Alfonso Faustino: Gerry Filby (W6WNG): AllStar ClearNode

Buy it!

Yup, simple as that…buy one — you won’t regret it — if you do, you can always return it within 30 days of receipt.

Gerry Filby’s ClearNode is one of the best purchases I made for 2020.

I needed to access the PAPA Systems’s analog repeaters to maintain my HAM contacts in the Southern California area. Prior to the CoVid-19 lock-down, I lived in Beverly Hills, California, 50% of my time due to my career pursuits of being television and film actor.

So, my HAM buddy, Matt, K3MAT, recommended I get an AllStar node and a ClearNode to reach the PAPA System analog repeaters from my crib in San Francisco; because, the PAPA System installed AllStar nodes into their repeater system.

An AllStar node, in my simple basic understanding, is a unique identifier and key that allows analog repeaters to execute RX and TX via VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) — so, the analog repeater is accessible via the internet connection of a computer (e.g., Raspberry Pi) anywhere in the world.

In order for the HAM operator to access and activate the AllStar node of the analog repeater, the HAM operator needs to get his or her own AllStar node and a hot-spot — such as, Gerry Filby’s ClearNode. The ClearNode is a hot-spot for the analog repeaters — just like the openSPOT3 is a hot-spot for HAM digital networks for P25, DMR, D-STAR, and System Fusion.

The ClearNode is a software driven device. The Android OS or Apple iOS programs the ClearNode; and, it uses a Raspberry Pi computer to manage the AllStar nodes, RX, TX, Internet, and Wi-Fi protocols between the HAM operator and the AllStar analog repeater(s). The ClearNode also has a radio board, UHF or VHF simplex tuner, that puts out ~500 milliwatts — mine uses UHF simplex frequencies with CTCSS sub-audible tones to mitigate the chances of frequency interference. The radio board is the interface between the HAM operator’s transceiver and the ClearNode.

Once you set up the AllStar ClearNode, all you need to do is push the pickle on your transceiver to TX to an AllStar analog repeater, and you’re in business.

Gerry Filby provides excellent customer post-sale support; though, there really shouldn’t be any reason to contact him; because, the ClearNode is ready to use right out-of-the-box; however, should you have any issues, you can contact Gerry Filby, and he will answer your questions or address your issues within an hour or so of your email — he responded to my emails within five to 10 minutes. He also has one of the best websites around; because, his website has all the answers to the questions that will come up as a new owner of his ClearNode.

I really dig the look and feel of Gerry Filby’s ClearNode — it is compact; and, it is all put together in a nice clear plexiglass case. For me, it was easy to change the settings to accommodate my specific needs for my social HAM operations into the analog repeater networks. Any questions I had, were easily answered on Gerry Filby’s website.

My TX and RX transmissions via the ClearNode were crisp and clear into the analog repeaters. All the HAM operators, with whom I made contact, described my TX as crystal clear.

I like to listen to the WIN System Insomnia Net. I use my ClearNode; and, I can clearly receive the HAM operators’ TX throughout the net. It is so nice not to have to worry about my distance from the WIN repeaters in Napa, CA, and San Jose, CA. In the video clip above, I’m listening to analog operators talking on the WIN System via the AllStar node through Gerry Filby’s ClearNode and my Motorola XPR 7550e. My ClearNode is connected to the WIN System LA Hub Repeater, Node: 2353.

Gerry Filby’s ClearNode is the next best thing to sliced bread — if you wanna access your analog repeaters, which has AllStar nodes, then check out Gerry Filby’s AllStar ClearNode — you won’t be disappointed.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)

—————————————————————

I like to experiment; and, whenever I get new stuff, I like to test it out and push it to its performance envelope; and, the ClearNode is no exception. I will be experimenting with extending my coverage beyond the four corners of my 5-story home; so, let’s see the distance I can get from my home without sacrificing the coverage inside my home.

27-October-2020, at 1100 Hours: I purchased a 50 ohm pigtail to connect Gerry Filby’s ClearNode to my LMR 400 coax (144 ft in length), which connects to my rooftop antenna, which is the Diamond X50.

I haven’t tested it out yet; it is just hooked up. Being that Gerry Filby’s ClearNode is putting 500 milliWatts, I’m guessing, from a mile away, I will be able to get TX, but I might not be able to TX; because, of the low power of the ClearNode coupled with 114 ft of LMR coax — I doubt the ClearNode will have the power to get my TX out to the world.

We will see — I will keep you posted.

28-October-2020, at 2230 Hours PDT: My buddy Leonard, NX6E, and I tested the aforementioned set-up, and it was not good — too much loss due to the 114 feet of LMR 400 coax. I could hear operators talk at ~1 mile, but I could not TX at that distance. I was using my Motorola XPR 7550e with a stubby OEM rubber-duck. So, I disconnected Gerry Filby’s ClearNode from my Diamond X50 roof-top antenna and went with this configuration.

This is my new configuration; I am using a Diamond RH77 rubber-duck antenna with a direct connection to Gerry Filby’s ClearNode.

My primary goal is to make sure I have coverage inside my 5-story home…extending that coverage, without sacrificing my in-home coverage, is just something I’d like to have but not need to have. I’m hoping the direct connection between the ClearNode and the antenna will give me better results.

I will keep you posted with this new configuration.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)

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