Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to talk
Question of the Week:
What is your favorite digital voice mode?
Yaesu DR-2x Repeater
At Hamvention last year the new DR-2X was announced and on display in the Yaesu booth. The first thing that pops into my head is, “cool, an upgraded repeater that has a bunch of new features and works better than the DR-1x that we bought about a year ago.
However, the more I read about it, I realized it isn’t really an upgraded one it’s just a different one. Each of the two has something that the other one doesn’t. Which strikes me as crazy that a newer model doesn’t have all the same features as an older one does and then some.
So what the DR-1X have that the DR-2X doesn’t, you ask? Well it seems that you can’t use the WIRES-X directly on the repeater. I don’t really see this as much of a big deal, seeing that I’m sure someone will make a work around for it.
On the flip side of this though the DR-2X has a few features on it that I find really interesting.
VHF or UHF Operations(Crossband Capable) / Dual Receive / Dual Transmit
After read a lot of different things about this feature, I have two thoughts on it. My first thought was that you could use one of these repeaters to replace a 2m and 70cm repeaters at the same site. However, I read one one of the sites somewhere, I think it was a brochure, that you can’t receive of both bands at the same time, so I’m not sure anymore. So that brings up the second question, if you can’t have two repeaters working off of one, what can the second set of “repeater pairs” be used for?
The second pair could be used as a linking pair, but then it comes with the same question if the radios can operate at the same time. If that is true, then you can’t use it as a link pair either.
Maybe you could use it as a control frequency so that you don’t have to use the main repeater frequency to do it. This would allow you to do what you need to do over the air on the repeater without interrupting normal communications. However, the way I see it, what’s the point of that. If you, as the repeater owner, needs to make some changes, i’m sure that all those that use the repeater would understand and allow you the time you need to make whatever changes you need to.
The way that I see it, If the second repeater pair can’t be used to have a second repeater, I’m not entirely sure what the use of this feature would be good for. Maybe I’m wrong, what do yall think?
Multi-Site Repeater Link(MSRL)
Now this feature, I like. Is it a replacement for WIRES-X? No, I don’t think so, but it is a really neat for for linking your repeater to another repeater easily. According to the Yaesu website it says:
The MSRL allows the repeater operator to link multiple repeaters over a Wide-Area Network(WAN) or Local-area Network(LAN) across short or long distances. Realizing the reliability shortcomings inherent with WAN, such as the internet, the new DR-@x/DR-2XE incorporated direct connectivity into a variety of networking environments to provide high quality Digital and Analog communications even when “All Else Fails”
From what I understand from this and other pages that I have read, this feature allows you to link one repeater with another repeater over any TCP/IP network. This could be an internet connection or a ham mesh network. Even if you don’t have a full mesh network in your area, you could possibly use a direct wifi link on a mesh network like ARDEN between two or more repeaters.
In my county we have about 7 repeaters in the county and I believe that most if not all of them are DR-1X repeaters. We have the startings of a mesh network, but it doesn’t cover the county. Even if we did though, we all have the DR-1X repeaters, not the DR-2X repeater, so we couldn’t use this anyway.
New and Improved “News Station” feature for Easy Sharing of voice and text messaging
This new and improved feature allows a use to quickly store and retrieve digital audio and text messages for groups or individual operators that can be accessed on demand any time of the day.
I can see this feature being a good feature if you wanted to remind members of a meeting, or work detail, or net. With our club, we have an automated recording that goes off every half hour for about 2 hours before our net and strategically throughout the day of our club meeting. However, even doing this doesn’t mean that every member will hear the announcement.
Now imagine this: You record a message either audio or text the day of whatever. Whenever a member turns on their radio, they get a notification of a new message and can retrieve it whenever THEY are on the radio. This is better than the every half hour method. For me, if I get into my car at say 6:05 pm and goto the store, it takes me twenty minutes to get there, so I turn off my radio at 6:25 pm. I was late for the 6 pm announcement and turned off my radio to early to hear the 6:30 pm announcement.
Enhanced Group Monitor Feature
This feature allows you to monitor multiple resources quickly and efficiently by displaying telemetry and signal strength information of other group members that share the same Digital Group Identification number.
The usefulness of this feature is iffy at best to me. Now don’t get me wrong, the thought behind it is nice, and I’d love to know where all my officers were at all times and what the signal strength of their radios were, but I just don’t see it being all that useful on a small screen of a radio. Even with just a text display, showing their callsign, relative direction and signal strength, is a lot of information to show, and you would only see one, maybe two, other group members at a time.
