Friday, November 16, 2018

Galway Digital Net


The Galway Digital Net, held on Monday evenings at 8:30pm, is an ideal way to allow both DMR and Fusion Operators to operate on one Net via the Bridging systems currently in place. 

DMR users can access using TG 2724, Yaesu Fusion Operators can link into the CQ-IRELAND Room (Node 41411), those using the DVmega or Shark RF OpenSpot can access via YSF-IRL. These are all linked together via Bridges. It is possible to link in via Echolink node 883269 or MI0AAZ-L this will cater for Analog users. 

From a Galway point of entry the following can be used. 

Galway DMR Repeater EI7RHD I/P 430.450 MHz O/P 439.450 MHz

TG2724 on Slot 2

Galway Multi mode Digital Gateway EI2GCD on 144.850 MHz

This Gateway defaults to YSF-IRL just transmit a Fusion signal in

Galway Wires-X Gateway EI2SHD on 144.8125 MHz

Press the X button to connect. The Gateway defaults to CQ-IRELAND this will appear on the transceiver's display.

The Galway Fusion Repeater I/P 145.025 MHz O/P 145.625 MHz

The Galway Fusion Repeater is, by default, linked into the CQ-IRELAND Node.


It is important to leave a three (3) second Gap between overs to allow the network components to reset. so "PLEASE MIND THE GAP". If this is not observed chaos will ultimately occur as the network drops overs and only parts of the conversation come through.

Secondly, Set Time-out timers to 180 secs (3mins) as network components all time-out after 3 mins and the rest of the over will be lost. 

This net facilitates great opportunity to ask questions about the network and its direction. An opportunity, also, to test the resources available and include all members of the digital fraternity on one system.

Here is the dashboard of the Gateway showing the call-ins on Monday the 18th of November 2018


A good turnout on this occasion.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Galway DMR Repeater Network Phase II and Phase III

Following the purchase of three Hytera  RD 985 Repeaters, it has been possible to establish a repeater in Galway City and to plan a network which will cover the County and spread into neighbouring Counties. With the help and assistance from the Shannon Basin Radio Club, we plan to establish a Repeater in the Roscommon area to provide additional coverage to the east of Galway and expand the network further afield.

Phase I

With the recent installation of the 70cms DMR Repeater and the 2 M Digital Gateway on the Western side of Galway City, Good coverage has been achieved throughout Galway City and a fair distance on the roads leading in and out of the City.



The coverage does actually conform well to the prediction map below.


Phase II

It is planned to replace the existing Analog Repeater, located at our site on Knockroe, Abbeyknockmoy with a Hytera RD 985 Repeater operating on both analog FM and DMR. This repeater has had very little use since it was installed but does saturate a huge area of Co. Galway. It has been reported that this repeater can be operated from the Galway side of the Raddison Blu Hotel, in Limerick, to Balla, Co. Mayo with a consistent signal. This is a major achievement for a UHF Repeater. The map below shows the predicted coverage from Abbeyknockmoy which will complement the Galway City Repeater



Phase III

Following a presentation covering Digital Radio, with a focus on DMR, the proposal to establish a Repeater in the Roscommon area was discussed. This would give operators in the Shannnon Basin Radio Club full access to the DMR network and expand our coverage area in the process. The predicted coverage of the Repeater from the proposed site is shown below.


Whilst there is overlap the coverage is extended further to the east which is very important. This will allow operators in the Roscommon to Ballinasloe area to operate into the DMR network.

It will be possible to implement a "Roaming " system allowing an operator to set up his transceiver to switch between Repeaters depending on the strength of the incoming signal. Some transceivers allow this type of operation. The alternative would be to set up a "Cluster" system where each repeater is linked together. 

The map below shows the results of combining the coverage of all three Repeaters.


All of this has been possible as a result of donations and from the running of a the IRTS weekend where we held a very successful Rally. This, and the fact that we were able to source the three Hytera RD 985 Repeaters for an excellent price, made it possible to pursue our ambition to get a network running in the West of Ireland. 

