So it’s been “a while” since I fired up my DMR set. Mostly due to certain disagreements that the mode has attracted (everybody has a view, nobody can agree!) I lost interest. Very quickly!
I’ve had a bit of time recently to dip my toes back into the mode and so much has changed! What follows are my personal opinions formed after scratching the surface – it may not represent the whole story, but it’s the impression I get.
My starting point (as always) was the web. Previously active websites useful for information are now quiet and have scant (stale) details of the networks. I left the plethora of Facebook groups and forums I had joined when I lost interest; there were too many claiming to be “in the know” or gave the impression they were influential in the development of such and such a network. It was hard to keep up or know who was legit and who was bigging themselves up.
Eventually I found the up-to-date info by going straight to the horse’s mouth (or mouths in this case). Unfortunately it would seem the aforementioned differences are still evident, but boy have things moved on – maybe not all for the best!
DMR-UK (DMR-MARC) is now “The Phoenix Network” (in the UK at least). DMRPlus is now “Brandmeister” (or to be more accurate, a breakaway splinter from what I can tell!) The SW Cluster is still there, but there is now another independent group called “The Salop Network”, both connected in small, local clusters of repeaters with no national or international affiliation or connections. There are even hotspot dongles available, able to connect to the DMRPlus and Brandmeister networks (but never the twain shall meet!) Hell, you can even connect to the Brandmeister network through D-STAR (kind of, in a limited way!)
There have been “defections” of repeaters from one network to the another (OK, so Phoenix to Brandmeister) thanks to some ingenious wiggly-amps that allow Motorola repeaters to connect to the DMRPlus or Brandmeister networks which are primarily based around Hytera hardware.
You have to ask yourself what’s going on? Children, can’t we have a single playground where we can all get along together?
I understand DMR-MARC’s stance of “Motorola to the death” which is surely going to be their undoing? In contrast, the innovation that the DMRPlus and Brandmeister networks allow is more in keeping with the Amateur Radio ethos and this is what will see these networks prevail. Who knows, maybe the latter two networks will amalgamate into one again – if they can sort their (perceived) differences out?
In the meantime, I am slowly getting my head around how to best re-programme my radio and re-writing the codeplug to cater for the changes that have occurred in my extended absence from the mode – it’s been two days so far!