Repeaters static talkgroups are now replicated throughout Brandmeister master servers

Up until now, the static and time-static talkgroups configured for a repeater were saved on the master the repeater is connected to at the time of the configuration. When a repeater was moved to a different Brandmeister master server, the static talkgroups had to be re-defined so it could be saved onto the local database of the new master server.

This behavior has now changed. When configured in the self-care, static and timed-static talkgroups subscriptions are now replicated throughout all Brandmeister master servers. This means the static talkgroups will stay the same no matter which master server a repeater is moved to.

This is an added improvement to the “decentralized” architecture of Brandmeister. If all Brandmeister back-end infrastructure were to fail, masters can continue to work standalone.

Brandmeister DMR 2021 : A year-in-review

2021 has been a great year at Brandmeister DMR. The development team once again spoiled the DMR Amateur Radio community with many great features. Let’s review the most significant ones:

A new hoseline on steroids – QSOs on Brandmeister DMR talkgroups can be heard using a web browser on virtually any device, using the brand new Hoseline with improved audio, volume normalizing, multiple talkgroups listening, instant play, and many other features described in detail in this article.

Enhanced repeaters coverage plots – The coverage plots are more precise than they used to, and are updated minutes after making a change in repeater’s data.

Users and Repeaters Self Service– The days of the default “passw0rd” for hotspots and repeaters are over. The registration process on Brandmeister ensures that ham’s IDs are protected, and the traffic is not disturbed by rogue devices or gateways. Most new users are now automagically approved, and it only takes 5 minutes now for a new repeater to become available and manageable on Brandmeister DMR! Thanks to the collaboration of Brandmeister and RadioID developers, the repeater data is imported in Brandmeister, and sysop rights are automatically added. No need to ask and wait for this to be done manually!

A faster dashboard – The dashboard is now responsive, repeater owners can set passwords on their own, hotspot and repeaters list display twice as fast as they used to, and the last-heard is faster than it has ever been!

Brandmeister Core updates – the core Brandmeister software has seen 48 updates in 2021, bringing lots of performance improvements as well as amazing new features such as the Asterisk’s AudioSocket protocol, TextCapture, and the optimization of Wires-X bridging.

We recognize that all these improvements would not have been possible without:

  • The time and devotion of the developpers involved in the many aspects of Brandmeister
  • Hams contributing their time to testing and reporting issues to the development team
  • Master administrators maintaining, troubleshooting, and updating the servers that make Brandmeister accessible to ham radio operators worldwide
  • Support teams spending countless hours helping fellow ham operators
  • User’s donations
  • Users providing computing ressources and hosting

We have more to come for 2022 … so stay tuned, and Happy New Year!

Brandmeister Worldwide “TAC” talkgroups

Three new TAC talkgroups have been added to the Brandmeister talkgroups list:

901WorldWide TAC 1
902WorldWide TAC 2
903WorldWide TAC 3

They have been created to allow finishing long QSOs started on the 91~95 worldwide talkgroups, while allowing new calls to take place on the wide-audience groups.

What is a TAC talkgroup?

TAC stands for TACtical. They are designed to off-load large audience talkgroups.

When a QSO starts on a talkgroup that is known for being static on a very large number of repeaters (and often used as a call channel), and the participants feel that the conversation will be longer than a couple of minutes, they decide to move to a TAC in order to free the original talkgroup so other calls can take place.

What’s special about these talkgroups?

Just like the USA TAC talkgroups 310~319, these three new worldwide TACs cannot be made static on repeaters and hotspots. They are designed to be strictly dynamic, which increases their chances of stay available after a QSO is over.

How to use a Worldwide TAC talkgroup?

If you have started a QSO on talkgroup 91 for example, and you’d like to talk for a long time without monopolizing this very large audience talkgroup, check the talkgroups 901, 902, and 903 for activity (this can easily be done using the dashboard’s lastheard, or your radio), and ask your party to QSY to one free TAC talkgroup. You can then continue your QSO for as long as you’d like. Other hams who wish to participate to this QSO can follow you, while new calls can take place on 91.

Technologies used within Brandmeister DMR

Did you know there are 20+ technologies that make the BM magic possible?

Brandmeister’s developers chose the best and most bleeding-edge technologies available to create the most efficient and featureful Amateur Radio DMR Network ever conceived.

