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 repeaterbook.com
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 repeaterbook.com 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: M17All 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!