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Pacific Northwest DMR
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Welcome to DMR

This page is of interest to those who have registered for a radio ID in anticipation to becoming active in DMR in our region and also for those who are just entering this digital mode and are interested in getting a handle on the mode before getting on the air.

PNW DMR encourages learning about our operation prior to On-the-Air use.


The PNW DMR network actively supports our new members.  We have 3 major areas that we hope to assist you with developing your long term interest in this digital mode.

  1. Which HT entry radio to buy and how to program it to work on our repeaters and the larger DMR network is a primary goal. 

  2. How to use our resources best out the gate, both at the repeater level and then, out on the wider network.

  3. Use of our MMDVM portals if you do not have access to our repeaters.

If you have used D-STAR, then you you have some idea of how big and maybe complex DMR may be.  It may appear daunting in fact...but with some effort to understand the radios and their programming, as well as little bit of background on the operation of those radios, we hope that we can smooth your way along this DMR journey.  But very simply if you just concentrate your efforts to just a few specific talkgroups (similar DSTAR Reflectors or Fusion Rooms), it can be very simple with little stress.  In other words, begin with your local repeater and use the local talkgroups first to get used to your radio and a bit of the local repeater activity and operation.  From there you can take on additional talkgroups.

DMR really can be a easy as using a FM repeater but DMR or MotoTRBO repeaters have a cool advantage of 2 simultaneous voice paths.  That is like having 2 FM repeaters in one package.  So for an average cost of of $4,500 to put a repeater up on a major mountaintop site, we all have twice the capability, or loosely, half the costs.  But more importantly, it enables much more capability, most especially with the networking capability.

This welcome page is not really a the best place to hit you with everything at once but more our effort to begin small and simple and grow into the advanced, very cool stuff later.  So with that in mind, here is our effort to help you to help yourself enter the door to Pacific Northwest's DMR world.

PNW DMR consists of over 30 repeaters and other networking devices that are available to you.  Everything is individually owned by our own ham members and almost nothing is subsidized by any non-ham entities.  We pay for everything we do to make assets available to other hams.

We have a few rules which are in place to help keep order on the network.  Most of our member repeater owners agree to the same "rules", though some of our repeaters operate a bit differently per the wishes of the respective owners.  The same and different operating rules will be pointed out a bit later.  But keep this in mind please, if you feel you must go out without the basic rules of the road under your belt, you might get a bumpier ride needlessly. 

This might be loosely equated to having a drivers license at age 16 but not yet having a commercial driver's license or qualifying as a NASCAR driver.  FM repeater operation is more the new 16 year old driver while DMR is more akin more to driving a big rig through downtown Seattle.  All drivers might be able to navigate the road, but some are likely to have some bumps along the way.

We hope to smooth out the bumps in your journey.  But we must emphasize that you must meet us halfway.  Diving right into the wrong talkgroup, wrong attitude or wrong repeater is a formula for major bumps...if not cliffs in your DMR journey.  Please invest some time in reading through our resources on our web site and join our Yahoo group to learn more sooner than later.  You really must invest more that $80 in a HT and jumping in on PNW 2 or Oregon 1 without a seatbelt, which we hope to provide you here.

There are 5 boxes below.  Please read them and ask questions if you don't understand.  These boxes just scratch the surface of the power of the network.  But you will be well on your way to enjoying the power given a bit of time and effort using the resources that we have available online, over the air, via Yahoo and Email.


1: You need a radio

Most hams starting out begin with a handheld, typically going with the least expensive as they don't know but cost as a criteria.  So there is the Tytera MD-380 at around $80, which is they most popular radio, due to being the least expensive.  It is well supported and works well.

PNW DMR recommends the BFDX CS-580 as a better alternative for an entry radio at around $120 to $140.  We support it with a regularly updated codeplug.  This 580 works well and objectively, has more and better ham features built-in without the need to use experimental or hacked firmware.  We can point you to good pricing too if you still need radio.

