Alfonso Faustino: HAM P25

BLUF: The following are P25 repeaters and P25 talk-groups/reflectors. This list will keep you entertained with your P25 activities. Enjoy!

P25 Talk-groups — at times, talk-groups are also called reflectors:

  • PAPA P25 Chat: 31077
  • PAPA P25xDMR: 31078 (This is a P25 bridge that connects to PAPA’s DMR system; and, the DMR system is linked to the analog system. So, you can hear all conversations taking place on PAPA’s analog repeater system.)
  • North America: 10200
  • North America TAC-1: 10201
  • North America TAC-2:10202
  • Pacific: 10400
  • Pacific TAC-1: 10401
  • Pacific TAC-2: 10402
  • Pacific TAC-3: 10403
  • San Diego: 858

P25 Repeaters:

  • PAPA System (SoCal)
  • WI6HP (San Francisco Bay Area)
  • W6DX (San Jose Bay Area): P25 only — they are not connected to the Internet; hence, they don’t provide access to P25 talk-groups. You will need a P25 ID that the repeater-owner/administrator will assign to you.
  • N6LYE (Sacramento Area): P25 only — they are not connected to the Internet; hence, they don’t provide access to P25 talk-groups.

P25 Net-controls you can access via your P25 transceiver — these nets are on the PAPA System:

  • Monday Nights: 2000 Hours PST/PDT: DMR Round-table: DMR Talk-group: 31077 (You can only access this net via DMR.)
  • Tuesday Nights: 2000 Hours PST/PDT: D-STAR Net: P25xDMR: 31078
  • Tuesday Nights: 1900 Hours PST/PDT: P25 Net: Talk-group 31077 (You can only access this net via P25.)
  • Wednesday Nights: 2000 Hours PST/PDT: P25xDMR Talk-group: 31078
  • Thursday Nights: 2000 Hours PST/PDT: Technical Round-table: P25xDMR Talk-group: 31078
  • Friday Nights: 1900 Hours PST/PDT: Antenna Net: P25xDMR Talk-group: 31078
  • Saturday Nights: 2000 Hours PST/PDT: Saturday Night Round-table (all topics except HAM): P25xDMR Talk-group: 31078
  • Sunday Morning: 0900 Hours PST/PDT: Boater’s Net: P25xDMR Talk-group: 31078

I really dig the P25 digital network; and, I, especially, dig the operators that I have met on P25 since being a newbie on this network.

(CAPTION: Motorola XTS 5000R UHF R1 P-25 Phase I Transceiver)

If you’re gonna get into P25, you have several transceivers to choose — EF Johnson, Harris, and Motorola. My weapons of choice is the Motorola XTS 5000R UHF R1; and, soon, once I close the deal with Motorola Corporation, I will have and be using a BRAND NEW apex-predator of the transceiver market, the Motorola APX-8000HXE Submersible. I will get the hi-viz green housing — you can have any color as long as it is Hi-viz Green.

The P25 operators are highly technical, and they use high-end transceivers with direct connection to a P25 repeater or through a hot-spot, such as, but not limited to, openSpot2. P25 operators usually work in the law enforcement industry, as P25 network architects, operators, and programmers for their agency’s transceivers. They take pride in their equipment and take pride in the fact they created their own code-plugs.

If you’re gonna cross-mode with an amateur transceiver to access the P25 network, then make certain your settings are spot-on to avoid sound pollution on the P25 network. By the way, P25 transceivers through a hot-spot or repeater can also create sound pollution on the P25 network when the hot-spot settings are off or proximity to the repeater.

In general, Yaesu operators sound better on cross-mode into P25 than operators using low-end Oriental transceivers to cross-mode into P25.

The P25 community is filled with knowledge; and, if you’re like me, using a Motorola transceiver, you can get answers to your Motorola questions with a push of your PTT; because, most P25 operators, are using Motorola XTSs or APXes or other Motorola models and have years and tons of experience and knowledge regarding these transceivers.

Since purchasing my Motorola XTS 5000R and very soon my Motorola APX 8000HXE Submersible, I have been on the P25 network for the past week: Reflector: 10200: North America.

I am a P25 newbie coming from DMR and D-STAR; and, I put a stake in the P25 ground to make my home. Within this one week, I found great pleasure in talking with operators that are of like-minds regarding the transceivers we use, our principles in communications protocols (i.e., we pause between TX; no quick-key-ups), and the importance of knowing and learning to use our transceivers in the most optimum manner via hardware and code-plugs.

