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Which digital voice mode do you prefer?


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There are just too many digital voice modes for Ham Radio. Typically a radio will only support one. Yes I've seen some mobile LMR's that will do several but in general this isn't the norm.

If you had to pick one digital voice mode which would you use?

https://n5amd.com/

Also do you use or own radios for other digital voice modes? I'm not interested in any "Hot Spots".

Myself I've played a tiny bit with DMR and leaning more towards it. My reason is the radios seem to be reasonably price with models available from multiple manufactures, and a healthy number of repeaters around. Kenwood terminated production on their analog/digital radio, TH-D74A, which does D-Star. So that leaves Icom for that mode. System Fusion is only available from Yeasu.

https://www.dmrassociation.org/downloads/documents/White-Papers/DMR-Association-White-Paper_Benefits-and-Features-of-DMR_160512.pdf

https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-r/opb/rep/R-REP-M.2474-2019-PDF-E.pdf

I have radios for D-Star, DMR and NXDN so far. I've thought about picking up a P25 radio, looks like the major choices are really old Motorola and some Kenwood gear. The newer stuff is expensive used and then finding the software to program them, Motorola mainly, is not as easy as the Kenwood stuff I have already. NXDN radios seem to be available from more than one manufacture.

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My input, all my opinions.

I chose fusion. Why? At the time all the DStar radios (this was for mobile) only did DPRS. If Kenwood had made an updated 710ga that did DStar and APRS. I would probably be a DStar man. There are more DStar repeaters in my area then Fusion, DMR, and amateur P25.

I looked at the DMR. One thing I didn't like was first you have to pick a group then a time slot. I understand the principles of DMR but it seamed like it would be harder to reach out and talk to more people some one (multiple branches so to speak). Plus if it isn't in the code plug have fun trying to program it on the fly.

Yaesu's Wires-x is interesting. For example Americalink one of the biggest rooms can be accessed via HRI200 (in my case analog mode), a Yaesu radio that supports PDN node mode, or a linked repeater. If you came over a HotSpot, say with a DMR radio and a hotspot, it isn't the actual Americalink room, but a bridge room. So using Droidstar, I love having the HRI-200 up, the FT991a connected to a repeater and during the Net on Americalink. Because the FT991a can hear the conversations the HRI-200 can hear it but since Droidstar is coming across the bride, you get NADDDAAA.

If you did get a hotspot, highly recommend, you only gain more with the handheld or mobile unit. The only one that can really do cross mode to DSTAR properly, is the SharkRF Open Spot 3, $$$$$. All the others don't do it due to the lack of the second AMBE chip, from what I understand.

Also I had a conversation with a big RADIO guy ham. A friend of a friend were met up to exchange gear. He said personally, Yaesu C4FM/Wire-x is the most natural sounding and cleanrist, especially on WIDE digital mode. On narrow digital mode, it can get the same robo sound of the other digital modes. He has a DStar, C4FM, DMR, P25 and NXDN radios, hand helds, mobile and base stations. Plus a DMR repeater at this house. His choice was C4FM, P25 then the others. He kept asking me why DStar, when I was picking his mind. So that wasn't a positive. From what he and I could tell more people were on C4FM then DMR when just roaming about. DMR can be a bit sparse out in the countryside, where you are most likely to find a DStar repeater, a little less frequent is a C4FM. 

Really, wish someone would could come up with some type of cross protocol platform outside of the hot spot. The different digital modes have us so fragmented now.

Really going to come down to what repeaters support what mode and what the locals are using. Especially, if you aren't going to do a hot spot. If I were to buy an Open spot 3, I'd probably pick up a DMR radio. Especially, since it seams the early ones were developed for DMR. Then C4FM being added as well as DStar.

 

 

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This answer all depends entirely on the infrastructure in your area. In my area, our digital repeaters are largely multi-mode based off the PiStar control software, which allows NXDN, DMR, D-Star & P25 (P25 is turned off). The downfall of those is that NXDN and D-Star need to make sure to disconnect or it will stay connected to that mode/room/TG. Fortunately DMR disconnects after 15 minutes no activity.

North of me there is also a DMR system that is not Brandmeister, and DMR only. DX Engineering is also D-Star only.

Now, I do have a simplex DMR hotspot, a duplex D-Star hotspot, and an AllStar simplex node (analog hotspot), which does help around the house and outside of the shack.

DMR seems to be hugely dominant for widespread, with multiple different networks.

Your location has 2 Fusion and 2 P25 systems, 1 DMR and no D-Star. Looks like fusion might be your best choice without Hotspots.

