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K4SQI USA flag USA

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I guess it's time I finally put something here after all these years. laugh  Welcome to my QRZ Page!  Over the past 3-4 years now, after a 10+ year hiatus from my love of Ham Radio, I've been having a great time with Digital Radio.  My journey into Digital Radio started with meeting a few crazy, yet really great guys in the Charlotte D-Star Group and the GARA club in Greensboro, NC.  I met Steve, KA4YMY and Roland, W9HPX at one of the Charlotte Hamfests.  The Group had a booth setup and I was fascinated by what they were doing.  I talked to them for quite a while.  Then when I was getting ready to leave the Hamfest, I turned around and went back and bought an Icom ID-91A.  That purchase started an addiction, as I like to call it.  I was heading out to Colorado for work and I hurried to get myself registered so I could get on to D-Star.  Roland approved my registration in record time.   While in CO for a week, I attended 3 ham radio club meetings and had a great time talking on D-Star the whole time I was there.  When I got back to NC, I started talking with some of the guys in Greensboro on the W4GSO D-Star Repeater.  In time, I got to know everyone in the club there and became a member.  It didn't take long.  After some poking & prodding from those guys, I picked up a UHF DVAP, an Icom 880, ID-51A+, and an ID-31A.  I completely blamed Jesse, K4AX, Chris, K4HC, Patrick, K2CPR, Scott, ND4L, John, W4DX, Ken, KC4YOZ and Cameron, AJ4TW when my wife asked about all my new purchases. LOL.  From there, I got to start talking with everyone on the NC Reflector, REF054C.  I also got the pleasure of meeting some of  the great hams in the Winston-Salem area where I currently live.  Tom, W4SNA decided to setup a DMR Repeater on the NC PRN Network.  How could I not want to try that out?  It didn't take long, I picked up a CS-700 and then an MD-380.  Tom, W4SNA also has a great analog link system setup on 6m, 2m, and 440.  How could I forget about Doug, N4TZD?  He setup a 220Mhz repeater locally as well.  I've learned to love the 220 band.  Tom and Doug work on a lot of stuff together and are a great duo when it comes to linking stuff together.  

It's also kind of ironic the whole time I've been living/working here in the Winston-Salem, Greensboro area, one of my good friends, Mike, W3TWG and I had worked together for close to 10 years before we talked on the radio.  Obviously that's not the case any more.  It took me a while, but I got him started in the Digital side of the hobby as well.  You're Welcome Mike!  

I've learned a great deal from all these great people, made some really good friends and have been having a blast every since whether it's talking to everyone on D-Star, DMR, or even analog,   The last year I've been helping maintain the GARA W4GSO D-Star repeater, continued to enjoy DMR/D-Star and lately C4FM.  That's where the next part of the adventure begins.  It's been great so far and I have to say thanks to everyone for helping me with this adventure and help me get back to enjoying the hobby!  73 de K4SQI!

The journey continues, or how the Carolina Link came to be:

The last couple of months, I've been working on a new project.  It's called the Carolina Link.  The Charlotte Digital Radio Group has always been one of the leading groups here in NC in experimentation with Digital Technology.  They have repeaters for everything!  They're just a bunch of guys & gals who love this stuff.  The GARA Club, in Greensboro was one first groups to put their D-Star Repeater on the network.  It easy to see how I ended up being closely tied to both groups & how this idea grew over night to what it is today. 

So the idea was simple, how can we tie all of this digital stuff together so it doesn't matter what radio you use, you'll always have one place in the Carolina's to talk with everyone despite what radio they use.  We want this place to be a welcoming & encourage people to use the link!  We don't have a "Net Nazi."  Enjoy the link, we just ask that you leave some space between transmissions in case someone else needs/wants to jump in.  Simple enough right? wink

How do I access it?

First & foremost, we use the BrandMeister Network as the hub for 3 full time links between each of 3 modes. DMR, D-Star, & Fusion (C4FM). 

