This is the first in a number of videos on programming Digital Mobile Radios (DMR). DMR is one of a number of different digital modes that Amateur Radio operators use. For more information on analog versus digital modes see this article.
DMR is one form of a digital radio signal that is used within ham radio (others include Fusion found in Yaesu radios) and D-STAR (found mostly in Icom radios).
DMR and D-STAR repeaters are usually linked, in a variety of different ways, to other repeaters around the country and world. Other linked systems include the Internet Radio Relay Project (IRLP) and Echolink, which are both found on analog repeaters.
A lot of folks will say that internet or linked repeaters are not useful for preparedness. However, unless we are talking a coronal mass ejection (CME) or an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) most emergencies and disasters are ‘local.’ Linked systems allow you to keep in touch with family and friends that live further away than the coverage of a single/stand alone repeater. I have family that works about 100 miles from home, we can keep in touch along their entire commute. I have friends in other states, we can keep in touch with a hand-held radio. These tools are easier to use than a HF radio, the radios are smaller and do not need a large antenna, which is useful if you don’t have a lot of space at home. Mobile HF is possible, but requires a much more complex than a mobile DMR radio.
If you have DMR repeaters in your area you should consider it as part of your family communications plan.
If you don’t have a DMR repeater you can still connect to DMR networks using a MMDVM hotspot. This is essentially an interface device that receives a radio signal from your radio, connects to your wifi and then to one of the DMR networks. The MMDVM’s can use any of the digital signal modes (DMR, D-STAR, Fusion). I’ll discuss more about MMDVM hotspots in another video.
In this first video I go over some of the basics on how DMR repeaters can be configured, as there are a number of different ways they can be ‘grouped’ together. Some are connected directly to one of the DMR networks, such as the DMR-MARC or Brandmeister. Others are connected in their own ‘clusters’ either on a statewide network or multi-state networks, such as the PCN network (originally NCPRN, North Carolina) or the Interstate DMR network. These latter networks are usually set up to talk within the network, or various areas, as well as connect to the other ‘common’ talkgroups.
Talkgroup – this is a virtual channel and called “group call” in the radio programming software (commonly called “CPS.”)
DMR ID – this is a unique ID. Some are the talkgroup ID and others are “private call” which is a user.
All hams need a DMR ID to use a DMR radio. Go to https://www.radioid.net and register to receive your ID.
We will discuss talk groups and DMR ID’s in the second video in this series – see below for link.