147.345 System Fusion Repeater
In November 2016, our Technical Committee installed a Yaesu System Fusion repeater at our Northbrook site, replacing the analog repeater we’ve had there for several years.
Yaesu System Fusion is the latest entry into the field of digital voice used by ham radio operators. Similar to D-Star, Fusion was designed specifically for ham use, unlike some of the commercial systems (P-25, DMR, NXDN) that have been adapted for ham use. What is unique about System Fusion is that it supports both analog and digital use as well as the ability to connect to “rooms”, which are similar to D-Star reflectors or DMR talk groups.
The new repeater is on our same frequency of 147.345 MHz. In the analog mode, it will continue to use the same PL of 107.2 Hz.
What does this mean to you? If you are an analog only user, the only thing we recommend is that you activate Tone Squelch (PL receive - 107.2 Hz) on your radio. This way, when the repeater is operating in digital mode, your squelch won’t open up and you won’t hear the distinctive “white noise” of digital modulation. Also, when getting ready to key the mike and transmit, look at your radio to be sure the frequency is clear. Another thing to note is that with your radio in PL receive, you may not hear a courtesy beep, so please be sure to leave space between transmissions so a breaking station can get in.
If you are a System Fusion digital user – The repeater will operate in Automatic Mode Select (AMS). What this means is that it will retransmit whatever it hears. So if you transmit FM, it will repeat FM. If you transmit narrow digital (DN), it will transmit narrow digital. And, if you transmit wide digital (VW) it will retransmit the same. Since you will be sharing the repeater with analog users, we ask that you please use AMS receive at all times (that’s FM, DN or VW with a horizontal line above it in your display). This way you will hear FM users.
What about SkyWarn? Since the repeater always has priority for emergency and SkyWarn traffic, all users must yield to emergency traffic. Digital users must be aware that during times of potentially threatening weather, analog users may break in and need to use the repeater. That’s why we ask you to operate in AMS receive mode.
What about Internet linking? We currently have Internet access, which allows us to connect to Wires-X “rooms”, which are similar to D-Star Reflectors or DMR Talk Groups. The repeater’s current “home” is the Minnesota-Wisconsin (“MNWis”) room. We try to not leave the repeater connected to extremely busy rooms like America Link or CQ-UK for extended periods of time, because analog users might not be able to access the repeater in an emergency. In order to do this, we have a 30 minute timeout on internet room connections. Therefore we ask that if you connect the repeater to a different (busy) Wires-X room, please disconnect when are done so that the repeater is truly open and available for both analog and digital users. Please realize that if you are listening to a busy room or a lengthy net, you are preventing others from using the repeater. If this is your desired style of operation, you may want to consider a personal hotspot device instead, leaving the repeater open to the nearly 200 other NS9RC members to enjoy.
What if we have problems? We understand the migration from an analog-only system to a digital system can create unintended consequences. The North Shore Radio Club has nearly 200 members, the majority of whom are analog only users. While the number of digital users grows rapidly every month, we have carefully considered our implementation so that members are not negatively impacted. One of the reasons we are excited about activating digital on the 2 meter band (virtually all of the digital systems of all flavors in the Chicago area are on the 70 cm band) is that the cost barrier to entry on Fusion is much lower. While a dual band Fusion rig can cost between $300 to over $500, the 2 meter-only Yaesu FTM-3200DR or the dual band hand held FT-70 are only about $150 at many dealers. As a result, more hams can “dip their toes” into digital waters. So to answer the question, if we find we are having problems, we can certainly alter the “rules of engagement” to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the advantages of digital while maintaining a viable analog system.
What if you don’t want anything to do with digital? As we mentioned earlier, if you place your rig in PL receive, you will not hear any digital. Also remember we have a 220 MHz repeater on the very same site as our 2 meter repeater, with very similar coverage.
So, in summary, we are excited to be adding this new technology to our fleet of repeater assets. We are mindful and respectful that hams have a variety of interests and are proud to make so many VHF/UHF voice options available to our membership. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact any Board member. And thank you again for your continued support of the North Shore Radio Club.