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Why Use TRBO?

Why TRBO over other forms of digital communications used by the Amateur community?

This a good starting point to begin consideration prior to investing in a TRBO radio much less buying a repeater and then support a fleet of radios.  This page is not intended to be definitive nor comprehensive.  It's more why we chose to get started with TRBO.  Your mileage is likely to vary considerably.  First, a short history on our TRBO beginnings...

We began with no repeaters but a bunch of HT's left over from the 2008 RNC convention.  They were made available in early 2009 to the users of two major Los Angeles repeater owners, one owner with many analog repeaters and a few D-STAR and P-25 boxes.  The other owner had a TRBO repeater up and running and all these HT's  migrated over to the single LA TRBO repeater.  This repeater was not connected to the Internet so a small, close, sub-group of those hams wanted to have a solid, full-time comm path to reach one of the hams who was moving away from Southern California well beyond any possible RF paths (but for HF).

2 repeaters (the famous V1 demos) were purchased in mid 2009 and along with a 3rd demo repeater made a test connection via IPSC, all via local bench installs.  Based on the success of that test of 3 repeaters, we embraced TRBO and ultimately evolved into TRBO-6 during the balance of 2009.  DCI came along the next year and is now the main IPSC as TRBO-6 desolved in 2013.

Pro side of the coin

I see TRBO as a bullet-proof RoIP system of interconnected repeaters that do not require a 3rd party server or service (EchoLink, D-STAR), no fees required and only TRBO repeaters only need a standard Internet connection with dynamic IP being suitable.  Nothing special required, TRBO is essentially Plug N Play.  TRBO is off the shelf, a great system for interconnecting distant Ham repeaters.  Toss in a c-Bridge and network limits melt away.  But I wouldn't go quite so far as recommend it for mission-critical Law Enforcement use however.

TRBO is easily expanded to 16 repeaters before things get complex enough to require more than stock settings but it is possible to move up to 30 plus repeaters and network client connections.  The better approach by far is a c-Bridge to reduce the size of each IPSC network and vastly increase the flexibility in linking networks and routing talkgroups.

TRBO repeaters are able to carry 2 voice and data channels simultaneously in a 12.5 khz wide channel.  Either, both of none of the slots can be on the network connection.  This makes it very simple to have a local use only channel or full network wide connectivity of the 2 traffic or time slots.  We here at TRBO-6 typically use one slot for all repeater traffic and the other slot is for only users of that local repeater. 

TRBO allows essentially unlimited talkgroups which enable segmentation of traffic or purposes on each slot.  Somewhat like PL for access but also it disallows anyone to listen (as in carrier squelch) unless they have that talkgroup ID.  Repeater managers are able to create a hierarchy or specialized sub-groups on each slot if they wish.

Cross-connections from TRBO to analog legacy systems is relatively straightforward.  TRBO Remote bases to analog repeater or VoIP systems have been easily implemented via use of a TRBO control (mobile) radio.

Flip of the coin to the Con side

The Cons are certainly a factor also.  Cost of the hardware is significant though I will say that TRBO radios used in Analog mode are very fine stuff.  I wouldn't buy one solely for analog use, but it's a nice option to have in the TRBO line.  When compared to D-STAR or P-25, TRBO is certainly within those higher costs vs analog only commercial stock and is backward compatible with standard analog radios.

Another downside to TRBO is there is a hard wall of 32 repeaters, more or less.  This is not likely to be an issue with most of the networks likely to spring up, especially with devices like the c-Bridge hitting the market.  I would guess that in time, 3rd party developers will create some devices for the Ham community that will allow smart interconnection of individual networks similar to EchoLink Conferences or IRLP Reflectors as well as intelligent cross-connections between different systems.  The c-Bridge IPSC is a great device, reasonable priced for the ham community.

The TRBO backend server uses the UDP protocol for voice connections back to the peer repeaters.  UDP does not have any error correction or even confirmation of packet receipt.  This can be a problem along with other timing issues present in most RoIP or VoIP services.  Data is handled much more elegantly with confirmation of most of it's services.

This is hardly more than an anecdotal look at TRBO but it is written from a ham's eye on what TRBO can provide and may ultimately go to in the coming months and years.

Comments along with your Pro/Con list is welcome and may be incorporated into this page.  Just send them to us at: DCI Network


Revised: 12/13/2015