The Waterford area have two Repeaters and plan a third Repeater on air from Mount Leinster. They have excellent coverage and also a wide interest in DMR from their area. There are many operators in the Cork area and it will not be too long before the SIRN establishes a system closer to them. The ultimate area for the establishment of a DMR Repeater would be the Devil's Bit Mountain which has a terrific footprint.

We thank John Anderson MI0AAZ, Steve EI5DD, John EI8JA, Aengus EI4ABB, and The Shannon Basin Radio Club for their input and assistance with a proposal for their area. We also thank John Ronan EI7IG, the Sysop, of the Irish Brandmeister Network Server.

Further information and any assistance with DMR operation can be obtained from the Galway Digital Radio Group >> Click Here <<

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Galway VHF Group Projects Now Running on Site. Phase I Complete

On Sunday the 4th of November the Galway VHF Group Digital Repeater and Multimode Gateway became active from their new site on the western side of Galway City. Both systems had undergone testing prior to installation. The internet router seemed to be the only part of the system that may gave any major problems but after a lot of patience and TLC the system performed well. Both systems were set up on the Brandmeister Selfcare system allowing for basic remote control.

The components of the system were brought onto site at 11:30 am along with the Antenna systems and Mast. A 3 x 5/8 wave colinear antenna is used for the Repeater and a Folded Dipole for the 2m Multimode Gateway. The equipment for the Repeater and Gateway was installed in a Gator Case and it involved lifting the unit into the Hut with the connection of power and antenna feeders.


Joe, EI3IX, Tom, EI2GP, and Mark, EI6GUB, worked on the mountings for the mast and it was installed in record time. In the mean time, Steve worked on the 70cms colinear antenna and the 2m Dipole and associated feeders. Once the Brackets were in place the mast, with antennas fitted, was moved into position and secured.


The installation looked well and with the 2m Dipole antenna pointing in a North  Eatserly direction, we should see good coverage. A close up of the system is shown below. The Colinear is stated to have a gain of 11 dBd but is probably more like 9dBd.


The equipment was installed in the Gator Case and connected to the antenna system. The hut for the Equipment did not have a lot of room but was more than adequate to house the equipment. One had to wrestle with the Andrews Heliax and the Westflex 103. but with a bit effort and a few four letter words it finally seated nicely. Mark set up the mains connection while Steve EI5DD worked on the connection of the equipment.



With the Power connected, the router connected and the antennas in line everything switched on without a problem. A quick test with a handheld resulted in a contact via TG 2722 via TS 2.



Finally, the installation was tidied up and ready for testing. Everything was up and running by 1:45 pm. Remote access was possible via the internet allowing fine tuning of the settings on the Gateway Using the Brandmeister Dashboard, it was possible to remotely set up the Repeater.

The coverage of the 70cm Repeater is shown below. One Week in, reports indicate that the coverage shown on the map are fairly accurate.


Both DMR and Fusion work well on the Gateway and using the "X" button, it is possible to scroll through the various rooms from other countries. Although a little early, the DMR Repeater appears to be running well on national and international Talkgroups.

Special thanks to John, MI0AAZ , for his assistance with software and connectivity issues and Aengus, EI4ABB, for his help with the tuning of the Cavity filters.  

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Self Contained Digital Radio Mobile/Portable Go Kit

Invariably, it is necessary to head out on a mobile trip in a hurry. Piecing together a system for DMR operation in a hurry can be a nuisance. It is convenient to have everything in the one box and ready for operation. With this in mind, it was decided that a rapid deployment kit was the best option.

The perfect sized case, just right for purpose, was procured from the ailing Maplin store. The criteria was a self contained unit with its own power supply. As most systems run on 5 volts, it was easy enough to obtain a small lithium ion battery with sufficient capacity to last 2 days of continuous use. The simplest and easiest system was the Shark RF Openspot. A small Vodaphone "pebble" mobile data WiFi system was more than adequate. Any changes to the operating parameters could be made using a mobile phone or tablet through the WiFi network.

