Monday, March 20, 2023

Signals in Space: How, Where & What


The 47th Annual Trenton Computer Festival took place on March 18th 2023. I was invited back to give a presentation this year alongside some amazing fellow presenters focused on related topics.

The presentation on "Signals in Space:  How, Where & What" were highly animated and included some authentic recordings from some various man-made signals of significance over the past 60+ years.

For the basic static slides, you can download a copy HERE though if you missed it live.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Mumla: Brandmeister The Ever Living


The intent of this article is to provide insight to a limited mobile device to Brandmeister Network experience helpful for those looking for another field capable communications option.  And, if you are a child of the 1980's you will easily understand the villainous image above!

Using the "Mumla" Android or iOS application, you can easily link a few talk groups via Brandmeister for access on your mobile phone from anywhere for limited DMR access. 

Thunder Thunder Thunder Brandmeister?

To get started with Mumla, the Brandmeister team has created an official Wiki to get started as found here: 

Snarf!  Some helpful tips

The directions above are pretty easy to follow, but there are a few things that "might" make you get confused such as:

  • Your DMR ID - You MUST use the newer 31xxxxx format ID. Older 11xxxxx will not work.

  • Your hotspot - Make sure you enter in your SSID as part of your hotspot, but I have realized your hotspot does NOT need to be on the network for this to still work.

  • Where does it work?   This will work anywhere you have mobile device coverage
Connecting The All Seeing Eye!

Now that you have set everything up and you connect, you should see something like this on your mobile device. You can then click into the limited list of bridged talk groups and communicate globally.

Be aware that certain ranges of talk groups will not be permitted to be added after opening a ticket with Brandmeister and even then, you will have to have a server configured to hopefully allow you to get added to Mumla.

After some testing, this works rather well as an alternative communication method using my Android and iOS devices.

This will NOT replace anything for me, but its nice to have this set up "just incase" I need it. Plus, it works well with a Bluetooth headset and audio is rather good.

One last note, if you want to see what happens after hitting the PTT button on Mumla while watching your Pi-Star dashboard, make sure you add the talk group to your hotspot so you can see your traffic.

One idea this gives me is getting more SOTA or POTA people in the Hudson Valley on the TriState NY-NJ-PA talk group while doing activations if they have mobile service if something other than a local repeater is needed for spotting and you do not want to use a hotspot while at the park or in the woods.

Now, how about this as our next ham mobile inspiration! 

Friday, October 28, 2022

7 Year Itch: Global Digital Repeater Growth

With cooler weather here to stay for a while, its time for another global digital repeater roundup brought to you by Steve K2GOG of Hudson Valley Digital Network.

This has been a 7 year in the making project tracking the different digital voice modes currently leading VHF/UHF repeater deployments, according to data from

Every May and October, data has been collected from the leading source of the most accurate source for repeater details globally.  While some local options might exist that may be more up to date, ideally that information should be shared with to help out lazy travelers or those visiting an area for the first time who would more easily find this website compared to local club or individual websites.

Leaders:  Most Popular Options

By now, its defacto information that both the proprietary Yaesu Fusion and the quasi open standard multivendor DMR options are by far the most popular.   Low cost equipment helps drive the reasons which justify having more repeaters for these modes.

In the last year, there have been no major developments for new mobile or handheld equipment aside from some small refreshes on existing models like the popular Anytone or Alinco DMR radios. Yaesu has only given us the FT-5DR and FTM-200DR which is pretty good considering they are the only company that makes fusion capable radios which can be used on its 3200+ strong network of repeaters.

P25 is a commercial standard and is not marketed directly to amateur radio operators in any off the shelf non-professional grade equipment, but its growth rate is very strong. Based on how long it took for D-Star by Icom to become popular before flattening out, could we see P25 or NXDN become the dominant force in digital modes?   The answer is likely not, but that is where a new mode called M17 will come into play.

More then digital voice:  M17

All the digital modes mentioned all can do some other tricks beyond just voice communications.  Icom D-Star probably has the most advanced options from sharing location, photo, text and more with other users who have Icom equipment or the no longer made Kenwood TH-D74.

Yaesu Fusion really misses the mark to some degree, but most Fusion radios support analog APRS which increases interoperability for certain use cases.  There are a few DMR radios with very basic analog and digital APRS functions.

M17 which is absent for now on the digital repeater list promises us a true open digital standard for voice with some additional tricks up its sleave such as location sharing or text messaging.

The what's next

This would be a complex opinion based discussion, so lets use the airwaves or social media to discuss this fun stuff instead. Doink! 

Monday, July 11, 2022

HOPE: Global Digital Repeater Round Up 2022


Life has been busy for Steve K2GOG and that is reflected in the lack of recent blog entries on HVDN Notebook.  This post "should" have happened in late May or early June, but that was not possible due to 1,000 other distractions such as our Hudson River Radio Relay on June 11th, ARRL Field Day on June 25/26, a new job, countless family adventures and other stuff..

However, lets get things back on track here since it has now been five years since HVDN began and this is an appropriate way to re-energize with HVDN readers via our twice a year global digital repeater roundup series. Look for more stuff coming soon plus BIG news regarding HVDN if you live in the Hudson Valley of New York.

First off, let me apologize for having to use July 10th 2022 data to provide the 1H22 reporting data.

