When it comes to DMR, people usually think of Brandmeister. But there is another network rapidly gaining popularity in North America worthy of your attention – DMR Plus. DMR Plus gives you many of the same features as Brandmeister such as talkgroups, SMS messaging, private call, reflectors and more. The main difference is DMR Plus presents these features in a well thought out manner which allows for outstanding flexibility when it comes to the way we communicate.
Doing a google search for DMR Plus comes up with the following from the DMR-MARC website:
DMR Plus is the original network that developed tools to interconnect ETSI Tier 2 DMR repeaters. It has been popular in Europe for years but now, with the cooperation of DMR-MARC, it has finally arrived in North America and the South Pacific. The DMR Plus architecture is similar to D-Star. Users have talkgroups to converse, to disconnect, and to monitor channel status. Users choose from a large pool of reflectors and move back to the converse talkgroup for all QSOs.
The DMR-MARC and DMR Plus partnership is ideal. The DMR-MARC network is robust and reliable. The DMR Plus network is more aligned with experimentation and interoperability of technologies. Think of DMR Plus as the best possible implementation of the former DMR-MARC Sandbox.
DMR Plus also supports a configuration that features the traditional DMR-MARC talkgroups like Worldwide English, North America, Latin America, etc. on TS1 and the DMR-Plus reflectors on TS2. The USA Regional talkgroups and the Canadian Provincial talkgroups are now connected to the TS2 reflectors.
Like Brandmeister, DMR Plus uses talkgroups (many of which are bridged between the two networks such as TAC310, World Wide 91 etc) but they also use reflectors. A reflector is kind of like a hub that allows you to communicate with everyone else that is also connected to that same reflector. But on DMR Plus, the reflector itself can be bridged to either another talkgroup, another reflector or even another network or digital voice mode.
One perfect example of this is the QuadNet Array. The Array brings the most popular digital voice modes under the same roof. You can find the QuadNet Array on reflector 4551 or DMR Plus talkgroup 320. By connecting to either of these your transmission can be heard by users on DMR Plus but also Brandmeister 31012, Yaesu System Fusion reflector 37099, D- STAR reflector XRF757A, Smart Groups DSTAR1 and more. For a complete overview of the QuadNet Array visit the QuadNet website at www.openquad.net.
You can also find an updated list of DMR Plus reflectors at https://www.dmr-marc.net/FAQ/dmrplus-america.html.
One thing that stands out in my experience is that DMR Plus appears to have better audio quality than Brandmeister. I find much fewer dropouts and lower packet loss on the DMR Plus network.
So, what do you need in order to give DMR Plus a try? If you are running a Pi-STAR based hotspot you are good to go. The OpenSPOT will also allow you to use DMR Plus. However since I have not had the opportunity to use one I am not able to give you specific setup instructions. Refer to the OpenSPOT website and Facebook group for more information.
In Pi-STAR version 4, do the following:
- Login to your dashboard
- Click on configuration
- Scroll down to DMR Configuration
- Under the DMR Master setting select IPSC2-Quadnet and click on apply settings.
While you can use any IPSC2 server you like, I recommend IPSC2-Quadnet because it is very well maintained and extremely stable. We make sure it is up to date with the latest software version which provides the newest features and bug fixes and I personally feel our technical support team is second to none. We are very responsive when it comes to support requests as well as adding requested DMR Plus talkgroups to the server. If there is a talkgroup you are having difficulty accessing on IPSC2-Quadnet send an email to [email protected] and let us know the DMR Plus talkgroup number and time slot and we will add it to the server.
Once your hotspot returns to the configuration page, enter the following in the options= box
Once entered, click on apply changes.
What this line means is you are having our hotspot not automatically link to a reflector upon startup. If you want to setup a default reflector, enter the reflector number after the StartRef= command. RelinkTime means if you do link to a reflector it will automatically disconnect after 120 minutes if you don’t key your mic to reset the timer. If you have a default reflector set and change to a different reflector your hotspot will automatically return to the default reflector after the time expires. UserLink tells your hotspot to allow you to link to talkgroups and reflectors via RF. The TS1 lines setup static talkgroups. In this example I entered talkgroup 320 which is the QuadNet Array. I use the talkgroup for the QuadNet Array instead of selecting reflector 4541 because this allows me to monitor the Array and use reflectors at the same time. Very convenient when listening for a call while tuning around the various reflectors searching for activity.
Now in your radio code plug you will want to do the following:
Setup a contact for talkgroup for 320 and then add this contact to a channel and zone in your radio code plug. You will want to do the same for any other talkgroups that you would like to use and add them to your radio. Talkgroup 320 is what you would use to talk on the QuadNet Array multi protocol network. So if you have a friend that uses D-STAR, Yaesu System Fusion, Brandmeister DMR etc you can still talk with them on the Array. You can also use this talkgroup to talk with the administrators of the IPSC2-QuadNet server in case you notice a problem or have a question.
Add any reflectors that you would like to use (see the link earlier in this article to find the list of available DMR Plus reflectors) in your radio code plug as well. Any reflector you want to add needs to be setup as a private call in your contacts instead of group call. Then create a channel with the reflector contact that you just created, then add the channel to a zone. To link to a reflector you will then have easy access by selecting the zone you just programmed these into. When selected, key your mic and you should get an acknowledgement that you are now connected to that reflector.
You will also need to add a contact, channel and zone for talkgroup 9 (groups call, not private call) in your radio code plug. This is the talkgroup you will need to use when talking on a DMR Plus reflector.
While you are setting up your code plug, you will want to make sure you have your friends contact information setup in your radio and set these contacts as private call instead of group call. This is how you will initiate a private call to talk radio to radio outside of any talkgroups or reflectors. Private call is similar to call sign routing on D-STAR in that it allows you to talk with the other station radio to radio without using a talkgroup or reflector. The two of you can have a relatively private conversations and not get in the way of other users. You will also use this contact if you want to send them a SMS message.
I hope you decide to give DMR Plus a try. If you have any questions you can usually find me on the QuadNet Array talkgroup 320. If you prefer you can also contact me via email. I can be reached either at [email protected] or [email protected].
Since field day is just as much a public outreach as it is an emergency preparedness exercise, many clubs across the US and Canada also have additional stations set aside to demonstrate different aspects of amateur radio. Often this includes D-STAR.
I would like to extend an invitation to all clubs that are showing off D-STAR to the general public to join us on the Quadnet Array as the hub of activity for those participating in field day to be able to talk with one another using D-STAR. No, you won’t be able to count the contacts for points, but you can use the array to keep in touch, talk about how things were going in your area as well as show off D-STAR to the members of the general public that come by your field day site and express an interest in all of the radios, antennas and unusual sounds that are coming from the tents setup in the park.
The Quadnet Array is a group of persistently linked reflectors and smart groups spread out around the world. This allows users to be able to access the closest reflector or smart group to their physical location to keep the internet latency at a minimum. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, connecting to one will allow them to hear activity across the entire Array.
To connect to the Quadnet Array you will need to either login to one of the below Smart Groups or link to one of the below reflectors:
Quadnet Smart groups:
DSTAR1 in New York
DSTAR2 in San Francisco
DSTAR3 in Ohio.
XRF757A in Atlanta
XLX049D in Northern Ireland
XLX307D in Wyoming
XLX626D in New Zealand
73 – Jeff VE6DV