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
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
reduce the size of each IPSC network and vastly increase
the flexibility in linking networks and routing
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
Flip of the coin to the Con
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
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
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
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: