What’s going on with DMR?!

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!

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7 thoughts on “What’s going on with DMR?!

  1. That’s my point and the reason I dislike all Digital Voice, it’s either your voice doesn’t fit so your not allowed on, or your names not down your not coming in attitude.
    I wasn’t a fan of Echolink either, coming from an old skool background of “Radio should be pure RF, not jacked over the internet” I’ve noticed that some of the repeater users are so far up their own butts, and the amount of clicky groups on there it’s something I definitely wouldn’t recommend. The while system needs to be more open source, and have backward compatibility, else in my eyes the system just won’t live for much longer.

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  2. The above are some of the reasons why I have avoided the DMR, D-STAR and System Fusion (C4FM) modes. Surely it would make sense for all manufacturers to have a common algorithm so all digi-FM modes could be used together – it’s almost like saying that SSB on an ICOM can’t communicate with SSB on a Yaesu or Kenwood……

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  3. i liked dmr i found it good helpful and a good shop in nrth west london sold me greath stuff until a small number of people tried a coup , and took over the whole network , made changes that many people did not like and when you try to compliant you get so much childish moaning that it makes you think why , until someone whos got the hobbys interest at heart instead of power trips it will not move forward

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  4. Tony: Great article and you nailed it right on the head. Things are progressing, but it’s interesting to see all the fragmentation in the DMR of things and how each of the operators want to run their own little kingdom. I realize it’s hard to keep things structured, but some structure is better than a huge fragmentation in the network, not to mention the CONFUSION it causes the users of the system and eventually put the ham back into hiding.

    To address David’s comment, while allot of DMR Networks do rely heavily on the Internet for linking not all DMR group are this way. Our primary goal here at Mountain West is to ensure the network has 100% availability even if the lights or Internet go out. To accomplish this the core Mountain West network of repeaters (currently 8) are 100% Internet independent. Yes, we do pull feeds in from other c-Bridges via the Internet, Yes, we do allow some distant (non-core) repeaters to be linked in via the Internet, Yes, we encourage experimentation, but the core even should the Internet go out will still run without any hiccups.

    So a little about our DMR network setup her at Mountain West DMR Group. Currently our core DMR network is comprised of 8 repeaters as I mentioned above, some with different owners (diversified) and operated independently. Most carry the same talk groups so our users will not be confused about what repeater carries which talkgroup, but there are a few repeater owners who carry extra talkgroups or have different linking options. Our c-Bridge currently offers over 30 talkgroups and our c-Bridge admin team have good relations with most other c-Bridge admins. While navigating the DMR admin side of things can be quite challenging we have figured out to play nice with everyone and share our knowledge collectively. Huge kudos goes out to Mark Ward N6IB our lead c-Brdige admin/repeater owner and Eric Ott N6VYT network admin/repeater owner who have all done tremendous work on the network here in the Central San Joaquin Valley.

    Our c-Bridge network is operated with the explicate understanding that we do allow “Thinking Outside of the Box” and we don’t tie anyone into a “cookie cutter” configuration. Further if a repeater owner/club wants a talkgroup that we do not carry locally, on our c-Bridge the admin team will work with the originating c-Bridge admins and do our best to offer/carry the requested talkgroup. This way the repeater owners/club’s are not forced to re-home their repeater to the originating c-Brdige which some c-Bridge admins require.

    I’ll never understand why people can’t just get along, but I guess it’s just how things are in the crazy world we live in. This type of “Small Man” syndrome in the Amateur Radio community has been going on many many many years and I’m sure it will never come to an end. However, I’m a firm believer in what goes around, comes around and that’s why we make it our goal every day to be as open with our network as we can and further the “tinkering” side of each and every ham that is apart of our network.

    Ted G. Freitas/KE6YJC
    Mountain West DMR – http://www.mountainwestdmr.org

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  5. Good article.
    Yes there are a lot of views, I had one of my own where I asked them to make only 2 Talkgroups per repeater and make ALL TG’s on all repeaters the same, regardless where you are. Also make all frequencies and colorcodes the same if possible.
    In such a way that you can make a VFO-programming and travel all over the world using your device without the need of reprogramming.
    Connect repeaters via reflectors only and ditch all other crap.
    Sadly a bunch of kids took over and made into an unusable system with the need of programming for all repeaters and millions of TG’s, so many that people simply can’t hear of find each other.
    They made it a useless complex system, impossible to use and impossible to keep up or use without Internet access.
    TG’s should never have been allowed at all, it killed it. Such a shame for devices that had big promises….for all of us.

    Maybe one day they will understand that it will only work if people can switch on their device and it simply works.
    The same mistake was made with CTCSS, it makes that you can’t take a radio and use it, also resulting that repeaters are dead and left unused except by a few locals.
    Last time I went on holiday in Austria, tried my pre-programmed porto, to find I had it programmed with old data, ergo it was useless.
    Lesson learned, no more VHF-UHF with me on travels, just HF as it works and it works ALLWAYS!

    Greetings all from Belgium,

    Bas – ON5HB.

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  6. You said…..
    “I understand DMR-MARC’s stance of “Motorola to the death” which is surely going to be their undoing?”
    It’s more likely gonna be THEIR DEATH rather than their “Undoing”
    VoIP went through THE SAME EXACT thing as the “Mouths” of IRLP (Pretty much ??) said “RF links ONLY – OR BUST !!”

    Look what ECHOLINK is doing to it…..

    I’d go on as there are MANY examples of this in Ham Radio but you get the idea 🙂

    WHY ON EARTH so-called “Hams” insist on DRIVING DOWN THE SAME ROAD is beyond me. They ALREADY what’s on the the OTHER side / end. NOTHING will gonna change just because they’re taking YET ANOTHER trip. But alas…..Just goes to show how STUPID some people are…..

    Just my (NOT SO humble ??) opinion…..

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    1. Agreed, Pat. This is why in the time since I wrote this blog entry, Brandmeister has surpassed all competition and grown to be one of the larger (if not the largest) player in the ham DMR game.

      What is interesting is the interlinking between modes that is possible with the more open-minded networks. XLX is coming on fast having added DMR capability and cross-encoding from D-STAR.

      Interesting times …

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