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DMR: Is it for you?
Heard about DMR?
Wondered what it was all about?
My first question was, “What is DMR?”
The acronym stands for Digital Mobile Radio. So, I was interested to find that most of the Hams I have met so far on DMR are not mobile when using their DMR radios. The few hundred I have made contact with in the last 3 months include both new and experienced Hams from all walks of life. Since there are only about 85,000 registered DMR users worldwide (May, 2018), those currently on DMR tend to be ‘early adopters’ of this mode. Very few of those I have spoken with were actually ‘mobile’ when we made contact. They did say that they like the clarity of the transmissions and the ease of making contacts as compared to typical HF operations.
The ‘D’ in DMR stresses the mobility of the mode due to the fact that only a compact handheld radio will get you on the air with the ability to make contacts throughout the world with a crisp, clear audio that is difficult to match considering the state of the HF bands in the current solar climate. All licensed amateur radio operators can legally use the DMR mode so you have the opportunity to speak to a wider sample of Hams than you do during typical HF operations.
Since I was looking for a mobile and portable application that would allow me to talk to the same community of amateur radio operators that I meet on the HF bands, particularly 80;40 and 20 meters, I continued my research. I was also attracted to the idea of a being able to contact a wider pool of Hams in the U.S. which included 340,00 individuals currently holding the Technician level license. With about 750,000 licensed radio amateurs in the U.S., ‘techs’ represent almost half of those involved in this hobby.
My second question was, “What do the contacts and conversations on DMR sound like?” As a long time short wave listener, I knew that upgrading my license would be worthwhile since it would allow me to transmit on the HF bands. I wondered if DMR would be an ‘interesting mode’ for me.
I learned that there are two websites that provided and answer to my question by allowing one to listen to typical DMR QSOs (conversations) and see who is participating in the conversation.
You can listen in real time to DMR conversations around the world, across North America, or in your own locality by signing on to the Brandmeister Hoseline website at https://hose.brandmeister.network. (A pesky feature of this site is that every 10 minutes or so, the scanner goes ‘offline’. Just click the blinking ‘offline icon’ and you will be reconnected.)
By simply clicking the ‘Scanner’ button and entering the number of a few ‘Talk Groups’ you can hear both nationwide and worldwide contacts and conversations. Talk Groups are currently organized according to the geography that the group covers.
For example, Talk Group 91 (one of my favorites) is the ‘worlwide talk group’ and you can regularly hear Hams from Europe, Asia and North and South American chatting with one another as you might on any HF net. Currently (May, 2018) the majority of talk groups are geographically focused, however as more and more Hams begin using DMR, ‘interest group’ talk groups are emerging based on topics such as astronomy; aviation; movies; and music.
Another website that will help you to learn about the depth and breadth of the developing DMR community and identify talk groups to enter into the Hoseline scanner is http://www.netwatch.nydmr.net.
This “Control Center Bronx-TRBO” website shows you all the DMR traffic which is passing through a network of over 1300 DMR repeaters worldwide. By watching the top of the continually scrolling page you can see the call sign of currently transmitting Hams and the talk groups they are using. You can then enter these talk groups on the Hoseline website to hear what they are saying.
If you like what you see and hear on these two web sites, then you may find that DMR is a mode for you.