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.
By: Mat - G7FBD
GB7DW - DUNKESWELL AIRPORT.
GB7DW is the latest DMR repeater to join the cluster. At the time of writing the repeater itself is on the bench under test. Although it is connected to the cluster it is not yet on site.
Work provisioning antenna, diplexers etc is still on going by G3ZXX, G3XOU and the team at
DUNKESWELL getting the repeater on air.
I have updated our logical repeater map in advance of the repeater going on air.
By: Mat - G7FBD
A move in a new, new direction. All change on the Southwest front.
Following on from the news item posted on the 21/08/22 (Something wonderful) where we introduced one of the biggest changes made to the southwest cluster to date. Phase two of the project is now fully underway.
Initially started at the start of Feb 2023 and driven by the desire to provide a system that is 99.98% reliable for our cluster members and at the same time moving the costs and effort of hardware upgrades or repair to a 3rd party Phase two will also provide the Bristol 70cms Repeater Group with a reduction in our consumed energy. A win for both the environment and our operating costs. This phase sees the Group move the FreeDMR server away from being a physical entity and pushing it up into the cloud environment. We worked a VERY good deal with a main stream service provider who is based here in the south west to provide us a VSP solution (PaaS) that has more than enough processing power to support the cluster and allow it to grow without the need for investing in more physical hardware or additional costs.
The Virtual (Cloud) server was fully commissioned on the 11th February 2023. It is now available for the cluster members to move over to the new server. Once everyone has migrated, the existing physical server will be decommissioned.
At present both servers are running in parallel thus allowing the cluster to operate seamlessly and providing live dashboard views of the system. Once decommission is complete we will move to a single dashboard
By: Mat - G7FBD
Something Wonderful: Changes comming to GB7BS/ The Southwest Cluster.