Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Galway Fusion Repeater Active from Loughrea Co. Galway

On Saturday the 13th of June The Galway Repeater, EI2TBR, was installed on site at Knockroe, Loughrea Co Galway. Aengus, EI4ABB, had prepared the repeater and tuned the cavities before transporting the equipment to the hill. The Repeater was switched on early in the afternoon. The input frequency is 145.025 MHz  and the output is 145.625 MHz. CTCss tones of 77Hz are required to access the analog side. 77Hz tones are also transmitted to open the squelch on an analog radio.


There was no convenient road to the site so the equipment was loaded onto a quad bike which was just about the right size to tranport the equipment to the top of the hill. Des EI5GT is pictured next to the Quad bike.


The antennas had been placed on the tower last March but our attempts to put up the equipment were thwarted initially by weather and then by the introduction of "lockdown" due the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The equipment was driven up the steep hil and off-loaded into the hut which houses the local wireless internet services.  Enda EI2II was preparing the Hut for the installation.


The antenna feeders were already in place and it was easy to install the repeater into the rack system provided. There will be  plenty of space for the UHF DMR repeater in the same rack.


The antenna was a perfect match and it was necessary for Aengus to fine tune the Bandpass/Band Reject Cavity filters. This is a delicate operation as it prevents the transmitted signal from desensitizing the receiver. Aengus is able to do this remarkably quickly on site with a small signal generator that transmits a very weak signal on the input and output frequencies.

The Repeater powered up straight away with no problems. Initial reports were good with the furthest coming from Castlebar Co. Mayo.

The site has an impressive view in all directions although slightly shielded to the South-South-West. As the day continued, calls were received from Inishbofin Island, Galway, Ballinasloe, the Limerick direction, Woodcock Hill, Westport, and we even had a S2 report from Kildare. This would be borne out by the predicted coverage map below. Unfortunately the road map only show coverage extending to 150 Km whereas the satellite map shows coverage extending to a maximum of 250 Km.


There are numerous places where a little bit elevation will allow a station to get in. The maps are based on mobile coverage so base station access would be able to get in from the yellow shaded areas.
The Repeater has EchoLink attached to the Analog side and Wires-X on C4FM. The Wires-X is fed remotely to the site from Galway City. It will be interesting to see how the Wires-X works over the next few months.

The repeater was funded by a joint effort between the Galway Radio Club and the Galway VHF Group plus some amateurs from the Mayo area  and was suppied by John MI0AAZ.

We thank Des, EI5GT, and Enda EI2II for the kind assistance with placement of the antennas and the accomodation of equipment on their site. This has widened the coverage area on 2 metres and will surely gather more interest over time.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Use of the Galway DMR Repeater Network


The new layout of the Galway Digital Network will spread the activity more evenly between the two Time Slots on the four Repeaters in Co Galway.

National Calling - is on the Irish Calling Channel TG 2722. TG 2722 is set up as a Static Talk Group on all National Repeaters. Any call on TG 2722 will be heard on all EI Repeaters at once. 

Where possible QSY, once the contact is established, to TG 2723 which is located on Time Slot 1. This will free up the Calling Channel and Time Slot 2. 

Please do not use TG2723 on Slot 2 of the Galway Network

Local Network QSOs and Calls via the Galway Digital Radio Group Cluster   

TG 8 is the Local Galway Digital Radio Group Cluster. Any QSO or Call made on TG 8, when accessed on a Repeater in the Galway Network, will come out simultaneously on all repeaters in the Galway Network only. This reduces the traffic on the National Calling Channel and hence all other repeaters in EI. A similar cluster has been set up on the South Eastern Repeater Network which is exclusive to the South Eastern Area only.

Accessing TG 8 from outside of the Galway Network is possible by using TG 27255 if you are not in the coverage area of the Galway Network.

A Provincial Cluster TG7 has been set up for all repeaters in the Province of Connacht. Perhaps someday there will be addtional repeaters in the Province and this cluster will link the additional Repeaters plus the existing four in Co Galway. Access to this cluster, from outside of the region, is via TG 27250. Whilst this Cluster is not really beneficial at present, as activity increases it will become mre relevant.

TG 9 Local working only  is available on Time Slot 1 or Time Slot 2. If one is in the coverage area of a single repeater it is possible to place a call via TG 9 which will relay via the local repeater. This will not be transmitted through the network and could be compare to making a call through an analog repeater.

Static Talk Groups on the Galway Digital Network are the following:
Basically if any activity should occur on these channels it wall always be heard 

Time Slot 1

TG 2723 ...... Irish Chat Channel
TG 7 ............ The Connacht Provincial Cluster    

Time Slot 2

TG 2722 ..... The Irish Calling Channel
TG 8 ........... The Galway Digital Radio Group Cluster

User Activated (UA) Talk Groups

These are Talk Groups that may be selected and called by the user. They are not static on a Repeater and so may be dialed up and once they become inactive they will be dropped after 10 minutes.

Recommended use

Time Slot 1 User Activated Talk Groups

TG 2724  ..... The DMR to Yaesu Fusion Link
Connect to Any International Talk Groups on Time Slot 1

Any International Talk Groups - where possible, if a long QSO is going to delvelop, QSY to TG 2723, on Time Slot 1, to free up the International Talk group which may be coming out on many repeaters in its own area.

Time Slot 2

Any UK Talk Groups - Where possible QSY to TG 2723 on Time Slot 1 if a long QSO is envisaged. This will leave Time Slot 2 free. 

Roaming on The Galway Network

The Galway DMR Repeater Network is configured for IP Mult-Site Connect. Talk Groups, TG 2722, TG 2723, TG 8 and TG7 are static on all Repeaters in the Galway and it is therefore possible to Roam between the repeaters in the Network using on or more of these Talk Groups. This would effectively allow seamless transfer between repeaters whilst mobile throughout the network coverage. Roaming can be configured on commercial mobile equipment and some Amateur equipment. Anytone radios have a form of roaming but not in the IP Multi-Site Connect sense, but more like scannning.

APRS Operation via the DMR Repeater System. 

All Repeaters in the Galway DMR Network are configured to pass any received APRS information received from mobile or base stations.

The BrandMeister DMR Server has built-in APRS capabilities:

  • Position reports of Hytera and Motorola radios can be forwarded to APRS
  • Telemetry events of Hytera and Motorola radios can be forwarded to APRS
  • Private text messages can be sent to APRS call-signs
  • Private text messages can be received from APRS network
  • APRS Group bulletins can be received from APRS network
  • APRS queries to DMR radio
Some Commercial and Amateur Transceivers have GPS/APRS facilties and the set up is well documented in their accompanying manuals

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Roaming on the Galway DMR Repeater Network


Roaming is possible when a radio is set to automatically move between Repeaters depending on which Repeater receives the strongest signal. In a roaming system it is necessary to set the RSS threshold which is the minimum signal strength that he radio will consider strong enough before it starts searching for a stronger signal. The RSSI needs to be programmed into the radio.

Consider a radio moving between three repeater coverage areas. As the radio moves from Repeater 1 the signal strength slowly reduces and reaches a point where the signal from Repeater 1 reduces below the pre-programmed RRSI threshold. At this point the radio will search through a list of Repeaters programmed into a Roam List to see if they have a stronger signal at that location.  The Roam List is simply a list of all Repeaters that the radio could use. If one Repeater in the Roam List does have a stronger signal the radio will switch to using that repeater automatically. So as the user moves closer to Repeater 2 the radio will switch to Repeater  2 and as the Radio moves closer to Repeater 2 the RSSI level will increase and the radio will stop searching for other repeaters. If the radio starts to move towards Repeater 3, the signal will fall below the RSSI level and the radio will start searching for a stronger signal. It should detect Repeater 3 and switch to that channel. Once the RSSI is strong enough the radio should stop searching for a stronger repeater and remain with Repeater 3 until the signal, once again, falls below the RSSI threshold.

