Digital Room & Reflector Etiquette
The North Shore Radio Club operates three digital systems for the enjoyment of its members, two D-Star repeaters on 440 MHz and 1.2 GHz and a Yaesu System Fusion FM/Digital system on 147.345. Each of these systems can connect to digital chat rooms (“Reflectors” on D-Star and “Rooms” on Fusion). On D-Star, there are many types of reflectors, REF (D-Plus - US Trust), XRF, DCS and XLX. On Fusion, there are WIRES-X, FCS and YSF rooms.
There is a subtle difference between the two digital modes. On D-Star, you can connect our repeaters to another repeater as well as to a reflector. On Fusion, you can only connect our repeater to another Room.
Our digital repeaters tend to be connected to local area rooms, which serve the Illinois and Midwest areas. On D-Star (440 MHz), it’s REF 51C, which is linked to a number of repeaters in the area. The D-Star machine is set to automatically connect to certain local area interest nets such as the Illinois net on REF 01B and the Wisconsin and Indiana nets. After a period of inactivity, the system will automatically return to its “home”, which is REF 51C. Users are welcome to connect to some of the busier reflectors, such as REF 01C or REF 30C. These reflectors can be very active, and the repeater could be busy for quite a while. One thing to keep in mind is that while connected to a busy reflector, local users are precluded from talking without bringing up dozens of machines, nationwide or worldwide. So, if you want to talk to far away places, by all means go for it. But if you want to just listen all day, be aware that you are locking up the repeater. The same goes for checking in to countless obscure or specialty nets. A good test would be that if you were the only local person checking in, using a personal dongle device and allowing others to use the repeater might better serve you.
Yaesu System Fusion is a slightly different situation. Our 2-meter repeater is a SKYWARN machine. Therefore, it must always be available to operate in FM mode for emergency traffic. That is why we don’t have a “home” Room that the machine automatically reverts to. Similar to the D-Star systems, we tend to have the Fusion repeater connected to smaller, local or regional rooms, such as the Wisconsin-Minnesota Room (“MNWIS”) or the Illinois Link room, which is linked to a statewide Fusion/DMR room/reflector. You will find that on Monday evenings we connect to the MNWIS room for its weekly informational net. But just the same as on D-Star, if you want to talk to faraway places, by all means try the often-busy America Link or CQ UK rooms. But again remember that if you leave it connected for extended periods of time, you are precluding local users (both FM and Digital) from using the machine. Users of some radios do not have the ability to navigate rooms, so they can’t disconnect the room even if they wanted. So again, if your interest is to monitor busy or obscure rooms for extended periods of time, you might be better served by using a personal dongle device.
When changing a reflector or room, it’s normally good practice to ask first if anyone is listening to the current room and announce your intentions. When you are done, please leave the repeater where you found it by switching back.
Hopefully the above better explains the club’s digital linking philosophy and allows as many members the opportunity to enjoy our digital repeaters as possible.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact any Board member or Tech Committee member.