This extra month plus a few extra days should not really throw anything too far off, since its still clear that the total global digital repeater mode leader in volume is DMR. However, P25 is the true leader if we look at overall CAGR.

As noted in the table above, data is shown from May of 2018 and through July of 2022.  Measurements are taken every end of May and end of October.  Raw data per mode is shown for each period and CAGR was calculated for the May and October periods independently. An average of both periods can be found at the far right of the table.

The below table shows the included 2016 data if you were wondering how long we have been tracking things if you are a new reader and missed the past nine other articles. 

Report:  What has happened in digital voice since October 2021?

Well this is rather interesting to say the least. In our October 2021 edition, I predicted some growth projections as found in "SPECIAL EDITION: 10,000+ Digital Repeaters - October 2021 Global Digital Repeater Roundup" and I was not "too" wrong.  

Estimates I predicted last October for May of 2022 included:

  • Yaesu Fusion Global Repeaters = 3135 forecast (Actual 3218)
  • Icom D-Star Global Repeaters = 2429 forecast (Actual 2471)
  • DMR Global Repeaters = 4009 forecast (Actual 2003)
  • P25 Global Repeaters = 569 forecast (Actual 630)
  • NXDN Global Repeaters = 160 forecast (Actual 167)

Lets first talk about Yaesu Fusion's latest developments.  My guess is that the latest crop of radios which have come to market over the last 8-9 months may have pushed some clubs or repeater trustees to put up some additional repeaters to support the people who paid money for digital technology. 

A few radios like the mobile FTM-300DR and FTM-200DR plus FT-5DR handheld added to an existing pool of equipment available with C4FM capability.  The strategy of "Make more Fusion radios" is probably working well for Yaesu as a single vendor ecosystem.  Go Yaesu! You blew past my forecast!

Yaesu FTM-200DR pictured which retails for around $380 USD
and is competitive against other digital mode offerings for competition modes

Oh, sad sad Icom.  Will you figure things out when it comes to D-Star? To your credit, I was surprised just a little as I had expected that you would lose repeaters according to but you did actually gain a few. 

Now I am not sure if all 2471 around the world are actually active and if removes incorrect data as frequently as they should.  I do know that when traveling not every D-Star repeater is on the air your secret is safe with me for now.

Maybe people who now have the super fun Icom IC-705 and IC-9700 have put pressure on magical repeater gnomes to conjure up a few more repeaters to use those expensive radios on or the new handheld ID-52 which finally is shipping. Maybe this is true, but CAGR still does not lie.  

Hovering around 1% CAGR is not fun to see, but perhaps if some cost effective equipment that supports D-Star ever comes to market, that should change things like we see with Fusion and DMR.

Be honest, did you buy a $1700+ Icom IC-9700 radio to talk on your local repeater?
If yes, I would love to hear about that

Ok, now for the record, I currently own more D-Star capable radios than I do for DMR. However, DMR is the mode I use the most still when I have time to play radio.  

The Alinco DJ-MD5XTG continues to be my favorite "ham" grade DMR radio and I sort of wish something more expensive and with features like the D-Star Kenwood TH-D74 or Yaesu FT-5DR would come to market. The RFinder B1 is a really cool radio which supports DMR but I am not interested in a smartphone based device for $1000 USD.  

With continued impressive repeater growth numbers for DMR, most people probably are using Anytone or Alinco equipment plus who ever is still supporting TYT and Radioddity based equipment.  The key thing here is that lower cost gear gave DMR a boost and repeater ninjas knew what to invest in.

For DMR, there is even a rather good  Under $30 basic radio called the COTRE CO01D which only can program 16 channels, but otherwise is great to use with a hotspot on limited talk groups. It is doubtful we will ever see a competing D-Star option at this price since the JARL license for D-Star is 2-3x the cost of just one of these radios. 

Alinco offers the MD520 which offers dual band 2m/70cm plus 220 MHz and VHF air receive. Anytone has a comparable D578UVIII for sale at around the same price. Both compete with the Fusion radios for close to the same price.

I was really close to my P25 prediction and was only off by 1. That is actually pretty nice.. Growth of P25 is fueled by surplus commercial equipment. NXDN is pretty much the same story and actual versus predicted growth from October 2021 to today  Not much really to talk about for equipment since options for new gear are from commercial companies only and surplus options are too varied to discuss.

The growth of P25 is interesting to continue to see though. As more municipalities change radio systems around, it should be interesting to see how P25 and NXDN evolve within amateur radio.

M17:  Will it happen ever?

Being nice here, but I own 3 total M17 T-shirts, a bunch of stickers and a semi-functional TYT MD-380 converted to be used via hotspot for this open source FDMA based mode.   I have yet to find people local to me to try simplex M17 to M17 but have done that at a hamfest.  

Every day that goes by  possibly gets us closer to off the shelf turn key equipment for M17 and I am hopeful that this mode explodes once it has some reliable equipment to support it. The back end infrastructure to connect repeaters to is already in place and a few "test" repeaters are sort of available to a few people. 

To help keep M17 top of mind,  presentations can be found all over the place and the upcoming HOPE conference will feature at least two of them talking about this open source mode. 

Feel free to check out open source RF experimentation at 10:00 AM Saturday July 23rd co-presented by Steve K2GOG and Joe NE2Z plus a much more legit one about M17 scheduled along with so many great ones found at 

HOPE 2022 is going to be epic and hope you can make it in person or virtually