But either HT will get you into the DMR door, so pick one and get it programmed.  Use the stock codeplugs we publish to keep it simple.  You can customize extensively later but your radio will work correctly with the minimum of stress.  Codeplug creation can be a work of art and certainly is time consuming.  Rolling your own without the basic and advanced knowledge can provide you (and the network) an unsatisfactory experience.  So use ours for now.


2: If you can't use our repeaters, consider a MMDVM "Hotspot"

Hotspots enable access to our DMR network via little personal "repeaters".  They cost from about $110 to $500 with the most popular being the openSPOT at around $220.

PNW DMR has a number of portals available to our members and one for our non-members.  More information on our support at:  MMDVM at PNW DMR

Highly recommended are the openSPOT which is plug n play, the ZUMspot which is inexpensive but requires some assembly skills or the Nano-Spot, mid-range cost and the best for mobile or portable use.

These devices run on 5 or 12 DVC and are very portable for automobile or portable use.  They typically get their Internet connectivity from smart phones when on the go via WiFi or can use an Ethernet port on your home router, same a a computer.

For more information, Google this:


3: Quick Start Page 

Please invest 15 minutes and look over our . It is our bare bones, get rockin n rollin as quickly as possible guide which lays out, in order, what you are likely to need to know to actually operate on the network of repeaters.  It assumes you have your radio and that it is correctly programmed.

Keep an eye on our homepage as you gain experience.  There is a lot of information on that one page but take all at once, without a foundation, is not the best approach.  It is more a reference page once you have become comfortable with DMR and our network operation.


4:  On the Air

Start out locally, get accustomed to using a local repeater.  Local 1 and Local 2 are perfect to use, chat with other locals, ask questions and let our other users help.  We were all noobs at one time, so don't be shy about asking for answers to your questions. Use the Parrot talkgroup, an Echo Server to test out how you sound on the network.  No one listens to the Parrot.  :-)  But honestly it is also a good resource as it helps to pin down audio issues and verifies that your radio is programmed reasonably correctly.

Better though, just call out for a demo, a radio check or just ask for a QSO and say you are new to DMR.  That should generate the listener's response.  We would suggest Washington 2 as a good wide area talkgroup once you have tired of the Locals, or if you don't find any local activity.

DMR is a talkgroup based network and talkgroups control everything about DMR.  Talkgroups are somewhat similar to CTCSS muting, EchoLink nodes, DSTAR reflectors or Fusion rooms.  There are many talkgroups which have various purposes, coverages, routing, timers, and much more.  If you don't know the purpose of them, then don't use them.  Take the time to read up on what they entail.  And as always, ask around for help from our other users.

Some talkgroups restrictive and/or have very specific purposes, so stay away if you haven't gotten up to speed on talkgroups, where they go, why and when.  This is where DMR can get fairly complex, so take your time.


5: More Online Help

Our Handy Links Table at the bottom of our homepage is a good place to look for more information.  The topics are coded with blue basic topics and gray for the more advanced topics.  Start with the basics first and move up as you have time or the interest.

Our suggested entry documents if you wish to get up to speed as quickly as possible are: 1-Best Practices, 2-Quick Start and 3-PNW Homepage

If you bite off more that you can reasonably digest, the potential increase for mistakes and stress.  We have this welcome page here to try to keep you on a smooth path to understanding.  So don't get overwhelmed, stick with your local and fellows you are comfortable until you gain more experience.


6:  Other Resources

Our weekly over the air Gathering is strongly suggested.  It is for our new folks to use for interactive questions and answers.  It runs Wednesdays at 1900 local on Talkgroup PNW 2 for 1 hour.

We have a Yahoo group which has over 250 members, use it as a resource either by searching for past topics or posting your questions.



We are happy that you have taken the time to read down here to the end of the welcome page.  We hope that you join us, stick with us and learn much more about DMR.  If you find the going a bit to hard or more than you can handle, we encourage you to contact a repeater owner or just send an Email to us at:  We will respond and try our hardest to help you out.  We appreciate those who invest some effort to learn before forging ahead on their own.

Welcome aboard the PNW DMR Network!!!


 Revised: 12/16/2017 10:10


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