I am prompted to write a few lines owing to the state of some of the number of code-plugs I have seen recently. I have all the CPS software and have been quite adept in their manipulation.
Some of the brands of radio do not lend themselves to easy editing in the first place, and by that I mean the AnyTone brand in particular and some of the Client Programming Softwares (CPS) produced that work in a similar way, in that they make instant changes to a live relational database. You can tell it is live, due to the time it spends loading and saving. Other brands such as the Alliunce HD1, Baofeng DM5R, RadiOddity GD77, Baofeng 1802 have a similar system, but have differing attributes. Most of the Tytera and Retevis Brand have an easier interface, and are very similar in structure, and can easily be largely edited by N0GSG’s Contact Manager, although need finishing off in the parent CPS before uploading.
Firstly and most importantly, too many code plugs that I have seen, have named all the TalkGroups in the contact list or TalkGroup list. This does not make it easy when adding a TalkGroup to a channel in the state of being programmed. It is far better to leave the TalkGroup as a number and name the finished channel. But even then even this gives rise to complications when the codeplug is shared with others. Every credit due to Moonraker’s codeplugs, but they are not helpful. The codeplug is a very personal thing and reflects the needs of the one, to coin a phrase. If there is an error, it is guaranteed to be shared around. Imagine that multiplied many times over.
My second observation is that clearly some of the parameters are misunderstood, and selected out of ignorance rather than necessity. But we have to remember that we amateurs are messing about in a professional mode, where some of these parameters have more relevance.
Do NOT for example select TalkAround in any circumstances, especially where repeaters are concerned, as this has the effect of the user transmitting on the output channel of the repeater.
Do however select the colorcode options in TalkPermit or TxPermit, for Same ColorCode. This is the digital equivalent of CTCSS ensuring access to the correct device. Some CPS also provide an option for the receive parameters where Follow Transmit would be the preferred option.
Often the TimeSlot is misconfigured with respect to the TalkGroup. Simplex Hotspots operate on a single TimeSlot (normally internally designated as TS0), that means the operator should select TimeSlot 2 for default operations, although it is likely TimeSlot 1 will work in some circumstances. Duplex Hotspots are to be treated as repeaters, where there is a transmit frequency and a receive frequency, and the further these two are away, the better. In some minds the conception is that each of the two slots is transmitted on each of two frequencies. Time Division Multiplex means the single transmitter shares it transmission time equally between the two slots on a very rapid basis. Incidentally I have read a question posed recently where the hotspot owner could not connect it to his local repeater. Needless to say, is that it does not and cannot. They can merely share the same connected TalkGroups, provided they are on the same network of course.
Receive Group Lists.
Another misconception is that no reception can be achieved without the TalkGroup in a Receive Group List. This is incorrect. If fact the reverse is true, and no Receive Group list is requires. However the Receive Group list need contain only one TalkGroup TG9, that will give the operator feedback when ordering a disconnect from a user-activated TalkGroup, allowing the server to respond “not Linked” in the case of the BrandMeister Network, and be heard no matter what TalkGroup or TimeSlot the operator may be.
Parrot Calls (9990 or MCC997 – MCC being the country code =235 for the UK) and Disconnect Calls (GroupCall 4000).
Both of these facilities can be programmed into Function keys on all the brands of Radio, releasing channel spaces in a zone for real active TalkGroups. In the AnyTone range, these functions are first added as HotKeys and then added to the button functions in the options menu. I recommend PF1 short press for 4000 and PF1 long press for the Parrot function. The display lights up with ‘Press PTT’ to complete the function. Tytera and Retevis radios in the main have this in the Buttons Menu. The stranger in the camp is the Retevis RT73 that has a Unique CPS for most of the actions.
In the Anytone 868 CPS, each channel requires careful attention to all the parameters. If you are unsure of the selection boxes, leave them alone except an important one – ‘TDMA Adaptive’ should be checked in order for the correct operation of TDMA Tier II. The Anytone 878 doesn’t have this box in the CPS, that eliminates the issue.
I have mentioned the Contact Manager from N0GSG. Although this works to some degree with the AnyTone exported file-type .dcf, it is not always possible to maintain the integrity of the database when the file is reimported back into the AnyTone CPS. Something of which to be aware.
When using Excel, always be aware you are working on tables of a CPS database, and any changes you make to the table will not necessarily be accepted in the same way as they left the database. In case of confusion here I do not mean the worldwide Downloadable Contact Database. I meant the CodePlug itself. It is a form of nested tables each with a relationship with the others within the CodePlug. Change a number in a TalkGroup table for example may change the channel to which it is linked and the Zone in which it appears.
This is particularly noticeable with adding TalkGroups to a list. Even in Contact Manager, adding a TalkGroup changes a table in the CodePlug that changes a TalkGroup in a Button Menu, so always check this when loading the CodePlug prior to uploading it to the radio. The advantages with Contact Manager are that every table within the CodePlug can be ordered numerically or alphabetically, so that for the most OCD of us, can be assured that everything is in the right place to make it work to the best advantage.
CodePlugs are fun in many ways. However if you do not have a particular TalkGroup in it, in some circumstances programming a channel may be difficult. I have a list of every known TalkGroup from most sources, but it doesn’t mean that I need to create a channel for all of them, but it means I do not have to look for resources in future expansion.
Some radios have the facility for Ad-Hoc TalkGroups that are volatile when the channel is changes. My MD380G for example has the facility to enter any TalkGroup on Any Network to which I am for the time being connected, but has also a large selection available for a permanent programming situation.
For those with large zones there really is no limit for channels in daily use, although I confess that lately activity relative to connectivity is very low in percentage.
See you on the air on BrandMeister or IPSC2-Phoenix we hope.