Why newer is not always automatically better

We offer a couple of codeplugs on MBARS here, as a sort of get-you-started thing, for anyone who gets a radio and it’s got one of those a poor or non-local codeplugs in.

All of our codeplugs are checked for programming errors, but time constraints do not allow for us to check every single bit of info in these codeplugs, thats why we ask you to check them once you open them.

When uploading codeplugs, we ask you to not just submit just a bare codeplug file, but to include some info about it, such as the CPS version used, and the author and a brief summary of the features you have programmed in, mainly to help other people looking for codeplugs, distinguish between one and another..  as just seeing codeplug1.cpg   and codeplug2.cpg  isn’t too much help is it !

Here’s a couple of things to ponder.
New code (software) is not automatically always better than the old software, previous versions will have had many users submitting feedback and has had errors or issues found and corrected. This is even true of CPS and Firmware too, Major CPS versions generally contain much new code, with smaller incremental releases being minor updates and fixes as you would expect. New code is just that, it could bring new features, but could also bring new errors, which you may or may not find.

Also if you’re a Radio Amateur, don’t feel the need to automatically upgrade to the newest CPS – or firmware. It’s not a Microsoft OS we’re talking about here, or an antivirus program. The fact is, that as Radio Amateurs, most of us still don’t use many of the more interesting features in the sets already, so we’re not too likely to notice many of the updated features and bugs that commercial customers would anyway – the prime focus for Motorola. Motorola software is well enough written nowadays that the difference for Amateurs between using old versions of CPS 10 or even earlier might not be too apparent, apart from the fact that Murphy’s Law applies and any secondhand MotoTRBO set you may buy has likely been programmed by a later CPS version than the one you have… typically !

Many of us Amateurs who are *forced* into using the latest CPS, do so because there is someone elses codeplug we want to play with, or we want to to help someone else out, or swap them with friends.

For example, if you have CPS 10.8 or 10.9 or 11 or whatever, and your mate has the CPS 10.5 – then he can’t open your codeplugs, he needs the same or later CPS as you, but you can open his older ones. Opening an older codeplug is ok in new CPS, but when you save them in the newer CPS you wont be able to open them in any version older, – they’ve been upgraded. You can go forwards, but you can’t go back !

Same goes for Firmware updates.
Also, the DM3600 and DP3600 series will be getting no new firmware updates – they are not supported models anymore, although to look at Ebay and see prices of old used DM3600’s going for the same or more than a new DM4600 it makes me shake my head, but I digress..  I’ve had bad firmware (on MotoTrbo) and its not funny.

I don’t know the final firmware versions for the DP/DM 3xxx series sets.  You may be on an older firmware, and there *may* be an update you missed, but i personally  wouldn’t advise it unless there’s a firmware bug you need fixing or a new feature you really must have.  Upgrading these things are all fine when it works, just be aware of the possible pitfalls, if it all goes tits-up, you’ll be making frantic phone calls to friends, loved ones, elderly relatives and Motorola dealers – and pricing up a Moto dealer or a clever friend to fix it, or worse, you’ll be sat admiring  your new paperweight.


All work, text and images © GB7MB


New DMR Users – a note about RX group lists ..

I’ve seen several MotoTrbo codeplugs come my way with multiple Talkgroups listed in the RX Group List.  A recent Post by Karl on North West DMR  reminded me of this stupid and pointless practice that i’ve seen, I’m mainly putting this out there for new users who start are starting programming codeplugs.

You can only transmit on one Talkgroup at a time (apart from the ‘AllCall’ group of which more, later)  – but you have the ability to recieve any one of up to 15 Talkgroups.. sounds good, until you realise that if you are using something like Talkgroup 9 on a DMR-MARC repeater, the only traffic you will be expecting or interested in, is also going to be on  Talkgroup 9  – you wouldn’t listen to the next channel up for a response on FM would you ? or you wouldn’t open your IF passband right up and so you heard the rest of the channels on the band would you ? so why do that on a DMR repeater ?   You would likely get confused  (i certainly would) –  if you were talking on s22 but you heard a QSO on s19 just like it was on ‘your s22 channel’ does that make sense ?  NO !