Unfortunately, the Openspot needs a direct Ethernet connection as opposed to the DVmega which operated direct from WiFi. The most practical way around this problem as the use of a mobile router from TPLink the TL-WR802N. Any mobile router would suit the task, but this particular system was small and tidy and better still fitted into the case. For good measure a spare handheld and battery filled the remaining space.


The Vodafone "pebble" is ideal and seldom drops out unless in a totally obscure environment. Once out of the range of a Repeater or Gateway, it is simple enough to switch over to the Hotspot Channels.

This system has been used in conjunction with the the UHF Motorola DM4600 system on long journeys and has given consistent results throughout the journey. As the infrastructure for DMR radio is only in its infancy, this is the ideal solution to mobile operation where DMR Repeaters are few and far between.

Operation on Yaesu Fusion is possible and requires an Android device to change the operation of the Openspot over to the Fusion System.

This system has proven itself on many occasions and is a vital part of the current mobile station.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Galway VHF Projects to go Live November 4th


Following rigorous bench testing, the Galway VHF Group Digital projects will be going live from their new site on the Western side of Galway City this weekend (4th November). The 70cm DMR repeater, EI7RHD, operates on 439.450 MHz O/P and 430.450 MHz I/P with a power output of 30 watts into a 9dB Gain Colinear antenna. The Multi mode Digital Gateway, EI2GCD, will initially run DMR and Yaesu Fusion on 144.850 MHz running 20 watts into a dipole antenna. There are facilities to add more digital modes such as D-Star and P25 should the need arise. The Galway Wires-X gateway, EI2SHD, operates on 144.8125 MHz and is operational from the Salthill area running 20 watts. This will facilitate experimentation with Wires-X networking in conjunction with the Galway Fusion Repeater EI2TBR. The operators in Galway would welcome any activity through the projects and would also welcome any reports to wrights1@eircom.net 

More details will follow :

NNNN 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

EI2SHD Wires-X Gateway




The Galway City Wires-X Gateway EI2SHD is now operational on a full time basis, using the frequency of 144.8125 MHz. The gateway was bench tested for several weeks to ensure that there were no software or hardware issues..

The Wires-X Gateway is made up of a Yaesu FTM100 Tranceiver, a HRI 200 Wires-X Modem, and a Wyse Thin Client Controller which is a Operating System with only the Wires-X program and a virus checker installed there-on. 


The Wyse Thin Client is approximately 8"x8"x1.5" and has 2 USB ports, a Video Port and Ethernet Port. A small flash Drive contains the operating system and the Wires-X program. This really is a better alternative to hanging up a Laptop or Desktop computer. This perfect for the task and the whole system does not occupy too much room.


Setting up the system is not complex. Firstly, the HRI200 has to be registered with Yaesu to obtain a User and Room ID. Once this has been obtained, loading the software and and set up is almost automatic after the Room and User I/D has been entered. All of the information seems to be downloaded from Yaesu as part of the installation process. Any other settings can be added as required. The Transceiver is programmed via the modem as in the frequency bandwidth and power levels.

It is necessary to set the port forwarding in the router and ensure that the Firewall allows the program to connect to the outside world. Once this is in place it is possible to communicate with the outside world. If there are any headaches, it is during the setting up of the Router and ensuring that the Firewall is allowing the program to communicate. 

Access to the programming is via the program Tight VNC, having established the IP address of the system. Once the system is up and running the following Screen will appear.


This is the console of the Wires-X system and from here a permanent link can be established another system such as CQ-IRL where many other systems may also be added. All functions of the Wires-X  Node are controlled from this location.   In the ideal world all systems in Ireland would link to CQ-IRL. Anyone linking to CQ IRL would be able to come out on all systems linked into CQ-IRL. The small blocks in the purple box are Nodes Connected into the CQ-UK system. If one transmits into this node all of the stations in that box will hear the activity. Unfortunately this is not the case in Ireland as only the Galway systems seem willing to network.

Should any power outage occur, the system will automatically boot up into the saved settings. It just remains to install the most recent version of the Wires-X software once it has proven itself to be stable.