To give you an idea of the technologies symbiosis beauty happening within Brandmeister, here is a list of the main ones we use:

Databases

Languages

  • C & C++ for a most optimized core of Brandmeister DMR
  • LUA for ultra-fast calls processing on masters
  • NodeJS for back-end processing
  • Javascript for the dashboard
  • PHP for web functions on master servers
  • HTML for the dashboard and master web pages
  • Python for scripts on master and back-end servers
  • Bash for scripts on masters and back-end servers

Data Transfer

  • REST APIs for front-end to back-end communications
  • Fast-Forward a network protocol created by Brandmeister to transfer communications between masters at very high speed
  • Mosquitto for master-network data transfer
  • D-Bus for message bus system

Operating Systems

Applications

If you have expertise in programming with these technologies and can volunteer several hours per week, contact us to see if your skills are needed!

New “TextCapture” feature, the SMS Store-And-Forward service you can now enable in your Self-Care!

If you found it inconvenient that you can only receive SMS when your DMR radio is turned on, within repeater/hotspot coverage, and not busy … Brandmeister has a solution!

Thanks to the hard work of Artem and the Brandmeister beta testing team, you now have the ability to turn on “Text Capture” in your self-care, a feature that will store text messages sent to you if your radio is not reachable at the time of sending, and delay delivery until your RadioID becomes active on the Brandmeister DMR network.

Important Requirement

In order for this feature to work, you need to ensure that your radio sends an acknowledgment of SMS reception back to the BrandMeister network. Otherwise, BrandMeister will keep sending the messages, and you will be spammed!

So before turning on this feature, make sure your radio manufacturer has implemented SMS acknowledgment, and that you have enabled this feature in your codeplug. (We will provide a web-based tool to assist in checking if your radio acknowledges properly. Stay tuned!)

How does it work?

Illustration of a DMR Radio sending an SMS to another radio over the Brandmeister Network

By default, Text Capture is turned off. When someone sends an SMS to your RadioID, if the sender and the recipient are not on the same frequency and timeslot, the message is routed to the Brandmeister master server where your radioID was last seen and sent over the same repeater/hotspot you were using. If your radio gets it, great. If not, it’s lost and it won’t be re-delivered.

Brandmeister SMS routing when Text Capture is turned off

Once you turn on the Text Capture feature in your self-care, any data call sent to your radioID (including SMS, IRS, etc.) will be handled by BrandMeister. When an SMS is sent to your RadioID, Brandmeister will capture the message, send an acknowledgment to the sender, attempt delivery to your radio, and wait for it to acknowledge receipt of the SMS. If no acknowledgment is received, Brandmeister will keep sending the message on a regular basis until an acknowledgment is received, for a maximum duration of 7 days. After that, the message will be purged and there is no way to recover it.

Brandmeister SMS routing when Text Capture is turned on

Again, it’s important you keep in mind that once the feature is turned on, your radio will only receive data calls initiated by Brandmeister.

Exceptions

The store-and-forward feature only works with Brandmeister subscribers.

  • SMS from external services (such as automated SMS services, DAPNET messages, etc.) are sent directly to the recipient.
  • SMS cannot pass through gateways with other DMR networks.

Turning Text Capture on and off

  • Toggle the “Text Capture” option ON or OFF:

Hotspots and Repeaters Passwords – Important change on October 1st 2021

Over the past few months, the default password “passw0rd” used for MMDVM, Homebrew, and Kairos connections has been progressively removed from BrandMeister DMR Master Servers. This process will be completed by October 1st 2021.

Below are the details of which devices will be affected with this change, and how to address it.

MMDVM, Homebrew Hotspot users (which includes OpenSpot, Pi-Star, BlueDV, ZumSpot, etc.)

If you have not yet specified a hotspot password in your BrandMeister Selfcare, please do so by following the steps in this article. You will also find explanations on configuring your personalized password for the Openspot, Pi-Star and BlueDV.

MMDVM, Homebrew Repeaters Owners

If you are running a repeater using a 6-digit DMR ID and connected to a BrandMeister Master, and you have not set a password yet, please login to your repeater page and scroll to the bottom of the screen where you will find the “Device Password” field:

Once saved, configure your repeater to use this password when connecting to any BrandMeister Master server.

Dual time-slot MMDVM devices

If you are running a dual-timeslot MMDVM with a 7-digit DMR ID, please follow the steps described in the hotspot section above.

New Hoseline available with stunning new features!

