GB3IN first went Live ‘ON AIR’ on the 20th August 2003 from Jon’s G4TSN QTH at Huthwaite North Nottinghamshire, a mile or so from Junction 28 of the M1 Motorway, at a height of 520 ft asl & using 25 Watts ERP from a Collinear.
In 2006 Jon decided that it was time for the Repeater to move to a more permanent site for the long term future running of GB3IN.
After discussions with Richard Drabble G1SLE of Zycomm Electronics ( Ripley Derbyshire), it was decided to move GB3IN to the Highoredish Radio Site.
Our sincere thanks go out to Richard G1SLE for all his help with the move, as without his help the move would not have been possible – thanks again Richard.
Thanks go to” Zycomm Electronics” for hosting us on their radio site.
The Repeater moved to the Highoredish site on the 23rd of May 2006 with much delight from Charlotte Jon’s Wife, having put up with the Repeater being housed in a corner of the Dining Room for 3 weeks on test, prior to the move. This was when myself Steve G0LCG & Nigel G0IZL became involved with Jon to help him with the running & the affairs of the Repeater.
In April 2009 we started a refurbishment program with the intention of adding digital facilities to the repeater in the future.
We met with Jonathan G4KLX a former local amateur and software developer and we tested some digital software with him.
Jonathan came up with the idea of a digital repeater controller running completely in software on a PC, we were quite comfortable with running a PC on a remote site, as we’d done this for many years to run Echolink and had already solved any problems associated with this in the past.
The first step would be to change the TX and RX line up, we would need something capable of running GMSK modulation for digital working. We looked around and finally after not being able to source a suitable VHF Tait 800 series, Steve and Nigel found, purchased and collected a Philips Simoco FX5000, which we thought was GMSK capable with only a slight modification.
Myself and Steve started to set-up the new equipment programming the eproms and setting the FX5000 on frequency. In the meantime Jonathan had been very busy writing a complete analogue repeater controller in software.
The software repeater that Jonathan was writing, was coming along nicely. This was to include all filtering, pre emphasis, de-emphasis, ctcss encode/decode, vogad, link to Echolink and of course all the usual logic functions, all in software, so quite a task and most likely the first complete software solution in the world.
The reason for completing the analogue software controller was to enable us to use the common direct modulation points we would need to use for GMSK.
So after much work and testing from all concerned in August, myself and Steve G0LCG installed the FX5000 with replacement PC and the G4KLX software analogue repeater controller.
The first few days ‘live’ were very busy and Jonathan G4KLX was on hand via email providing us with support and updates to the software almost daily. We soon found this software system was great from a support point of view; we could now control virtually all features/levels etc and apply any changes remotely, which was brilliant. !!
I had applied for an NOV. to run ‘dual mode’ on GB3IN and this was licensed by Ofcom in September 2009. Jonathan had a working version of the digital repeater in a state we could try live on GB3IN.
These tests were very successful and really encouraged all of us, within a month of these early tests we were ready to deploy a regular schedule when the repeater would be in digital mode.
We looked closely at when the repeater had virtually no analogue traffic and applied these times in an attempt to keep all users happy, including those who were wanting to use the new digital mode – unfortunately you can never please everyone …..but we have tried.
In the future months we are improving the digital service and ultimately will be hoping to deploy a fully integrated combined repeater which will allow shared access from either analogue or digital.
The idea being when the repeater is idle it will be accessible by either mode; once accessed by either mode it will stay in this mode until ‘idle’ again for a defined time, perhaps 1 minute when again it will be open to access to either mode again.
Much has happened since the first Digital tests with the now famous G4KLX software which all started out on GB3IN Repeater.
The German team have added the much improved performance DCS reflectors (www.xreflector.net) which have an improved network protocol reducing the black hole problems which the early reflectors suffered.
Also the introduction of CCS simple callsign routing activated by DTMF tones really has changed the way d-star linking can be used, making it much simpler to route to another user directly. DTMF can also be used to link to and unlink from reflectors making operation simple.
Guus PE1PLM at DV-Mega(www.dvmega.auria.nl/) has developed hardware allowing personal hotspots at an affordable price on a very flexible platform, which also use the G4KLX software this has dramatically increased the numbers using and enjoying d-star. These are distributed in the UK by (www.dvmega.co.uk/)
Recent developments with the Hytera DMRplus network see us able to bridge to this developing network from d-star (www.gb7rr.co.uk) much more to come on this.
Brandmeister UK appeared in late 2015 and DMR is growing rapidly throughout the world also bridging to the growing Yaesu C4FM system in 2016.
GB3IN hosts various services supporting the network side of digital amateur networks in the UK for use by all radio amateurs on our data centre servers, including DCS005 the UK DCS reflector and also provide the Brandmeister UK’s Master server, if you would like further information or like to support this / these services please see our support page remember without the infrustructure we would not enjoy the facilities we have now got used too.