Hello everybody and welcome back to Everything Hamradio! Today we are going to continue with our monthly topic of digital voice communications by talking about the recently released Yaesu System Fusion system. Yaesu is getting a late start when it comes t digital voice being that DStar has been out for quite some time now, but they are playing catch up really fast. I think the biggest thing that DStar faced when they launched was the price of their radios. With handheld radios starting about like $450 and mobile radios up around $700, it wasn’t always easy for the normal user to get into. Add on top of that that the repeaters were $2000+ for just the base repeater, then you had modules that you could add on top of that, it could get pricey. The common user wouldn’t take the leap into DStar unless there is some kind of infrastructure in place for them to use. Why spend the extra money for the extra features if you have no way of using those features?
With System Fusion, they went a different route. For like the first year after the system was released, they offered the repeaters at like half price, but it had to be a club repeater and you were limited to one I believe. The one thing that this did though was make a major influx of Yaesu System Fusion repeaters. In the county that I live in, we have like four or five of them now; two of which are the repeaters that I am a trustee to. We are in the process of installing them now. I will have a unboxing video that I will be posting next Sunday with my post for that day so please come back and check it out.
System Fusion Repeater
First off, let’s talk a little bit about the repeater itself. The repeater, DR-1, is a digital/conventional FM dual mode repeater that covers both VHF(2 meters) and UHF(70 cm) all packaged into one nice little(ish) box. It can work on both bands and can basically be changed on the fly. It has a nice 3″(ish) touch screen on the front of it and all the controls of the repeater can be changed with a few touches on the screen. Not only can you change the frequency that it is on, but you can also change the tone, offset, time out timers, anything! It can all be done on the fly and on the screen; you do not need any programming software or cable. It is actually easier to program than my mobile radio in my car is.
Another nice feature about the System Fusion repeater, is that it will not do just digital like the DStar repeaters. It will do both analog and digital and will do it on the fly, and is all configurable to boot. Both the receive and the transmit side of it has an option for automatic or fixed. You can set the radio to be fixed on digital or automatic, meaning that if it is set to fixed and is set to digital, if someone transmits on analog, it wont work and visa versa. The transmit side also has this type of selection, but works a little different. If it is set to fixed, it will transmit either digital or analog but if you set it to automatic, it will transmit out whatever the mode is that it received!
Pretty neat huh?
So let’s say that both your receive and transmit are set to automatic. If person A is talking on the repeater and has a digital radio, the repeater will re-transmit his/her signal as digital. If person B is talking on the repeater and has an analog radio, the repeater will re-transmit his/her signal as analog. Being that I haven’t tested this side of the repeater functions I’m not sure, but I’m wondering if they will be able to hear each other talking if they are talking on two separate modes. That is something that I will have to try, or maybe someone that reads this can answer the question in the comments below.
On the flip side of this, if you have the transmit side set to Fixed, no matter what the input is, analog or digital, the repeater will transmit it’s signal on whatever mode you have it set for. So if person A and person B are talking, the repeater will hear both of them because the receive side is set to automatic, but the transmit will be whatever you have it set for. So if an analog radio can not hear a digital signal and your repeater is set for digital, then these two will not be able to talk. I am fairly certain however, that a digital radio can hear an analog signal. So if what I am thinking is correct, then you will want to have the repeater set for automatic receive and analog transmit, unless you plan on just having the repeater a digital only repeater.
The repeater itself has some of the following features:
- Extremely reliable, high RF output: 50W/20W/10W
- Emergency Operations: Supports auto-switched backup battery power operation
- Front panel microphone connector that can be used for testing or base operations
- Built-in large front panel speaker with front panel volume knob.
- A large front panel, color touch screen for programming
- DSQ(Digital Squelch Code) Signaling
- CTCSS and DCS Signaling
- Both Voice and CW Identification with both coded and non-coded transmission
- Easily firmware upgradable.
For a list of full features and specs, check out the DR-1 page on the Yaesu website.
The more that I dive into this new system, the more than I am really liking it. It really amazes me sometimes, when I am doing research for my blog posts, how far we have come in the hobby. Twenty years ago, when I got my license, the radios were bigger, HT’s we heavy and clunky and packet radio was the “in” digital mode. Large groups of hams would get together and make these huge networks over packet radio where you could connect to a lot of different places. Systems like Rosenet and Texnet. The first few years that I had my license and we were organizing and starting out building up the club that I help start, we used these systems to get us around Texas to plan out what we would do if we were to have a natural disaster and we would have to go somewhere.
This was all before the internet was so readily available and email was big. Things like GPS were like government use only or at least only for those with money. We have come a long way in the past 15-20 years and I can’t wait to see where we are in the next twenty.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this post as much as I liked putting it together. On Thursday, we will be talking about the radios that go along with this repeater and the System Fusion protocol. I have already started on it as I was going to merge it with this one, but it was getting rather long, so I decided to just stick with my original plan and have them separate. I wish that I was able to find more information about the system itself, but because it is pretty much in it’s infancy, there isn’t a lot of information about it on the internet yet. Later, I will write an update post, after I have played with the system some and checked it out for myself.
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Until next time…
73 de Curtis, K5CLM