Roaming Through the Repeater Network

Requirements

Repeaters have to be able to connect to each other and relay the same audio at the same time on at least one common Talk Group. On Hytera and Motorola systems this is called IP Multi-Site Connect. This works well in commercial systems dedicated to only a few users but in Amateur radio this can be more difficult. I amateur radio many talk groups are used and are linked differently. Some Talk Groups are linked to all other repeaters all over the country, whilst others are linked to repeaters within a specific area and some are user activated. Area specific Talk Groups can be programmed in such a way that the radio will only roam on Repeaters that have that Talk Group.

Issues

The major problem is that somebody may be operating on another talk group on a Repeater when you roam onto it. This is where roaming would fail in amateur radio. The conversation would have to be terminated or manually set the radio to use another Repeater. A second issue is with user activated Talk Groups. User activated Talk Groups will only become activated on a specific repeater when you have manually transmitted onto that Talk Group. If you activate the talk group on one repeater and then roam into the coverage of another repeater, the talk group will not be activated on the second repeater.

Ensure that the desired Static Talk Groups are programmed onto each repeater in the network and this will work. The only time there maybe problems is if another operator is occupying the Repeater and using a different Talk Group.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Updates and Reorganisation of Time Slots on the Galway Digital Repeaters


To facilitate Roaming on the Galway Digital Repeater Network it is necessary to modify the allocation of Static Talk Groups to all Repeaters within the Galway Digital Network. 

It is essential to modify code plugs to accommodate the following changes to prevent QRM and the same channels appearing simultaneously on both Time Sots of the Galway Repeater Network.

By modifying Code Plugs it will only be necessary to go into the channels and click on the Time Slot box and simply change it to either Time Slot 1 or Time Slot 2 as applicable. We appeal to all users of the Galway Network to make these modifications as soon as possible.

A new facility added will be the implementation of The Galway Digital Radio Group Cluster, TG 8, on Time Slot 2 and the Connacht Cluster on Time Slot 1 on each of the Repeaters within hte Galway Digital Repeater Network.

A Cluster is defined as a small group or Repeaters in a region which have a common Talk Group connected to each of them.

Allocations of Static Talk Groups

Time Slot 2 

TG 2722 (Irish Call Channel) will remain as a Static Talk Group.
TG 8 (Galway Digital Radio Group Cluster) will be a new Static Talk Group
TG 9 is for LOCAL REPEAT and any call on this Talk Groups will not pass through the Network but be repeated only on the Local Repeater.

Please try to confine the use of Time Slot 2 for the channels above to allow QRM Free Roaming facilities on the Static Channels.

Once a QSO has been established on TG 2722 simply QSY to TG2723 or TG 2724 on Time Slot 1

UK Channels may be activated on Time Slot 2

Caution

The use of TG 2723 on Slot 2 will result in simultaneous transmission on both Time Slot 1 and Time Slot 2 and will cause unnecessary QRM. TG 2723 is set as a Roaming channel to allow a conversation to be carried out whilst mobile throughout the Galway Network.

Time Slot 1

TG 2723 (Irish Chat Channel) will become a Static Talk Group on Slot 1
TG 7 (The Connacht Cluster) will become a Static Talk Group on Slot 1
TG 9 is for LOCAL REPEAT and any call on this Talk Group will not pass through the Network
TG 2724 (YSF.IE DMR > Fusion Link

Activate International Channels on Time Slot 1.