It would be my luck, that I would need to know where station Y was and you had to go through the whole list to get to that station. Then if the display resets on every transmit or receive, it would be even worse. Now, I don’t know if this happens, but it seems to me that this feature, while nice to have in case of emergency, is something that I, for one, would probably never use.
Like I said to begin with, I see this repeater as somewhat of an upgrade to the DR-1X being that it has some more advanced options. The one thing that I don’t understand why Yaesu did was excluding the ability to use WIRE-X function directly at the repeater site. I really think that was a mistake on Yaesu’s end to not allow that, but they, it’s their repeater system.
I also wish that rather than building a whole new repeater system, they would have just made it where it could be done as a firmware upgrade, but maybe there was some extra hardware components that are required.
It really stinks that we, my club, just bought our repeater about a year or two ago and here they have a whole new repeater that has other functions on it that we could have really liked to have, like the MSRL feature since we have two repeaters and both are the DR-1X repeaters and they use to be linked before we upgraded.
One other thing to note as well is if you already have a System Fusion radio, if your local area gets one of these new repeaters, you will have to perform a firmware upgrade on your radio before you will be able to access the repeater using digital mode.
What are yalls thoughts on this new System Fusion Repeater?
West Mountain Radio
Do you have an old fashioned Analog Volt and Amp meter hooked to your station? Are you looking to find something that has more bells and whistles? Check out the West Mountain Radio PWRcheck.
The PWRcheck has eight display modes including voltage, current flow in either directions, wattage and amp-hours and will measure from 0-60V with 40A continuous load. It is accurate to within +/- 10mV and +/-10mA.
It has a backlit graphics LCD that will display data in digital, analog and bar graph formats. You can even monitor your backup battery with a programmable “gas gauge”.
The non-volatile memory stores more than 100,000 data points without power. That is nearly two and a half months worth of data @ 1 point per minute!
It has a USB computer interface for configuration and data download and you can program it to sound an alarm for over current, over or under voltage and amp-hours.
The software that comes with it allows your to program every aspect of the PWRcheck operation such as data logging rate, display formats and alarm conditions. You can display current, voltage, wattage and amp-hours in real time. It has integrated charting software that automatically collects and displays data. All the data can bed downloaded and stored for later analysis!
For more information about the West Mountain Radio PWRcheck and how to receive your $50 off, click here.
Many Special Events Will Be on the Air to Mark the Total Solar Eclipse in August
Radio amateurs from several states will gather in southern Illinois on August 17-21 to operate special event station W9E, leading up to and during the 2017 solar eclipse on August 21. W9E will operate from Marion, Illinois.
“This will be the first total eclipse on American soil since 1991, the first on the mainland United States since 1979 and the first to sweep across the entire country since 1918. It will be an event you do not want to miss!” the W9E announcement said. “The far southern tip of the state of Illinois is the only place viewers can see the totality of the eclipse.”
W9E plans to operate on 80, 40, and 20 meters (and perhaps other bands, if conditions permit), on CW, SSB, and digital modes (JT65, JT9, and PSK31). All amateur operators visiting the area for the eclipse are invited to visit. A copy of your license and photo ID are required to operate. Amateur Radio license testing also will be offered during the event.
While the W9E special event is under way, organizers are planning a joint exercise with ARES® Illinois District 11 Emergency Coordinator W. Bruce Talley, WA9APQ, hoping not only to assist with local communication during the eclipse but to coordinate with other ARES groups as the eclipse travels from northwest to southeast.
“Our plan is to be proactive and ready to respond, as needed,” said Talley. “Local volunteers and those from outside the area are welcome to sign up on the database. We are especially interested if you are coming to the area to view the eclipse and know where you will be stationed.”
Solar Eclipse QSO Party
The Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP), sponsored by HamSCI, will take place on August 21, 1400 to 2200 UTC. As the QST article “The Solar Eclipse QSO Party — Are You Ready?” explains, “The objective…is to flood the airwaves with contacts, all measured by the automated receiver networks of the Reverse Beacon Network, PSKReporter, and WSPRNet. When those observations are combined with the logs from individual stations, the result will be one of the largest ionospheric experiments ever performed.”
Other Total Eclipse Special Events
The South Dakota’s Black Hills Amateur Radio Club in South Dakota plans to operate special event K0E on the day of the eclipse, August 21, 1500-1930 UTC, from Harrison, Nebraska. Operation will be on 20 meters (14.260-14.280 MHz) and on VHF and UHF. Contact Bob Ewing, W0RE, for more information.
