POCSAG? That’s still a thing?!

Sure is. And, now with the latest updates available to the MMDVM firmware, you can turn your Pi-Star hotspot into a paging transmitter.

In order to start using POCSAG with your Pi-Star hotspot, you will need to perform some updates to the software, if you haven’t done so already. Toshen, KE0FHS, has some great information about Pi-Star, and there are instructions for performing the software update here: https://amateurradionotes.com/pi-star.htm#updatingpistar

There is a required firmware update for MMDVM and ZUMspot. This process is automated for Pi-Star, but does require shell (SSH) access to the Raspberry Pi. Don’t worry, there’s instructions for this as well, and they can be found here: https://amateurradionotes.com/pi-star-notes.htm#hotspotfwupdate

Once the updates for the firmware and software are finished, and the Raspberry Pi is rebooted, the configuration page for Pi-Star will show a section for POCSAG settings. The settings for Pi-Star POCSAG paging are straightforward, simply filling in the requisite information in the Configuration page of the Pi-Star dashboard.

The Pi-Star implementation of POCSAG uses the DAPNET network. DAPNET does require registration, which is done through their help desk ticketing system. The approval process can take some time, and I personally waited six days for a response. Once the administrators had checked my application, I was greeted with a warm welcome and some basic instructions on how to provide information about the pager I may be using.

Transmitters must also be registered to the DAPNET network. Again, this is as simple as opening a new ticket and entering in the necessary information on the page. If you are registering a Pi-Star hotspot, I would suggest that the registration is for a Personal coverage transmitter. Once the registration is accepted by the DAPNET admins, you will receive an API key, which then can be put into the hotspot’s POCSAG settings on the Configuration page.

One issue that I do possibly see is the current frequency commonly used by DAPNET is 439.9875 – which is part of a blocked frequency range in New England. The Millstone Hill Observatory apparently uses a block of frequencies in the 70 cm band. Since US Amateurs are secondary users of the 70 cm band, interference cannot be created towards and must be received from the primary users. If anyone wants to work towards coordinating a frequency that can be used across the US/North America, please contact me, or let me know who I can get a hold of to facilitate the process.

I’ll have more on POCSAG and the uses I plan for it once I find a compatible pager. I have a few leads, so stick around! More to come!

73 de KC1AWV

XLX740 Transcoding Module [UPDATE]

The transcoding module for XLX740 is now active and ready for testing!

To use the transcoding module, connect to XLX740 Module E. When transmitting, wait a second or two for the systems to wake up and activate, then speak as you normally would.

With transcoding, DMR users can talk with D-Star users, and D-Star users can talk to DMR users. Yaesu Fusion and P25 have not yet been tested, as I do not have the equipment to do so myself.

If you have a Yaesu Fusion radio, and you are willing to test transcoding with DMR and D-Star, please comment and let me know!

73 de KC1AWV

XLX740 Transcoding Module

Coming in the week of July 15, XLX740 module E will be set up for transcoding D-Star and DMR calls. This means that anyone with a D-Star radio will be able to talk to anyone with a DMR radio and vice versa, so long as they are connected to XLX740 E. The intent is to also have Yaesu Fusion and perhaps P25 radios be able to talk to D-Star and DMR radios as well. Hooray for community!

Pi-Star with DMRGateway users:

Make a private call to 68740 – this will connect you to the XLX740 master, and the default module D. Module D is used for DMR to DMR radio calls. To switch to the transcoding module make another private call, this time to 64005 – this will switch DMRGateway off of module D and put you on module E for transcoding. Use talkgroup 6 to talk on the reflector.

D-Star users (Pi-Star, DVAP, etc):

Set the URCALL to XRF740EL and ‘kerchunk’ (press PTT for a second and release) – this will switch your hotspot to use XLX740’s module E. Once connected, switch URCALL back to CQCQCQ (or Use Reflector), and call as you normally would.

Stay tuned for further updates regarding the availability of the transcoding module and any testing skeds here at KC1AWV.net!

de KC1AWV

Hytera AR482G / TD580 review

Lately, I have been using the Hytera AR482G as my every day carry portable DMR radio. I’ve been using it on a business trip in Hawaii the past couple weeks, and I have to say I’m quite impressed by it.

Hytera AR482G with a Diamond SRJF10 stubby antenna (center), with included charger (right), and a can of coconut water for size comparison (left)

I just came across a review of the Hytera TD580, by VA3XFT over on the VA3XPR website. The AR482G being sold by Ham Radio Outlet looks to be the same radio, with a couple differences. For one, the programming software mentioned in the review is Chinese language only, whereas the software provided by HRO is in English. The font on the AR482G’s display also looks to be more updated, using sans-serif fonts instead of the screen pictured in VA3XFT’s review.

There were no firmware or CPS version numbers available in the review to compare with, however the CPS version I am using is 2.05.04.007.NA2 – available as a free download from Ham Radio Outlet’s website, which does include a serial number to activate it. The radio itself is running the firmware versions pictured below:

Overall, I have to say I’m impressed with the AR482G and it’s performance. The build quality and feel is excellent, and front panel programming is an easy, step-by-step process. I’ve used it on several hotspots and a few local repeaters, and never had an unexpected issue.

I encourage you to give the review of the TD580 a read. The AR482G is practically the same radio! Please feel free to leave your questions or comments for me as well!

de KC1AWV

Unscheduled downtime for XLX740

Unscheduled downtime from 28 JUN 2018 20:00 EDT to 29 JUN 2018 08:00EDT

The datacenter that XLX740 is located in suffered from a cascading HVAC failure, forcing administrators to shut down many servers in the affected sections to prevent loss of hardware due to overheating. Unfortunately, the server that hosts XLX740 was one of the servers needed to be powered down.

As of 08:00 EDT, services have been restored and reporting healthy. New backup snapshots have been taken, and no further issues have been reported.

Thank you for your patience!

73 de KC1AWV

XLX Multi Protocol Reflector Gateway

I would like to announce the creation of XLX740! XLX is a multi-protocol reflector for D-Star networks. I also intend on supporting D-Star <-> DMR transcoding in the future, once I can purchase the requisite AMBE hardware. I will probably have to house the transcoder at home as well, since the XLX740 reflector is actually located in a co-located data center in Chicago.

Right now, Module A is slated for transcoding. Module B is used for Scheduled Nets – usually ARES nets, but there’s no reason that another net couldn’t be scheduled that doesn’t conflict with anyone else. Module C will be used for ARES Drills and Events. Module D is used for D-Star testing. Module E is used for DMR testing. Module F is used for International Peering (reflectors on reflectors!) with other XLX peers. Module F is for general ragchew, which will also have transcoding enabled. Modules G-Z are for future use.

Please feel free to connect at any time, and have a chat or just sit back and listen in! If you want to link your XLX reflector with XLX740, please contact me at kc1awv@arrl.net and let me know.

If you want more detailed instructions on how to connect to XLX740, I have a page there that can help. You can read more here.