Logic of above changes:

1) More efficient use of both Time slots throughout the Galway Digital Repeater Network

2) By moving from TG 2722, on Time Slot 2 to TG 2723, on Time slot 1 will free up the Calling Channel on Time Slot 2 whilst the “Rag Chew" can take place on Time Slot 1

3) Roaming can be carried out on both Time Slots with less chance of QRM

Roaming

With the improved layout, Roaming may be carried out on both Time Slots with minimal QRM. Set up TG 8 on Time Slot 2 for local operation between operators within the catchment area of the Galway Network

Slot 1 will be set up for roaming on TG 2723, necessary when in QSO on the Chat Channel. TG7 will see much less use but can remain set up for Roaming on Time Slot 1.

Examples: 

  • · TG 27250 - Connacht (Cluster TG7 - Slot 1)
  • · TG 27251 - Leinster (Cluster TG7 - Slot 1)
  • · TG 27252 - Munster (Cluster TG7 - Slot 1)
  • · TG 27253 - Ulster (Cluster TG7 - Slot 1)
  • · TG 27254 - Southern Ireland Repeater Group (Cluster TG8 - Slot 2)
  • · TG 27255 - Galway Digital Radio Group (Cluster TG8 - Slot 2) 
Bridges to Analog or other modes (D-Star, Fusion, P25 etc)

All Bridges to other modes such as Analog, D-Star, Fusion, and P25 may be used on Time Slot 1.  

We emphasise that these may >>NOT<< be used on time Slot 2 

Gateway Operation

Operation on Gateways or Hotspots is traditionally on Time Slot 2 as these devices only work on one Time Slot. No changes need to be made to code Plugs for use on Gateways of Hotspots.

Clusters do not function on Gateways, however, an entry into a Cluster on a specific Regional Network may be made by selecting the appropriate Talk Group associated with it as shown below:

In Conclusion

The decision to make these changes has not been taken lightly. By making these changes your code plug will be compatible with the layout of the Southern Ireland Repeater Network and the layout suggested on the Brandmeister Wiki for Ireland. This will reduce QRM and ensure trouble free operation of the system in future.

These Changes will be implemented mid-June 2020 and with therefore leave plenty of time for operateors  to make the necessary changes to their Code Plugs.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

ICOM IC-7100 Review


The ICOM IC-7100 is, by no means, a new transceiver having made its debut on the American market around 2013. The radio comes in two parts, the control head and the main body connected by a controller cable. The microphone connects into the control head as does the speaker or headphones. A contrast from other units where the mic connects into the body which is located in the boot of the car reqiring a long extension cable to the driver's position. It ticks all the boxes power wise with 100W o/p from HF to 50MHZ, 50W on 70 MHZ, 50W on 144 MHz and 35W on 70cms. The 5 MHz band as also available. 
The ICOM IC-7100 was purchased for operation from the car or portable outings as it covered HF through 6 metres, 4 metres, 2 metres and 70cms. A bonus was the fact that D-star was available on all bands. Whilst the control head was a little odd, with a touch screen tilted at 45 degrees, a suitable mount was found for the dashboard of the car. The length of the control cable was long enough to mount the main body of the radio in the boot of the car.

All functions of the radio are controlled by a combination of button presses and the use of the touch screen. The angled screen was unique at the time and the appearance probably put many off the purchse of this radio. It should be noted that this radio has fully functional VFO A and VFO B and can also work on split frequency. The fact that this radio has the D-Star facility on all bands from HF - UHF is a major plus point in its favour.

The body of the radio has one antenna socket for the HF - 70 MHz bands and a second for 144 and 432 MHz. There are data sockets to interface a TNC, a data modes interface, and CI-V commands for remote operation. An external auto tuner may be connected and controlled by the “TUNE” button on the control head.


Like all radios, it is wise to read the manual although, if one has used an ICOM ID-5100, the D-Star operation is similar. All the functions are accessible through the touch screen menus and buttons. If one has never used D-Star before, operation will be a headache if the manual is not consulted. It is not difficult to operate with a little light reading.

The receive side is excellent and the NR and DSP functions are impressive making it possible to bring weak signals out of the noise and the Noise Blanker is effective also. The audio from the IC-7100’s own speaker is good but is naturally enhanced by using a larger external speaker.

