything returned to conventional use and the SDRPlay was able to process large swaths of spectrum at a time.

Cliff, W7CGA, inquired about the Sacramento Mountains Radio Club placement in ARRL’s 2018 Field Day event; however, no logs for the event were submitted by the club, so the Club’s participation in the event was not reflected in the official ARRL scores list.

Kurt, KE7KUS, reported on the status of the Alamo Peak repeater replacement project, and provided a brief overview of the MMDVM-Pi modem which is planned for installation at the Alamo Peak site. Tangent to this discussion was the use of 2.4GHz microwave downlinks to connect the site to allow Internet linking into PiStar-supported digital reflectors. Kurt also brought along a rowetel.com SM1000 FreeDV digital voice interface:

http://g01.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1c2k1IpXXXXahXXXXq6xXFXXXg/SM1000.jpg
SM1000 FreeDV Digital Voice Interface

The SM1000 is a hardware solution which allows users to easily operate FreeDV digital voice mode on HF using simple cabling to connect the device to microphone or accessory jacks on virtually any equipped HF radio. Once connected, the SM1000 can function as a standalone speaker-microphone, or provide ports to connect external speakers, microphones, and PTT actuators. While discussing the SM1000, Kurt also provided a brief overview of the various FreeDV digital voice modes, including FreeDV 1600, 700D, and 2200 and some of the amazing work that David Rowe and the volunteers of the FreeDV project have been doing in bringing open-source digital voice to radio amateurs.

Overall, the meeting was a great time of fellowship and a great update on what’s going on in the world of digital amateur radio. For more information on the Alamo Digital Group or to be added to the group e-mail list, contact Kurt, KE7KUS, or Rick, N7SGT.

YSF REFLECTOR & GATEWAY SOFTWARE

Jonathan Naylor, G4KLX, has put together a small software toolkit to allow users to put together their own YSFReflector and an additional toolkit to allow users to use standard WIRES-X commands from Yaesu radios to access these reflectors (rooms in Yaesu WIRES-X parlance.) 

YSFReflector allows one-to-many connections, creating functionality similar to IRLP reflectors, DSTAR reflectors, or EchoLink conference servers, for those familiar with the concept.  This functionality has become popular with the advent of “hot spots” such as the ZUM Radio ZUMSpot:

ZUM Radio ZUMspot Kit
ZUM Radio ZUMSpot Multi-Mode Digital Voice Hotspot

Another popular “hot spot” is the openSPOT2 from SharkRF:

openSPOT2 Multi-Mode Digital Voice Hotspot

Devices such as these have created the ability for end-users to easily and affordably access digital voice networks with nothing more than a small hand-held radio and the “hot spot” device.

Software such as YSFReflector facilitates “meet-up” points where digital voice users can QSO with one other outside the traditional coverage areas of local repeater systems.  Reflectors are often organized by geographic area discussion topic, allowing amateur operators to quickly and easily find communities of interest.  A current list of YSFReflectors can be found here.

Alamo-James Analog Link Update #2

After several attempts to get the link back on the air, we are moving closer to success.  Extensive experimenting has shown that using a pair of DR2X repeaters for the system/link radios is not a preferred solution due to full-duplex looping issues on the link.  As such, we are returning to the classic configuration of a DR2X 2m radio and a Maxtrac link radio.  We had success keying this configuration on Saturday; however, we are still attempting to resolve the best way to pass audio between the machines.

On a related note, there is a possibility that we can add multi-mode digital voice to the Alamo Peak repeater with minimal cost:

Zebra MMDVM Pi3 Case - Raspberry Pi 3 B+ and MMDVM Pi ~ Black Ice - C4Labs
The MMDVM-Pi Digital Modem

MMDVM-Pi is a multi-mode digital modem which uses a Raspberry Pi computer and a simple $99 Pi-Hat to enable a radio (or repeater) to function as a gateway to DSTAR, DMR, System Fusion, NXDN, and P25 digital voice networks via the PiStar software interface.  With an Internet uplink to the Alamo Peak site, the repeater can be used by digital radios on any of the above networks, bringing a tremendous capability to the Alamo Peak repeater.  Additionally, initial research indicates that it may be possible to link all three system repeaters to take advantage of the capabilities of this digital modem.  Stand by for updates as we investigate the possibility of integrating this modem into the Alamo Peak repeater.

Alamo-James Analog Link Update

The analog FM link between the Alamo Peak and James Ridge repeaters has been tentatively restored. Full testing of the system has not been accomplished, so fully functioning operations have not been verified; however, the comm paths I could test from Alamo Peak were checked this afternoon. The following results were observed:

1) Transmissions into the 147.220MHz repeater were re-transmitted on the 440MHz link w/ the proper PL tone.