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2 hours ago, tweiss3 said:

Your location has 2 Fusion and 2 P25 systems, 1 DMR and no D-Star. Looks like fusion might be your best choice without Hotspots.

I actually see 2 repeaters in Oakland county, 1 in Macomb county, 6 in Wayne county Michigan for D-Star. (9)

There are 4 repeaters in Oakland county and 1 in Macomb county Michigan, 3 in Wayne county Michigan for DMR. (8)

There are 5 repeaters in Oakland county and 3 in Macomb county Michigan, 4 in Wayne county Michigan for Fusion. (12)

There is 1 repeater in Oakland county Michigan for NXDN. (1)

There are 3 in Macomb county Michigan, 2 in Wayne county Michigan for P25. (3)

The above I found in the on-line "repeaterbook.com" listings.

It appears that Fusion, D-star and DMR, in that order, seems to be the ranking in the tri-county area where I live. D-Star and DMR are about even in repeater support.

Other areas have different level of support. I know in Florida there is an area with a lot of NXDN repeaters.

https://www.repeaterbook.com/repeaters/feature_search.php?state_id=12&type=NXDN

https://ni4ce.org/nxdn-digital-communications/

I don't know how true this is but I heard Yeasu was giving huge discounts on their System Fusion repeaters. That was the reason given for the popularity, more of a marketing thing, cheaper to put a Fusion system with the discounts than one of the others.

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There was at one time they basically gave away their DR1 repeaters. And now, if you can find one that still has the original firmware, not the update, they are super easily converted to digital/multimode with a RPi and PiStar. We have one sitting on the shelf that we need to get our repeater committee formed so we can go digital.

You have tons of P25 support locally. Both P25 and DMR use the AMBE decoder, but it has become the standard for public safety. 

DMR you can talk worldwide.

NXDN i have no idea.

YSF you can talk world wide.

D-Star you can talk world wide

P25 you won't talk world wide, but only local linked repeater systems (not a bad thing).

 

Your other task will be equipment. DMR has a ton of choices. NXDN & P25 is going to be commercial public safety equipment only. YSF will be Yaesu only and D-Star is Kenwood & Icom choices.

 

I enjoy my CS-800D's in the cars, but if I had to do it again, and money wasn't an issue, I would go dual deck remote head Kenwood NX-5700/5800 with a handful of options. Will do analog, P25, DMR & NXDN in one unit, but the couple thousand price tag is steep.

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I'm just getting started and went with ICOM over Yeasu. That means D-STAR. The deciding factor for me was talking to other hams in my area and some I know from my previous life and the overwhelming recommendation was for ICOM equipment.

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C4FM and System Fusion will be my mark my native voyage into digital comms once my 991A arrives. I did not pick the digital format, I picked the radio because it is a multi-band shack-in-a-box. The side benefit is that there are a lot of current SF repeaters in the area and more are known to be on the way in my area. Others have reported that audio quality on SF is better than the rest. We will see. My only experience with other digital formats is P25 communications from area public service agencies and a scanner. Having a professional audio background, the quality of comms I was exposed to was enough to dampen any personal interest in spending money specifically for a digital radio. We will see if the 991A changes that.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM

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C4FM and System Fusion will be my mark my native voyage into digital comms once my 991A arrives. I did not pick the digital format, I picked the radio because it is a multi-band shack-in-a-box. The side benefit is that there are a lot of current SF repeaters in the area and more are known to be on the way in my area. Others have reported that audio quality on SF is better than the rest. We will see. My only experience with other digital formats is P25 communications from area public service agencies and a scanner. Having a professional audio background, the quality of comms I was exposed to was enough to dampen any personal interest in spending money specifically for a digital radio. We will see if the 991A changes that.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM
One big negative to the ft991a is that it is too old and lacks the hardware to be used as a pdn. Nor can it connect to the HRI 200.

There is a difference between a wire-x repeaters and fusion repeater. Wire-x you have internet access to most rooms. Fusion just another digital mode.

The fusion/wire-x repeaters are still being sold at a heavy discount, as long as it is activated in a certain time period. For small ham clubs, it makes a huge difference when upgrading aging repeaters or wanting to put up a digital repeaters. It is why you still see moe and more of them, especially in rural areas.

Join the 10m c4fm group on Facebook and watch videos. Especially, if you have a good 10m antenna.

I have another post where I got a catzknob for my ft991a. It is awesome because you can assign functions to them instead of digging through the soft menu, basically may free up some of the onscreen quick menu buttons.