The BrandMeister DMR development team has been working on a new web-based talkgroups audio streaming platform, known as “Hoseline”. It has been re-programmed from scratch and packs a lot of new jaw-dropping features. See and hear for yourself:

New interface

The Hoseline homepage shows a list of “blocks”. Each block represents a talkgroup, along with the current or last transmission information. New blocks will appear as new traffic comes up. If you want to listen to a talkgroup, simply click on the corresponding block.

To avoid clutter, only talkgroups between 90 and 9999 are showing up. You can listen to talkgroups above this limit by using the “Multiple Talkgroup Listening” option (see below).

Single Talkgroup Listening

When you click on one block from the homepage, you will register to this talkgroup, and any QSO will play on your speakers. If you click on another block, you will be unregistered from the previous talkgroup and registered to listen to the talkgroup matching the new block you clicked on.

Multiple Talkgroup Listening

If you click on the “Player” link at the top right of the page, you will have the ability to select multiple talkgroups (using the drop-down list, or typing the talkgroup number directly). You will see the list of talkgroups showing up in Talkgroup traffic will start playing right away in a list of bubbles. Audio will start playing right away for talkgroups in your list. You can remove a talkgroup by clicking on the “X” after the number.

Solo Mode

When you are in the player, looking at multiple talkgroups you registered to; you may click on a bubble’s talkgroup number to enable Solo Mode. This will mute all other talkgroups while keeping this one active. You can click again this talkgroup number to exit Solo Mode and listen to traffic on all groups listed. Clicking on another bubble number moves the Solo Mode to this new group.

New features

As you use the new Hoseline, you will notice these new awesome features only available on the Brandmeister DMR network:

Improved Audio Quality

BM’s developer’s secret sauce is bringing a stunning and unmatched audio quality. You won’t believe your ears!

Real-Time Vu Meter

A brand new VU-Meter was added inside the player, just below the talkgroup number(s). It measures the audio before AGC. It is done within the BrandMeister platform and reported independently from the supplied audio. The color coding is as follow:
– Yellow: less than -20 dBm
– Green: between -20dBm and -3dBm
– Red: above -3dBm

Multi-browser support

Most modern browsers are compatible. Whether you like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, the new Hoseline will work for you on desktop or mobile devices!

Volume Normalizing

Are you tired of turning the volume up and down because people are coming in louder or quieter than others? So were we, and now the volume on Hoseline is automatically normalized. Everyone’s audio is at the same level!

Auto-Reconnect

Are you having you internet connection hiccups? No problem, Hoseline will seamlessly reconnect you as soon as your internet connection is back.

Instant play on subscribe and unsubscribe

If you click a talkgroup block or add a talkgroup in the player where there is current traffic, the audio will play instantly. You will not need to wait for the next transmission. Likewise, if you are subscribed to several talkgroups and two of them become active around the same time, you will hear audio from the talkgroup that started a transmission first. If you decide to unregister from this talkgroup while its audio is playing, the second talkgroup audio will begin right away without waiting for the next transmission. It’s that fast!

Subscriptions list auto-save

You closed your browser, or Windows restarted your computer without asking? No problem, your talkgroups subscription list is saved and will be in the player when you go back to the new hoseline page. Just click on play and you’re back where you were!

We hope that you will enjoy this new version of Hoseline. While it is currently hosted on a separate URL, it become part of the new version of Brandmeister DMR Dashboard when it is released. If you have questions or comments, contact us on Telegram or drop a note on the support portal

New talkgroup 98 dedicated to tests

There is now a dedicated international talkgroup on BrandMeister for all your tests: TALKGROUP 98.

You can test the audio on your new radio or software as many times as you want, for as long as you want, without worrying to disrupt a QSO.

If you like helping fellow digital ham operators, please stand-by on this talkgroup whenever you can to provide assistance and feedback.

73’s and happy tests on talkgroup 98 !

Hotspot security password now required when connecting to USA BM Masters

Hotspots connecting to a BrandMeister Master Server in the USA will now require their users to set a hotspot security password. The configuration change will happen on the following dates:

Master 3101 : November 27th, 2020

Master 3102: December 4th, 2020

Master 3103: December 11th, 2020

Users who already have a password set don’t need to take any action at this time.

For general step by step instructions, you may refer to this post. The link can also be found in the FAQ section of the USA Wiki Page under the Hotspot Configurations section.