BrandMeister Explained

Bill Rinker, W6OAV
Bill Rinker, W6OAV

By Bill Rinker, W6OAV

This article is for BrandMeister users who are somewhat familiar with the DMR protocol. This article does not go into explaining the DMR protocol. That information is provided in the links listed at the end of this article.

BRANDMEISTER VERSES DMR MARC

Before beginning, definitions must be made:

  • Time Slots – There are two digital time slots on a DMR repeater which provide two independent voice channels.
  • Talk groups – Independent “voice channels” available in each time slot.
  • Code Plug – A radio’s configuration file.
  1. What are the differences between C-Bridge and BrandMeister?

The major difference between C-Bridge and BrandMeister is that BrandMeister allows a local user to key up and route any desired talk group whereas the C-Bridge network only allows a local user to key up and route talk groups as defined by the C-Bridge sysop.

Both Networks have static talk groups and dynamic talk groups. Definitions:

Static Talk group – A talk group which is always active meaning that DMR network traffic is always sent to the repeater on a designated time slot without any user intervention. Static talk groups are configured in the network and cannot be modified by the local user. A local user can only key up static talk groups that are configured on the repeater.

Dynamic Talk group – A talk group which only sends DMR network traffic to the repeater when a local user keys up that talk group. The talk group network traffic will be sent to the repeater for a period of 15 minutes after the most recent key up by the local user. A BrandMeister local user can key up any of the many available talk groups. The local user’s code plug programming controls talk group access.

In some cases, there are different equivalent talk groups between the two networks. For example, most C-Bridges use TG 1 as their worldwide talk group whereas the BrandMeister worldwide talk group is 91. However, some talk groups are shared and cross-connected.

  1. Why don’t I hear as much talk group traffic on a BrandMeister repeater as I do on a C-Bridge repeater?

As described above, unlike a C-Bridge repeater which carries “always on” traffic, a BrandMeister time slot will not carry talk group traffic until a local user keys up a talk group.

BRANDMEISTER QUESTIONS

  1. Where can I find a list of talk groups?

Good sources are:

https://www.dmr-utah.net/talkgroups.php
https://k5nsx.com/wp-content/uploads/US_BM_User_Guide.pdf

  1. How can I monitor BrandMeister talk groups?

Using a computer, iPad, or smart phone, access the BrandMeister Dashboard at https://hose.brandmeister.network/scan/. See Figure 1. Click the Scanner button at the top to display all the active talk groups.

Figure 1. Displaying all active talk groups.

To scan and listen to a particular talk group, or scan and listen to a set of talk groups, enter the talk group number(s) in the talk group list and click “Apply”. Figure 2 illustrates scanning and listening to talk groups 3100 (USA) and 3108 (Colorado).

you can scan and listen to talk groups on the brandmeister website
Figure 2. Scanning and listening to Talk Groups 3100 and 3108.

If you hear a conversation that is of interest, key up that talk group (if it is in your code plug) and join the group! Note the Dashboard VU meter and spectrum display. These are great for checking your transmitter audio.

Another benefit of the scanner is that one can listen to various talk groups and decide which interesting ones to add to the code plug.

  1. Why is my Channel Busy LED on but when scanning I don’t hear any talk group traffic?

A local user may have keyed up one of the many talk groups that aren’t in your radio’s code plug.

BRANDMEISTER TALK GROUP KEY UP PROCEDURE

Due to the nature of dynamic talk groups specific procedures must be used when keying up a talk group. If done improperly several different issues can occur:

  • A local user keying up a talk group can isolate another local user from a talk group he was using.
  • A local user can key up a talk group and disrupt an existing conversation on that talk group.
  • A local user can key up multiple talk groups on the same time slot which can possibly create talk group chaos.

Key Up Procedure

Before keying up a talk group, monitor the Channel Busy LED for at least a minute. If the LED doesn’t light then both time slots are idle. Key up your desired talk group. Then listen for at least a minute before transmitting to determine if the talk group is busy. The reason for listening is because if a remote talk group user is transmitting when you keyed up the talk group, you will not hear his audio nor will the Channel Busy LED light. You will hear audio, and the Channel Busy LED will light, when the next remote user begins transmitting.

If the Channel Busy LED is on, or flashes on and off, then one or both of the time slots are busy. To determine if your desired time slot is idle or busy, wait until the Channel Busy LED is on and then key up your talk group. If a busy tone results, then your desired time slot is busy. Do not key up again until the Channel Busy LED has been off for a minute indicating that the time slot is now idle. The Channel Busy LED will turn off and then back on between long conversation “overs”.

If keying up while the Channel Busy LED is on results in a “connect confirmation tone”, then your time slot is idle and your talk group has been activated. As mentioned above, listen before transmitting.