2 negatives. 1.) The eprom can only be written to 100,000 times. Which means you may want to be choosey with what to assign them.

2.) Everytime I power everything up and touch a know it reverts to the minus setting. So if you set squelch, then turn it to say 6. Power off and back on the squelch will be 0. Also some functions like noise blanker which has an off. The know does nothing till you touch the soft menu from "off" to "1".

Awesome radio either way.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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One big negative to the ft991a is that it is too old and lacks the hardware to be used as a pdn. Nor can it connect to the HRI 200.

There is a difference between a wire-x repeaters and fusion repeater. Wire-x you have internet access to most rooms. Fusion just another digital mode.

The fusion/wire-x repeaters are still being sold at a heavy discount, as long as it is activated in a certain time period. For small ham clubs, it makes a huge difference when upgrading aging repeaters or wanting to put up a digital repeaters. It is why you still see moe and more of them, especially in rural areas.

Join the 10m c4fm group on Facebook and watch videos. Especially, if you have a good 10m antenna.

I have another post where I got a catzknob for my ft991a. It is awesome because you can assign functions to them instead of digging through the soft menu, basically may free up some of the onscreen quick menu buttons.

2 negatives. 1.) The eprom can only be written to 100,000 times. Which means you may want to be choosey with what to assign them.

2.) Everytime I power everything up and touch a know it reverts to the minus setting. So if you set squelch, then turn it to say 6. Power off and back on the squelch will be 0. Also some functions like noise blanker which has an off. The know does nothing till you touch the soft menu from "off" to "1".

Awesome radio either way.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk


Thanks for for the input.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM
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Another question is what is your "ultimate build out scenario" for your shack?

I keep DMR in the car because I like the removable head, and I do get pretty good roaming across the entire state to different DMR repeaters. I also will be traveling south, and there is a huge DMR wide area network I want to use while driving.

My home shack, the ultimate buildout includes a IC9700, which puts me into D-Star.

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Another question is what is your "ultimate build out scenario" for your shack?
I keep DMR in the car because I like the removable head, and I do get pretty good roaming across the entire state to different DMR repeaters. I also will be traveling south, and there is a huge DMR wide area network I want to use while driving.
My home shack, the ultimate buildout includes a IC9700, which puts me into D-Star.
I think every one us wonder to whom this is directed to.

Ic9700 is awesome for sattelite work at home.

Probably for me:

Ic9700 for upper band work and dstar.
- mm bandwidth compatibility
- may work with the newer aredn meshes

Flex 6400m for hf work.
- really digging the maestro ( hf work from the bathroom you know)

Open spot 3 for a hotspot
- cheap Chinese dmr for the portable connection
-crossband while roaming the house.

Yaesu ftm300 for yaesu wirex and alternate 2m/70cm radio.
- the flexibility of pdn mode or rf work
- dual c4fm (semi permanent beacon on one side)

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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28 minutes ago, kidphc said:

I think every one us wonder to whom this is directed to.

Ic9700 is awesome for sattelite work at home.

Probably for me:

Ic9700 for upper band work and dstar.
- mm bandwidth compatibility
- may work with the newer aredn meshes

Flex 6400m for hf work.
- really digging the maestro ( hf work from the bathroom you know)

Open spot 3 for a hotspot
- cheap Chinese dmr for the portable connection
-crossband while roaming the house.

Yaesu ftm300 for yaesu wirex and alternate 2m/70cm radio.
- the flexibility of pdn mode or rf work
- dual c4fm (semi permanent beacon on one side)

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

To everyone. There are always steps to building your shack, step 1 being get on the darn air to step final being the ultimate buildout.

I want an IC9700 into a GP98 at 50' AGL for FT8, some light satellite, and the ability to remotely get on my home radio anywhere I have internet connection. Its why the I bought the 2m/70cm/23cm triplexer instead of a simple UHF/VHF diplexer to connect my radios to my vertical on the roof.

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4 hours ago, kb2ztx said:

I run P25. It keeps the CCR radios off my repeater and for the most part is only used by folks who want a real radio system. I can't deal with static and dropped calls all the time. 

That just reminds me of a post elsewhere about a Ham who hated CCR's on his repeater so he setup the access tone to use exclusively MDC1200. He got a lot of negative comments along the lines of being a Motorola snob. It was his equipment. He can set it up any way he likes so long as it's legal.

MDC1200 isn't exclusively a Motorola thing. Some of my basic 16 channel Kenwood HT's, TK-2360 and TK-3160, have it built in.

I wouldn't mind getting a P25 radio to experiment with on the air. I just don't feel like spending $100 plus on a used one.

One thing I have noticed the 800/900 MHz radios are not too expensive. The 450/490/520 MHz radios are more common and command a higher price used. The VHF radios is where the prices seem to get stupid high, likely because they are not so common and many get used on 2M in the Ham band. I would like to find another one or two TK-2170's but any I've seen have a ridiculously high price. In contrast I just got a clean looking TK-3173, the version of the TK-3170 which includes trunking, for $30 on eBay a couple of days ago. 

One of the reasons why I'm leaning towards DMR is I use my radios for scanning a lot, local business frequencies. A fair number have switched to DMR. With a mixed mode radio I can use on the Ham bands plus use as a scanner is attractive.

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I just looked, I have exactly 2 P25 capable repeaters (multimode PiStar based) that I would be able to use, Then there are zero for 2 hours each direction. I however see zero P25 usage on them in the logs. 

http://www.pistar.uk/p25_reflectors.php This is the list of TGs for P25. I guess there could be private groups, but this is basically the brandmeister of P25.

P25 and DMR are very similar in programming and use.

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I have a Ham Radio buddy that is interested in a cheap P25 radio mainly for monitoring public safety frequencies. The downside in many public safety departments run encrypted so you won't hear anything without the keys.

I stumbled on a series of posts concerning NXDN. Apparently each radio has a unique ESN, electronic serial number, that a trunked radio system can verify. If I remember right a radio that is not authorized on the system will hear NOTHING. The software for setting up the system requires getting a key file for the radio and a license key from Kenwood to enable a radio on a trunking system. Sort of takes the fun out of using a radio just to monitor a system. I guess that was the goal to maintain security.

 

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2 hours ago, Lscott said:

I have a Ham Radio buddy that is interested in a cheap P25 radio mainly for monitoring public safety frequencies. The downside in many public safety departments run encrypted so you won't hear anything without the keys.

I stumbled on a series of posts concerning NXDN. Apparently each radio has a unique ESN, electronic serial number, that a trunked radio system can verify. If I remember right a radio that is not authorized on the system will hear NOTHING. The software for setting up the system requires getting a key file for the radio and a license key from Kenwood to enable a radio on a trunking system. Sort of takes the fun out of using a radio just to monitor a system. I guess that was the goal to maintain security.

 

All of this is correct, however, P25 Phase 1 and Phase 2 both only let known UID's affiliate with the system, so buying a P25 radio isn't going to let you listen to the system. There is also now LLA (now mandated by Ohio MARCS-IP) which is Link Layer Authentication, or a secondary authentication key. This is like the 2-layer authentication and keeps pirates from spoofing UIDs. We had a large lawsuit from some idiot spoofing an ID and causing interference.

If you want to listen to public safety P25, either get an Airspy R2 SDR and run SDRTrunk, or you are looking at a SDS100/200 scanner. 

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For reference most of us that have P25 repeaters on the air dont have them connected to a ham reflector. Most are used as a P5 repeater, Frequency and NAC. No talk groups no nothing. Some have them linked to other P25 machines but thats it. It costs money to play. For me I already have P25 gear for work and public safety so throwing a Quantar on the air is easy. 

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3 hours ago, kb2ztx said:

For reference most of us that have P25 repeaters on the air dont have them connected to a ham reflector. Most are used as a P5 repeater, Frequency and NAC. No talk groups no nothing. Some have them linked to other P25 machines but thats it. It costs money to play. For me I already have P25 gear for work and public safety so throwing a Quantar on the air is easy. 

That's the story over here too, a few mixed mode (analog/p25) linked to other analog and p25 machines.

I have 1 dmr radio (radioddity gd73), 3 potentially dmr capable (evx539) and 1 p25 (vx-p824 uhf). Haven't set up the gd73 And hotspot yet, but the p824 is one of the two I grab for out and about, though I haven't really gotten a good test in with the p25. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/25/2021 at 4:15 PM, tweiss3 said:

All of this is correct, however, P25 Phase 1 and Phase 2 both only let known UID's affiliate with the system, so buying a P25 radio isn't going to let you listen to the system. There is also now LLA (now mandated by Ohio MARCS-IP) which is Link Layer Authentication, or a secondary authentication key. This is like the 2-layer authentication and keeps pirates from spoofing UIDs. We had a large lawsuit from some idiot spoofing an ID and causing interference.

