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Pacific Northwest DMR Best Practices

 

Most Washington repeater owners support this policy and will work together to insure the best operation across all our networked assets.  It is our hope that users embrace our approach as it has been formulated to be in the general best interests of all network users including those who tend to monitor the talkgroups rather than actively talk on them.

PNW DMR is a system of networks of repeaters open for use to all users, travelers and visitors in our region.  Each repeater is independently owned and managed by their owners.  The owners are the ultimate authority as to how their repeaters are used.  But all owners have agreed to the general network structure and operation in order to be a part of the PNW DMR network.  Megler and Larch in southern Washington and the Northern Oregon repeaters operate under different operational rules, so their policy of use is different from Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.  It is best that new users not to use the Oregon North networks unless you know the limitations.

There are no dues or fees for use, few restrictions but liberal suggestions on how to best make use of our resources.  If you use the network, please join our groups.io subgroup.  If you are a more than an occasional user, you will be required to join the group and become a member (at no cost).  If you don't become a member your access may be limited to the local repeaters and no access to our MMDVM servers or other networking recourses.  Please join our group and become part of our DMR community.

We of course certainly appreciate our supporting members but more importantly, we hope that our users will actively follow the network's best practice suggestions while using their radios on the PNW DMR our network.  The growth in DMR is huge and we must have some basics controls in place and followed by the users of the network.

As a user of the PNW DMR repeaters located in Washington as well as much of the network infrastructure in Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia, we expect that our users know the contents of this page and as much as possible, try to adopt our best practice expectations as described below.

We appreciate that new users might find all of our rules, suggestions and details to be burdensome, restrictive, unfriendly or otherwise hardly worth the effort to try to figure out if the mode is for you, but that is not the intent.  We have a big network with 600 users and some order is needed due to its complexity.  Just start out on Local 1 or 2 or Washington 1 and 2 statewide talkgroups and learn and grow into it.

 

Reminder:  Please use High Power by default, if possible but especially for handheld radios inside vehicles.  Please use an outside antenna with your HT's, or better, use a 40 watt mobile radio.  Our listeners will appreciate this!

 

Key Points

  • Timeslot 1 and 2 are completely separate talk paths and to not interact with each other.

  • New users should consider using Local 1 or Local 2 for testing until they learn how the network interoperates.  Chat with other local users, seek out your Elmer.

  • Washington 1 and Washington 2 have the most listeners, so if you want to try a QSO, try these talkgroups first.  Ask for radio check, identify that you are new user or say something that will garner a likely response.  Don't be shy as we already have many more listeners than talkers.

  • Check out the repeater network diagram for Washington.

  • Check out the Talkgroup pages, some talkgroups are special and not QSO talkgroups so become familiar with the purpose and special conditions on some of our talkgroups.

  • Study the Talkgroup Matrix for the repeaters you want to use to learn which talkgroups are available on those repeaters of interest.  Do not use talkgroups not published.  Some valid talkgroups are not published and are for EmComm or Admin use.

  • Nasty Audio:  Use Polly, our echo server Parrot.  This is a significant, longtime, ongoing issue...please be aware of your loud or soft audio levels or breath puffs into the mic port that confuse the vocoder.  It can very hard for other users to listen to, adjust your mic gain if the radio supports it or move closer/away from the microphone port.  CS-580's are hot!; try 6 to 12 inches and check via the Parrot talkgroup or ask other users.

  • No Quick Keying: allow 1-2 seconds between transmissions to allow other to key into or away from your talkgroup.

  • Think Footprint or Resources:  Be considerate of your use of wide area talkgroups, especially on timeslot 1, remember that Local 2 or timeslot 2 talkgroups have less impact on our primary timeslot 1 networked talkgroups.  Study the talkgroup list to learn the purpose and impact of each talkgroup that you use.

  • Brandmeister conversations should be kept to a minimum and moved to a TAC talkgroup as soon as convenient.  PNW DMR is not a Brandmeister network but a c-Bridge network that supports some of the Brandmeister talkgroups.

  • Use the Parrot talkgroup to test your audio levels and quality to confirm it is within norms.  How well you sound is important to other users who hear your transmissions. Excessively hot or soft Tx audio makes it difficult for the listeners.

  • Oregon repeaters have different goals, please read their policy before use.  QSO's are limited to 10 minutes please!

  • Please maintain minimum signal levels into the repeater to minimize obnoxious noise impact to other listeners.  That means use your highest power setting available unless you are reasonable certain that your signal strength is stronger -110 dBm.  If any doubt, use High Power Please!

  • Remember to leave a few seconds between transmissions to allow other users to PTT into or out of the talkgroup.

  • When making a call, say the talkgroup you are using as many users scan, use RX Groups or can't see their display and then otherwise, will not know which talkgroup on which to respond.  Mentioning which repeater you are using is handy as well and it provides a bit more time for listeners to glance at their displays.

  • When calling to strike up a conversation, it is helpful if you say something more than your call sign.  Let people know you would like to converse.  Mention your location, the repeater you are using, etc.  We have many more listeners than talkers, so try say something compelling to increase your chances of a response.

  • Become a "Gathering" regular for our Not-a-Net (Wed 1900 on Washington 2).  This is designed for new users and we want to help our new users first, so please ask questions.

  • Loaner radios may be available.  Contact your repeater owner directly via the repeater's CCx link on the PNW homepage if you are interested in trying out a particular radio.

  • Member's participation in our interactive IO Group is encouraged to help make PNW DMR better.

  • Please NO or very limited conversations related to polarizing subject such as politics or religion.

  • Please do NOT enable encryption or active data services (GPS data sends).  SMS text messaging is fine.

