April's meeting of the Porthmadog and District Amateur Radio Society was almost scuppered when the scheduled speaker pulled out due to ill health. After a few hours running around like headless chickens in a panic looking for an alternative, our club secretary Bob (MW0RHD) kindly offered to step in and give us a presentation and demonstration on internet linked radio (d-star, pmr fusion etc.).
First up was a DV4MINI which was used to connect to the DMR network where we found quite a lot of activity with stations on from both the UK and the USA.
We contacted 2E0JCW (JACK) in Reading who was happy to talk to us and to answer any questions that we had.
This device is digital only and is also 70cms only. The DV4MINI is based on a modified sound card dongle and has a low power transceiver built in. Having made the connection, Bob was able to walk around the room using his 70cms handheld transceiver.
Following this Bob set up his DCMEGA BLUESTACK which is a similar type of device although this one is dual band and is analogue and digital. This is built containing a Raspberry Pi along with an Arduino board. Again this contains a low power transmitter; however this one is vhf/uhf.
The conclusion from some of the members was that the setup of the software for these devices seemed to be a little complicated but that they were a useful addition to the armoury of radio hams who didn't mind lugging around a laptop.
Then ALLSTAR was mentioned so the discussion changed to the use of “microhubs” made by G7RPG, Peter, which come fully configured, ready for use. Real plug and play, nothing for the user to do other than set their handheld to the correct frequency. They have an output of about 600mw and a range of about 100 yards, however if requested he will fit a BNC connector on the back panel which with the addition of a small rubber duck antenna extends the range to about half a mile from the “microhub”.
ALLSTAR is an analogue only system, but with links to DMR and ECHOLINK and has repeaters and nodes worldwide.
A video of this device can be seen here:
It was further concluded that most members preferred the audio on analogue systems rather than digital.
The conversation then turned to the local repeater, GB3DW, which has been re-sited and fitted with a new Yaesu c4fm system. The Meirion repeater group were praised highly for its coverage and their management of it.
Finally it was very pleasing to see Bernard, GW0HGC, at the club after his recent serious operation. Happily he is well on the way to full recovery.
Article Written By: PETER BROOKS, GW0DFK