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.

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

This repeater is flown by the Edge of Space Sciences balloon launch group

EOSS view from 94,000 ft.
Hanging around at just over 94,000 ft.

You have all heard this portion of the Monday night nets:

“We have a balloon repeater with a receive frequency of 445.975 MHz and a transmit frequency of 147.555 MHz. This repeater is flown periodically by the Edge of Space Sciences balloon launch group.”

But maybe you’ve never gone on to look up just what the Edge of Space Sciences balloon launch group is or does.  From their web site:

What is EOSS

Edge of Space Sciences (EOSS) is a Denver, Colorado based non-profit organization that promotes science and education by exploring frontiers in amateur radio and high altitude balloons.

Since its first flight in 1990, EOSS has grown its volunteer membership’s numbers and skills over the course of more than 200 launches, ascents into the stratosphere and payload recoveries. Today, it is widely recognized as one of the premier organizations in its field.

EOSS was incorporated in the State of Colorado in 1991 and is recognized by both Colorado and the U.S. Government as a 501(c)(3), tax exempt, scientific and educational organization.

EOSS fligh 218
Falling back to earth.

What We Do

Our members utilize amateur radio and balloons to advance scientific study of the upper atmosphere. We regularly work with educators, offering valuable opportunities to enhance their students’ studies of science, mathematics and technology through real, hands-on experience.

EOSS has conducted as many as thirteen balloon projects in a year, sending radio-equipped payloads deep into the stratosphere over eastern Colorado. Our typical apogee of 95,000 feet is above 99% of the Earth’s atmospheric mass, where the sky is black and the highest clouds remain far below. VHF and UHF radio signals transmitted from this height are received as far as 400 miles away!

Sometimes called the “Edge of Space”, this largely unexplored territory offers a wealth of opportunities for scientific observation and has even served as a reasonable approximation to outer space for testing prototype spacecraft. Gas balloons are the most practical means to get there, since rockets can visit it only briefly, and it is unattainable by ground-based aircraft. Because of the low cost of balloon flight expendables and recovery of payloads, one local high school teacher characterized EOSS as the “Poor Man’s Space Program”.

Individuals have many opportunities to exchange ideas with their fellow members. A monthly meeting is conducted the second Tuesday of each month.

On each remaining Tuesday, a radio meeting on-the-air, or net, is conducted at 8 P.M. During this “net” weekly updates on EOSS projects and news bulletins concerning amateur radio balloon projects around the country are discussed.

Please go to eoss.org for more information.  See the current schedule in the text box marked “EOSS Upcoming Flights.

They have flown many interesting missions over the years, with payloads from a variety of sources, from university students down to elementary school students.  Check the EOSS YouTube channel for mission videos.  RMRL member Skylar, KD0WHB, was involved in a mission when he was attending the Denver School of the Arts.  You can see several videos from mission EOSS-218 on YouTube, but this short one captures some amazing images as it reached just over 94,000 ft. before bursting and heading back to earth.

Squaw Mountain repair 2016-June

Last week (first week of June, 2016), the Squaw Mountain site was left without power following a lightning storm. This took both RMRL repeaters (146.940 and 449.450) off the air, including for the June 6th weekly net. The backup generator failed to start automatically. When commercial power returned two days later, the replacement power company transformer put out 160 VAC instead of the normal 120 VAC and damaged several pieces of equipment at the site. Fortunately, RMRL’s well-designed system prevented the increase in power from taking out any critical or expensive components.

Glenn (WN0EHE) and Dunnigan (K1DUN) made a trip to the site on Sunday, June 12th. It was discovered that a single MOV in the power line filter had blown, thereby interrupting the AC current overload and protecting the rest of the system. We replaced some transient protectors and were back on the air. The 146.940 and 449.450 machines are, once again, fully operational.

Squaw Mountain repeater hit by lightning June 2016
Glenn (WNØEHE) troubleshooting the system on June 12th (2016)
Squaw Mountain lightening strike - replacing a filter
This little AC power line filter had to be replaced.

IRLP Node 335(0) temporarily moved to the 145.430 – Updated: moved back!

4/22/2016: IRLP Node 335(0) has been moved back to the 145.34.  (Thanks to Mike, KI0GO, and his snowmobiles.) All is back to normal in RMRL world.

4/12/2016: Due to a technical problem, the IRLP Node 335(0) has been temporarily moved over to the 145.430 repeater.  The road to the 145.34 repeater is impassable until further snow melt, so no firm date can be set at this time as to when it will be moved back to the 145.34.

Operationally everything is the same, it is just a different frequency.