On DMR you can connect to the link from any BrandMeister repeater or hotspot on BM TalkGroup 31254.

On Fusion (C4FM)  you can connect to the link via our YSF Reflector "US BM TG 31254/Carolina Link" or via FCS003/33.  We have a RF bridge between these two links.  The YSF Reflector has a full time link to the BM Network.  In the near future, we'll be adding a Wires-X node as well.

D-Star is where things get interesting.  We actually have multiple ways to access the link.  Why?  First, we have a full time link provided to our XLX Reflectors on XRF054C/XRF264C.  This link is also provided by the BM Network.  This link has a couple of issues, though.  When you're on D-Star talking over to DMR/C4FM you're going to be at least 2x louder than those on talking on DMR/C4FM.  When you're talking on DMR/C4FM, your audio going back over to D-Star is going to be 1/2 of those talking on D-Star.  So be forewarned, you'll be adjusting your volume quite a bit.  So that's where most of my time has been spent the last few months.  Trying to create a better bridge between D-Star<->DMR/C4FM. 

The current second way to access the Carolina Link is via XRF054B (or DCS054B).  This second bridge provides much better audio conversion over XRF054C, but it has one small caveat, Call Sign information does not cross between modes like you would see if you use DMR/C4FM.  You'll see my call sign, K4SQI when using this bridge.  It'll show up as K4SQI /LINK with the message of Carolina Link.  Right after you see the mesasage Carolina Link, if you continue to look at the INFO Message on D-Star, you'll then see a line similar to this: "DMR K4SQI 31254/2."  This will give the call sign of the person talking on DMR/C4FM & let you know they are talking on BM TalkGroup 31254/Time Slot 2.  This bridge is currently ran on an ODroid C1 using a PIDV & an original Blue DV-Dongle.  This bridge is the second bridge we've used on XRF054B and it works really well compared to the first bridge.  

In the past few days, I've finally created our third D-Star/DMR Bridge using the new XLXD Reflector 2.0 software that supports transcoding on the fly between D-Star/DMR using two of the original ThumbDV's.  This was an experiment because the ambed software that does the conversion don't support the original ThumbDV's because of the baud rate.  It turns out though, the setup works really well!  If you're curious to test this bridge out now, feel free to connect to module A on XRF/DCS 554 on D-Star or DMR.  Soon, this new bridge will be connected to XRF054A/XRF264A.  In the future, this will be the only way to connect to the link from D-Star.  Making life easier for everyone. surprise

So there you go, that's how you connect to the Carolina Link.  I've scaled down a lot of the story getting all of this work, but needless to say it's been interesting, even frustrating at times.  I know a lot of people will say that I've done all this great work getting this stuff working, but I have to be honest.  If it weren't for the support & help from a lot of great friends, this would've never came to light.  First & foremost, I have to thank Steve KA4YMY, Roland W9HPX, Ray KI4UDZ, Mark W4BOG, Ken KC4YOZ, Mike W3TWG, Jesse K4AX, Scott ND4L, Gene NC1L, Doug W4DGB, Bill KC8YQL, Pascal VA2PV, Steve N4IRS, Corey N3FE, and Mark N2NUO.  These guys have all supported me whether it be donating hardware/borrowing hardware for testing, answering a ton of questions, helping test different ideas, or helping me get things setup.  So before I take any credit, my thanks goes out to all of them!  There's been a great deal of others who've helped along the way with testing the link as well, including Cameron AJ4TW, Elaine KE4YYJ, Dave N4CWZ, Patrick K2CPR, Patrick N4QDK, Bill W4YX, John W4DX, "The OHIO Boys," Adrian VK4TUX and David AJ4TF just to name a few. Thanks again to everyone!  If you have any questions on using the link or how we have it setup, please feel free to drop me an email or give me a shout on the Carolina Link.  I'm usually close by when I'm not working.  73 de K4SQI!  

      

8400233 Last modified: 2017-10-20 20:07:22, 9305 bytes

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