Winston Lawrence

KD2WLL - Amateur Radio Notes

Adventures in radio - January 2021


2021-01-23: The Retevis RT73 is working
I finally have the Retevis RT73 working to a point where I am reasonably satisfied with the configuration and I am now ready to get comfortable with actually using it. I have not yet uploaded the DMRID contact database and will probably only upload a few contacts at some point in the future.

I connected to my hotspot, set the radio into promiscuous mode, and tried manually dialing into a couple of talkgroups. The North America and Worldwide talkgroups had enough activity to confirm that I was connecting okay through the hotspot. I then performed a quick analog simplex repeater test which also worked - cool. The only odd connection was during a test in the afternoon to a local repeater that I have been having problems connecting to as a DMR site. The repeater, while listed on as "open", is part of a linked system with little information available to outsiders on how to actually use it. I did make a connection through their Brandmeister talkgroup at the suggestion of the repeater admin who was, at the time, running what was supposed to be a net event. The admin(s) never did seem to hear me although I could hear them talking (barely). In their defense from what I heard the repeater was having some computer and power supply issues. I will probably try them again at some point in the future but if I was Jerry Seinfeld in this scenario, this group of folks would definitely be Newman.

2021-01-25: Talking Jack about Jack - where is everybody?
Continuing with the Retevis RT73 still in base station rather than mobile mode as 28°F is too cold to be messing around with this stuff when I can just work from the home office.

I turned the RT73 on and immediately picked up ongoing QSO's. Remember, I have the radio running promiscuous mode, since I am using the minimalist codeplug approach. I am going to make an observation, so just putting this out there: "Even if you are on a DMR talkgroup you should be following the FCC rules on amateur radio station identification The RT73 picked up a QSO between two hams - I could see their DMRID's on-screen when they transmitted, but couldn't identify them without actually writing down their ID's and performing a lookup. The hams clearly knew each other and were discussing a couple of things including the obligatory doctor appointments and home nursing visits but at one point took to bemoaning the fact that the group was very quiet and that folks just turn on their radios, and don't throw out their callsigns or announce themselves. By that point, I had been listening to them talking for a good 10 minutes and they were already having this conversation when I turned my radio on. Not once did either one of them ID their callsigns, not even when they signed off and not once did they indicate what talkgroup they were on.

The other problem, although it isn't an FCC rule, is that folks that are scanning/roaming or in promiscuous mode on DMR don't necessarily know what talkgroup you are on if you dont ever announce it. There are a lot of talkgroups and it's a crap shoot whether or not someone joins you in conversation if you never actually say where you are.

I did take the radio out of promiscuous mode but the conversation was not taking place on WorldWide or North America so at that point I put promiscuous mode back on and just continued listening as I wasn't going to roll through all of the potential groups. However, I did figure out after the call dropped that I could go to my hotspot dashboard which did show the actual talkgroup and callsigns involved.

I also made a quick analog QSO on a local repeater, which is something I'll have to write about when I better figure it out since the repeater seems to have both DMR and analog capabilities on the same frequencies? Of course this is coming from repeaterbook, which is not always correct. Of course, as seems to be the normal state, no information for those not in the know on how the repeater is setup or to be used. Well you do tend to get what you pay for when you buy "free" and the currency is often your time.

'73 from KD2WLL - the adventure continues