2) Transmissions into the 147.340MHz repeater were re-transmitted on the 440MHz link w/ the proper PL tone.

3) Transmissions directly into the 440MHz link machine at Alamo are repeated on the 147.220MHz repeater.

I was unable to test an end-to-end transmission from Alamo-James or the reverse on 2m due to reception/transmission limits at the site from HT/mobile transmitters, so if anyone is able to verify the link is working, please send me an email detailing the experience. Also, I was unable to test the Weed repeater as part of the link, so any feedback on the whole linked system would also be appreciated.

I left the Alamo Peak 2m machine configured as an AMS repeater, so C4FM users should still be able to utilize Alamo; however, a functioning digital link from Alamo to James will be a bit more of a technical challenge…one which I continue to pursue.

Once I verify that the link is working again, I will replace the Kenwoods at James Ridge with the other two Yaesu machines, which will bring stand-alone C4FM capability to James in addition to Alamo Peak.

Once Alamo and James repeaters are swapped out, the plan is to install a 2.4GHz microwave link from James to Weed and upgrade the Weed repeater to a C4FM machine. With that configuration, we should have a working C4FM link between those two repeaters, as well as traditional analog linking.

In parallel, I am working to install an HRI-200 WIRES-X interface at Alamo Peak and downlink to a low-level internet connection. This will bring the Alamo Peak machine a capability to internet link to other YSF nodes/rooms around the globe. In conjunction, I will also establish an SMRC “room” which works in a very similar manner to a packet BBS – it provides a central place for C4FM users to connect to view news/message traffic, pictures, and voice memos which can be uploaded from any user to be viewed by all in the “room”.

Thanks to all for your patience as we work to put the system back together. It’s been quite a journey, but we’re slowly making progress.

Alamo Peak Repeater Online

The Alamo Peak 2-meter repeater has been returned to service as of this afternoon. The link to the rest of the SMRC system is still being configured, so the machine operates as a “stand-alone” unit until the remainder of the configuration is complete.

The old Kenwood TKR-750 machine has been replaced with one of the new Yaesu DR2X repeaters, bringing C4FM digital voice as well as traditional analog FM voice to the mountain. As such, a few things have changed with respect to accessing the Alamo Peak repeater:

1) The repeater retains analog FM repeat capability; however the PL tone on the machine has been changed to 151.4 Hz. If you have a radio with a programmed channel to access Alamo Peak, please re-program your radio to accommodate the new PL tone. In addition, the repeater now has a PL tone of 151.4 MHz on the repeater output, allowing users to implement a tone-coded squelch setting on their radios.

2) The repeater now has C4FM digital capability. To access the C4FM service, the normal repeater frequency pair is used, but with a DCS code of 051. The repeater is currently set to AMS mode on the input, so the machine should match repeat either type of incoming signal.

We are working on restoring the link to the rest of the SMRC repeater system; however, due to some technical limitations, the fix for the link is still several weeks away.

Users noting any problems with the new Alamo Peak repeater are requested to contact one of the club officers, or a member of the repeater maintenance committee.

2018 ARRL Field Day

Come join the club as we participate in the 2018 ARRL Field Day operating exercise.  Field Day was established by the ARRL as an operating activity designed to encourage amateur radio operators to refine their skills and portable stations to be ready in the event of an emergency where operating from an improvised station is required.

This year, the club will be participating from the old Cloudcroft baseball field located north of downtown Cloudcroft:


View Larger Map

To locate the operating site, from Hwy 82 in Cloudcroft, turn north on Mescalero Avenue (just west of Cloudcroft High School) and proceed all the way up the hill.  At the top of the hill, the old baseball field and the operating site will be on your left.

Station setup will begin around 8:00am on Saturday, June 23.  Operating activities start at 12:00pm and continue until 12:00pm on Sunday, June 24.  There is plenty of room for overnight camping, and radio activities go on all night, so feel free to camp out and make a weekend of it!

The club will operate multiple radios for Field Day this year, utilizing HF SSB, digital modes, and CW.  Extra class control operators will be present, so you can operate the entire spectrum of available amateur frequencies & modes.  Amateur radio license testing will be conducted both Saturday & Sunday.  Contact Michael Reinecke, KG5DAC, for times and details.

If you’ve been thinking about getting into amateur radio, are looking for a different and fun weekend activity, or need to upgrade your current amateur radio license, come out and join us for a great weekend of radio operating!

Saturday Night Net Status

Due to the lightning strike at Alamo Peak, the club’s regular Saturday evening net at 7pm will be suspended until the system is brought back online.  Check back regularly on this website for up-to-date information on the Alamo Peak system repair.