Embracing the Open Source Lifestyle in Amateur Radio

I have been a Linux user and fan for approximately fourteen years. Not quite as long as being radio operator. I do believe in the open source way and that flows into my radio life also. I got into DMR about six month ago. I LOVE it. It is growing as more-and-more ham embrace and learn about it. It is great.

Fusion is OK. I think Yaesu screwed the pooch on the delivery of their promises, but it exist, and I also think that most of those that bought into C4FM Fusion, have already bought into it due to cost. The technology is solid, but very expensive. I have been trying to find out for a while if it is truly an open standard or if it is a licensed technology if you want to develop hardware for it. Turns out it is a licensed technology. I have a feeling that it will go along the path of D-STAR where it is there, but it is not extensively used. [My opinion anyways]

Getting back to DMR, I have been trying to do my part in getting new users involved and help them get setup. Whether my efforts contribute or not, I do not know, but from January 15th – 30th, 2016, about 1600 new subscriber ID’s came online. That is some rapid growth. Each month, I publish a new codeplug for both the Tytera MD-380 and the Connect Systems CS800. Where am I going with this rambling? I have spent hours and hours [and hours] creating codeplugs for both of these radio models, and freely share them with anyone that wants to use them. All you have to enter your callsign and subscriber ID into the codeplug using the software provided.

The Tytera is a simple little radio that does not take much effort to modify the codeplug now that it is built and clean. On my file share, you can find the codeplug, ContactManager.exe, the illusive manual and the latest firmware.

The CS800 is quite a bit more complex and has a much more complex codeplug. It has been built out completely and updated regularly. All you have to do is enter in your callsign and subscriber ID into the codeplug using the software before uploading into your radio.

What does this have to do with open source now that I have said this. I have built these codeplugs and share them with you to use and change if you want. If you change them and feel like sharing back, feel free to let me know. I am open to sharing all of my codeplugs.

All of the files I modify and upload can be found here:


If you want to use the CS800 codeplug, PLEASE read the README file to know what you are getting. The Tytera MD380 codeplug is simple enough. Both have the repeaters for DFW, OKC, TUL, and LIT written in.

Enjoy and I hope to hear you on the air sometime.

Chris, KD5HIY

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Embracing the Open Source Lifestyle in Amateur Radio

Our Digital World

We live in a digital world. No doubt about that. Amateur radio is no exception. I am accustomed to Yaesu’s Fusion. It is basically a digital version of analog. It works the same pretty much, with a few exceptions, but for the most part once you know what the digital modes are, you can just flip between them.

My club, the W5HRC Hurst Amateur Radio Club, has invested in Fusion. We now have two of the Yaesu DR-1X repeaters. One has been in testing for about 9 months, just trying to interface it with different controllers and other methods of control. We have had decent success with them, but with the poor documentation on Yaesu’s end, a lot of what we have done is trial and error.

I like Fusion, and hopefully Yaesu will continue to build the technology out to everything they say they it can and will do. Time will tell on that part. The radios are solid, full featured, and occasionally a little quirky, but for about 99.9% of the time, no issues at all.

I recently stepped in to DMR. I was once one of the DMR nay-sayers that thought it was just outdated and a wannabe amateur radio standard. I was completely ignorant of the technology and was part of the crowd that essentially shunned it.

Three weeks ago at one of our weekly club meetups, I asked Jason, KC5HWB, about DMR. I was interested in learning about other technologies than just Fusion, including DMR and even D-Star. There I go again poking at D-Star, when it is a solid standard also that I know nothing about. I know better than to do that. Jason was our only resident DMR using member at the time, so he essentially gave an impromptu lecture on how DMR worked.

Talk groups, time slots, subscriber ID’s, Nationwide, Metro, WWe? This was all new. I decided I would invest a bit into some DMR equipment to see what it is all about. I purchased a Tytera MD380 HT from him.