 

REFERENCES

Amateur Guide to DMR – https://www.dmr-utah.net/media/Amateur_Radio_Guide_to_DMR.pdf

What is BrandMeister? – https://wiki.brandmeister.network/index.php/What_is_BrandMeister

BrandMeister User’s Guide – https://k5nsx.com/wp-content/uploads/US_BM_User_Guide.pdf

BrandMeister getting Started Guide – n8noe.us/DMR/files/BrandMeisterGettingStartedGuide.pdf

 

The RMRL goes digital!

Announcing RMRL’s very first DMR repeater! It’s now on the air from Guy Hill on RMRL’s 449.750 repeater frequency. This Motorola SLR5700 is on the Brandmeister network. Try it out!

449.750
Color Code 1
Talkgroup 310894
Timeslot 2
See below for further details.

Rocky Mountain Radio League's digital repeater
Rocky Mountain Radio League’s Motorola SLR5700 digital repeater. Join us on the 449.750!

If you have a TYT digital radio, we are looking for someone who can be our “go to” person to help other club members program their radios.

If you have a Motorola digital radio, contact Becky at . Include your name, call sign, and telephone number. We will put you in touch with someone who has the Motorola programming software (and knows how to use it) and will meet you at HRO to program your radio.

Thanks to everyone who worked to bring it online, including Mike, KI0GO, Glenn WN0EHE, and Dunnigan K1DUN.

RMRL digital repeater
Mike dives into the repeater cabinet to get things connected.
Mike programmed and installed the repeater. Thank you, Mike!

If you want to start out with a sample codeplug, try the RMHAM site, and proceed as follows:

  1. In your codeplug, create a contact and RX group for talk group 310894
  2. Create a new channel in your codeplug for accessing to the 310894 talk group via RMRL’s DMR repeater.
  3. Set the new channel parameters to 449.750 on RX, 444.750 on TX, time slot = 2, color code = 1, and RX group is the one you created that includes the 310894 contact.
  4. Set other channel parameters as desired.

Follow steps 1-4 for any other talkgroup(s) you’d like to access through RMRL’s DMR repeater but use time slot 1 instead of 2.

The basics of BrandMeister explained.  Here is the BrandMeister dashboard, and here is the BrandMeister Hoseline.

MD-380 tweak.

5 in 1 weather sensor atop Squaw Mountain

These photos show the mounting location of the final enhancement to our existing RMRL weather station located atop Squaw Mountain, home of two of our very popular club repeaters.

The new 5 in 1 sensor will now provide us with the ability to track wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and precipitation amounts at an elevation of 11,460′. In addition, we also have three temperature/humidity sensors located in our repeater rack room. All sensors can be viewed in “real time” throughout our website under the heading “Squaw Mountain Weather.”

5 in 1 weather sensor on Squaw Mountain
5 in 1 sensor atop the House of Radios on Squaw Mountain. Tracks wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity and precipitation.

 

Squaw Mountain weather station.
The Rocky Mountain Radio League’s weather sensor on Squaw Mountain.

Thanks go to Kevin, KD0VHD, and Willem, AC0KQ, for their contributions to the Rocky Mountain Radio League. The sensor was installed August 10, 2017.

Change in frequency – Pet Net and YL Family Net

Please note that effective immediately, the Pet Net and the YL Family Net are moving to the 145.340. The Pet Net is on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and the YL Family Net is on Friday at 7:30 p.m.  (All times are Mountain.)

Why the change? The 145.340 has IRLP and we will be connecting up with the Friends Ham Radio Network, IRLP 9618, Echolink 29618 and AllStar node 27408.

The Pet Net is everything pets.  Cats, dogs, snakes, or goats, we don’t care. If you have a pet, had a pet, are thinking of getting a pet, have a friend who has a pet, and just want to share all the goofy and wonderful things that pets bring to our lives, then join us.

The YL Family Net is like a pot luck for your friends and family.  Not just for YLs, it’s for everyone: men and children welcome.  Third party check-ins are welcomed and encouraged.  A relaxed atmosphere in which to discuss such topics as How do you spend your spare time? Categories: 15 minutes or less, a couple hours or less, or all afternoon and/or evening.  Also share things like a favorite life hack or how you like to save or spend money.  If you had unlimited time and money, where would you vacation?  A variety of topics discussed in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Come and join in the fun!

New website photographs

The Rocky Mountain Radio League is very fortunate to count Kevin Scofield, KD0VHD, as a member and generous contributor.  An award-winning photographer, Kevin had already granted permission to use his amazing panoramic photograph of Denver looking east. It is the first photo that you see when you enter the site.  He recently granted permission to use another one of his photos in our header, it’s the third rotating image, a sunburst at Squaw Mountain.  The constraints of the header dimensions required some distortion, so please enjoy this view of that image in it’s original dimensions.

We’ve added the copyright notice to protect Kevin’s work, but you should contact him directly to purchase a copy without the copyright notice.

Thank you, Kevin!

Sunburst at Squaw Mountain. Thank you to Kevin, KD0VHD, for allowing us to use this beautiful work on our website.