The Near Zero Sunlite, Great American Eclipse N0S special event will take place August 20-22, 1400-2200 UTC, in Crystal City, Missouri, sponsored by the Jefferson County Amateur Radio Club. Operation will be on or about 3.850, 7.250, and 14.300 MHz. QSL with SASE to Jim Berger, WA0FQK, 131 Ozark Dr, Crystal City, MO 63019.
K7E will be on the air for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse 2017 special event, August 21-22, 1500-0300 UTC, from Laramie, Wyoming, near the path of totality, on or about 7.183 and 14.256 MHz. QSL Perry Lehman, N7FST, 19828 N. 78th Ln, Glendale, AZ 85308.
The North East Wyoming Amateur Radio Association (NEWARA) will field special event W7S from historic downtown Gillette, Wyoming, August 19-21, 1200-0600 UTC, on or about 3.945, 7.265, and 14.265 MHz as well as on 147.360 MHz. QSL to Garth Crowe, WY7GC, PO Box 2208, Gillette, WY 82717.
The Lincoln County Amateur Radio Club (LCARC) will operate special event N7E, August 20-22, 1600-1900 UTC, from Newport, Oregon, on or about 3.820, 7.200, 14.245, and 28.350 MHz. Contact Michael Eastman, N7ONP.
Total Solar Eclipse special event N9E will be on the air on August 21, 1400-2000 UTC, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 7.180-7.190 MHz. Contact Peter Herman, KD9VV.
The Lewis and Clark Radio Club (LCRC) will operate special event K9HAM from Godfrey, Illinois, on August 21, 0900-1700 UTC, on or about 7.225 and 14.280 MHz. Contact the LCRC for more information.
In North Carolina, the Greater Gaston Amateur Radio Society (GGARS), will be on the air as N4S from Lexington, South Carolina, on August 21, 0000-1900 UTC, on or about 7.180 and 3.895 MHz. QSL to Robert Wells, W7CSA, QSL. Robert Wells, 409 Elizabeth St, Gastonia, NC 28054.
The Southern Illinois University Amateur Radio Club (SIUARC) will sponsor W9S, August 18-22, 0000-2359 UTC, from Carbondale, Illinois, CW on 160 meters and all modes on 80 through 10, with a focus on the lower bands. Satellites and 6 meters are also possible. QSL to Martin A Schuette, N9EAT, PO Box 29, Fulton, IL 61252.
Ole Virginia Hams Amateur Radio Club (OVHARC) will sponsor W4E from Lexington, South Carolina, on August 21, 1500-2015 UTC, on or about 3.810, 7.230, and 14.263 MHz and 146.52 MHz FM simplex. QSL to Terry Erlacher, KC4DV, 10855 Felicia Ct, Manassas, VA 20110.
N4C will be on the air from Franklin, North Carolina, August 13-26, 0401-0359 UTC, with members of the Franklin Amateur Radio Club (K2BHQ) operating on or about 7.076, 7.180, 14.076, and 14.230 MHz. A certificate and QSL is available. Franklin ARC, 505 North Sugar Creek Dr, Franklin, NC 28734. The special eclipse US postage stamp will be included.
The AA0RC Solar Eclipse Party will take place August 20-21, 1200-1600 UTC, from Mexico, Missouri, sponsored by Audrain Emergency Communications Inc (AECIMO). Operation will be on 3.970, 3.980, 7.265, and 14.240 MHz. A certificate is available. Mike Wood, WB0IXS, 22374 Audrain Rd 320, Mexico, MO 65265.
This is not a comprehensive list. Search the ARRL Special Events Calendar for additional total eclipse special event operations.
Revised FCC Form 605 Will Ask Applicants “the Felony Question”
A revised FCC Form 605 — Quick-Form Application for Authorization in the Ship, Aircraft, Amateur, Restricted and Commercial Operator, and General Mobile Radio Services — going into effect in September will ask all applicants to indicate if they have been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony. The Communications Act obliges the Commission to ask “the felony question,” as it did on the old Form 610 and still does on other applications. This action will correct its omission on Form 605, which has existed for years. Applicants’ responses and explanations will be used to determine eligibility to be a Commission licensee. The FCC told ARRL that it’s still deciding whether to issue a public notice on the change.
“The Commission is revising the basic qualifications section of the form to include a question regarding whether an application has been convicted of a felony in any state or federal court,” the Office of the FCC Secretary explained in a May filing with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which must okay the revision. “Applicants answering YES must provide an explanation regarding the conviction. This item enables the FCC to determine whether an applicant is eligible under sections 310(d) and 308(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to hold or have ownership interest in a station license.”
