Configure a Pi-Star based multi network DMR hotspot
Often when people create a DMR hotspot they set them up for only one network. But if they want to use DMR+ one moment, then Brandmeister the next and then later talk with someone on the TGIF network they will need to switch back and forth depending on which network they want to use. Switching back and forth between networks works well. But this involves loading the configuration for the network that you want to use. But what if you want to be able to use multiple networks at the same time? This can easily be done by configuring the following within your Pi-Star settings. You will also need to update the code plug within your radio. But once you have everything setup you will be able to go from Brandmeister to DMR+ to TGIF all within the radio. No need to change the configuration within your hotspot.
To get started, first you will want to backup your configuration. This way if something goes wrong you will be able to get back to where you started. Next, in pi-star click on configuration, then Expert, then in the Full Edit row click on DMR GW. You will want to configure the various DMR Networks. Cut and paste the following into the section showing your DMR networks in the expert configuration file. Be sure to modify the proper sections with your DMR ID etc otherwise the network will not let you connect. Your DMR network sections should look exactly like my examples below except for the following: DMR Network 1 – you will need to enter your Brandmeister Hotspot Security Password between the quotes and your DMR ID where it is called for. You may also want to change your Brandmeister master server to the one closest to your physical location however it probably won’t really make much of a difference in performance. The Canadian server works quite well and has very low latency from just about anywhere. It also has fewer users than other servers so you may actually find it works a little better. In DMR Network 2 you need to enter your DMR ID where it is called for. I suggest keeping the IPSC2 server as IPSC2-QuadNet. Full disclosure, I am an admin and founding member with QuadNet so I am probably a little biased. IPSC2-QuadNet is the server that we run and one that we can make sure works and works well. If there is a problem, we fix it. If our users have an issue we can try to help We can’t say the same about other servers. That being said you can use any IPSC2 server that you prefer. If you select a different server you may find that talkgroups may not work as expected but you can contact the server owner for assistance. The options= line in this section is configured with the most active DMR+ talkgroups and is how I have my configuration setup. But you can change these as desired.
DMR Network 3 can be left as is
DMR Network 4 – Enter your DMR ID where it is called for
[DMR Network 1]
Password=”Enter your BM Hotspot Security Password here”
Id=Enter your DMR ID here
[DMR Network 2]
Id=Enter your DMR ID here
[DMR Network 3]
[DMR Network 4]
Id=Enter your DMR ID here
Once your DMR Networks are configured as shown in the examples, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Apply Changes. Next click on Admin, then power, finally click on reboot to restart your hotspot.
The next thing you will need to do is to configure your radio to work with the new hotspot settings. Each talkgroup you add to your code plug will need to have the proper prefix added except for Brandmeister. BM talkgroups can be used as you always have without a prefix. This should make updating your code plug fairly painless. The other networks you will need to add the prefix as follows:
The DMR+ prefix is 8 and each talkgroup has 4 digits. So to use access the QuadNet Array you would use talkgroup 80320. To program the talkgroup for North America you would use 80003 and so on. The following are the most active DMR+ talkgroups so I converted them to the proper format for you:
80001 – World Wide (All languages)
80002 – Europe
80003 – North America
80013 – World Wide English
80113 – UAE 1 (User Accessible English 1)
80123 – UAE 2 (User Accessible English 2)
80133 – USA Wide
80235 – United Kingdom
80302 – Canada Wide
80315 – QuadNet Technical (Linked to D-STAR)
80320 – QuadNet Array (linked to D-STAR, Brandmeister DMR, Yaesu System Fusion & Wires X
80505 – Australia Wide
89990 – DMR+ Parrot. This needs to be setup as a group call.
Brandmeister has no prefix. Just program the talkgroup number as you always have
TGIF is 4 and the talkgroup numbers are 6 digits. So to use the IRN talkgroup on TGIF talkgroup 320 would be programmed as 4000320
Testing your hotspot
Now let’s test your setup to confirm everything is working using each network’s Parrot. To test the Brandmeister connection, do a private call to 9990. To test DMR+ send a group call to 89990 and to test TGIF send a private call to 4009990. Each should play back what you transmit. If one of the networks does not work check the configuration file to be sure you entered all of the required information such as your DMR ID or your Brandmeister hotspot security password, save and try again.
To make a private call to another station, just enter their DMR ID in your code plug and select private call. The call will be routed over the Brandmeister network.
I hope this helps you to get your multi network hotspot up and running. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call on the QuadNet Array DMR+ talkgroup 320. You can also send an email to [email protected]. If you have any questions about the IPSC2-QuadNet server, send an email to [email protected]
I would like to thank Cliff VE6PLC and Andy MW0MWZ for your help with this configuration. Without your input this solution would not have been nearly as elegant. I would also like to thank the many volunteers that helped make sure this worked on their hotspot. If it weren’t for you helping to find bugs this project would have been a lot more difficult.
73 – Jeff VE6DV
DMR Plus – The Network that is Gaining Popularity in the West
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].
D-STAR on Field Day: Check out the QuadNet Array
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
If anyone has any questions about how to connect to the Quadnet Array they are welcome to contact me directly or send an email to [email protected] and we will be happy to assist.
73 – Jeff VE6DV