June 2017

June 2017

EC Bulletin

The El Paso D-Star/D-RATS net is undergoing a facelift to become a better net. Old traditions are hard to let go of sometime, but there comes a time when they are just plain out of date and new traditions should be created. The digital modes have opened a new opportunity for conducting nets in different ways. Attracting check-ins is what makes a net successful because without check-ins there would not be a net.

This topic started out as a discussion with Paul, K9PTF in Chelsea, AL and myself to standardized a format for advertising D-Star nets and other announcements on the D-RATS RATflectors. It quickly turned into how we can change the format on the El Paso D-Star/D-RATS net to make the net run smoother and more efficient. We started out the conversation on the D-RATS net for the Alabama D-Star Net and then moved to emails.

The topic of early check-ins came up, and how we can make the net run smoother. Some people in different time zones like to check into nets early and give their comments at the top of the net, and then move on to another net. Having early voice check-ins on reflectors, and RATflectors for those that run D-RATS nets concurrent with their voice nets helps the net control set the lineup for starting the net. It also decreases the amount of stations doubling during the regular check in period at the top of the net.  

If I might digress for a moment. I’d like to say something about doubling on D-Star as opposed to analog. This is a problem that all nets have whether it’s an analog or digital net. Remember that analog audio is represented as a voltage level. D-Star audio is represented as a binary one or a zero in the form of packets. When two stations double on the analog repeaters we have all heard the grunge that the repeater retransmits. One of the beauties of the D-Star repeaters is that when packet crashes occur the repeater will not retransmit them. All we hear is dead air. Sometimes this is referred to as the “D-Star deep dark hole”. Nothing is heard until the repeaters/reflectors reset themselves. Therefore, it is important to not tailgate, and give the previous stations transmissions time to completely drop before the next station keys up their radio. It only takes a couple of seconds to do this.

Now let me get back to my original topic. The El Paso D-Star/D-RATS Net has implemented a Chat Room on the AE5HE RATflector during the D-RATS portion of the net. Sometimes other people will be on the RATflector having conversations and not be a part of the net. Which is perfectly okay. But, those conversations can be distracting for those who are participating in the net. Creating a Chat Room separates the two conversations. It is simple to get into a chat room on D-RATS. On the Chat Tab click on JOIN CHANNEL and enter “El_Paso” (without the quotes) in the text box and click OK. You will find a #El_Paso tab at the bottom of the Chat Pane. Click on the tab and you are in the El Paso Chat Room.

We will start taking early check-ins for the net at 7 PM (Mountain time) in the Chat Room and on the reflector 055A. Tell us if you have comments for the voice net and we will add you to the rotation. If you are a D-RATS check-in only, but would like to leave a comment or announcement for the net we will read it over the air. You may secure your station at your convenience. Although, there have been times when the D-RATS portion of the net has gone on long after the voice portion of the net has ended. Different topics spawn different ideas and comments which is good for the nets. It gets people active and enjoying the net. I am running some other changes around in my head and will announce them later. It’s all in the name of getting the net to run smoother and more efficient, and giving more air time for the check-ins to air their comments.

Questions and comments regarding the content of this article are welcome and encouraged. Send an email to the address shown below.

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT 
ARRL Emergency Coordinator – El Paso, County 
Assist. DEC Culberson and Hudspeth Counties 
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net
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