Data modes are of interest and it was easy to interface the transceiver to a Signalink USB connected to the DM780 program supplied with Ham Radio Deluxe or the FL-Digi Program. There are many other Data Mode programs available. 

Good reports have been received on both HF and VHF even with the processor added in whilst using SSB. Having used the AOR9000MKII Digital voice modem on previous models of ICOM transceivers, it was easy enough to interface the same through an adaptor cable. This was only tried as one or two in our locality have the AOR system and, as yet, no facilities for D-Star.

It was good to have the facility to communicate on SSB as well as FM on the bands above 30 MHz. SSB, FM and D-star modes all give good crisp and clear reception.

It was noted, from watching YouTube videos, that the audio from the IC-7100 was slightly better than the new IC-9700.

By adding an external GPS, it is possible to send information via DPRS derived from the external unit when in D-Star mode. In GPS mode it is possible to receive data from other users and their position will show up on screen if selected.

The unit has ample memory facilities, and, like other D-Star Radios, it is possible to load a repeater list into the unit which is easy to access. It is easier to program this radio via the RT systems software than try to do so via the touchscreen. Software did not come with the unit and had to be purchased as an extra. Its value will be appreciated.

Interface to rig control/logging program is possible via the CI-V remote control socket. Ham Radio Deluxe is in use in the shack and there was no difficulty setting up the parameters for the IC-7100. There is no Bluetooth facility on this transceiver, but it is easy build an interface to take transmit the audio to and from the headset to the radio with an additional PTT extension. Drive safe Bluetooth units appear on E-Bay occasionally. To comply with the law, it should be used whilst mobile.

An Auto ATU can be controlled by pressing the “TUNE” button on the control head. Whilst ICOM produce their own model, there are many others available for a lesser price and the mAT-180H is one such ATU. This unit can operate at power levels up to 120 Watts over a range of 1.8 – 54 MHz. The ATU will tune coax fed antennas or wire antennas. It should be noted that Mobile whips for HF should be tuned to resonance rather than reliance on an inline tuner. The in-line tuner is more useful for portable operation.


Remote Base operation is possible using the RS-BA1 software.  It is possible to use the IC-7100 in the shack, or at a remote location via the keyboard of a laptop or P.C. Most functions and modes can be controlled via the remote software including interference rejection and I.F. filter settings. Provided there is internet access, it is possible to operate from any location.


In conclusion, the IC-7100 is a transceiver that has lasted the test of time and is still in production. It retails at around £950.00. It is an ideal mobile/portable radio as it covers both the HF and VHF bands with outstanding performance in noisy conditions. Using a mount that slots into the CD unit of the car, from Lido Radio Products, it is possible mount the Control Head without drilling holes in the dashboard. This transceiver is still in production and presumably firmware upgrades and minor modifications over time have made it what it is today. Whist the ICOM IC-7100 is not at the hugh end, it does represent good value for money.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

EI2BED Multi-Mode Digital Gateway for the Roscommon Area



Roscommon is on the edge of the Galway DMR Network's coverage area and a reliable signal is only available on higher ground with a clear path to the Abbeyknockmoy area. Paul, EI9HQB, having an interest in DMR, wanted better access for his area and wished to encourage more operators in his area to participate. A Digital Gateway seemed to be the most economical solution. In fact, if more low cost Digital Gateways were placed on air, it would fill in the voids between the larger centres of activity.

What is a Gateway?

A Gateway is a standalone system, allowing access to the network where there is no Repeater available. A gateway is not a Repeater, but rather a simplex device that receives a digital signal and passes it to a DMR, D-Star or C4FM network via the Internet. With DMR, Gateways generally work on a single slot basis, normally on Slot 2, which is more than adequate for general and local use.

