Thursday, June 1, 2023

Global Digital Repeater Round Up: Our 1st Post COVID Analysis?

Each May and October going back to 2016, HVDN has analyzed data for digital amateur radio repeater deployments. 

Today being the 1st of June and now officially in the "End of COVID" era according to United States Center for Disease Control, lets have a look at the latest data to kick off summer time in many parts of the world. Lets celebrate with some pie of all digital flavors!

Yaesu Fusion - Still the 2nd most popular (by volume) digital repeater with an impressive 9.97% growth over the reporting period.  New radios like the FTM-300 and FTM-500 by the single manufacturer of Fusion equipment help drive reasons for more fusion repeaters around the world, with a total of 6 current production radios on the market. The least expensive Fusion capable radio is the FT-70 handheld for around $180 USD. 

Icom D-Star - The good news is that Kenwood has the TH-D75 handheld radio ready to go to market later this year and will support D-Stat much like its earlier relative, the TH-D74. However, Icom is still the only main supplier of D-Star handheld, mobile or base radios.  While the new Icom ID-50 handheld will also support D-Star, there are eight current or near production radios that support this digital mode and none of them cost under $200 USD.  Icom D-Star has remained flat for repeater deployments at 1.79% growth but its worth noting like all digital modes, the internet or a repeater is not needed for digital mode communications. 

DMR - How do we explain 12.46% period growth for DMR?  More radios offered by more vendors and full tier 2 compliant handheld radios sold for as low as $30 USD such as the COTRE series of radios found on Amazon.  While you do not need a repeater to use DMR or even the internet, the multi vendor ecosystem certainly is working for the adoption of DMR as the leading (by volume) driver of digital amateur repeaters.

P25 - Still a commercial standard and no inexpensive new radio equipment available, but digital repeater deployments are growing at 15.67% over the reporting period which shows promise.  As commercial users retire phase one P25 equipment, expect to see more digital repeaters be put on the air globally. If the license for the P25 was as loosely enforced like DMR, we could expect to see P25 really grow fast over the next few years unless the new open standard M17 finally gets into production grade equipment.

NXDN - Another commercial standard generally deployed for non-critical users, there continues to be some decent growth by CAGR and not by volume of this digital mode offered by companies like Icom, Kenwood and others.  There are still no very low cost radios available using NXDN, so expect this mode to just be a novelty in use across some pockets of amateur radio enthusiasts. 

Get a slice of : What did you say about M17?

The good news is that now shows a total of five total digital repeaters using this open source mode. Currently there are the following:

  • N1KGN - Located at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut (United States)
  • WX5RC - Located at Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma (United States)
  • KC1AWV - Located in NHL Bruin's territory in Rockingham, New Hampshire (United States)
Its worth noting that two of these three repeaters are listed as multi-mode  and are not M17 full time. The only one likely as a dedicated M17 repeater is Steve KC1AWV's since he is part of the official M17 development team.

There are two international repeaters with the secret one in Poland in Nowy Dwor Mazoweicki operated by the inventor of M17, the infamous Woj SP5WWP and the multimode capable VK3RCQ repeater located in Junortoun Australia.

By October,  HVDN hopes to see a few more M17 repeaters on the air, but there are still no off the shelf M17 capable radios available for purchase which will continue to hold things back for M17.  

However, there are some exciting things happening in the M17 community which will be more clear in the next few months to come.  So, for now keep an eye on M17 but it will take a long time for this one to reach mainstream which is ok given there are no "current" commercial companies making available equipment to use M17. 

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!