If you want to listen to public safety P25, either get an Airspy R2 SDR and run SDRTrunk, or you are looking at a SDS100/200 scanner. 

Not entirely accurate, a radio can listen to repeater outputs (usually in conventional scan) without affiliating to the system assuming the traffic is in the clear. I do that to listen to a 700 MHz high site near me.

 

To answer the original question, P25 for me for the same reason as KB2ZTX. The other and primary reason is that I hold a Part 90 license for my side business and P25 is the most cost-effective route to AES encryption in a non-Chinese radio. MSI's refusal to sell AES TRBO equipment in NA cost them a customer.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/17/2021 at 10:30 AM, WRNA236 said:

That's the key. 

I adopted DMR a few years ago because that was what everyone was experimenting with here.  A couple of local repeaters grew into a small network with a C-Bridge that grew with a DMR-MARC and Brandmeister connection and now there's a multi-state linked system that's part of the state ARES emcomm plan that runs up and down the Rockies built around DMR with several smaller sub groups by region.  It's actually a robust microwave-linked IP network that's completely stand-alone from the Internet.

The last year or so another system has developed that's mostly Fusion-based.  It uses public Internet and isn't from what I see nearly as robust.  It's got some interesting bridges going on to analog repeaters, a couple of dedicated DMR and NXDN and a Brandmeister talkgroup for push-to-talk repeaters and hotspots.  What it lacks in strict architecture it gains in experimentation and lighting up a lot of previously lightly used repeaters now having activity.

I stick with DMR because that's what I have available primarily.  At this point it's DMR or Fusion going forward it seems to me.  D-STAR isn't growing much but does have dedicated users.  Icom and Kenwood don't really push it.  NXDN and P25 seem local and sporadic.  It really comes down to Yaesu aggressively pushing their Fusion with new radios and the Chinese radios adopting DMR.  I wish hams would have adopted P25 personally and Yaesu had the opportunity with Fusion C4FM (it's vaguely similar to P25) to do it but they didn't and here we are.

Honestly if it wasn't for CCRs adding ham-friendly features I think DMR would have withered.  Motorola couldn't care less if hams adopted it or not.  As the database grew it was the likes of Anytone who did things like increasing the memory in their radios to allow 50k then 100k then 130k and so on IDs to be stored.  They added promiscuous mode (e.g. essentially open squelch for digital, as long as the signal is valid it decodes regardless of time slot, talkgroup and color code).  There's been some CCR duds that give fits to repeater owners, radios that don't adhere to timeslots.  But most of the CCR DMR radios do fine, it's not really a big problem.

I have a Kenwood TH-D74A I got because it was tri-band with D-Start being a bonus. I haven't really used D-Star.

I picked up a used Kenwood NX-340U, a type 2, at a bargain price on eBay a while back. It does analog and NXDN.

https://comms.kenwood.com/common/pdf/download/05_nx240v_340u_K_1117_typeD added.pdf

I also had a buddy that gifted me with a surplus mobile NX-820HG, a type 2 model that covers 400 MHz to 470 MHz, good for covering the whole Ham 70cm band. I haven't even turned it on or tried to program that one yet, but I did do a preliminary code plug for it. The spec's claim that the wide band analog mode in not available in the US. The hacked radio programming software I found allows it making the radio more attractive.

https://www.ameradio.com/doc/Kenwood_NX-720HG_NX-820HG_brochure.pdf

I'm leaning more towards DMR myself since more radios seem available for it at reasonable cost. Yeah most are Chinese, which I think sooner or later will just improve with time. Some of my buddies have DMR radios, one has a Motorola XPR-6550 he got used for around $350.

https://www.aircomm.com/downloads/motorola/motorola_xpr6500_specsheet.pdf

In that area I have a D878UV dual band from Anytone. I also picked up, again real cheap, a Kenwood TH-D340U which does analog and DMR.

https://www.bridgecomsystems.com/pages/anytone-at-d878uvii-plus

https://www.space-comm.net/img/pdf/TK-D240_D340.pdf

The D878UV radio hardware doesn't seem too bad, the firmware and in particular the radio programming software is buggy. If you look at the firmware releases they seem to come out with a new revision about every 3 months.

http://www.wouxun.us/category.php?category_id=93

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I'll throw a +1 to the CS800D. They are the primary mobiles in my vehicles. It was 100% compatible with the NCPRN network (a Moto Trbo hardware based network) which most of the Anytones and other CCR's don't work with.

If you really want to play digital all the time, look at a hotspot, I recommend a duplex version, and you can do all of the modes on your own hardware.

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