I Imagine that much of the confusion this practice *does cause* are one of the main reasons for talkgroup confusion, and new users being ‘told off’ for being on the ‘wrong talkgroup’  Yes you might receive the right talkgroup *as well* but you won’t easily know who is responding to your call unless you see the correct talkgroup pop up when some other voice pops out of the speaker at you.. it could be someone at the other side of the planet talking to someone else, and they won’t hear you and, worse still, if you are scanning (depending on how you set your scan list) and the set stops on a channnel that has one of these unwanted spare talkgroups in the RX group list and you TX back  – the chances are You Will be TXing on the wrong TG and possibly not notice until you look down at your set’s display, or someone complains, so you see its a ridiculous state of affairs, yet these faulty codeplugs still crop up. don’t use them, or if you do, tidy up the RX Group list properly.  All RX group lists in codeplugs downloaded from this site have single entries in the RX Group list..

If you get a codeplug given, check the RX group lists have only one entrythe same as the TX talkgroup only !


All work, text and images © GB7MB

Operating on a DMR-MARC repeater .. some basic notes.

Most, but not all UK DMR-MARC  repeaters are connected to the global DMR-MARC Network and not every DMR-MARC Repeater has all the same  Talkgroups  available, in fact it’s up to the repeater keeper which talkgroups they wish to carry.  As you look at the list of possible talkgroups  it is quite obvious that not every talkgroup makes sense to be carried on your local DMR-MARC repeater. There’s little sense in say, carrying a purely foreign language talkgroup here  in the UK for example., so you see a choice of relevant Talkgroups has to be chosen for the area the in which the repeater will be located in, pretty simple and logical stuff.

If, in the Morecambe Bay area there were a good number of Australian ex-pats – (there isn’t!)  it would be nice to carry, for example,  Talkgroups 5054 and 5056  maybe,  so they could talk back home., although I’d have to turn my DM4600 upside down …

Let’s talk a little more about where to operate, and on which Talkgroup, and why – and even why not – with some points to consider thrown in.. there are probably many more than i can think of here – so if you know better – Please let me know and educate me, as stated at the end of the post 🙂

If you want a main line to what’s happening try  Yahoo Groups MotoTrbo  (Yes, i think Yahoo groups sucks too)  and DMR-MARC’s Index page  which has some news and updates on it, athough i personally find it rather static and lacking in news, especially for British DMR-MARC users.

For GB7MB specific news there is this site (of course) and a Facebook site at GB7MB’s Facebook page  and in addition, there is a larger, but more general digital voice page on Facebook’s UK Digital Amateurs  which, at nearly 200 users may be among the biggest UK only DMR group on Facebook. The Facebook groups are run by same core people that run this site and also the GB7MB repeater.

First thing, the DMR-MARC network is in a state of flux, this is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that it’s growing, and changing to meet the needs of it’s users, and in fact, i think it demonstrates the very flexibility of the technology, quite well.
As for  operating DMR-MARC, things that were deemed ‘fine business’ a few months ago, may not be anymore, and it’s important to understand why exactly. and ignoring what frequency this might be on, lets take a look at what a typical British DMR-MARC repeater might carry as it’s talkgroups.

Talkgroup 1       – calling,
Talkgroup 2       – Europe Continental,
Talkgroup 8       – regional repeater,
Talkgroup 9       – Local repeater,
Talkgroup 13      – Worldwide English, and
Talkgroup 235    – UK Wide.

As talkgroups can essentially be thought as virtual channels, lets rename these talkgroups for our discussion purposes here…

channel 1      – calling,
channel 2      – Europe continental,
channel 8      – regional repeater,
channel 9      – local repeater,
channel 13     – Worldwide English,    and again to
channel 235   – UK Wide

Talkgroup 1 (channel 1)
Now that it looks a bit more like what we’re used to, it then makes sense to see channel 1 as the worldwide calling channel, and, as with any calling channel, transmission lengths should be limited, here on DMR-MARC  it’s 2 minutes maximum (imagine a 2 minute CQ call on s 20 !)
You call on it, and if you get a response, you QSY away – as you would on any calling channel. Remember that when you TX on Talkgroup 1 (channel 1) be aware that you’re opening all other repeaters that carry that talkgroup worldwide  That’s why it’s really important to not hold a conversation on there !

Talkgroup 9 (channel 9)
All UK repeaters (that i’ve seen) carry this one .. and transmissions you make on here are NOT being sent to any other repeaters, it’s just like a normal, repeater without Echolink, IRLP or anything connected. a standard system like you are used to, but it’s DMR (so it’s better, right?)   Most traffic is on here, and this is where most locals hang out. Usual GB3-type FM repeater usage happens here. you can of course use this as any repeater, call for friends, have QSO, mobile, HTs, etc etc. That’s what it’s for 🙂

Talkgroup 8 (channel 8)
This is called the Regional Repeater talkgroup, not like Talkgroup 9, but it’s there for things like roaming and such like, maybe a few DMR repeaters connected together in a geographical area, like a common channel between GB7MB, GB7LP, GB7HM and GB7PN could be for example. Not much roaming is used in the UK, apart from a few instances in Yorkshire. It may become much more used as more DMR repeaters come on the network.

