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.

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.

Alamo Peak Site Visit

Several club members recently visited the Alamo Peak repeater site to investigate rebuilding the equipment shed that is currently housing the repeater:

Alamo Peak Equipment Shed

The shed has been weathering it’s mountaintop location for several decades now and is need of replacement.  The club is investigating several options as a suitable replacement, and budgeting calculations are well underway for the new project.

Surveying the equipment shed

In addition to the new equipment shed, the club is planning on reworking the antenna setup on the tower at the Alamo Peak site:

Alamo Peak Antenna

A wind storm two winters ago torqued the standoff antenna mount for the repeater antenna, causing the whole assembly to be tilted approximately 10 degrees to the east.  Several different options are being considered for the job, and a gin pole will be sourced for climbers to implement the fix.

Once the equipment shed is brought up to standards, the Club will be able to install the new Yaesu DR-2X repeater purchased for the site last fall.  Stay tuned for progress on the site improvements as we work to improve our amateur radio service to the Sacramento Mountains and Tularosa Basin.

Website DNS Issues

The new website is currently experiencing DNS issues, causing it to be inaccessible, or to load very slowly if accessed.  I am working with our webhost and our name registrar to get to the bottom of the problem and get things back on track.  More to follow as I gather the info…

Repeater System Upgrade

The Club is currently in the process of upgrading its linked repeater system to provide both analog and digital FM capability. In late 2017, the Club purchased Yaesu DR-2X repeaters to replace the current Kenwood TKR-750/850 units which have been in service for over 10 years:

Yaesu DR-2X Repeater
Yaesu DR-2X Repeater

The new repeaters provide traditional analog FM service, as well as seamless integration of Yaesu’s C4FM digital technology, currently marketed under the System Fusion label. In addition to providing crystal clear digital voice, the Yaesu system will also provide a 12.5kHz bandwidth digital data network with a data rate of 9600bps anywhere a user can access one of the system’s linked repeaters.

The current upgrade plan includes replacing the repeaters at all three current sites: Alamo Peak, James Ridge, and Weed Lookout. Digital back-hauls will be implemented between sites to provide site linking. In addition, the Club is currently investigating a partnership with the Otero County Electric Cooperative to provide 2m repeater service in the Timberon, NM area.

Stay tuned to this news feed for updates as we move out with upgrading our repeater system.

New Website Now On-line

After being down for several months, the Club’s website is back up and running under our new domain name https://www.sacmtnsradioclub.us.

The website is hosted at Amazon AWS as a Lightsail instance using the popular WordPress CMS.  The Lightsail instance allows the Club not only to host a website, but also run additional web-based services such as an IRC server, mail services, and other network-enabled technologies.

Welcome!