PNWDigital.Net is an open DMR repeater network.
All Hams are welcome to use our repeaters.
This page should be of interest to those who have registered for a radio ID in anticipation to becoming active in DMR in our region. It is also for those who are just entering this digital mode and are interested in getting a handle on the DMR mode and our network organization before getting on the air.
First thing, please join our IO group at: http://dmr.groups.io/g/PNW Many of our networking services are available to members only. There are no costs, fees or dues required of any user to become a member. Much of our best and current information is located in our IO groups. The latest codeplugs, repeater map, network changes, updates and operational information are in our IO group as well. This website is also very current making both good resources for new DMR users.
PNWDigital.Net encourages learning about our operation prior to On-the-Air use. We will assist you but we also expect you to invest some time reading up ahead of time. Quick Start and Best Practices are 2 of the best documents out the gate after this welcome page as you ramp up in the world of DMR.
PNWDigital.Net actively supports our new members. We have 3 major areas that we hope to assist you with developing your long term interest in this digital mode.
- Which HT entry radio to buy and how to program it to work on our repeaters and other network resources is a primary goal.
- How to use our resources best out the gate, both at the repeater level and then, out on the wider network.
- Use of our MMDVM portals if you do not have RF access to our repeaters.
If you have used D-STAR, then you you have some idea of how big and maybe complex DMR may be. It may appear daunting in fact…but with some effort to understand the radios and their programming, as well as little bit of background on the operation of those radios, we hope that we can smooth your way along this DMR journey. But very simply if you just concentrate your efforts to just a few specific talkgroups (similar DSTAR Reflectors or Fusion Rooms), it can be very simple with little stress. In other words, begin with your local repeater and use the local talkgroups first to get used to your radio and a bit of the local repeater activity and operation. From there you can take on additional talkgroups that have wider distribution.
DMR really can be a easy as using a FM repeater but DMR or MotoTRBO repeaters have a cool advantage of 2 simultaneous voice paths. That is like having 2 FM repeaters in one package. So for an average cost of of $4,500 to put a repeater up on a major mountaintop site, we all have twice the capability, or loosely, half the costs. But more importantly, it enables much more capability, most especially with the networking component.
This welcome page is not really the best place to hit you with everything at once but more our effort to begin small and simple and grow into the advanced, very cool stuff later. So with that in mind, here is our effort to help you to help yourself enter the door to Pacific Northwest’s DMR world.
PNWDigital.Net consists of over 90 repeaters and other networking devices that are available to you. Everything is individually owned by our own ham members and almost nothing is subsidized by any non-ham entities. We pay for everything we do and then make those assets available to other hams. So please join us via our IO Group.
We have a few rules which are in place to help keep order on the network. Most of our member repeater owners agree to the same “rules”, though some of our affiliated repeaters operate a bit differently per the wishes of the respective owners. The same and different operating rules will be pointed out a bit later. But keep this in mind please, if you feel you must go out without the basic rules of the road under your belt, you might get a bumpier ride needlessly. No one person runs the network as we are more a repeater cooperative with a common set of operational rules…as well as some that are different as required by the independent repeater owners. So each of our repeater owners have some say in how the network is operated commonly across all our repeaters. But repeater owners also make their own rules which generally comport to rules in common with PNWDigital.Net.
This might be loosely equated to having a drivers license at age 16 but not yet having a commercial driver’s license or qualifying as a NASCAR driver. FM repeater operation is more the new 16 year old driver while DMR is more akin more to driving a big rig through downtown Seattle. All drivers might be able to navigate the road, but some are likely to have some bumps along the way depending on the jurisdiction they happen to be passing through.
We hope to smooth out the bumps in your journey. But we must emphasize that you must meet us halfway. Diving right into the wrong talkgroup, wrong attitude or wrong repeater is a formula for major bumps…if not cliffs in your DMR journey. Please invest some time in reading through our resources on our web site and join our IO Group to learn more sooner than later. You really must invest more than $70 in a HT and jumping in on PNW 2 or Oregon 1 without a seatbelt, which we hope to provide you here.
There are 7 sectioms below. Please read them and ask questions if you don’t understand. These boxes just scratch the surface of the power of PNWDigital.Net. But you will be well on your way to enjoying the power given a bit of time and effort using the resources that we have available online, over the air, via IO and Email.
1: You need a radio and radio ID number
You will also need a radio ID number issued by: RadioID.net. Once you have your CPS (radio programming software) loaded with our codeplug (radio personalities) or your own, you need enter this number into CPS and then write the codeplug into your radio.