The revision also will apply to NCVEC Form 605 — the unofficial Amateur Radio-specific version of the application that is completed and filed at volunteer examiner coordinator (VEC) examination sessions. VECs will have to start using the revised form on September 7. Responding to VECs’ questions, the FCC offered some guidance, with a particular focus on NCVEC Form 605.
ARRL VEC Manager and NCVEC Vice-Chair Maria Somma, AB1FM, thanked the FCC for honoring a request to amend the effective date of the change, initially in early August. “At the urging of the NCVEC leadership, the FCC took into consideration the undertaking to change and distribute all affected forms and update software and agreed to push back the execution date by 1 month,” she said. The NCVEC will create a revised NCVEC Form 605 and release it to VE teams before September 7.
Once the Form 605 update has been implemented, assuming all other information is correct, negative felony question responses will result in a license grant, the FCC said. A YES will place the application in the “pending file for review” category. Applicants answering YES would have to, within 14 days, provide the FCC with a statement explaining the circumstances, and a statement “giving the reasons why the applicant believes that grant of the application would be in the public interest, notwithstanding the actual or alleged misconduct,” the revised Form 605 instructions state. The FCC said an applicant’s answer to the felony question and explanation will be public via ULS, unless a separate request is made to the FCC that the applicant’s explanation be kept confidential. The FCC will review applications on which the felony question has been answered in the affirmative and decide whether to grant them or designate them for hearing.
“The applicant must provide sufficient information for the FCC to determine whether there exists any material and substantial question of fact regarding whether the applicant has the character qualifications to be a Commission licensee,” the FCC said. There is no set checklist of items, but useful information would include such information as details regarding the conduct that resulted in the conviction or guilty plea, including time and place; the date of the conviction or guilty plea; the penalty imposed and whether it has been satisfied, and “any efforts taken to remedy the wrongs committed and ensure that the applicant will not engage in such conduct in the future,” the FCC said.
The FCC said the only additional information that VECs will have to collect is the response to the felony question; any explanatory exhibits and confidentiality petitions will go directly to the FCC, and VECs will have no information as to the status of such applications.
The FCC said the felony question must be answered every time — even if previously answered — for New, Modification, Renewal/Modification, and Amendment applications. “Assuming that nothing has changed, the attachment to the subsequent applications can simply reference the file number of the application where the complete explanation was given, rather than having to set forth the complete explanation each time,” the FCC memo said. “Clubs are not exempt from the felony question. The question applies to the club as an entity and to the trustee, but not to any other individual officers.”
Individuals convicted of a felony and later pardoned or whose record has been sealed should answer YES, and include information regarding the pardon, “as that will be relevant to whether the conviction still presents any material and substantial question of fact regarding whether the applicant has the character qualifications to be a Commission licensee,” the FCC told VECs. “An overturned conviction need not be disclosed — but a conviction still on appeal must be disclosed.
UK Telecoms Regulator Ofcom to Auction Former Amateur Radio Spectrum
Taken from the ARRL Letter – 07/20/2017
UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom has announced plans to auction access to 190 MHz of former Amateur Radio spectrum in two bands — 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz — to make more room for mobile broadband services. In 2014, Ofcom announced in the wake of a year-long “consultation” — a rule making proceeding — that it was ending Amateur Radio access to significant portions of the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands, where Amateur Radio is secondary. The consultation followed the release by the Ministry of Defence of 40 MHz of spectrum at 2.3 GHz and 150 MHz of spectrum at 3.4 GHz.
“The 2.3 and 3.4 GHz spectrum is needed to provide additional capacity to meet growing consumer demand for mobile broadband,” Ofcom said in a statement. “It is important that the frequencies are made available as quickly as possible for the benefit of consumers and industry.”
Ofcom also has published a decision to draft regulations allowing Wi-Fi use in the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services 5,725-5,850 MHz band. “To make connections faster, we are making regulations to open an additional 125 MHz of spectrum in a ‘sub-band’ within the 5 GHz frequency range for Wi-Fi — while ensuring protection for other users, such as satellite services,” Ofcom said. The additional sub-band increases the number of 80-MHz channels available for Wi-Fi from four to six.
In 2015, Ofcom said it was considering the Amateur-Satellite Service allocations at 10.475 GHz and 47.0 GHz for 5G use. Ofcom published an update on spectrum bands above 6 GHz that might be suitable for next-generation mobile, often referred to as “5G.”
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73 de Curtis, K5CLM