The majority of users in Ireland use their local Repeater as a Gateway and seldom repeat in their own area. An Example: you link into Talk Group 2722 on the Gateway, this will retransmt on the majority of Repeaters in the West of Ireland and the South East provided they have Talk Group 2722 set as a Static Talk Group on their Repeater.

What does it do?
  1. Allows access and routing through DMR networks (Brandmeister in Ireland)
  2. Allows access and routing through C4FM networks such as YSF and FCS one can cross-link between YSF or FCS network into Wires-X but cannot access beyond the local Node to which the cross link is attached.
  3. Allows full use of the D-Star Network, REF, DCS, XRF and XLX reflectors
What are the advantages of running a Gateway?

For an Outlay of <300 Euro it is possible to build a Multi-Mode Gateway allowing access to the most commonly used Digital Modes. Whilst it will not act as a Repeater it will allow access into the various Digital Networks and complement the wider infrastructure of Repeaters around the Country. Setting up a VHF Gateway will give wider coverage thereby reducing the number required. The ultimate object is to gain as wide a coverage as possible. This would equate to the older network of Analog EchoLink Gateways.

A 2 metre Gateway Network set up in places such as Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Mullingar, Dublin and Dundalk would provide an excellent service and open up the use of DMR, D-Star and Yaesu's C4FM to a wider area.

Many people ask if the network in Galway is going to expand any further. The answer is a simple NO! The Galway Digital Network is covering Galway and spilling over into neighbouring counties. More than adequate for Galway's needs. Any further expansion will improve the facilities within the current system. It is down to operators in adjacent areas, with no coverage, to add to the infrastructure to benefit their own area.
Building a Gateway

Components

  1. A suitable radio such as 2 metre Tait Data Radio TM8105 Motorola GM350 to name two. VHF is more suited to Gateway operation as it will cover a wider area depending on the height of the location and antenna used.
  2. A STM32_VM Board available from Repeater Builder at this location  >>HERE
  3. Raspberry Pi 3B+ and associated Rpi Power supply
  4. Interconnecting lead with appropriate plugs 
  5. A Cooling Fan is essential to keep the radio cool during prolonged use. 
The Tait Radio will need to be programmed onto an appropriate Digital Simplex frequency. The vendor will generally perform that task if supplied with the desired frequency.
There is very little wiring and it is down to a lead connecting the radio accessory socket to the STM32 Board.

 The Tait Radio


The STM 32 board

 The Raspberry Pi 3 B+

The Software for the Raspberry Pi was downloaded from the Pi-Star site >>HERE

The file required is  Pi-Star_RPi_V3.4.17_20-Jan-2019.zip

Once downloaded unzip and etch the file onto a 16GB SD Card then insert into the Raspberry Pi.

Place the STM32 board on top of the Raspberry Pi, making sure it is seated correctly on the GPIO pins. Connect the Ethernet Connection from the Internet Router and plug in the RPi Power supply.

The Raspberry Pi and STM 32 board fitted nicely into "AVID Minidrive" case which had a low current 12V power supply and a 5A 5V power supply. Just perfect to drive the cooling fan for the Raspberry Pi. It was only necessary to run in the Ethernet cable and the connection from the Tait Radio to the Raspberry Pi. 

The Raspberry Pi will boot up and run the Pi-Star Software.

The software has to be configure with the Station parameters such as Call sign, DMR ID, frequency, Name of the controller, and the various modes in use with their appropriate servers filled in. 

A screen that appear like this is a good indication that all is connecting to the appropriate servers.
 
 .
The next task is to connect the STM32  Board to the Radio, ensure that a dummy load is connected to the radio. It is now possible to set up the audio levels on the STM32 Board from the radio to the controller and from the controller to the radio.

The setup is covered on an excellent video from >>HERE 

Further information covered >>HERE

Following a few minutes watching YouTube videos, the system was powered up and all the relevant LEDs were lighting. A DMR transmission was made on the Gateway frequencyand the pot (1) was turned clockwise until the clip LED (2) lit and then backed off until it extinguished.