How does P25 compare in realistic voice quality to DMR?

To my ears, the P25 makes operators’ voices sound less digital and more like their real voices — it’s like the same sound quality I get when I’m in analog mode with a strong connection to the repeater. I really like the realistic sounding voice that P25 creates. I’m learning about the P25 voice technology so I can have a better understanding of it.

How’s the reliability between P25 and DMR?

In my experiences, the same. Generally speaking, both digital networks use an analog repeater that connect to a computer that connects to a server via the Internet to complete the RX and TX operations of the transceiver. So, reliability is only as good as the connection to the server and the server’s ability to process the data to send and receive to the transceiver. Both P25 and DMR are crippled or enhanced by these technologies.

How’s the traffic management between DMR and P25?

That’s a bit more apples:oranges at this point in time. DMR has more traffic these days, so the management of traffic is really tough; because, of all the operators using DMR — since P25 has an eighth of the traffic of DMR, traffic is not an issue with P25 — let’s wait and see as more operators experiment with P25.

Is P25 expensive to use?

Well, if you’re gonna use P25 via a transceiver, the answer is, yes. The reason is P25 requires the use of P25 transceivers, such as, but not limited to, Motorola, EF Johnson, and Kenwood, and those cost a lot more than the amateur transceivers — even a good-condition used Motorola will cost more than or just about equal to a new amateur transceiver. Commercial transceivers are more expensive and more DIFFICULT to program than amateur stuff when viewed in its totality: ownership, maintenance, and use.

If you are going to cross-mode via a hot-spot, like an openSpot2 or openSpot3, with an amateur transceiver, then the answer is, no.

I recommend a Yaesu transceiver with a hot-spot to access the P25 network — Yaesu’s sound the best in P25, via cross-mode. I like that FT3.

What is the community like on P25?

The P25 operators are friendly, helpful, AND very advanced in the technical aspect of transceivers and radio waves. Many of them, if not all, program their own transceivers, not only because many of them are Motorola programmers or in that line of career, but they dig the challenge of overcoming the barriers of programming a commercial transceiver. Many of the P25 operators are using the apex-predator of the Motorola transceiver product-line: APX 6000, APX 7000, and the mighty APX 8000.

P25 operators take time and pride in their transceivers and code-plugs; and, they APPRECIATE good sound-quality, which is one of the many reasons, these P25 operators left DMR; DMR has too much noise pollution created by poor quality transceivers.

In my opinion the P25 operators find more enjoyment helping a complete newbie with his/her own commercial transceiver working out his/her own code-plug; because, there’s more of a kinship — it shows the operator is trying to learn, and we’ve all been a newbie at one time or another. It’s no different than traveling to a different country and trying to speak the language and respecting the social nuances that make up that culture. Moreover, experienced P25 operators like newbies using commercial transceivers; because, the newbies are preserving the sound-quality of P25.

If you are gonna cross-mode, then make sure your settings are proper in order not to create sound-pollution. Like I mentioned, Yaesu operators, when they cross-mode, produce excellent sound quality.

Am I gonna drop DMR?

I dig DMR; it is a commercial digital network that is rich in features and benefits — one being APRS. Unlike P25, DMR has the ability to tie in APRS into the comms operations, which is a very important feature and function for me — my Motorola XPR 7550e is always linked up to APRS for safety reasons. I don’t have this ability with P25 and my Motorola XTS 5000R Intrinsically-Safe UHF R1 Model II.

Also, DMR has a robust community of operators, as well.  The operators, like P25, have extensive backgrounds and a high level of technical sophistication, which also deals with issues that interests me on the commercial side.  

DMR has a nice blend of social and technical operators and communities; and, I respect and appreciate all the information they provide to newbies like me.

P25 will be my primary source for digital communications.

Why?

I’m a Motorola operator; and, P25 is more specific to Motorola users, which appeals the Motorola-user side of me; and, the access to Motorola resources are immediate; cuz, I know the operator on the other end of my transceiver is using a Motorola or commercial unit and would have experienced the same learning curve that I’m experiencing right now with P25 and my Motorolas.

In conclusion, I’m very happy with P25; I enjoy the P25 operators; and, I enjoy using and learning more and more about the P25 technology by way of doctrine and field experiences.

(NOTE: Some LEOs in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina use DMR instead of P25. DMR has been around for a long time in Europe, and some of the European first-responders and law enforcement use DMR over P25 — DMR and P25 are virtually the same networks, using different protocols and technologies, but both can handle comms for law enforcement and first-responders.)

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