As Galway has a 50/50 number operating DMR and Fusion it is possible to use a bi-directional bridge set up by John MI0AAZ, between TG2724 on DMR to CQ-IRL. The Local Fusion Repeater is also connected to CQ-Ireland so it should be beneficial to all of the Amateur Community. There will also be an Allstar bridge connected to CQ-Ireland which will facilitate cross connection from Teamspeak 3 internet Radio on the Worldhub.

In conclusion, the facilities planned for Galway are finally bearing fruit and this will hopefully bring some real activity to the City if everyone makes the effort to operate their equipment. If they don't, the facilities available will allow those who are active to connect to users in other countries where there may be greater numbers on the air.

See Also -  EI7RHD DMR Repeater and EI2GCD Multimode Gateway

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Getting Ready for Action on Digital Radio



After rigorous testing, the Galway DMR Repeater, on 70cms, and the 2 Metre Multi mode Digital Gateway are ready for re-siting to their high spot on the west side of the City in the first week of November 2018. 

The Gateway was placed under test last November, 2017, and has withstood 24 hour operation since without any software crashes. The Gateway has operated on Yaesu Fusion and DMR although there is a possibility of D-Star and P25 further down the road.

The 70cm DMR Repeater was procured in May and has undergone tests throughout June but was off air due to the EI5DD annual holiday to the UK. The repeater is now back on air as of mid September with a review of Parameters and is undergoing a soak test until it is ready to go on site. The antenna system will be a vertical co-linear for the 70cm repeater and a folded dipole for the 2 metre Gateway.

Aengus, EI4ABB, kindly tuned up the cavity filter shown below in situ. Due to the 50% duty cycle of a DMR transmission the Procom filter is not subjected to too much heating from the transmission. This in turn does not cause drift making life much easier than on an analog system with full duty cycle which generally renders this type of cavity filter unsuitable.


In amongst the items collected over the years, a fine ABS case, just the perfect size to house the equipment was found.  EI3IS, made a shelving unit suitable to accommodate the gateway with a fan underneath to cool the Motorola GM 350 transceiver for the Gateway. 


A seen above,  this is is nice and compact and saves a lot of carrying around. There is adequate cooling on the heatsink of the repeater and operation at 40 watts will not stress the P.A. The Gateway will run at 20 watts on 2 metres on both DMR and Fusion. 

The Gateway operates on Slot 2, colour Code 1 and the EI Talk Groups 2722 and 2723 are static which means any activity on either channel will be retransmitted.

The Repeater will work on both Slot 1 and Slot 2, Colour Code 1. Both time slots can operate independently and simultaneously. Effectively this is two repeaters operating from the same box so becomes great value for money.

Both systems will be connected via Ethernet cable to a Three Mobile 4G Router which is more than adequate for the amount of data usage. 

Full control of the Gateway is possible through a remote connection and it is even possible to update the pi-star software by this means. 

The repeater power is controlled by a GSM switch, see below, to power it on or off in the event of any hang up or failure. On switch on. the Repeater will automatically re-boot. So far it has not been necessary to do a reset. 


Whilst DMR and digital radio is in its infancy in Ireland, it is necessary to get the infrastructure up and running to facilitate newcomers to the hobby. Galway currently has ten operators with DMR equipment and eleven Yaesu Fusion operators. Hopefully there will be more interest with the new facilities available. 

A second DMR Repeater has been procured to be located in the middle of County Galway which will considerably enhance the total DMR coverage in both the County and neighbouring counties. The facility to roam between the footprints of both repeaters will be possible allowing seemless operation between both. 

There are currently two DMR repeaters in the Waterford area with the possibility of a third in the near future. Galway will eventually have two. There are applications for a DMR repeater in hte Mullingar area, Dublin and possibly Dundalk.
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The Mayo area will be setting up several low lying installations on air to cover a wide area of their county so the West of Ireland will see plenty of activity  over the next year.

