‘Do you quit DMR?’ This question was sent to my by mail about half an hour after I’d put my Hytera handheld for sale on a second hand website. ‘Did I ever start it?’ was the question I was thinking of…
Some years ago I’ve been playing around with DStar. I’ve been using an Icom handheld and my own hotspot, but after a while this became a bit boring. The only ‘radio’ part in this setup was the 70cm link to the hotspot in a storage at the attic. But about the same time the DMR hype took off. Once of a sudden the internet was filled with usergroups, websites, Facebook communities and of course a lot of equipment. And repeaters appeared everywhere out of the blue. For big money Hytera radios and a lonely Motorola were shifted over shop counters. And also my shack got equipped with an Hytera mobile radio, followed by a handheld a bit later. But for the handheld I didn’t want to spend such a huge amount of money, so I decided to buy a Connect Systems CS700. In those days this was the one and only handheld in the lower price range. And for the money it really was a nice radio. But after some time I got fed up with the small monochrome display, so I surrendered and bought an Hytera portable with GPS.
But in the same pace also the DMR network evolved. ‘DMR Plus’ had reached its limits and out of the blue ‘Brandmeister’ appeared. Beside the fact ‘Brandmeister’ is great software, it marked the decay of my interest in DMR. While servers got migrated quickly also the policies in the network were changed. Slot 1 got permanently linked up to the national talkgroup 204. Slot 2 was available for ‘other things’. For me this permanent link of slot 1 was a no go. Although I can imagine the initial idea behind it, it appeared to be different in reality.
Switching to 204/1 you still can hear always the same group of amateurs somewhere from the central part of the country. In fact nothing wrong with that, but it keeps timeslot 1 occupied in the entire country. When listening for some time you get some feeling by the locations of these regulars which makes you realize these people could easily use a local or regional repeater. In almost the entire central part of the country it’s possible to use the UTR repeater in IJsselstein. Personally I would prefer a DStar-like solution: both timeslots are available and every user can link and unlink whatever they want. With a time out for unlinking: as soon as the repeater doesn’t receive any RF signal for a set amount of time, the link gets disconnected and the slot is available for everybody else again.
Of course I’m not obligated to listen or participate at 204/1. That’s the reason why this talkgroup has been banned from my scan list and roaming lists. But then I’ve had the radio scan slot 2 for evenings, days and weeks. At home but also during my business trips through the country. Slot 2 remained silent: on the southern region talkgroup but also on local talk groups I’ve called CQ, but as DMR is digital not even static could be heard…
Finally joy was over. Slot 1 occupied by the same regular users and slot 2 contained vacuum. There were no nice conversations about HAM related topics anymore. Although there are quite some interesting developments regarding DMR. Especially in DL some innovative things are happening. But at my side the radio was put on the shelf hasn’t been used frequently anymore.
Nevertheless I got the impression DStar had been reduced to some niche in the amateur radio world. A lot of my bookmarks I’ve used some years ago were dead links and dashboards are offline. My DutchStar module was put for sale numerous time on well known internet sites, but it’s still in my drawer because nobody seems to use this anymore. For me this is even more a motivator to dust off DStar. I could purchase an Icom IC92d, I certainly have a 9k6 capable 70cm transceiver somewhere in my storage and of course I still have the DutchStar module.
I often tell people I don’t like to walk the way everybody walks. The DMR path has now been flattened, widened, asphalted and equipped with crash barriers. Just like the DStar path some years ago. But the latter has been overgrown again with weeds and bushes. And as it’s my nature to walk the difficult ways, I’m going back to DStar and look what adventures are waiting there for me.