Important Information for Reflector Operators – How to Connect to NXCore

Featured

The popularity of reflectors has grown by leaps an bounds in the past year. These reflectors give hotspot users a way to access NXDN talkgroups, and speak to other hotspot users. However, there are some important steps you must take, to ensure your reflector/talkgroup can also be heard on NXDN repeaters throughout the country.

STEP ONE: Configure your reflector’s NXDNreflector.ini file
Locate the Icom Network section of your .ini file, and configure it as follows:

[Icom Network]
Enabled=1
Address=flicom.nxcore.org
TGEnable= <your talkgroup ID here>
# TGDisable=3456
Debug=0

Any lines that start with a “#” can be left as-is. That symbol signifies a line that is commented-out, and will be ignored. Restart your reflector when done.

If you have any other lines that begin with “Address,” you must put a pound sign at the beginning of those lines. Failure to do so may cause conflicts in the network. Unused address lines can simply be deleted, if desired.

STEP TWO: Notify the Core admins
NXCore must recognize your IP address, to be accepted on the network. Send an E-Mail to Jason, KD4ACG, at jtriolo@verizon.net. Provide your talkgroup number, name, and IP address. It will be added in 24-48 hours.

Welcome, Pennsylvania! Two New Talkgroups added to NXCore

Effective immediately, two new talkgroups have been added to all connected repeaters on a dynamic basis, connecting two new talkgroups in Pennsylvania:

TG 3142 is a statewide group, offering access to NXDN users only.
TG 31425 is a multi-mode group, connecting NXDN to all digital modes.

Please add these talkgroups to your radios, so you can take advantage of them. They have been added to the talkgroup matrix found on this site, along with their net schedules.

NXDN and Hotspots/Apps

If you’re in the market for a hotspot to use on NXDN, consider your choices carefully, as not all of them are fully compatible with NXCore.

NXDN users should consider one of the Pi-Star/MMDVM-based models. These devices are fully compatible with NXCore, and you will be heard both by other hotspots, and by repeaters connected to NXCore. Just be sure your hotspot hardware supports the NXDN mode, and that your radio and hotspot are configured for RAN code 1. While most newer devices support NXDN, there is some older hardware that doesn’t recognize the mode.

The use of OpenSpot devices is not recommended. The designers of the OpenSpot have not configured their software to interact with the NXCore server, and they have not expressed any interest in doing so. As a result, OpenSpot users will be heard by other hotspots, but not by connected NXDN repeaters. This causes repeater users to only hear half a conversation, or nothing at all. For this reason, we ask OpenSpot users to refrain from using any repeater-connected talkgroups, such as 1200, 65000, 505, and others.

We have also seen an increase in the number of users of smartphone apps, such as DroidStar. Although they have the potential to be convenient as a last resort, they tend to cause disruption on the network, either through users not properly unkeying at the end of a transmission, or transmitting with poor sound quality. Further, the app developers have not provided a space for a user to enter a valid NXDN ID number, so all users display an incorrect ID when transmitting. Again, the burden is on the app developers to make their products work more harmoniously with established repeater linking networks.

For these reasons, we also discourage the use of cell phone apps for interacting with NXCore. We encourage all users to access our network through NXDN repeaters where they exist, or through a compatible hotspot where they don’t. Either way, you’ll be using amateur radio spectrum to use NXCore, and its network of connected repeaters and reflectors.

Kenwood Server Offline

With the shutdown of our old server hardware, the Kenwood NXCore server is offline for the time being. With the lack of activity on that server, there are no immediate plans to rebuild the server on the new hardware. We only fed Talkgroup 1200 to a small handful of users, but that group itself is inactive on the Kenwood side.

Users connected to that server may contact another NXCore server operator to reconnect to 1200, if desired. Our server will return, once the bridge between Kenwood and Icom is solved. That has, however, proved to be more challenging than anyone expected. Still, we persist.

This has no effect on Icom repeaters or hotspot reflectors, which operate on a separate system.

Watch here for future updates.

Florida NXCore Update

After many years of service, the original Florida NXCore server has gone offline for the last time. We had planned to keep it running until the end of June, but it had been showing signs of imminent failure. Over the weekend, it transferred its last byte.

Before that happened, we had already completed the migration of all active talkgroups and reflectors over to the new Icom server. As a result, the outage will not be noticed by any of our users. If you have a repeater or reflector that needs to be connected to the new server, please contact KD4ACG as soon as possible, and we’ll get you all set up.

The loss of the server also means the loss of our Kenwood server for the time being. Since it only supplied one talkgroup, which was itself inactive, we are not going to move that server just yet. This loss will not affect any talkgroups that Kenwood repeater owners are receiving from other servers. This also does not affect any reflectors, since all those use the Icom protocol for linking.