This is the perfect setting for the DMR Levels. It is unnecessary to touch the Pots either side of the D connector. A call was put out on C4FM. I was daft enough to say I was seeking a signal report as I was setting up a gateway. Naturally no replys were forthcoming. Pressing the "X" button to activate the room selection resulted in an instantaneous reaction and a list of rooms appeared on the screen of the FT2D. CQ-UK was selected and a brief call was made resulting in excellent quality audio in both directions. D-Star could not be tested as the registration process was not completed but another 24 hours would see this happen.

The Radio was put into a purpose built unit with a cooling fan to prevent the radio from overheating with constant use. The Raspberry Pi and STM Board were mounted in an old Disk Drive case. which had a power supply built in to give 5v and 12v. Handy for powering the Pi and also the Cooling Fan. The Pi does tend to run hot so it was essential to keep the core temperature below 40 Degrees C.



Tuning up could have been faster if more attention was paid to the video on the Repeater Builder site. It was Rickie MI5DAW who clarified the sequence of events. It then only took 20 minutes to get the DMR peaked to perfection and 5 minuted to re-tweak C4FM and D-Star.

Some excellent QSOs were made on D-Star, DMR and C4FM.

The theoretical coverage the Multi-Mode Gateway is shown below:


The Roscommon area will be well covered by this system and this will,  indeed, encourage more to go on air. The Roscommon system will increase the Galway System's coverage.

So one week on, the EI2BED Multi-Mode Digital Gateway is working perfectly since a minor reduction of TX level on hte DMR side. Plenty of activity is noted coming through the Gateway although Paul, EI9HQB, seems to be the only operator in his area operating the system. You can lead a horse to water but ....... See a sample copy of activity from the dashboard below.


Final checks were performed on C4FM and all sounded well. D-Star was fine on installation but we had nobody to test in the Roscommon area. It was working very well on the bench so is presumed ok. All having been tested, the Gateway is now under the full control of Paul EI9HQB.

Should anyone travel to the Galway area they will find that the coverage does spill over into adjacent counties.                                  

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

EI7AKR Service Resumed Following Severe Storm

The Storm ravaging the country around the 17th of December took its toll on the EI7AKR Repeater installation. Not only the EI7AKR Repeater antenna but the equipment belonging to the Internet provider, who allows us to use his site. The pole supporting the Internet equipment, seen in the centre of the picture, came down completely damaging the larger panel antennas and also the smaller ones seen at the top of the mast. Martin, the site owner, sent out a mail with picures to show the damage to our system as below. So severe were the winds, that the guy wires had been ripped of both masts on the occasion.


EI5DD was in the UK and unable to do anything about this and so a mail was sent via the VHF Group Mailing system. The period leading up to Christmas is a bad time for anyone but, allowing for the festivities to take priority, a group was co-ordinated by Gerry, EI8DRB, tasked with the job of obtaining a new pole and reassembling the antenna system. 

Following a group E-mailing, a small group were brought together to repair the system on the 28th of December with an early start.


Fortunately there was little damage apart from the pole being severely bent and, if left, it would have collapsed destroying the antenna in the process.

The Repairs involved the removal of the APRS antenna, and the Repeater antenna, and substitution of the the pole for a new, heavy duty pole, and then hoisting the whole lot into the air.


As, can be seen on the photographs, the conditions on the hilltop were none to pleasant with very muddy conditions and a copious amount of cow sh*t underfoot. The weather conditions were also very cold and windy on site. Not pleasant working conditions to say the least.


The pole was finally placed upright and secured and guyed once again. Hopefully this will last throughout the winter. The repeater was switched on and normal service was resumed. Reports from Roscommon, by EI9HQB, confirmed that the signal was at normal strengths in his area proving that the antenna was working perfectly.


Finally Special thanks to Martin List-Petersen, Gerry EI8DRB, Andrew EI3FEB, and John EI1EM for their assistance at such short notice.