Now.. Where to go when you get a reply – it’s not always immediately obvious which talkgroup to move to (or change channel to) on DMR-MARC repeaters at first, but as a general guideline, use the smallest area coverage talkgroup that you and who you’re talking to have access to.

All new users make mistakes of course, and other more experienced users should go easy on new users and inevitable mistakes they may make, and if you hear someone on the wrong talkgroup, do not go in guns-blazing,  instead politely offer friendly advice on whats going on (or send them to read this)  – we’re only human, and we were all new users once over..  remember, was anyone impolite to You when you made a mistake as a new user ? if so, break the chain and be polite, or we’ll end up with repeaters full of people all too scared to TX on them..

But if you repeatedly hold QSOs on the wrong talkgroups, and willfully ignore advice given from the other more seasoned users, the Keeper, Sysop, or DMR-MARC Guys or people who run the gateways, you are spoiling the network for hundreds of other users – so dont be surprised if you get told off, or worse, as this is considered abuse of the system and network.

To Chat from (say) GB7MB in Morecambe Bay to someone in Blackpool, you would just stick to Talkgroup 9 – obviously there is no need to open other repeaters (by using abother Talkgroup (channel) up at the same time if your mate is also using GB7MB.

To chat from here on GB7MB to someone in London, Wales, Scotland, the Midlands etc – in fact any UK station out of RF range of our local DMR repeater, which TG should we choose ?
Well – talkgroup 9 is not going to be much use if we want to talk to someone in the Midlands (or wherever) because of course, our repeater ‘s RF up on 439mhz just wont normally carry that far of course, so we need a networked Talkgroup now  – so it’s an easy choice – UK Wide 235

To chat from GB7MB here to someone in sunny California, you could  use  TG 13 WorldWide English

To chat with Japan from GB7MB – you could choose TG 13 WorldWide English too – because unless you’re fluent in Japanese, you would be speaking to JA1XX in English .. so you get the idea.

For someone in Spain to chat to someone in Argentina, their local repeaters would likely both carry TG14 Spanish Worldwide,  and we’d never hear them here in the UK, as our repeaters do not carry TG14 ..    nor would it make sense to.

Imagine a foreign language local QSO, perhaps taking place between two stations in the same beautiful Spanish village, of course it’s no problem, they are on their local repeater, using their local, non networked talkgroup, and they could even go simplex.   Now consider instead, of them using their local talkgroup they change talkgroup to something that *is* networked, and wrong for that QSO  – like TG13 English Worldwide,  the QSO is now coming out of ever repeater on the planet that carries TG13 English Worldwide.
They shouldn’t be on that TG because,

A:   it’s not English,
B:   it’s not a worldwide QSO,
C:   it’s not even a European-wide  QSO
D:   it’s not even a Spanish country-wide QSO
E:   it’s not even regional – it’s all within one repeater

So as you see above, our example Amateurs should not be be using any other networked talkgroup, which here in Blighty, is what we use our TG9 Local for.

I Hope this makes a little more sense to talkgroups and things,  This is as i understand it, (and i’m not very bright) so please excuse any mistakes or incorrect information, as this is writen to try to help some new users a little bit . If you have any ommissions or obvious erriors i have made, MESSAGE me here at MBARS and i’ll correct this information as we go along. With apologies to all fictional Spanish DMR users. i could do with a holiday.


All work, text and images © GB7MB

GB7MB predicted coverage map


Many Thanks to Steve M1SWB – Repeater Keeper of DMR-MARC Repeater GB7LP and 6m repeater GB3LP who kindly took time to plot this coverage map of what GB7MB should cover – radius is 400Km, signal level 0.3 to 1uV
Many Thanks Steve 🙂

ETCC update – bonfire night..

“Well, i noticed it on Twitter yesterday, but here it is again from the ETCC UK Repeater site
70cms Clearances
We are very well aware of the long lists of outstanding 70cms requests and are working with Ofcom to ensure that they are dealt with as soon as possible. When making proposals for wide spaced channels we are required to submit a choice of frequencies and because of the large number of outstanding requests have run out of choices in many areas. As a consequence until some of these requests are cleared proposals for new 70cms digital repeaters will be put on hold.