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

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-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.

Alamo Peak Status

The Alamo Peak repeater is currently offline due to a lightning strike on the mountain this week.  Bill & Mickey visited the site this morning and investigated the problem.  The solution will require replacing both radios at the site.

I am currently building a repeater pair using the new Yaesu DR2X machines which will replace the Alamo Peak radios.  I will also build a pair to replace the James Ridge radios.  This will finally bring C4FM to the Alamo & James machines.  The analog FM link to Weed will remain operative, but ultimately the Weed machine will also be replaced with a C4FM repeater bringing the whole system up to 21st century standards.

Until the Alamo system is rebuilt and the new equipment installed, that machine will be down.  The James & Weed machines remain operative.  Expect the Alamo machine to be  down for at least two weeks before we can get back up to the site and swap out the hardware.  In the meantime, the 145.230 MHz machine on Benson Ridge, the 145.350 MHz Mega-Link machine on Long Ridge, and the 147.000 C4FM machine in High Rolls are viable substitutes for the Alamo Peak system.