  • MotoTRBO CPS and firmware are available via our club license to members only who have agreed to abide by our best practice expectations, are members of our IO Group and have introduced themselves to the network administrators via pnwdmr@gmail.com.

  • PNW DMR virtual "Hallmark":  "I-5 Coverage"  Most of Oregon and Washington and well into British Columbia is covered.  California also has hundreds of miles of coverage on this talkgroup.  Please don't use this talkgroup unless it is I-5 related as we don't want our friendly repeaters to drop full time status of this talkgroup.  That will simply reduce overall effectiveness of our I-5 corridor coverage.

  • Our Quick-Start page will help get your rolling on our network rapidly with fewer hiccups.

MORE THAN A FEW THOUGHTS: 

The PNW DMR network is very complex, yet it really can be very simple to use.  Listen first or reach out locally.  Start out small on the Local talkgroups, get to know your local hams, ask questions and come up to speed slowly before venturing out into the larger arena of wide area talkgroups.  It is very hard to make operational mistakes when using the local talkgroups, but some hams may be quick to blast away when you muck up a wide area talkgroup.  We cannot control everyone's behavior so don't get discouraged.  Just reach out to your local guys and ask for more information to help you get up to speed.  Don't toss the baby out before contacting your repeater owner about any issues.  They are there to help you, so jettison the bathwater but give us a chance to address your issues or experiences.

Our repeater and c-Bridge owners have invested or contributed well beyond $100,000 in repeaters, site rent, Internet, insurance, Heliax, commercial antennas, commercial tower stand-offs, gasoline, networking and hundreds of hours of labor in the design, programming, installation and maintenance of this network as well as time away from their family.  There is no such thing as a 2 hour hill trip, 2 typically can be 8 (our record is 17 hours).  This is under appreciated by some insensitive users or they feel they can do what they wish on "their" open repeater.  Please don't take on their sense of entitlement.

Our network is a collection of many individually owned assets.  While we try to have uniform rules or expectations, there are some variations between single repeaters, areas and states.  Every repeater listed on our homepage has the Email address (click on the color code) so that you can contact the repeater owner for questions on use of their repeater(s).  Or simply seek them out over the air, introduce yourself and express your appreciation.  They will appreciate it.  It might be the beginning of a new friendship.

If you are going to use any of the Oregon state assets or their talkgroups, you SHOULD read their policy first, as their operation is significantly different from the rest of the PNW network especially for conversations beyond 5-10 minutes.

At a minimum, please seek out to support your repeater owners by acknowledging their contributions on behalf of the network and ultimately to you, the user of the network.  Any repeater owner can be Emailed by clicking on the Color Code of the respective repeater or say something to them when you hear them on the air.

Maybe said another way, think about taking your spouse out for dinner 1 night a year and tell her that PNW DMR suggested that an annual night out was a good investment in your continued relationship.  Or maybe you could do both and thereby, pay it forward. Something to consider, the value of a relationship.

If you have question, please Email PNW, any repeater owner (click on the Color Code link on the repeater page), post your question to our PNW IO Group or ask during our weekly Not-A-Net Gatherings.  This is your change to get input or help from other members.  Do not be shy, ask!

Lastly, if you agree and wish to become a supporting member of PNW DMR, then send an Email indicating you agree in principal with our best practices.  If you think we have this hopelessly screwed this up (FUBAR comes to mind), well you can tell us that as well...and maybe provide some insight on how we may be able to do better.

 

Radios: Our endorsed list of client radios:

Do Not Use:

  • Baofeng; any model including the DM-5R and DMR-5R Plus model

  • Koytone

Note: Motorola MotoTRBO radios are the ONLY fully compliant radio with our MotoTRBO IPSC repeaters.  TXI is missing from ALL non-MotoTRBO radios  and roaming, SMS and other data services are not not necessarily fully compatible, so your mileage may vary.

If a radio is not on the Do Not Use list, then those "generally" can be used but we encourage your use of the radios on our endorsed list.  Many inferior radios are rebadged, so it can be a whack-a-mole process to maintain the Do Not Use list.  Only the worst or least appropriate radios tend to be blacklisted in the red box above. 

NOTE:  CSI's (BFDX) CS-580 is arguably the best low end having the highest value to cost ratio and is preferred over any other Chinese radio for use on the PNW DMR network (the Anytone AT-D868UV is the best all around dualband HT).  While the 580 does have a stingy 250 contact limit, it does sport superior Rx audio quality (not volume though that is fine), large color display, excellent user interface, small form factor, easier factory CPS programming, better specs and many innovative digital features...best value for $110 to $139.  PNW is actively supporting the codeplug and it will be regularly updated to keep up with PNW growth. Please use HIGH Power with any HT, especially if operating from inside a vehicle.

A big consideration overlooked by new DMR users is that the low end radios tend to have very POOR programming software and much less codeplug support.  You may be be on your own without any support building a codeplug.  It is a daunting task that can take many hours and easily be done incorrectly.  That is a recipe both to give up prematurely on Ham DMR as well has have substandard operation on our networks.  Please consider our support already in place by your use of the better radios at least for your first DMR radio.

If you have not yet purchased a DMR radio on our approved list, and you do find something in the no-man's land to get you on the air and on our network, please consider it to be a provisional radio while you learn DMR and before you are ready to invest in radios for permanent use on our networks.  In other words, that it be for temporary use or evaluation and well may become a spare or glove box radio as you invest in the endorsed models from our list above.

Listing of Chinese radios purely for reference and convenience:  Here  ///  Radios Reviews

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Revised: 07/07/2018 09:40

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