Note that TG 2724 is linked from DMR to Yaesu Fusion so those wh o do not have Fusion equipment can access the DMR system and those on DMR will be able to communicate with Fusion users. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Radiotone RT4 Handheld

The Radiotone RT4 is the most recent internet radio available from Martin Lynch & Sons. It is basically an Android Phone with a PTT button on the left hand side and a Motorola style speaker microphone socket on the right hand side. It comes with a 4,200 mAH battery which gives it a good operating period with each charge. 


Accessories include a Speaker Mic, and a charging cradle which can be stuck to the windscreen using a suction mount. The suction mount is large and well able to support the radio.
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Some say that this radio resembles a Motorola handheld radio, however, this comparison is like a silk purse and a sow’s ear and total poppycock. Whilst the case is relatively tough, it would not stand up to the abuse of being dropped or knocked about and it is an unnecessarily big old Hector of a radio. The volume control feels cheap in comparison to many of the Chinese DMR handhelds as does the casing. Tytera radios have a much better feel by comparison both on the controls and their casings. If the word Motorola had never been used it would not have arisen in this review.

As a mobile phone and for data usage, the RT4 is open and can connect to any network. It sounds good and has a loud ring. As a mobile phone it ticks all the boxes. There is even a front and rear pointing camera.

The battery has a reasonable charge when taken out of the box. A small stubby antenna is included but this for GPS reception and has no part in cellular reception. A SIM card with data facilities is required to set up the communications via Internet.

On switch on the RT4 goes through a start up of the Android system. A few Apps are installed already such as Zello, WattsApp, YouTube, which can be uninstalled. Apps such as Echolink for Android, Teamspeak 3, and APRSdroid are useful and there is ample space for them and a few more if necessary.

As with the Inrico TM-7, it is necessary to register with the International Radio Network. Once the network key has been issued,  it is a simple procedure to set up and activate the network. Echolink requires a copy of the licence to be submitted before access to the Echolink network. APRS does occasionally require a copy of the licence before it can be activated. The APRSdroid program requires a minor payment to download but this will not break the bank.

The recent versions of Zello seem to launch if the PTT is depressed in EchoLink or Teamspeak 3 operation. Zello is more of a general purpose program for communication so it is best to dispense with it if not really required. It is possible to use the RT4 as a portable hotspot which may be of use whilst out in the field.

The audio on transmit and receive is clear and crisp and operation of the radio is no different to the use of any other handheld once established in a chat room.

As one can use a mobile phone SIM with data, it is possible to use the RT4 as a mobile WiFi hotspot which makes  it a useful tool when out in the field. Perhaps for use with a tablet or better still to provide internet for a mobile Digital Hotspot.

So what are the advantages?

Internet radio is not dependent on line of sight or a repeater, or enhanced propagation for reliable communications. The communications are not impaired by QRM, Contest Operators or those who like to tune up on top of others. Basically it is a gentlemen’s operating system as there are no hassles. Abusers are transferred to the "naughty room" for their transgressions. They can exit  this room but if they should find themselves in there on a frequent basis they will be removed and barred altogether.

It is possible to link into hubs with Repeaters, EchoLink, and Digital modes of operation which are connected to a common group area on Teamspeak. These areas include the UK Hub, the Scotland Ireland Hub and there is also a London Area Hub to mention but a few as there are many more. This ensures plenty of activity most hours of the day. There are other Networks to join, each of which have many group contacts. The International Radio Network hosts many groups and always quite lively. A More recent network is the World Hub which is currently under development. There will be a Scottish Irish Group and a London South East Group amongst others. Early tests have given good results with clear audio. This network will be in full operation by August 2018 and will be linked into many Amateur Networks.


This is a shot of the screen of the RT4 using Teamspeak. Generally one is directed to the welcome channel once linked onto the International Radio Network. Once membership is approved, it is possible to join any of the other channels available. To join a group one just has to touch the screen over the group name or, better still, use a stylus as used on an Android Tablet. Your call sign will appear in the group as a result. Indeed the screen is a tad small to manipulate with the end of a finger unless under 2 years  old. Use a stylus if you have difficulty.