Most hams starting out begin with a handheld, typically going with the least expensive as they don’t know but cost as a criteria. So there is the Tytera MD-380 at around $80, which was once the most popular radio, due to being the least expensive and few other options. It is well supported and works well.
PNWDigital.Net recommends the Anytone AT-D878UV dual band HT at around $160-$220. We support both the 868 and 878 with regularly updated codeplugs. We can point you to good pricing too if you still need radio.
You may use our stock codeplugs that we publish to keep it simple for your entry. You can customize extensively later but your radio will work correctly with the minimum of stress.
Codeplugs are living beasts, then need to be nurtured as the network grows. So look at them closely as they can be your model for expanding to support new repeaters and talkgroup. Codeplug creation can be a work of art and certainly is time consuming. Rolling your own without the basic and advanced knowledge can provide you (and the network) an unsatisfactory experience. So use ours for now.
2: If you can’t use our repeaters, consider a MMDVM “Hotspot“
Hotspots enable access to our DMR network via little personal “repeaters”. They cost from about $65 to $500 with the popular ones being the the ZUMspot ($100) and the openSPOT (~$200). But we do prefer use of our repeaters where possible as the MMDVM servers are meant to be more of a supplement to our repeater network and generally do not perform as well as a repeater.
These devices run on 5 or 12 DVC and are very portable for automobile or travel use. They typically get their Internet connectivity from smart phones when on the go via WiFi or can use an Ethernet port on your home router, same a a computer.
For more information, Google this: https://www.google.com/search?q=dmr+hotspot
Invest 15 minutes and look over the Quick Start. It is our bare bones, get rockin’ n rollin’ as quickly as possible guide which lays out, in order, what you are likely to need to know to actually operate on the network of repeaters. It assumes you have your radio and that it is correctly programmed.
4: On the Air
Start out locally, get accustomed to using a local repeater. Local 1 and Metro 2 are perfect to use, chat with other locals, ask questions and let our other users help. We were all noobs at one time, so don’t be shy about asking for answers to your questions. Use the Parrot talkgroup, an Echo Server to test out how you sound on the network. No one listens to the Parrot. 🙂 But honestly it is also a good resource as it helps to pin down audio issues and verifies that your radio is programmed reasonably correctly.
Better though, just call out for a demo, a radio check or just ask for a QSO and say you are new to DMR. That should generate the listener’s response. We would suggest Washington 2 as a good wide area talkgroup once you have tired of the Locals, or if you don’t find any local activity. Be brave and move to Washington 2 sooner than later as it is one of our busiest talkgroups.
DMR is a talkgroup based network and talkgroups control routing and appearance, nearly everything on DMR networks. Talkgroups are somewhat similar to CTCSS muting, EchoLink nodes, DSTAR reflectors or Fusion rooms. There are many talkgroups which have various purposes, coverages, routing, timers, and much more. If you don’t know the purpose of them, then don’t use them. Take the time to read up on what they entail. And as always, ask around for help from our other users. Do Not key up on our Public Service talkgroups (PS 1 and PS 2) unless you understand their use.
Some talkgroups are restrictive and/or have very specific purposes, so stay away if you haven’t gotten up to speed on talkgroups, where they go, why and when. This is where DMR can get fairly complex, so take your time as the road can get bumpy if you forge ahead without the understanding.
5: More Online Help
If you bite off more that you can reasonably digest, the potential increases for mistakes and stress. We have this welcome page here to try to keep you on a smooth path to understanding. So don’t get overwhelmed, bite off chunks as you have time, get comfortable until you gain more experience.
6: Other Resources
Our weekly over the air Gathering is strongly suggested. It is for our new folks to use for interactive questions and answers. It runs Wednesdays at 1900 local on Talkgroup Washington 2 for 1 hour.
We have a IO Group which has over 1800 members, all who are a part of this region and who can use it as a resource either by searching for past topics or posting on topics or with questions.
We are happy that you have taken the time to read down here to the end of the new DMR user welcome page. We hope that you join us, stick with us and learn much more about DMR. If you find the going a bit to hard or more than you can handle, we encourage you to contact a repeater owner or just send an Email to us at: email@example.com. We will respond and try our hardest to help you out. We appreciate those who invest some effort to learn before forging ahead on their own.
Welcome aboard the PNWDigital.Net!!!
First Published: February 16, 2022 Last Updated: 2 years ago by Mike – NO7RF