“Can anyone hear me?” or “Polly want a cracker?” Use Parrot!

We all hear it multiple times every day on nearly every talkgroup:  “[callsign] testing.  Can anyone hear me?  Just need a quick test.”  I’m not writing about stations that are looking for someone to talk to… if you’re doing that then an efficient and accepted thing to say is “Listening on PA statewide, this is [your callsign]”.  It’s best to END with your callsign, not start by saying your call.  Why?  Lots of reasons:  the DMR networked repeaters all take a moment to come up when you Push To Talk and if the first thing out of your mouth is your callsign… it may be cut off.  Also, many of us have scanning enabled across several channels / talkgroups, and if you don’t say what talkgroup you’re on, other stations that are not looking at their radios and hear only your callsign have no idea what talkgroup you are on… .and don’t know how to reply to you.  (And please don’t use “CQ”…. save that for the HF bands and SSB.)  But I digress…
What if you really just want a “quick test”?  There’s a much better way than asking if any stations are around for a quick radio check.  If you really are looking for a contact / QSO…. follow the procedure in the preceding paragraph.  But if what you are looking for is a RELIABLE audio report… and not simply a “Yeah, sounds good” reply from another station… use the Parrot.
Wouldn’t you rather hear your own voice played back to you… and only you… a few seconds after you transmit something like “This is [your callsign] testing.  1, 2, 3, 4…. test.  [Your callsign] test out.”?  The DMR networks and systems have a Contact called “parrot”.  Actually, there are multiple parrots… more on that in a moment.
So what does “parrot” do for you?
  • Records your voice and sends it to a DMR network server, and then plays the audio back to you… and only you… about five seconds after you unkey your microphone
  • Provides not only an indication of whether you are “making the repeater” or hotspot, but also at what degree of audio quality
By now you’re asking, “So how do I use Parrot?” and “What’s this about more than one Parrot?”
Basically, you make a Private call to one of the “parrots” (described below) by either creating one or more “parrots” in your configuration for each repeater or hotspot in your radio’s codeplug (configuration) – OR – go to Contacts on your radio and Manual Dial with your keypad one of the parrot Contact numbers (e.g. 9990).  Press PTT (Push to Talk), identify and say testing or whatever, then unkey the mic and wait.  You should hear your voice played back to you.  On a repeater you may need to key the Parrot more than once before you hear a reply… some parrots are UA (User Activated) and require a key-up.
Here are the most widely used Parrot Contact numbers and a brief description of each –
  • 9990 – (aka Parrot 1) This is the most widely accessible Parrot and will cause your voice packets to be transmitted by your repeater / hotspot up through the network to a DMR server and then back down again to your radio during replay
  • 9998 – (aka Parrot 2 / Connect Query) This is used by the popular SharkRF openSPOT and some other hotspots to trigger a synthesized voice that will provide status details of the network connection
  • 9999 – Echo (aka Audio Test) This is used by the popular SharkRF openSPOT and some other hotspots to produce a local “echo” of audio transmission.  It does not transmit anything onto the DMR network.
  • 9001 – Not a “parrot” but if sent to a SharkRF openSPOT will cause the openSPOT to speak its IP address… useful if you lose IP network connection from your web browser
TIP:  When you configure a Parrot in your codeplug be sure to set the Contact as “Private” and DO NOT enable “Private Call Acknowledge”.
– Mark KZ3MW

ARRL Comments On FCC Enforcement Advisory Regarding Uncertified Radios

ARRL, FCC Discussing Issue of Uncertified Imported VHF/UHF Transceivers

ARRL has taken a minor exception to the wording of a September 24 FCC Enforcement Advisory pertaining to the importation, marketing, and sale of VHF and UHF transceivers and is in discussion with FCC personnel to resolve the matter. The Enforcement Advisory was in response to the importation into the US of certain radio products that are not FCC certified for use in any radio service, but identified as Amateur Radio equipment.

“While much of this equipment is actually usable on amateur bands, the radios are also capable of operation on non-amateur frequencies allocated to radio services that require the use of equipment that has been FCC certified,” ARRL said. “Such equipment is being marketed principally to the general public via mass e-marketers and not to Amateur Radio licensees.”

ARRL said the upshot is that the general public has been purchasing these radios in large quantities, and they are being used on the air by unlicensed individuals.

“Radio amateurs have complained of increased, unlicensed use of amateur allocations by people who are clearly unlicensed and unfamiliar with Amateur Radio operating protocols,” ARRL said. But while it supports the general tenor and intent of the Enforcement Advisory, ARRL said it disagrees with the FCC on one point.

“In several places, the Enforcement Advisory makes the point that ‘anyone importing, advertising, or selling such noncompliant devices should stop immediately, and anyone owning such devices should not use them,'” ARRL pointed out. “The Advisory broadly prohibits the ‘use’ of such radios, but our view is that there is no such prohibition relative to licensed Amateur Radio use — entirely within amateur allocations — of a radio that may be capable of operation in non-amateur spectrum, as long as it is not actually used to transmit in non-amateur spectrum.

ARRL has had extensive discussions about this issue with FCC Wireless Bureau and Enforcement Bureau staff, and those discussions are ongoing.

“It is important to protect the flexibility of the Amateur Service as essentially an experimental radio service, but it is also very important to stop the unlawful importation and marketing of illegal radios in the United States and the use of those radios by unlicensed persons,” ARRL maintained. “We will keep our members informed as our discussions with FCC on this subject continue.”

NEW DMR/BM Repeater coming soon to Lake Ariel, PA

KC3LEE, your humble Webmaster and part-time DMR Net Check in Control operator, will soon be adding a new DMR/Brandmeister connected Hytera repeater to the Lake Ariel PA Area! As the frequencies are in the final stages of ARCC coordination, I cannot tell you yet what they are, only that they will be in the 70cm (440) band. We have done some preliminary studies of range; this repeater should be accessible from Newfoundland to Waymart/Honesdale and from Jefferson Twp to Lake Wallenpaupack by the Tafton area. Of course, there is no way to be 100% sure until the system is installed and tuned up and we do some tests. We will announce the details on the weekly Net as we get them. Stay tuned!

73 de KC3LEE

Hotspots: What frequencies should you use?

DMR Simplex freqs

  • 441.000 
  • 441.025
  • 446.500
  • 446.075
  • 433.450
  • 440.925 – 441.075 Digital simplex per ARCC (25 kHz spacing)
  • 145.790

Below are the recommended simplex frequencies to be used with DMR in the United States and Canada. In addition to this information, please note the following radio configuration items:

Admit Criteria: For simplex operation please set this to “Always”

In Call Criteria: Please set to “TXI” or “Always” for simplex usage

441.0000 UHF 99 1 1
446.5000 UHF 99 1 1
446.0750 UHF 99 1 1
433.4500 UHF 99 1 1
145.7900 VHF 99 1 1
145.5100 VHF 99 1 1