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DCI and TRBO-6 Timeline and History

TRBO-6 was a group of Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) that began operating a network of MotoTRBO IPSC enabled digital repeaters on June 27, 2009 (audio available below).  TRBO-6 ceased its network operation on August 20, 2013.  Comm 1 has continued to be used and has expanded across more networks for use as a wide area talkgroup. 

DCI formed from within TRBO-6 on March 19th, 2011 in preparation for the arrival of the c-Bridge, a  device which we expected would enable the splitting off of the large number of existing repeaters onto smaller and more manageable segments or networks.  DCI and TRBO-6 were two MotoTRBO IPSC Network groups closely affiliated and with members from the original 6 TRBO-6 repeater owners, but ultimately the two groups, each with different end goals, split the sheets.  These issues caused the TRBO-6 repeaters to move to networks more inline with their goals while DCI chose to support all repeaters from anywhere in the world.

What does DCI stand for?  It depends but it can be found below.

What follows is our recollection of how we began our TRBO life, even prior to the official 3 repeater connection in June 2009.

March 2009:  Paul K6EH was operating a UHF TRBO repeater in standalone digital mode from Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles county, California in 2008.  This site has a very wide area coverage location and spured our initial interest in DMR.  It is likely that Paul's repeater (DMM actually long before DMM was included in the MotoTRBO firmware) was the very first Ham TRBO repeater in the USA and this was well before IPSC was provided by Motorola.

Ray KE6LE was able to purchase a large number of UHF 6500's (2008 RNC Convention radios) and those initial buyers were able to use Paul's repeater as well as the many UHF FM repeaters in Southern California .  Sales continued and many of those users become active on TRBO and used Paul's TRBO repeater as these hams scooped up this first batch of seed radios.  Ray began standing up his own repeaters also in stand alone mode (IPSC had not yet released). 

Ray KE6LE provided deals for almost three years on TRBO radios to friends and members of our groups.  We estimate that Ray has bought and sold more than 100 TRBO HT's, mobiles and repeaters combined.  Ray currently (2013) has 6 TRBO repeaters on hilltops, 3 on digital covering Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  Ray was the most prolific movers of TRBO in the Ham Radio community back in 2009-2011, the very early days of Ham TRBO.

June 27, 2009:  On this Saturday morning we had our first IPSC connection.  The repeaters were located in Mt Pleasant IA (Randy WB0VHB), Culver City CA (Ray WA6NVL, master repeater) and Costa Mesa CA (Mike WB6WUI; now NO7RF).  We successfully connected the 3 repeaters and were up and chatting on the "All Call" talkgroup, using the new repeater firmware R01.04.09 (6500's running R01.04.01).  All three repeaters were sitting on the desks and all 3 repeaters were the original R01.xx demo repeaters that had been sitting on the dealer shelves for several years.  These repeaters were part of the original Motorola demonstration packages provided to dealers that failed to catch wind.  2 of these repeaters were purchased from Sandy's Communications (still our #1 Ham Friendly Dealer).  Interestingly, this was also Field Day 2009.  Here is audio of that first connection and conversation, acoustically coupled: MP3

June 29, 2009:  The MTUSA Network (later renamed to TRBO-6) was formed and the MTUSA Yahoo Group was created.  We began with 3 charter repeater owners while Scott N6ZEK was still looking for a repeater to add to the network.  This was the announcement post in MTUSA.  MTUSA was a membership only group for users of the MTUSA repeaters but opened to anyone and everyone on November 8, 2009.

July 20, 2009:  Mike WB6WUI relocated his repeater 1100 miles North to Winthrop Washington.

July 27, 2009:  Our fourth repeater, Ray KE6LE, joined the network from Los Angeles, California

August 21, 2009:  Our fifth repeater, Dennis, AH6KD, joined the network from the East bay area of San Francisco, California.

October 31, 2009:  Our sixth repeater, Scott N6ZEK, joined the network from Carlsbad, California.  This repeater ultimately became our TRBO-6 master repeater until the arrival of the c-Bridge in June 2011.  This was the last repeater that filled in our core group for TRBO-6 network administration.

January 31, 2010:  TRBO-6 jettisoned  the use of "All Call" and implemented "Comm 1", our answer to the shortcoming of All Call in a Ham environment.  What a mess trying to move ~50 user radio's over to the new talkgroup.  This is not for the faint of heart and a learning experience on how difficult it is to change a horse in mid-stream.  The odd TG ID number (3777215) was chosen in an effort to deal with the repeater hijacking that was prevalent in the Los Angeles commercial TRBO repeaters.  Back then there were almost no tools to help identify user and group ID's or even know they were using a repeater surreptitiously.

