I have been a technician with SVXLink for a very much longer than on DMR, so it might be a little surprising that I have not written before now on the subject.
I first started with this software it must be about 10 years ago, when I became the repeater keeper for F5ZGM on its old firmware controller when it was moved to a site about 15 Kilometres from me.
I had been doing some renovation to a number of Kenwood UHF/VHF mobile repeaters using Eprom Firmware, when I came across SVXLink.
My first attempt was compiled onto a linux computer with a home brewed serial interface, but entirely impracticable for resilient use. Enter the first Raspberry Pi Model B and Raspbian Wheezy. Now we were talking. My first efforts were on a couple of Kenwood UHF transceivers and were reasonably successful, but still not very clear. Also it was clear that the American voices that came with the software wold be unacceptable in France, so I had to make a complete suite of voices in French.
Then due to circumstances beyond our control, it was necessary to change up the controller in F5ZGM sooner than expected. With the handmade Serial device and initially the Raspberry Pi B, the SVXLINK software and voice VIRGINIE went into service, with a Raspberry B+ following later, thankfully very satisfactorily.
Then along came the next versions of both Raspbian and its mainframe, the Raspberry Pi 2B. SVXlink was getting known, and Juan F8ASB made some early interfaces, that despite some teething troubles were quite successful. SVXLink was also developing. Tobias SM0SVX was joined by some very interesting folk whose ambitions were beyond the EchoLink module originally intended.
F5ZGM was fully upgraded with the new versions of SVXLink as they emerged and the Raspbery Pi 2B. For a time Virginie was equipped with a powerful amplifier giving 150 Watts over the whole region. Sadly due to a fan malfunction the heat took out the power transistors. Even so its basic power 12 watts goes a long way from 780 Metres altitude.
Then came along Veronique F5ZJE the 50 MHz repeater, and she too was equipped with a Raspberry Pi but a plain B+ model. There wasn’t a great deal of activity on this repeater despite the relative new availability of the band in France at the time. One of the contributors to SVXLink began experiments on a server version of SVXLink, to enable a number of repeaters to connect together without EchoLink. I installed an early version of this on a Linux computer at the repeater site, successfully linking both RF Paths together. Tobias SM0SVX took this to the next stage and incorporated the idea into a full-blow Reflector system, that continues to develop today. The software on Github currently already contains three important elements: The SVXLink Repeater/Radio control system inclusive of EchoLink, MetarInformation, Parrot Repeater, PropagationInformation and Mail Manager; RemoteTrx that permits remote transmitters and receivers to form part of an enlarged repeater coverage system; and finally SVXReflector that contains those protocols for connecting a multitude of Repeater and other links together through a common server.
Thus rrf.f5nlg.ovh is one of the largest groupings of repeaters and nodes available, all through a common server. Rather like the abilities to change talk groups in DMR, and rooms in D-Star and XLX, by using DTMF, users on the RRF can choose to select other “Rooms” off the main server, to continue longer dialogue without holding up traffic on the main centre of activity.
The next articles will be about individual installations and the problems overcome in their realisations.