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    NorCal DMR 5150 Talk Group

    There has been, and there always will be, a lot of conversations around talk groups.

    Over the years we have looked at many ways to make talk group choices work for everyone.  To that end we want to present a NorCal standard.
    The standard is established with several principles in mind:

    1.  There must be some consistency to ensure the NorCal network works.

    2.  There must also be a degree of flexibility for all repeater owners.

    3.  There are certain things that make our network special, these are things that we have created and continue to invest in.

    Central to all of this is the NorCal talk group, 5150, and enabling roaming.  This talk group is special because it is ours.  It is devoid of typical ham politics, it is not about noise, it is about conversations.  We are often asked to share this talk group.  In the past we have shared 5150 with other cBridges who host repeaters in Northern California.  For the most part this has worked.  What hasn’t is when others take it upon themselves to share this talk group more broadly.  There have been times when 5150 has been shared with repeaters throughout the Western United States without our knowledge or consent.  This is not, and has never been, the intent of 5150, from day one it was meant to be a local/regional talk group. 

    Rather than being arbitrary about its distribution we want to be clear 5150 is the NorCal talk group.  It will only be shared with repeaters on the NorCal cBridge.  Every cBridge has their own talk group—5150 is ours.  This policy will make things clear and not put any of us in the awkward position of saying yes or no to others.

    So how will it be used?

    Time Slot One will be used to tie all of us together.  5150 will be on time slot one and will be “always-on.”  Additionally, TS1 will be used for NorCal 1 and “local.”  NorCal 1 will be a user activated talk group and local is common to the repeater.  These will be standards and every repeater must be configured this way.

    Time Slot Two can be configured any way the repeater owner wishes.  We can carry as many or as few talk groups as are made available on the NorCal cBridge.  These talk groups can be configured as User Activated or as Always On, again, at the repeater owner’s discretion.  With one exception, we ask that all repeaters carry and promote the Audio Test talk group.  It has helped our network reign in the audio problems and the solution was developed by NorCal.

    We believe this approach makes clear how our network is configured, provides consistency and clarity as to how 5150 will be distributed, enables roaming and gives us all the flexibility to customize all of the other talk groups.

    Will this approach make everyone happy?  No, but will anything?  Will it simplify our approach?  Definitely.  Will this require much, if any, change?  Probably not, on most repeaters nothing will change.  Is it clear?  We certainly think, and hope so…Most importantly is it fair?  Absolutely yes.


    The NorCal DMR web site will be solely focused on the NorCal DMR network.  The biggest change will be on the repeater maps page.  That page will only include repeaters that are part of a NorCal DMR cBridge.  With one exception.  We will also show the Baycom repeaters.  The reason being is that this is a primary communications tool for them and their members have been instrumental in the development and maintenance of our site.  This does not mean that our users cannot find information or maps of non-NorCal repeaters.  The DMRX map which shows all repeaters will still be part of the site and can be found under both the “DMRX” and the “NorCal Network” tabs.  In addition to the DMRX map, programming data for ALL Northern California DMR repeaters will still be found under the “Programming” tab...In short, the traditional map page is only for our repeaters but information about all DMR repeaters can still be found in several places on our site.

    What’s really changing with all of this is our focus.  We have long been a good partner to the broader DMR community and this will continue.  But it’s also important to focus on ourselves and in so doing make our network both easy to use and our approach easy to understand.  We hope these small changes help us to accomplish both of these important goals.

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