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** Welcome To The Northern Illinois Digital Club **



Can we all admit that as of 2017 the HF bands are pretty quiet with a bleak future as we head toward the bottom of this sunspot cycle.  Knowing that, don't you miss talking to others around the country or around the world?  Welcome to the rescue the various digital voice modes.

While I've used other digital modes including DMR and D-Star over the years my favorite by far is Yaesu System Fusion.  I have a coordinated System Fusion repeater K5TAR at my house on 440.81875 MHz with an approximate 5-10 mile radius covering the chain of lakes region in Northern Illinois.  This is an internet connected repeater linked full-time to the MNWIS room #21493.  While the room title would lead you to believe it's just hams from Minnesota and Wisconsin it's not.  It merely started there with a group of very smart hams who were early adopters of Yaesu System Fusion.  Through their tenacious efforts supporting Fusion with a weekly Monday evening net at 7:30 they have gathered a crowd of like minded hams across America and over seas.  Throw your call out on this room and I guarantee you'll have a very fun and engaging conversation.

While this is my default room if you wish to connect to another room feel free to do so to talk to other hams in the Yaesu universe.  When your QSO is finished after a 10 minute delay it will automatically reconnect to the MNWIS room.

Recently I installed an official repeater antenna, an open-loop dipole Comscope DB-408 at the top of my tower in the picture below.  This improved my coverage dramatically over the UHF Hustler fiberstick I had been using.  I wish my repeater had better coverage but unfortunately I am suffering from low HAAT at around 750 ft.  

So why is System Fusion my favorite:

  • Built for amateur radio from the ground up
  • Easiest to use – NO PROGRAMMING or CODE PLUGS!!!  Literally enter the repeater frequency and that’s it!
  • Great audio quality
  • Easiest most flexible connectivity with WIRES-X using either a simplex node or a Fusion repeater
  • Able to search for rooms, right from a mobile.  Try that with any other digital mode!
  • Fastest growing digital voice mode.  Don't believe me?  Check out all the Fusion node list.  Keep whistling the Jeapody theme while you keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling... https://www.yaesu.com/jp/en/wires-x/id/id_usa.php
  • It livens up those quiet silo repeaters providing activity once again to dead repeaters.  It's like being on a repeater in the 70's or 80's again when people actually used them and there was a rotation of a bunch of fun hams.
  • Great option if you live in a restricted community with covenants and HOA’s.  Not sure why a ham would move into one of those in the first place but that's a whole different discussion.
  • Great alternative to quiet HF Bands
  • Actual conversations with DX stations – like going on a trip without ever leaving your house!  Get to know another foreign ham besides that 59, next, stuff.  Often times they are anxious to practice their english with us. 
  • What a great way to get younger people into the hobby.

Regarding my last point I really worry about the future of amateur radio.  Take a look at the demographics of your local ham club and I think you'll find the average age is North of 50 years old.  Young people are not interested in throwing a wire in a tree to talk to Bulgaria like we were when we were their age.  They'll take out their iPhone to show you why.  Magazines will take pictures of kids using a GOTA radio station at events like "field day" but how many of them really pursue amateur radio?  Are these pictures simply optics to make hams feel good?  How many people are willing to take on elmering a new ham with our busy lives? 

Fusion and other digital modes could resonate with young people because it involves things they grew up with namely the internet and computers.  These digital modes can act as a gateway to other ham activities once they get their foot in the door.  We really need to take this seriously because with no hams there will be no ham bands as they are sold off to the highest bidders.  Also when a young ham is interested in one of these communications modes, that uses the internet, lets be careful not to say what I usually hear "using the internet isn't radio."  When they hear that they could throw in the towel killing their interest in ham radio entirely.  If you are picking up a mike and talking, that's radio!  Instead while we might have a strong opinion against something we should keep that to ourselves and instead refer the interested ham to someone else who could elmer them.  There's enough options in ham radio to keep everyone interested.

There are many benefits of being a ham radio operator.  It has been a great entree for my business relationships, opening doors and creating bonds with people who also share this great hobby.  From a technical standpoint you have an advantage of knowing which end of the soldering iron to hold on to :)  Lastly it's like belonging to toastmasters without the meetings.  As I pick up the mike, I have a rough idea what I'm going to say but with years of extemporaneous practice I get better and better.  Sometimes I even amaze myself.


Best 73,

David J. Holmgren

Repeater Trustee


7857414 Last modified: 2017-01-26 16:13:21, 6447 bytes

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