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.

Icom Users: SDM Messaging Now Available

Great news! The Icom NXCore server is now updated to support Short Digital Messaging (SDM). This works over all repeaters connected to the Florida NXCore server, AND it works over the hotspot reflectors, too!

At the present time, there’s a slight incompatibility between radio manufacturers. For now, most Icom radios will receive messages sent by other Icom radios, and Kenwood radios will receive messages sent by Kenwood radios, as well as the Icom 4300/6300 series, which was built as part of a partnership with Kenwood. As this technology is new to NXCore, there may be some future enhancements to allow for greater compatibility between the brands.

Messages are sent to talkgroups, rather than to individuals, when sending between repeaters on the NXCore network. In order to send only to a single individual, the recipient and sender must be on the same repeater, where linking is not needed.

In order to receive SDM, your radio’s configuration may need to be updated. If you need help, leave a comment below, including your radio’s model number, and we’ll provide the steps for your particular radio.

With the arrival of this technology, users of Talkgroup 1200 will soon receive severe weather alerts throughout the NWS Tampa Bay region.

We hope you enjoy this new enhancement to NXCore, thanks to the hard work of Bob Thoelen, N1XDN, the author of the NXCore software.

Kenwood Users: Short Digital Messaging (SDM) Update

An updated version of NXCore has been installed on the Kenwood server, which should enable Short Digital Messaging (text messages) from your radio, to other radios on a talkgroup (not individual) basis.

All repeaters connected to the Florida Kenwood NXCore server, have had this feature enabled, but we need your help to test it. Please attempt to send text messages across a talkgroup, with the recipient on another connected repeater. Let us know your results.

Some limitations: Initially, we are testing repeater-to-repeater on the same server only. We have not yet enabled the passing of messages between other Core servers in the network. If it works locally, we’ll try to broaden the scope. Also, as with voice mode, the messages will not go between Kenwood and Icom/hotspots at this time (rest assured, we’re still working on that part).

For users on the Icom network, we have a little more debugging left to do, but we plan to roll out a similar test on the Icom side very soon.

Many thanks to Robert Thoelen for his continued work on NXCore, without whom none of this would be possible.

Important Information for Reflector Operators – How to Connect to NXCore

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=208.111.3.45
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.

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.