I never do anything straight forward, I am simply not a linear thinker, so it should not come as a surprise that my first radio isn’t a radio at all but instead a Yaesu Wires-X. Yaesu is one of the most popular radio manufacturers today and like most others they have developed a line of digital radios. Unlike analog radios, there is not one way to do things, but there are broad standards and the system of communication in the Yaesu world is called Fusion. Fusion is a protocol that is used to connect radios for super-high quality voice operation and it also offers the ability to send meta-data like your radio call sign automatically.
Most HAMs like myself start off with a VHF or UHF radio. At these higher frequencies you are not able to talk worldwide and they are traditionally known for local communications connecting you to others within a few miles. The range can be extended by using a repeater. a repeater is able to take your lower power signal and connect you with others that your radio cannot reach. These repeaters have been used for decades to connect HAMs to one another. As digital technologies developed manufactures like Yaesu started to offer solutions to connect repeaters to one another using the Internet using a system called Wires-X (Wide-coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System) which enables Internet to RF communications that expands the range of amateur radio using internet enabled Voice-over-IP technology.
The latest Wires-X gateway is called the HRI-200 and is flexible to be setup many ways. I learned that you can just connect a microphone and a switch to the unit and in doing so eliminate much of the complexities of getting on the air.
My initial reaction is that this is cheating, it is really just a internet chat room right? NO! When using the HRI-200 YOU may be connected via the Internet but don’t forget about the radios that may be on the other end.
Digital Radios often communicate in “Talk Groups” and these groups can span many systems. One such example is a talk group called AmericaLink. This talk group or in Yaesu lingo “Room” can have upwards of 170 nodes (Radios on the system) at one time, and many of them are repeaters that also connect many radios on the other end. As a result since everything you transmit may go out over the air frequencies it is of the upmost importance that good radio practices are followed.
I hope to write another article soon about the Yaesu Wires-X software, their hardware and also the interface I built to connect me to the Wires-X system without a radio.