So folks, I am joining the DMR world with my purchase of a cheap handheld and hotspot. I think this will open up a world of addressable possibilities!
Recently, I wrote about the DMR presentation by George, KJ6VU on Cycle 25. I got excited about digital mobile radio for the first time. And, last week, I spent around $200 on a starter kit to dip my toe in the water.
I must admit that the ham radio world of Echolink and IRLP has completely passed me by. My main interest in HF has its drawbacks, I guess. For me, as for many hams, the classic 2 meter FM has fallen out of use.
For the past 20 years, hams have been linking using the Internet as either a replacement or supplement for local VHF/UHF communications. IRLP, or Internet Radio Linking Project, started in Canada in 1997 as a method for linking FM radios and repeaters as node on the Internet. Each node has a unique address that you can use to link radios together with a WAN backbone.
Similarly, Echolink is a system for hams to link their transceivers or, just simply talk to each other directly using VOIP. Both of these technologies are focused on hooking together analog communications systems over a network.
So, what’s new with DMR? Well, the radios themselves have now gone digital, as have their networks. All of the pieces in the system have digital addresses and ID’s. Instead of using analog touch tones to command linkages on and off, everything happens automatically with firmware and software.
DMR World is really Global
DMR, or Digital Mobile Radio, is not the only technology in use, but it is growing fastest. Others include D-STAR, Fusion and P25. Most communities now have a local DMR repeater. But what really makes things global is the low cost hotspot, shown above right. You see, a hotspot is simply a gateway to global DMR communications networks.
Basically, I should be able to use my DMR handheld at home with 1 watt to connect to any other DMR handheld on the planet. Since each handheld has an ID, I can call you directly without hogging any repeater networks. And since the worldwide system works on the basis of talk groups (groups using a similar addressing scheme) you can tie into special interest groups rather than just broadcasting to the whole world.
So, my TYT MD-UV390 DMR handheld (above left) cost me $125, and my assembled Jumbo-SPOT-RTQ MMDVM hotspot $65 shipped to Calgary from China. We will see what happens when they arrive.