This is a re-cap of our experience
using an IPSC connected XPR-8300 on the road to and from Dayton over the
course of the 15 day road trip.
The repeater was a UHF 25
watt XPR-8300, flat-pack mobile duplexer and a
3dB gain NMO roof mounted. 13 watts out of
the duplexer, .2 watts reflected. Nothing
exceptional so far.
Internet connections were
made via a Verizon LTE dongle (Pantech) plugged
into a Cradlepoint MBR-1200 router. Speeds
were up to 13 meg down and 5 meg up on LTE
connections. The router performed well
both on Ethernet (repeater & surveillance
camera) and WiFi for our various electronics.
We had the WiMax USB device in the side window
as well as 2 WiFi antennas. We would
recommend an external WiMax antenna mounted on
the roof of the vehicle for serious users or
permanent router installations.
When any 2G or GPRS and
up to LTE connection was maintained, the
networked repeater worked well. There is
some buffering in the connection as we noticed a
longer turn-around time when we chatted with
others hams. It was not objectionable but
was apparent. Audio quality was exactly
the same as one would expect from any fixed
installation. Signal reports back to us
were consistently good also. But there was
some random junk that mucked up our voice, most
noticeable when at or near hand-offs as would be
The biggest problem was
hand-offs in that it affected the connection to
the IPSC network. There seemed to be no
consistency when handing off or when between
coverage areas. Sometimes the IPSC
connection would fix itself, never loose
connectivity or only lose it for 30 seconds.
But the bulk of the time, unless there was audio
traffic on the network, one could not count on
being on the IPSC network. We used a
c-Bridge tool to force the repeater to
re-affiliate and all would be fine until
possibly the next hand-off.
Part of the trip we locked
the connections down to GPRS or 2G speeds in an
effort to reduce the tower hand-off issues.
When stationary, the connections were completely
stable. While in motion we could have 4
bars (-73 dBm or better) and still hand-off to
another tower. It did not seem to matter
if it was 2,3 or 4G/LTE connections. But
we felt we had the most consistent IPSC
connections when we locked the router to 2G
presumably because they were the most common
across the country.
As much of our travel was off
the beaten path, we experienced many service
vacuums. We had 3 other devices on
commercial voice or data networks and the router
was able to maintain connections most of the
time when our hand-helds failed. Verzion
was by far the most reliable, well past AT&T or
T-Mobile. We think that had we been in
major metro markets and not traveling between
those areas, the hand-offs would have been less
of an issue.
So, is this a useable
implementation of TRBO? Nope, not at least
the way we did it. Had we not had someone
manning the tablet to confirm IPSC connectivity
and if not, forcing network re-affiliations,
this would have been a very quiet trip.
This method is not quite ready for prime time.
But it sure was a lot of fun being able to chat
on TRBO from Old Faithful, EBR-1, Craters of the
Moon and other odd places not known for TRBO
Our thanks to Chris, N3RPV,
who loaned us the LTE dongle, router, and data
plan to enable this road trip and the Hamvension
presence of a DCI repeater.
This is a shot of the repeater,
router, batteries and rigrunner as installed on the
floor behind the front seats of the Forester, click
image for larger view.