The only disadvantage is that if the cellular network should go down or cellular reception is poor then communication is no longer possible. 

Some say that this is not amateur radio, well perhaps not in the strictest sense but try it first and see what you think. Certainly it is not utilizing amateur frequencies although a license is required to use the amateur facilities in Teamspeak 3. One does communicate in the same way as an Amateur so therefore can be likened to Amateur Radio. Who really cares; it has a place in communications. Would one poo poo a marine radio just because it is not operating on an Amateur Frequency? If you are a Radio Operator you would operate this system as a Radio Operator.

Of course, there are many Amateurs who would forget their pathway into the hobby. It is generally these guys who are the first to jump up with the cry of “it is not real radio”. Get a life lads! Many Radio Amateurs work DX following cluster entries. They are not really working it as somebody is telling them where to look. Surely the fun is in the hunt. A proportion of Radio Amateurs are black box operators and haven’t a clue what’s in the box, or how it works, so this system is ideal for them. Amateur Radio has deteriorated over the years so please do not sneer at new ideas. Incorporating new technology is what we do as Radio Amateurs. This surely can’t be as bad as FT8 operation where it is possible to work DXCC whilst reading a Dan Brown book as the computer does all the operating and communicating. How interesting can it get?

Aside from the amateur radio aspect of this radio, if fitted with Zello, there are a lot of possibilities to keep in touch with family members all over the world who can all link into one talk area. Teamspeak 3 has many areas where one can set up a temporary private room for chats. These are private as there is a requirement for a password to get into them. Bear in mind that probably the younger generation have been communicating over this type of system with group chats whilst playing World of Warcraft and many other team games.

In conclusion, there is a wealth of communications opportunities that can be exploited via this system with Amateur Radio being only one of them. If one was operating a Taxi Radio, Marine Radio, or any other RF Radio, they would not give a second thought to operating using correct radio procedure. Why would this be any different? It is a practical system to use and will keep one in touch with other operators. The RT4 would complement the Inrico TM-7 system described earlier on this site.





Click HERE for more information on the International Radio Network







 Click HERE for more information about the World Hub

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Anytone AT-D868-UV

The Anytone AT-D868-UV is a VHF and UHF hand held radio with both Digital DMR Tier I and Tier II and Analog capabilities. It offers a total of 4,000 channels (Analog and Digital), 10,000 Digital Talk Groups and up to 150,000 contacts, as well as multiple DMR ID numbers for a single radio. Retailing at £139.95 from Martin Lynch, the AT-D868-UV is extremely good value for money.


The radio comes with a short stubby dual band antenna and a charging cradle. The short antenna is adequate for normal use but the use of a longer 40cm Diamond SRH-771VHF/UHF Handheld Antenna is much more practical.

The AT-D868-UV is easy to program and a Word document is available on-line which is easy to follow. The Anytone codeplug is slightly different to other units to program but it does not take long to get used to it. The code plug program is easy enough to use  but it does differ from the Tytera and Motorola approach. The first few entries did take time as the program was a little unfamiliar but, after the first ten had been programed it was easy to get into the order and rhythm of the program.

Starting from scratch, the Talk Groups are programmed in first.



It is necessary to type in the number of the TalkGroup, Give it a name and also define the type of call which in most cases will be a Group Call.

Setting up the Channels and defining mode and frequency is the next task using the screen below:


As with most CPS programming the Channel Name, the Channel Mode and the frequency is required. If Analog modes are used it is possible to define the squelch type and tones required. 

With DMR channels it is necessary match the channel name with the Digital contact or TalkGroup, set the colour code and TX permit. This rig also requires the Radio ID to be defined for each contact. It does default to the first on the list so it is not a problem. It is however possible to define the ID of the radio for specific channels. If you are on holiday this may be a useful facility.

Lastly the zone has to be defined and appropriate channels assigned to it.


The creation of a Zone and the addition of channels is a simple task and much like any other radio.

Whilst not really required, a Scan List and/or a Receive Group List may be created if the listening to or monitoring of multiple channels is required. 

