The Texas Repeater Network

A network of Internet linked 2-way ham radio repeaters

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Build your own node!

 

The power of Pi...

Raspberry Pi 3b, DMK URI and power supply 

 

Would like to learn more about networking repeaters with AllStarLink?  Would you like to build your own node?  Would you like to join the network with a setup of your very own?  Then checkout hamvoip.org and see the latest news, image downloads and information regarding using the powerful Raspberry RPi3b computer to connect you to the world.

Talk to us on the repeaters and we will gladly pass along our experiences, our troubles and our successes.  If you're really nice, we might just hold your hand and help you get started!

Raspberry Pi single board computers are the heart of the AllStarLink system that most of the repeaters connected to our network run on.  It's a small computer about the size of a pack of cigarettes with no moving parts.  The best part is it runs on Linux and is VERY reliable and stable.  They will happily run for months or even years at a time without having to be rebooted or power-cycled.

We highly recommend the "Raspberry Pi" RPi3b for any future purchases. Future code will support both the RPi2 and RPi3b. Note that the RPi2 does not have on-board wifi or bluetooth support and the RPi3b has better performance specs.  Given the low cost of these boards, ($35-38 or less for the RPi3b) the extremely low power requirements, no moving parts, low heat, and many other advantages it makes little sense anymore to use a PC to run Allstar. The RPi3 can run a non-radio hub or a dual radio node easily. Think of it, you could save enough in a year retiring a power guzzling PC to buy several RPi2's and have some leftover cash.

We are often asked why Allstar with all of the new RF digital repeaters and their VOIP connection schemes out there. The best answer is open source, quality audio, and freedom to do what you want. Dstar, Fusion, DMR, etc are all at least partially if not completely proprietary systems. In most cases the VOIP connection system that makes them somewhat like Allstar is proprietary. Code plugs, Rooms, etc. all make for a confusing and hard to maintain system. It also makes a system which is managed much like IRLP. The individual users has little control other than to connect somewhere. Then there is the lousy audio that goes along with the current Amateur Radio digital RF schemes.

Allstar connects RF systems with full duplex quality audio. It also gives the user a choice in how and where they connect. Private or public group or individual connections can be setup quite easily. If you are in a restricted living environment like a retirement home or HOA that does not allow antennas Allstar gives you the radio feel without an obtrusive antenna or big expense. You could setup a simplex node in your apartment or dwelling and have local coverage with in a few blocks to several miles between your handheld and you own personal node. Couple that with the ability to setup connections to all your buddies that also have nodes and you have your own talk group with everyone using real radios to access. You also have the ability to access via computer, phone, Echolink, and many other methods.

The advent of the inexpensive small board computers and very easy scripted setup make getting on Allstar easier than ever. A savvy user who has the ability to make some modifications and build some simple circuity could get on Allstar for well under $75. A totally plug and play system minus the node radio would be no more than $150.

For repeater operators Allstar is a complete repeater controller that probably has more flexibility and capability than any repeater controller on the market. It is certainly cheaper. Because it runs in Linux and is open source the user has full flexibility to use scripts, timers, multiple ports, etc. to do just about anything they would want.

So if you like to call your own shots come join the friendly world of Allstar. You will be surprised how easy it is to get started and a world of adventure awaits you.

Commercially made "USB to Radio Interfaces" (commonly referred to as URI's) are available from DMK Engineering, Repeater Builder and arsrepeaters.com.  Raspberry Pi 3b's are available at all sorts of places like your local computer shop, Radio Shack and even AmazoneBay is a great source for surplus Motorola radios and it is quite common to find vendors who will program the radio for you before they deliver it to you.  Just be sure and have them program pin 8 on the external interface to go LOW when CSQ or PL opens the squelch.

Updated 10/24/2017

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