In keeping with our mission statement, we strive to keep our systems on air with minimum down time where possible. Our Repeater was out of Service for 10 days.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The C4FM Wires-X System

By accessing the local Wires-X Gateway on the dedicated system, EI2SHD, located in Lower Salthill or on the Galway Fusion Repeater, EI2TBR, it is possible to enjoy high-quality QSOs and news function including overseas stations via the Internet.


As shown above, there are numerous possibilities from a C4FM transceiver following a very simple access operation. Once initiated it is simple to navigate by following the on-screen instructions.

Using the C4FM transceiver, and accessible node can be found easily.

1) Press the "DX" key. This will send a search signal to the Wires-X Node

This will result in the Identity of the Node appearing on screen. A message "Search and Direct" will appear. Select that and then select all.

Scroll through the list of Nodes available and select the desired area. Next to the Node name in the list there will be a figure which denotes the number of Nodes connected to it. See Below


Select the Node from the list and wait for it to connect. 

Once the node is connected this screen will appear

It is possible to select news items from the screen or press back to place a general call and chat through the system.

So to summarise the following operations can be performed via a Wires-X Node on a Gateway or Via a Repeater fitted with a Wires-X system.


The News facility is fairly basic but nevertheless makes it possible to leave messages or general text items for others to view. It is further possible to upload pictures on this system.

A Node to which you connect may have one or many more Nodes connected to it in a similar fashion to D-Star or DMR Reflectors. Place a call into the Node and it will come out on many other systems connected.


There is always plenty of activity on CQ-UK and, after 9 pm, many Australian stations connect into the UK Node. Normally there are over 20 Nodes connected. America-Link has a huge number of Nodes connected at any one time and would be another good place to initiate a few calls.

The local Galway Fusion Repeater has Wires-X fitted and will allow plenty of scope to use the news and messaging facility between the two stations.

The Wires-X node consists of a Yaesu FTM100D and HRi200 modem. These are interfaced to a computer which runs the Wires-X node Software.


The Node Software runs continuously on the computer. The EI2SHD node is connected into CQ-UK which is further linked to between 19 and 30 other nodes depending on the time of day. Of particular interest is the link to XRF 925A which is a bridge to D-Star. This is also linked to a "Peanut" app which is an Internet radio system.

The screen of a Wires-X node is shown below


It is from this screen that the parameters of the Wires-X node can be set up. The purple bar indicates all the Nodes connected to CQ-UK and which the system is currently connected to. There are a wealth of Nodes that one can connect to located all over the world. America link probably holds the largest collection of Nodes and usually numbers around 110 Nodes. The ALLJA-CQ-Room tends to be the next most populated. CQ-UK tends to be the best Node for semi local contacts.

EI2TBR is connected to CQ-IRELAND which links to DMR TG2724 and is a good location for the occasional EI calls. If you are reading this from outside of Ireland do give a call on TG2724 or CQ-IRELAND if you would like to get an EI contact.

The EI2GCD Mulit-Mode Gateway runs C4FM and is linked to CQ IRL via the IRL Bridge which also links to Brandmeister TG 2724.

EI2SHD the Wires-X Gateway, located in Salthill, is linked to Wires-X Node CQ-UK, This is Node is quite active both day and night.

The Map below show locations of Wires-X Nodes in Ireland. Sadly this mode is under utilised to date. There are two private Wires-X Nodes showing on the map in Donegal and Kilkenny. There is a 70cm Repeater located on Woodcock Hill, Limerick but this has no connection into the Wires-X system. Multi-Mode Digital Repeaters in the Waterford area can run C4FM and have the facility to operate on the YSF or FCS system. If Programmed to YSF-IRELAND an output on CQ-IRELAND will be possible and if Programmed to FCS-004 it is possible to exit on CQ-UK.


For a more in depth view of the Wires-X system Click >>>Here<<<< for the manual.