As the president of the Hurst Amateur Radio Club, one of the most important things I push is elmering. License all that you want, but if the current amateur radio generation fail to elmer the new generation, the new generation will leave, and amateur radio will eventually die as an art. I have been a HAM for sixteen years at the time of this post, but even seasoned and experienced hams need to be elmered by those who know.

I say this because Jason has been my elmer in the DMR world for the past few weeks. He has been very patient with me. I am trying to absorb as much information as I can, so I can eventually elmer newcomers to digital, whether that is DMR, D-Star, Fusion, P25, etc.

OK, now all of that said, amateur radio digital is VERY polarized. You are either a Fusion, DMR, or D-Star person, me included until recently. Not much wiggle room for anything else. The more I learn about each of the digital technologies, the more I understand that they are not so much competitors, but designed for different types of use.

Guys on Fusion talk about how Fusion is the best and should be the standard. Guys on DMR talk about how DMR is the best and should be the standard. Same goes with D-Star I would imagine.

In a high level overview, Fusion seems to be an Echolink type of system that is backwards compatible with analog FM. DMR is for interlinking. All DMR repeaters are linked and when you key one, you key them all. They each serve a purpose, and I think there is enough room for them all, depending on what you are going to use it for.

All this said, I enjoy both Fusion and DMR. I might try D-Star one day, but right now it is just so expensive, it is out of my price range and there are no D-Star repeaters local that I can hit without being on 45 watts ERP. Fusion is not exactly cheap also, but it is cheaper than D-Star. DMR on the other hand is relatively cheap. The Tytera radio I purchased was $170 for everything needed including programming cable and software. A comparable Fusion HT sells for nothing less than $279 plus cables and programming software. Long term, cost will be the ultimate decider of what digital standard will reign supreme and which ones will eventually fade away. I love digital in amateur radio, and I hope it does not go away.

By the way, my DMR subscriber ID is 3148261 and I like DFW Metro and Statewide during drivetime and North America during the day.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Our Digital World

ARRL.net Email Setup with Gmail

I recently decided to take advantage of the ARRL’s email system and setup my email address with them. The format is <callsign>@arrl.net. Setting it up in a Gmail system is kind of a PITA. Searching around the internet for a solution did not yield any effective results.

The following is a tutorial on how to properly setup your ARRL.net email with your Gmail account so you can both send and receive email where it reflects your @arrl.net email.

You must enable the option to “Opt-in to have a <username>@arrl.net email alias” on your ARRL profile under the “Edit Account” tab. The ARRL says the process takes six hours to fully enable, so enable it before bed, and you should be good in the morning.

Email1Open your Gmail webpage and click on the settings gear on the far right side of the page, and click “Settings”. Once the settings page is open, click on “Accounts and Import.”

Towards the middle of the page, click on the “Add another email address you own.” Enter in your Name and ARRL email address. Leave the “Treat as an alias” option checked and click “Next Step”

This is where the confusion typically happens. You are adding this forward only account to your account, and Gmail wants to know what the outbound server is. The following are your settings for the outbound server.

  • Email2SMTP Server: smtp.gmail.com for standard Gmail users OR smtp.googlemail.com for Google Apps for Business accounts. They essentially are the same server, but Google differentiates the two between standard and paid accounts. Standard port 587 is fine.
  • Username: <your-gmail-username>@gmail.com, i.e. billybob@gmail.com.
  • Password: Your Gmail Password
  • Secured connection using TLS (recommended) should be clicked by default. This is the one you want, because clicking the SSL could cause issues.

Email3Click “Add Account”

When you click “Save Changes” a confirmation email will be send with a link and a number. You can then click the link to verify that you own the newly connected email. Once you click the link, you will then be able to both send and receive email from your ARRL.net email address.

When the setup process is completely setup and you have verified that you own the email address, you should see something that resembles this in the “Accounts and Import” tab of your Gmail settings.


Posted in General | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments