If one were to take the story at face value, over the new year holiday, the Board of Directors of AllStarLink sabotaged their own network by instituting a new server infrastructure to replace one that had existed for some time.
According to a statement issued today by Stacy (KG7QIN), “The groundwork was laid for what was to become PTTLink on 29 December 2020 after the unannounced and uncoordinated actions taken by the AllStarLink Board of Directors. At approximately 5:00 pm Pacific (0100 UTC, 30 December), the admin committee became aware of multiple catastrophic system outages. Attempts to login to systems to remediate were presented with new IP addresses and messages that the host keys were unknown. Further investigation revealed that the DNS zone record was updated at the registrar for allstarlink.org moving it from the long time home of caustic-sea.allstarlink.org to Cloudflare. In addition, an investigation into the IP addresses being presented revealed that they belonged to Google. (For more information on the AllStarLink admin committee visit: https://wiki.allstarlink.org/wiki/Admin_Committee). Since the admin team was not previously granted access to the DNS control panel, it was unknown at this time if this was the board, or a bad actor.”
The histrionics have been going on back and forth on the app_rpt mailing list for a few days, but this much is clear. There are now two app_rpt based networks to choose from, AllStarLink and PTTLink.
Who is right, who is wrong? From my read, the Board of Directors wanted to regain control over what they viewed as their network. Seems reasonable. From my read, they also acted in typical corporate fashion to quash any kind of dissent over their actions. In other words, not so reasonable.
But what do I know? Just like the Brandmeister vs. TGIF wars that have since calmed down, here’s hoping that these two networks will one day smoke the peace pipe, learn to get along, and interconnect. In the meantime, you can following the bouncing ball as each side lobs it at the other.
Thanks to Kenny (K2ZZ) for adding TG31340 to his Hoboken (448.275 CC3) and Elizabeth (449.925 CC3) repeaters. This definitely fills in some holes in our mobile coverage for the DMR ops. You’ll find us on Timeslot 2.
From my home location in Aberdeen (Northern Monmouth County), I have HT coverage from indoors on the 2nd floor. So give it a try and be sure to send your thanks to K2ZZ if you run into him on the air. This is a nice addition to our network capabilities.
In an effort to prevent hijacking of DMR IDs by unauthorized users, the USA Brandmeister team is rolling out Hotspot Security as a requirement. This will begin on November 30, 2020…but don’t wait. It will take a few minutes of reading and effort on your part to get it setup, but the entire DMR community benefits by restricting the network to authorized users only.
Hotspot Security establishes as password that all of your hotspots will use to logon to the Brandmeister DMR Master Server. This is different from the password that you use to logon to Brandmeister Self Care.
They’ve put together an excellent explanation of how to setup this up on the OpenSpot, Pi-Star and BlueDV platforms.
Some AllStarLink sysops have expressed the desire to build an AllStarLink system on a modern Debian operating system. I took the time to document a working build process for the 020 Digital Multiprotocol Network and then Scott <KB2EAR> volunteered to create a shell script to automate the process. We are happy to share our work with the amateur radio community.
Please note that this process currently works only on the x86 architecture. It fails on a Raspberry Pi OS Buster system.
Hopefully this effort will fulfill a need for others in the AllStarLink community.
A comprehensive introduction to DMR is available to hams at no cost, thanks to the efforts of John Burningham <W2XAB>. His “Amateur Radio Guide to Digital Mobile Radio” won the 2016 Technical Achievement Award at Dayton Hamvention and the second edition was published in 2019. Even if you think you know how DMR works, this guide is full of useful information.
If your view of DMR is limited to the perspective of Pi-Star and Brandmeister or TGIF, this free book tells the rest of the story in its 27 pages. It is an easy read and will enhance your DMR knowledge.
I recently spoke with a fellow who was trying to use his hotspot on a frequency around 438 MHz. He wasn’t having much luck and with good reason. The MMDVM firmware blocks usage on all frequencies between 435 and 438 MHz. The block was implemented because 435-438 MHz is a suband used by the amateur satellite service and some amateurs noticed an increase of terrestrial interference with satellite communications.
Another ham that I spoke to is using a hotspot frequency that is also the input of several coordinated repeaters in my area. This is also not a good idea as it can also create interference, especially when operating a hotspot while mobile.
Here is my list of recommended simplex hotspot frequencies that is not likely to cause interference to other operators, repeaters, or satellites:
Most hams seem to set the admit criteria on their radios to Always for use with simplex hotspots. I strongly recommend that you use Channel Free instead to reduce the possibility of doubling.
Please wait one second after pressing PTT before speaking and wait one second after speaking to release PTT. This will ensure that there is no clipping of your first or last words.
All users of the 020 Network connections are required to have both a DMR ID and to be registered on the D-Star Gateway. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own a radio of that protocol. We are a multiprotocol system and by registering on both DMR and D-Star you are doing what needs to be done to be heard across all network connections.
Last August, I presented a solution for the “lost transmission” syndrome when using an MMDVM duplex hotspot. Several members of the 020 Digital Multiprotocol Group and I remain dissatisfied with our overall user experience. Granted, fewer transmissions are being lost than at first, but overall the number of transmissions during a longer QSO that fail to properly negotiate with the hotspot are higher than we’d like.
Earlier this week, 020 member Scott <KB2EAR> did some further digging and came up with aditional ideas found on the interwebs. I’ve taken these recommendations, added some others, and tested extensively. Here is my new set of recommendations for MMDVM duplex hotspot reliability when using DMR. This supersedes my article from August 29, 2019.
1) Update to the latest firmware.
2) Run the MMDVMcal procedure to minimize the BER
3) Set the MMDVMHost modem TXDelay=50
4) Set the MMDVMHost modem DMRTXLevel=55
5) Set the MMDVMHost DMR TXHang = 20
6) Turn off any mode other than DMR to avoid protocol scanning negotiation
I withdraw my earlier recommendation to reduce the DMR preamble. After much consideration, it seems to be unnecessary, with no clear benefit.
So far, using these setting on 2 different N5BOC duplex hotspots have yielded excellent results and reliability. Negotiation failures are now the rare exception. Tests were conducted with an Alinco DJ-MD5, a TYT MD-380, a CS-700 and a Hytera PD-365. Give these settings a try and let me know how they work for you.