Something Wonderful: Changes comming to GB7BS/ The Southwest Cluster.
The title of this news item may confuse some; much as it has our recent Facebook postings and YouTube viewers.
It was aimed to get peoples attention and raise interest, which may of lead to questions being asked.
Since its concept in 2014, the SouthWest Cluster (SWC) has existed to provide a reliable, simple to use, DMR Network across partner repeaters in the area. Over this time period a few early adopters into the cluster have moved on to other Networks. (This is one of the mantras of the SWC. Groups are encouraged to manage their own repeaters and their own destiny’s). But generally, member repeater numbers have increased.
This has caused us a little, not so well known predicament!
Motorola by design only supports up to 15 devices. One of those is known as the “Master Repeater”. This repeater holds a database of all the SWC Repeater members connected to it, and distributes data to the other repeaters so they learn about each other.
We have grown to 10 repeaters at time of writing this, along with a couple of monitoring units we use to help maintain the cluster, this brings us to 12 units. And we have another two repeaters interested in connecting into the SWC. So we are quickly reaching the magic number of 15.
Mark – G4SDR and I have been working on this ’15 is the max number’ problem for over 2 years; one solution would have cost lots of money. But late last year we became aware of FreeDMR. Since then we have been working with Simon and Jon from FreeDMR here in the UK who have kindly customised their software solution to meet our requirements for the SWC.
We are therefore pleased to announce that armed with our own server, which is running a fully custom build of FreeDMR. We now can break free of the 15 repeater limit. However, this does mean a slight tweak to the internal design of the SWC Network, but the good news for you, the user, nothing will change. No need to re-program radios, nothing.
Compare the old network layout to the new network layout. Keen eyed among you will spot two things. The first thing: GB7BS has been demoted from being the ‘Master’ repeater (That role has been taken over by the server) to being a Peer, just like all other SWC repeaters.
The second thing: “Dial on demand Talkgroups” on Slot 1 Talkgroup 9 (next to the red line going to the internet). No, this is not a printing mistake; Talkgroup 9 will continue to be your local repeater only Timeslot/Talkgroup, as it does now.
However, one of the “Wonderful Things” that FreeDMR brings to the SWC is a function called “Dial on Demand” Talkgroups.
Dial on Demand (DoD). How does it work?
Move to Timeslot 1 Talkgroup 9, as you would do normally, but now instead, (this is the tricky bit as it is dependent on the radio you are using)!
You need to go to your Contacts list, and find the ‘Manual Dial Contact’ option or similar.
Then Type in the desired Talkgroup number, such as 2350, then just press the PTT. No need to select Ok from the menu. Just press the PTT for a second. That’s it!!
If successful, the server will verbally announce “Connected to…” followed by your dialled Talkgroup number. In our example you will hear “Connected to 2350”.
Next time you press your PTT you will be on Talkgroup 2350 and can use the radio as normal. But stations anywhere in the UK listing to Talkgroup 2350 will hear you and can respond.
YES your radio will continue to transmit on Timeslot 1 Talkgroup 9 to the repeater and the repeater will be transmitting on the same Timeslot/Talkgroup back to you, but thanks to the new server your transmission is converted to Talkgroup 2350 and relayed up into the FreeDMR network as 2350.
Anyone tuning to your local repeater while you’re using a dial on demand Talkgroup will hear that Talkgroup, and can join in without having to change any settings on their radio or hunt for the Talkgroup in use.
All we do ask is, once you finish a DoD QSO, Manual dial Talkgroup 4000 and press PTT for a second to Disconnect you. You will hear the message “Not Linked”
Dialling TG 5000 (PTT) will cause the server to report either the currently dialled and connected Talkgroup number, or simply report “Not Linked” if no one is using a DoD.
Just a few last things about the new Timeslot 1 Talkgroup 9.
While using DoD you’re only tying up your local repeater not the whole SWC.
There is no DoD timeout unlike some networks. You want a 50 min QSO you have it.
If someone leaves a DoD Talkgroup active (Shame on them) the system will automatically disconnect it after 10 minutes of inactivity.
Every 20 minutes you will hear your local repeaters Callsign beacon. This is only on Slot 1 TG9 and in speech.