More repeaters joined the network in '09 &'10 and we were up to 18 repeaters at one time.  This was stretching the network bounds (remember the 15 + 1 + 5 rule?) as we were running RDACS and Air Sharks making a record of 23 peers plus the Master repeater on the network at one time.  It still worked reasonable well but not solid or consistent.  We made the decision to remove 3 repeaters from the network as they simply were not being used but took up the valuable real estate none-the-less.  It was also time to look for that "Do-All Whiz Bang Box" to off-load peers from the network.  The c-Bridge rumors began in late 2010.  We chased them and moaned about the delays and lack of information...

February 22, 2010:  Our EchoLink portal  (AKA TRBO-Link) came online complements of Randy WB0VHB.  It operated on the "EchoLink 2" talkgroup initially but had worked flawlessly so it was moved over to "Comm 1".  It has always been restricted from -R's and -L's to keep the analog noise, ID'ers and touch tones out of our networks but is otherwise open to all  other devices.

March 19, 2011:  The DCI Network was created in preparation for the ability of the c-Bridge to manage multiple IPSC networks.  Originally it was CDI stood for "Chainpushers Development Inc" but a typo in the bridge made it DCI, so then it became "Direct Communications Ink".

March 20, 2011:  The TRBO-6 IPSC Network connects to the NorCal c-Bridge (arrived 3-16-11).  "Comm 1" is connected to "NorCal 1".  This connection has been our full-time main TG to main TG and is still that way as of this writing.

June 24, 2011:  The DCI c-Bridge arrives and Scott N6ZEK installs it the same day.  DCI and TRBO-6 repeaters begin splitting between the two networks.  The DCI Demo network is enabled and repeaters can come and go as they wish.  NorCal and DCI/TRBO-6 drop their peer connection and go to a cbridge-to-c-Bridge or "Mapped" connection (now known as a Conference Connection).

November 15, 2011:  DCI and DMR-MARC have now "Mapped" our c-Bridges.  DCI's "All Net 2" (now Worldwide 2) and DMR-MARC's "Slot 1" (Now Worldwide) are now patched together. What is now North America came online between the two c-Bridges also.

December 15, 2011:  DCI began Streaming audio via Radio Reference.  "Comm 1" and DMR-MARC's "Slot 1" are streamed with priority going to Comm 1 via the scan list.

December 29, 2011:  DCI began Streaming audio and video via uStream (now LiveStream).  This provides both video of a HT display and audio.  This is a better service as one can see the user ID or alias as well as the TalkGroup, scan and active channel indicators.  The delay is only a few seconds while RR can be much longer.  DMR-MARC "Slot 1" is also monitored via a scan list.  Archives of the Nets are available.

April 12, 2012:  DCI adds a VU Meter Bar Graph to the Livestream feed.  This effort followed extensive audio testing and poor subjective grading of audio and in an effort to help the DMR community get a handle on the piercingly loud audio being heard on DCI/TRBO-6 and the DMR-MARC North America and Worldwide talkgroups.

May 12 to 27, 2012:  The TRBO-Express takes off for Dayton Hamvention.  If this is a historic trip, you will learn about the Verizon networked repeater that was dragged along for the 2 week trip.  During the road trip summit, it was decided that DCI now stands for "Digital Communications Interconnect", at least until something else better is thought up.

June 10, 2012:  Created the "Bridge" talkgroup (3100; was "Interstate") and the first c-Bridge's were mapped to it.  Slow growth but 5 c-Bridges had joined in the first month (2 more by September 2012). Now with 14 c-Bridges carrying the Bridge in 2013.

October 7,2012:  The new c-Bridge Super Groups and scheduler implemented for more efficient control of the plethora of Talkgroups.  Now users can control their TG's on their networks to over-ride traffic from the national Talkgroups using a priority style for management of Talkgroup traffic.  See the current TG schedule.

November 4, 2012 TRBO-Link has gone off-line until a new home surfaces.  Randy WB0VHB has kept our EchoLink portal online for almost 3 years.  That was a huge dedication of equipment and other resources.  Our enduring thanks for that service which surely helped bring more activity to Ham TRBO in those early days.

March 4, 2013:  The first Seattle repeater is installed and several more for Washington and 2 in Oregon to follow in 2013.  The PNW and the I-5 Talkgroup are created for regional traffic on and around the Interstate 5 corridor.

