I finally got around to correcting the ID’s on the 5.23 repeater.  It was a good excuse for testing out the new Wouxun radio I got at work.  (I love it!)

This will document that programming for future reference.  Maybe boring for some, but I encourage the local amateur community to get involved and it would be nice if someone got really interested in the RLC-3 controller programming.  This thing has about a zillion functions including a DVR and we don’t use much of it.  Why?  Because I haven’t had much time to dig into programming.  Then there is documentation and letting everyone know how to use it.  Hopefully this blog will be a place to do that bit, and hopefully I’ll get better at it.

To follow along with this please refer to Manual for Link Communications RLC-3 Controller V2.15


Understanding The Ports

To understand the ID programming you first need to be familiar with how the various radios are connected to the controller.  The RLC-3 has a total of 8 ports that you connect radios to (or phone patches or other audio).  We only use four of them as follows:

Port 1:  A Vertex VR-7000 UHF radio that transmits 444.0750 MHz with 100.0 Hz CTCSS and receives 449.0750 MHz with 100.0 Hz CTCSS.  Normally configured as a repeater and identifies as K7MEE.

Port 2:  A Vertex VR-7000 VHF radio that transmits 145.2300 MHz with 100.0 Hz CTCSS and receives 144.6300 MHz with 100.0 Hz CTCSS.  Normally configured as a repeater and identifies as N7JCT.

Port 3:  A Motorola GM300 UHF radio that has various channels which can be selected by the controller.  Normally it is on a simplex control frequency (will not be discussed publicly, ask me for details).

Port 4:  A Motorola GM300 VHF radio that has various channels which can be selected by the controller.  Normally used as a remote base to communicate with the 146.9600 repeater at Black Mountain.


A Break For Station Identification

FCC Part 97 rules say that we must identify every ten minutes.  The repeater has to identify just like anyone else.  To do this the controller has timers in it that execute a certain “macro” when the repeater is first accessed and then every ten minutes thereafter.  The initial ID is usually very long and gives additional information about the repeater.  This is handy when a user “kerchunks” the repeater, lets them know they have hit it and that all is well (remember to identify yourself).  Note that the 5.23 doesn’t immediately identify when kerchunked….more on this later.

When an ID macro is playing a voice message someone might key up and start talking though it.  That could get a bit confusing, having two voices being transmitted.  So we program the voice ID’s to be “polite”.  What we mean by this is that when this happens the controller will stop playing the voice ID and send another ID instead.  That other “polite” ID is sent in Morse code which tends to mix nicely with the repeated voice and doesn’t confuse the listener.

Since I was programming the ID messages for the 145.2300 repeater, I was working with Port #2.  That port has a number of ID “macros” associated with it and all except the initial needed to be programmed.  Those are as follows:

221:  The inital ID for Port 2

229:  Pending ID #1 for Port 2

237:  Pending ID #2 for Port 2

245:  Pending ID #3 for Port 2

253:  Pending ID #4 for Port 2

261:  Polite ID for Port 2

So the first ID is the “Initial ID”, if you can imagine it being called such a thing.  This is the ID that is played when you first access the repeater after it has been silent for a while.  The rest of the identifiers are played at random with one playing every ten minutes.

To play back a macro you simply enter the number of the macro.  So if I key up my radio and send DTMF digits 221 it played back the voice ID “This is the KE7SKJ repeater” which is not what we wanted.  To change that we use the command 053 to program the macro and then the number of the macro itself, in this case 221.  In the macro we issue command 064 which tells the ID to be polite and send another macro if the receiver detects a signal while playing.  Following command 064 we need to tell it which macro to play in that event, in this case it will be 261 which is the polite ID for Port 2.  So the start of what we send to the controller looks like this:

053 229 064 261

But we haven’t yet told it yet what to actually say.  In the manual for the RLC-3 there is a chart that contains the vocabulary.  Next to each word is a three digit code number for that word.  There are some other things that can be played including a pause and several sound effects.  There are three different voices, “Romeo” “Juliet” and “Junior” although the latter two have very limited vocabulary.  There are also some special “words” that are actually the time, date and several other things.

If we want to say “November Seven Juliet Charlie Tango Repeater” then we look each of these words up in the chart.  We find that the word “November” is number 347.  “Seven” is 007.  “Juliet” is 273. “Charlie” is 124.  “Tango” is 462 and “Repeater” is 411.  These are all in the chart for the voice of “Romeo”.  When we put all this together we end up with:

053 221 064 261 347 007 273 124 462 411

So I key up my radio, announce that I am controlling and enter that long string of digits.  When I unkey the controller tells me “Message 221” or something similar.  I have just instructed the controller that when it plays the Initial ID for Port 2 it will say “November Seven Juliet Charlie Tango Repeater” unless it is interrupted, in which case it should play macro 261, the polite ID for Port 2.

Got it?

The rest are just as easy.  I tried to keep them short but vary it up a bit to keep it fresh.

  • 053 229 064 261 044 007 040 033 050 411 programs Pending ID #1 for Port 2 to play macro 261 if interrupted, otherwise say “N7JCT Repeater” just saying each letter instead of with phonetics.
  • 053 237 064 261 484 487 253 587 480 474 044 007 040 033 050 411 programs ID #2 to say “Time to identify (pause) This is the N7JCT repeater”
  • 053 245 064 261 526 632 215 475 044 007 040 033 050 411 programs ID #3 to say “Welcome home from the N7JCT repeater”
  • 253 I made the same as 229.

The Code For Being Polite

The last one is a bit different.  This is the polite ID and we’re sending Morse code.  We want it to continue, even if interrupted.  That’s because this is the ID macro that gets played if any of the others are interrupted themselves.  Programming is similar in that we use command 053 and address macro 261.  But now we tell it to play Morse with command 030 and we have to look up the characters on a different chart that gives us two digit numbers associated with each letter, number or symbol.

053 261 030 13 14 40 23 07 19 12 29 36 27 programs the Polite ID for Port 2 to send “DEN7JCT/R”.  For those lacking CW experience this is like saying “From N7JCT Repeater”.

A Matter Of Timing

Finally, let’s address why the 5.23 does not identify immediately when “kerchunked”.  This is because we normally have Port 1 (the K7MEE UHF repeater) connected to Port 2 (the N7JCT 2 meter repeater).  When you “kerchunck” from either VHF or UHF it causes the controller to start looking at the ID timers.  It will see that ID is required on both Port 1 and 2.  So it plays ID 220 on Port 1 first.  When it’s finished with that then it plays ID 221 for Port 2.  That’s why you get a little bit of delay.