The radio has been put through it paces and the first thing to note is the good quality of audio from it. Secondly, the receive side is sensitive on both DMR an Analog Channels. The first test was with the 70 cm GB7NS Repeater located in Caterham and some 8 miles from the G4GFC QTH. The path was not line of sight and there were many obstructions in the path as the G4GFC QTH is surrounded by woodland. It was possible to access the Repeater using low power and a good report was received. Using the Diamond SRH-771 antenna resulted in an increase in received signal. GB7EP and GB7AK located at Epsom and Barking, north London were not workable, however, walking to a higher location would have made this possible. The G4GFC QTH is located behind hills in the direction of GB7EP and GB7AK. GB7AK would undoubtedly be the repeater of choice whilst pedestrian mobile in London by virtue of its location.
 

The stubby antenna does not really do the radio any favours, but, the addition of a longer antenna such as the Diamond SRH-771VHF/UHF Handheld Antenna is a vast improvement. This a matter of taste really as the longer antenna gets in the way but it is far more efficient. It is really down to the type of work you wish to use the radio for at the end of the day. There is no doubt that the existing antenna will work from point to point over a clear path and from high ground the longer antenna will undoubtedly prove its worth.

The radio has a high quality plastic case and it does not feel as though it will fall apart if accidentally dropped. 

The battery capacity is excellent at 3100 mAH for normal use. Obviously constant use at 5 - 7 Watts will reduce the battery life before needing a charge. 

As a dual bander, this radio would definitely be my first choice as it ticks more than most of the boxes and well worth the money. The code plug software is easy enough to use although it is slightly different to its competitors

A Code plug for this radio can be found on the Galway VHF Group Facebook Page.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Galway Regatta 2018



The 135th Galway Regatta, organised by the Galway Rowing Club, was held on Sunday 17th June on the Menlo Straight on the River Corrib. Over 180 crews representing clubs participated including Athlone, Colaiste Iognaid, CCRC, Galway, Grainne Mhaol, Shannon, St. Joseph’s College, Tribesmen,  Lady Elizabeth BC and Lagan Scullers Club will race in Masters and Junior events, many of whom were gearing up for one of the biggest domestic events of the year, Cork Regatta at the National Rowing Centre, the following weekend. The Galway Regatta took place on a 700-metre, 3-lane “sprint” course, with races run from 9am Sunday morning until after 5pm that evening.


Tom EI2GP was at the start line with Enda EI3IS on the slips and Steve EI5DD at the finish line in the Secretary's station / Control Centre. 

DMR radio was used for the entire operation and proved its worth with very clear and crisp audio even at low power levels. Another advantage of DMR is the longer battery life which was apparent as the day wore on.

The races were started in the order as listed on the race timetable. Tom EI2GP would confirm the crews in the race and would call when the race was started passing information about crews,lane changes and the umpire with the race to ensure that crew were correctly identified at the finish line.


As the crews came over the finish line, Steve EI5DD would confirm the winning crew and pass information about the crew's place in the semi final or final.  Constant updates were made during the race. 


Enda, EI3IS, was located at the slips and was able to ascertain whether crew were on the water and heading to the start line. This was particularly helpful if there were any delays so that the race could be held until the crews arrived at the start line.


If there were any crews missing for a race it was possible to get them on the water quickly after consultation with Enda, EI3IS, on the slips. Some crews may decide not to participate at the last minute so this information was also transmitted to avoid any delays.

This year there was only a light breeze which made life easier. If there were any incidents on the river it was possible to summon help over the radio system. Civil Defence were present if there were any injuries.

As a result of the good weather, the races managed to run on time although this did put pressure on crews to make it to the start line on time to avoid disqualification.

As often happens during the races, it is necessary to change the times of the races to facilitate those crews which need to participate in several races. This is quickly rectified by communication with the start line where a new order can be imposed. 

A constant flow of information has to be transmitted that messages have to be passed with minimal chit chat or delays. Tom, Steve, and Enda have been running this event for the majority of years since the 1980s so it it is well practiced. 