April 28, 2013:  TRBO-6 as an organization and IPSC repeater network is beginning the move to cease operation.  The first repeater to move was Las Vegas repeater on Angels Peak as of today.  The IPSC network ceased operation on August 20, 2013.  As of today, the last 9 repeaters on the network have left the network as follows:

Move Date Repeater Destination Notes
Apr 28, 2013 Las Vegas; Angeles Peak (312000) SF Trbo Comm 1 is still networked
Aug 12, 2013 Lake Zurich IL (311701) DCI Comm 1 is still networked
Aug 20, 2013 Los Angeles (310611) SF Trbo Comm 1 is still networked
Jan 5, 2014 San Diego; Mt Otay (310612) West Texas Comm 1 is still networked
May 26, 2013 San Diego; Dictionary Hill (310616) SF Trbo Comm 1 is still networked
May 28, 2013 Rancho Santa Fe (310620) SF Trbo Comm 1 is still networked
March 2014 Las Vegas; Downtown (311201) NorCal Comm 1 reconnected
Aug 3, 2013 Midland TX (314800) NorCal Comm 1 is still networked
Aug 3, 2013 Odessa TX (314801) NorCal Comm 1 is still networked

June 29, 2013 TRBO-Link is back!  Now on EchoLink node: "644275" or "N8URW-R" and it is now using DCI 2 (ultimately moved to DCI 1) for talk-out but does scan several other talkgroups.

August 24, 2013:  VE7RAG joined, waiting for VE7NWX and BC-TRBO c-Bridge (fully integrated as of September 5, 2013 as the Master for the PNW Network.

October 30, 2013:  The new 50x c-Bridge was shipped on 10-28, arrived today at 1530 and installed in the rack and placed on the network at 2000 hours.  This is a major upgrade in services available to any repeater or IPSC network connectivity.

November 23, 2013 CPM's were created as a method to supplement CC's by providing additional continuing talkgroup connectivity during network breakdowns as well as the loss of the DCI c-Bridge.  [ 3-9-14/8-10-14: now superseded by QB and then NATS ]

February 2, 2014:  The very first wide area, fully Push-to-Talk talkgroup, TAC 310 was created.  310 answered a need for worldwide connectivity but with the least negative impact to repeaters and networks not participating in any particular conversation.  Close to a point-to-point or repeater-to-repeater connection much the same as DCI's fully PTT "Local Net 2" talkgroup has been for since early 2013.

March 9, 2014:  The new Buffer Bridge BackBone Talkgroup Project; QB, is launched.  Consisting of 3 additional c-Bridges used only to carry TG's worldwide (no repeaters) so that if any 2 of the 3 c-Bridges were to go down, the remaining c-Bridge could still serve up some or all of the TG's carried on the backbone.  [ 8-10-14: now superseded by NATS ]

April 13, 2014:  DCI will no longer be video streaming the audio and VU Meter.  The project began in 2011 for video streaming and the VU meter was added in April 2012.  We highly recommend the better option that is now provided by NorCal.

August 10, 2014:  The North America Talkgroup Server (NATS) launches as an independent, apolitical service for the benefit of all DMR Worldwide Hams.  The mission is to serve talkgroups to all c-Bridges for the best connectivity, up-time and with full fail-over redundancy.  This is a further improvement of and now supersedes the CPM, Buffer Bridge and QB projects.

March 17, 2015:  The original c-Bridge (IPSC-5) purchased in June of 2011 has been retired.  A VPS model will take up duties at some point in the future.  DCI still has a physical 50x deployed and a VPS Demonstration c-Bridge.

DCI added its 50th talkgroup today, 47 of which are public, 17 of which are on timeslot 1, 33 are on  timeslot 2.  Interesting numbers on the DCI c-Bridge:  1,577 Bridge Group entries, 76 Conference Connections and the North America talkgroup has 624 lines in its Super Group.

March 21, 2015:  DCI's production c-Bridge, the 50x which replaced the original IPSC-5 has changed its Control Center name to:  "DCI".  It had been "T6-DCI" since the original installation in June 2011.  This is about the last hold-over from the original Ham IPSC network: TRBO-6, created in June of 2009

April 7, 2015:  DCI is leaving the DMR public support arena after giving up on pressing the ICBO issues with MARC/CalDMR, acknowledging that MARC (and the new CalDMR alliance with MARC) are the winners over the independent operators.  Call it a retreat, but no more battling with MARC or CalDMR as the divide and conquer tactics have clearly prevailed in the Ham DMR world.  DCI is no longer associated with NATS and in fact, NATS has been retooled and now part of that alliance.  DCI will reduce its footprint in the DMR community and focus more on the a local, state and regional efforts to support DMR repeaters and their user base as well as continue it's longstanding alpha/beta testing of the c-Bridge.  Current repeater manager groups are welcome to stay aboard but further custom manager support will be curtailed in favor of our local, state and regional areas.  Emails for general c-Bridge information and support will generally be pushed into the Yahoo Groups to minimize the 1-on-1 time.  These changes will free up significant time for more useful and less stressful use of DMR as well as other long languishing projects.  If anyone cares for more background on this evolution, you are invited to read up.

June 2015:  PNW has it's own history page and most of the DCI activity is in that area now so entries will slow here.

June 6, 2016:  DCI has made our Ham Friendly Dealers page legacy.  No longer will it be updated and now only two dealers, both my personal favorites.  Go there if you wish to no why we no longer support this page.


Revised: 06/06/2016 12:42