Thursday, August 25, 2016

MB6ISR - The SW London Fusion Gateway

I recently purchased an FTM-100DE so I could have a play with Wires-x and fusion

It’s been interesting to set things up and experiment with this mode.

One thing that drew me towards it was that unlike D-Star there was no need to register, just enter your callsign and if you wish a name into the rig when you power up for the first time and away you go... (More on this later)

I soon established that there was absolutely no Fusion activity on 2M and a very distant repeater (GB7HF) on UHF.

I use a now out of Production Araki YA485D vertical antenna that has very good performance and I live in a reasonably flat location. Placing my UHF antenna above the roof ensures it has a good range. Its a 2 x five eighths vertical and I remember back in the 80's using it to access BG3PT which was a RTTY repeater in Cambridge (Much to the suprise of the locals)

At 11M above ground level I was able to access GB7HF at Welham Green about 40 Miles north and started to learn how C4FM and Wires-x works. Trouble is the path wasn’t 100%. I also discovered that on 2M the FTM-100 suffered atrocious intermod from a local paging system, even with a PAR pager notch and bandpass filter I had problems so decided not to use the FTM-100 on 2M

My next purchase was a second hand HRI-200 which is an internet Gateway. That’s where the need to register arrives as Yaesu needed my details before allowing me access to the Wires-x network through the device.

A day later I was duly granted the appropriate access and just had to set up the HRI-200. This wasn’t that straightforward given the internet connection at my QTH. I played with lots of settings around fixed IP addresses but these were a red herring.. Eventually I worked out I had to enable port forwarding against a range of addresses for the HRI-200 to connect.

So here’s the rub. In the UK you cannot lawfully re-broadcast internet traffic without obtaining a NOV (Notification of Variation) from Ofcom.

I started by running the FTM-100 into a dummy load and using a second FTM-100 to connect to the Wires-x network. Thats was actually quite useful as I slowly learnt how the system worked by connecting to a node then searching and selecting the rooms where I could work people in or just monitor.

After a little more researching I realised I could apply for an Ofcom NOV which would allow me to re-transmit the Wires-x traffic.

Application for an NOV is through the RSGB ETCC for the region. Dave G7UZN is the rep for the SE Region, He pointed me towards the online application form and some things to observe (Power, antenna etc). I completed and submitted the online form quite easily although you have to be careful to get the location and height above sea level correct.

There were a few issues to consider

  1. I could run on 2M unattended but the FTM-100 would suffer intermod causing drop-outs and in addition it would tie up 2M which I use for local chat and SSB DXing
  2. I could run 70CM but it required attended operation (Why?) so I couldn’t use it out and about mobile

I decided to apply for a 70CM NOV as it was the lesser of two evils. I built a small swich box so I could leave the Gateway running 24/7 and switch the rf to a local load when unattended,

I left allocation of the specific frequency to Dave and waited for a response. I was surprised how quickly I received my NOV and by the second day I had the power on the FTM-100 reduced to one watt (another condition) and the gateway running on 434.5125Mhz

I’m home most days from 4pm so if you live around SW London and own a set capable of C4FM, hit the DX button on your transceiver and see if my gateway responds.

Here is a MB6IFR now installed in a corner of the shack -

The MB6ISR equipment is

  • Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p SFF Quad Core i5-2400 8GB RAM 250GB  SSD Windows 10 Professional 64Bit Desktop PC running Wires-X
  • Devolo powerline adaptor delivering 100MB/s ethernet (and no, it doesn't interfere with my HF!)
  • Yaesu HRI-200
  • Yaesu FTM-100DE
  • Hombrew switch unit and load 
  • Bird Truline with RF-port for frequency measurement
  • 8M LMR-400 feeder
  • Araki 458D Vertical
  • TTI Instruments frequency counter (10Mhz GPSDO locked)
I haven't set up a room for SW London as there are already lots to choose from and the gateway is open to all users who can select what they want to listen to. I must say I enjoy listening to America Link and UK Net Hub traffic.

I will see how things go and maybe set up a 2M Gateway in the future. 

VY 73 Rex G8UBJ