Detailed logs are kept and in the unlikely event of the computer crashing, it is possible to recover the information transmitted and times of races. Thankfully this has only ever happened once in our time. We were able to piece the finals together during the lunch break and transmit them to the start line.

Nowadays, the participants for the finals are written in on the race program by the radio operator as well as entered on the computer by the Secretary each time the races finish which saves a lot of time later in the day. Immediately after the the race is finished this information is transmitted to the start line. This gives us a little more time to relax in the lunch break.

Whilst this is a very busy day with non stop operation, it is one of our favourite events as the operation is flawless and the team works well together as the activity is well practiced. Each transmission is short and to the point. No radioese or irrelevant chat creeps in on this event as messages have to be short and snappy to keep the timetable on track.

DMR or Fusion work well on this event so either may be used on future operations. DMR is preferable as the battery capacity is greater due to the half duty cycle nature of DMR transmission with consequent increase of battery life - no need to carry spares!

Castlebar 4 days Walking Festival 2018




Steve EI5DD and Tom EI2GP assisted with the communications for the 30 Km rambles from the 28th June to the 1st of July. The marshals of the ramble were supplied with PMR radios and they communicate amongst themselves and with those at ground level providing support. Tom, EI2GP,  assisted with the marshalling of the ramble whilst Steve EI5DD was in a support vehicle at ground level.


For the last 25 years members of the Galway VHF Group have assisted with this event. The Marshals on the ramble have operated PMR systems over this period of time and have become seasoned radio users. The amateur radio presence is to provide a back up should an emergency arise. The logistics of support to bring any casualty down from the hill are dealt with via the amateur radio links thus leaving the marshals to continue with the walk.

There were a number of crossings on a busy road in the Mulranny area and co-ordinating with the marshals, it was possible to advise when the road was going to be clear for a crossing to be made. It is impressive to see how well the radios are operated under the circumstances.


The map above shows the areas covered according to APRS.FI  over 5 days including the transit from Galway. The cell signal was good most of the time so the TM-7 was able to resister the points along the distance of travel. There were two trips out along the Newport road, with one close to Crossmolina, and on the last day there was a loop around the immediate Castlebar area.

Rambles were located close to Newport, in Mulranney, on Achill Island and the last day in Castlebar. The scenery on these walks is only magnificent and of course always looks a hundred percent better in excellent weather conditions.


Twenty five Taiwanese walkers participated in the 4 Days walks. They were always in great humour. They never complained about the heat. Their hats were just the job to keep the sun of the back of the neck.


There were participants from 28 different countries with many returning on an annual basis. Four busses were required to ferry the walkers to their rambles. One thing that is very noticeable is the camaraderie between the participants from all nations. New walkers are very quickly given plenty of encouragement and many new friendships are made on the hillsides. 

Both DMR and Yaesu fusion were tested on the amateur radio side of the operation. Naturally these worked well between the operator on the hill and ground level. The support team were never too far away. It is possible that we may acquire DMR licence free sets for operation on the walks by the marshals in future events.
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John Cresham - one of the support team at ground level taking a well earned tea break

The weather was extremely hot, with the tar melting off the road surface. On the first day of walking there was only one walker experiencing dehydration as a result of the hot weather. It was essential that adequate water was carried into the hills. The following 3 days experienced no major problems apart from one who slipped and suffered a few minor scratches.


Pictured above is a good friend Bert Oderkerken ex Dutch Army who turns up every year and has become an honorary marshal - he operates a Radio as a sweeper. A really good radio operator. Bert is dedicated walker who has walked at almost all of the International walks.




 Some excellent scenery experienced during the 4 days walks

At the end of the fourth day, medals were presented to those qualifying for International Marching League Awards and those qualifying for Castlebar Awards.  Following the presentations, a dinner was held followed by a "blisters ball". This is well attended and a group "Brown Sugar", consisting of two walkers, play some excellent music for the evening to conclude the Four Day walks. A great night for the fair wells and plans for next year.

Special thanks to the Castlebar International Four Days walks for the pictures used in this article.