As the old system fades into the sunset, we want to acknowledge the efforts of its original owner, Ralph, W4ORL. When he unexpectedly became a silent key in 2018, a group of NXDN users “adopted” the server, and continue its service to the NXDN community. We are grateful for the work he started, and proud to continue his legacy.

New NXCore Server…The Switch is On!

Today, we began the process of moving Icom repeaters and hotspot reflectors to the new NXcore server. We anticipate it will take a few weeks to get everyone migrated. When that’s done, the old server will be decommissioned. At the present time, we are targeting a June 30 shutdown date for the current server, but that date remains flexible.

Although this doesn’t require changes for end users (repeater or hotspot users), it does require an important change for repeater owners, reflector owners, or admins of other NXCore servers that link to us. You will need to update your system’s IP settings to ensure continued connectivity to the network. Please send a message to KD4ACG at jtriolo@verizon.net, at your earliest opportunity. Since the move requires changes on both ends, we’ll work to schedule a time to migrate your system to the new server, with minimal disruption.

Keep in mind, during this transition phase, both the old and new servers are connected. That means, whether a system has moved or not, all users still have access to all talkgroups.

These changes apply to Icom repeaters and all reflectors. At the present time, the Kenwood system will remain the same. We will move that one at a later date.

This move enables us to provide NXDN linking for many more years to come.

Upcoming Maintenance

Some time in the next few days, the virtual servers that host the Icom and Kenwood servers, will be taken offline for a required system upgrade. During this time, linking between repeaters, as well as between repeaters and hotspots, will be unavailable. (Hotspot-to-hotspot communication doesn’t require Core, and will be unaffected).

Once the work begins, we don’t anticipate a long outage, but it may be a few hours. If work takes longer than expected, we’ll contact repeater operators to discuss temporary linking options.

More information will be posted here when available.

New Icom Repeaters and Talkgroup Coming to Sarasota County

Coming soon (perhaps by the end of this week, if all goes to plan), two new VHF repeaters will join the Icom NXCore network in Sarasota County. These repeaters will be the first VHF NXDN sites in the West Central Florida section. So that you can start programming your radios now, the locations/frequencies will be as follows:

146.730 (input 146.130) NXDN RAN 1 and analog PL 100.0 Located along Fruitville Road in Sarasota

145.130 (input 144.530) NXDN RAN 1 and analog PL 100.0 Located in the Laurel area of Venice.

Please note, these repeaters will operate as mixed-mode repeaters. This means they will support both analog and digital communications. However, they will not communicate across modes. In other words, analog in, analog out; or digital in, digital out. If you’re operating an analog radio, and do not wish to hear the data bursts when operating in digital, be sure to set your tone squelch (PL decode) to 100.0 Hz.

Most NXDN radios can be set to operate in mixed-mode. “Mixed Analog” mode sets your radio to analog as the primary mode, but will switch to digital when digital traffic is detected. Conversely, “Mixed Digital” makes NXDN the primary mode, but will switch to analog when analog traffic is heard. Your radio’s Talkback setting determines the number of seconds within which your radio will transmit in this “opposite” mode, before switching back to the channel’s default mode.

When operating digital, these repeaters will be linked to the NXCore server. In addition to the standard talkgroup package, we are adding a new Sarasota County local talkgroup, 1220. This group will be static on Sarasota, Venice, and Verna, and dynamic on all other repeaters in the WCF section. As this talkgroup is intended to be for local repeater use only, no reflector access will be available.

We are happy to welcome these repeaters to the NXDN family, and look forward to even more growth throughout 2021.

New Talkgroups on Kenwood Server

The following talkgroups have recently been added to the Kenwood network:

1800: Indiana Statewide **
5500: Wisconsin Statewide
302: Canada (note: not linked to the Icom 302 talkgroup)

**At the request of the talkgroup sponsor, the Florida NXCore server is not permitted to provide access to talkgroup 1800. Instead, you must contact Doug, KD9IAQ at his address on QRZ, and request access. If approved, he will provide you with connection instructions.

If your Kenwood repeater is connected to the Florida NXCore server, contact me at jtriolo@verizon.net to request access to all groups except 1800. State whether you want them as static or dynamic.

Updates to Last Heard Page

On Friday, November 6, the ID/callsign database was updated on the Icom Last Heard page. The previous database dated back to early 2018, making it rather obsolete. You will see more callsigns/names appear now, as opposed to just ID numbers.

You will still see some ID numbers without callsign or name. In most cases, these are gateway users from other modes, or NXDN users whose ID isn’t registered at the radioid.net page, which is the source of the data I loaded, with minor local modifications.

The Kenwood server will be updated soon. Since there’s less traffic on our local Kenwood server (and no Kenwood repeater within my range), I’m unable to test changes to that server as quickly.

The Icom Last Heard page is at http://flicom.nxcore.org.
The Kenwood Last Heard page is at http://flkenwood.nxcore.org.