The Pet Net officially changes its name

The Pet Net for ham radio pet lovers
Join in the fun on the Pet Net every Thursday evening at 1930 hours (7:30 p.m. Denver time) .

It’s official – the Denver Area Pet Net is now … The Pet Net! Whether you have a dog, cat, snake, pig, or goat, have fun connecting with other pet parents. Facebook page. On the 145.340-.  Thanks to the connectivity provided by N0STY and the FriendsHamRadio.net, the net is now available far beyond the Greater Denver Metro Area.

 

How to sound like a pro when operating on a repeater

 

repeater guidelines
How to sound like a pro when operating on a repeater

This guide was written in an effort to help Elmer newly-licensed hams (and those who may or may not have a CB background) on common conventions used when operating on repeaters. None of us are perfect and even long-time hams slip up now and then, but we hope that this guide will help you sound like a pro when operating on repeaters.

The guide provides positive guidelines, and lays out common nomenclature used by convention on repeaters. There are no hard and fast rules. Your ham license won’t be revoked, no one is going to laugh and point, but you are more likely to get a positive response when you sound like you know the lingo and use it appropriately.

See the companion document: Participating in a Net.

The YL Family Net comes to the RMRL! Update!

Denver Area YL Net
YL Family Net
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
145.340

Note: The YL Family Net is moving from Saturday mornings to Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., effective immediately.  End your work-week with a nice, relaxing family activity. Gather the family around and join in – third party check-ins are welcomed and encouraged.

It’s been a while since a YL Net was heard on Denver area repeaters, so we were pleased when member Trish, K9FOG, approached us about reconstituting the Net. With a twist.

Trish feels that a net encouraging the “Young Ladies” (YLs) of the hobby to actively participate in the repeater community is important. “A lot of women are licensed, but you don’t hear many of them on the repeaters. I would like a net that will encourage women of all ages to participate in the hobby.”

As a busy mom who works outside the home full-time, Trish felt strongly enough about getting other women on the air that she was willing to head up the effort.

YL with a twist

Trish’s vision of a net went beyond the YL segment of the community to encompass the entire family: children, teens, and yes, men as well. She wants to make it a place of meaningful discussion with and for the entire family.

“More than just a YL Net, I’d like to see this as a family-oriented net.  A place where our ladies can join in and share with each other as well as the whole amateur radio family. And yes, men are welcome!”

Trish is busy planning topics for discussion, with a few light subjects thrown in. Expect to hear about everything from how not to get taken advantage of when you take your vehicle in for servicing or repairs to activities that you can do with your kids/grand kids for some meaningful together time.  She revealed several other topics to us but you will have to tune in to find out what they are.

A YL role model

Trish is a great example to her teen daughter, Cheyenne, KD0EXI, and son Austin, KD0GPE, on two counts.  First, if you really want something, work to make it happen and; second, she is helping to create a welcoming and relaxed net that her daughter and son can participate in along with their peers and families.  We expect that the YL Family Net will be a very popular place to gather.

Come and meet the YL who is making it all happen and join us every Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. on the 145.340, beginning on May 6th.

Please report any repeater problems

Please report any repeater problems immediately.

It is easier than ever to report a problem with a RMRL repeater. The new REPEATER PROBLEM REPORT form can be found on the three repeater pages as well as the Contact Us page. If you look on the main Repeater Page (Menu item RMRL Repeaters) and find the status of a repeater is ‘Up’ but you encountered a problem, then please fill out a Repeater Problem Report immediately.

We appreciate your help!

Here, for your convenience, is our new Repeater Problem Report form.  (Note: we are asking for your name and e-mail address in case we need to contact you for clarification.)

Your Name (required)

Your E-mail (required)

Select Repeater (required)

Please describe the problem

Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery Net on the RMRL! Update

colorado 4x4 recovery net
Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery Net
Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m.
146.940-

The Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery Net comes to the RMRL!

The Rocky Mountain Radio League is pleased to announce that the Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery organization, a 501(c)3), will be starting their new net on Saturday, May 27th, at 7:00 p.m. on the 145.340. Access to that repeater is available via IRLP (reflector #9618), EchoLink (gateway #29618), and AllStar (#27408.)  NEW NET TIME: Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. on the 146.940/449.825 pair.  Tone is 103.5.

Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery (“We Recover the Rockies”) is an all-volunteer organization designed to recover people and their vehicles from the back country when things go wrong. Their mission is to help the off road community and maintain back country integrity, assisting people on their “bad day” while helping to preserve the beauty of the mountains that we in Colorado love.

Formally started in August of 2013 (read about their first recovery), the group now has hundreds of recoveries (constituting thousands of man-hours) under their belt. Their passion and enthusiasm for what they do is evident.

Members have a plethora of courses available to them offered in a professional training curriculum taught by Matt Balazs (of On-Trail Training fame). They are always happy to talk to you about volunteer opportunities.

To learn more about Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery, visit their sites on the web:

Website co4x4rnr.clubexpress.com/
Public Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CO4x4RnR/
Members Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Colorado4x4recovery/