Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fun with Wires-X

Last night VE7XNY (Tracy) and myself spent the evening playing around with Wires-X for the first time. We were each based at our own QTH and we setup Wires-X nodes in analog mode.

To build a Wires-X node each of us needed the following.
  • Radio with built in data port that supported 1200/9600 baud packet.
  • Wires-X HRI-200 Linking kit (modem)
  • Windows 7/8/10 PC with min 2GHz CPU, 2GB Ram, and a spare USB 2.0+ port
  • A suitable VHF or UHF antenna for the node radio.
  • A handheld or additional radio used to locally talk into our node.
Once you purchase and receive your Wires-X nothing can be done prior to the registration of your modem online which can take 24-48 hours on a weekday, longer over a weekend. In my case it took almost 2 weeks :(

Apparently my 'new' Wires-X from a respected online dealer had already been registered to another person and it took two weeks of emailing back and forth before the old registration was removed from Yaseu's system and my new registration was completed.

Establishing the connection between the HRI-200 and a computer is quick and simple, requiring only a single USB cable and a software download. Installing the software and driver BEFORE plugging the Wires-X into your PC is required. Connection from the Wires-X to the node radio is simple with a provided DIN cable. Always use the Radio 1 port for a single radio node, I've read that the Radio 1 port is also the only one that supports an analog radio.

Opening ports in my home router was not as simple as advertised. My brand new router did not support the Wires-X software's ability to automatically create port forwarding rules using UPNP. I tried 2 other routers that had with similar results. So instead I went to work creating manual port forwarding rules and assigning the PC a static IP. This also did not work?

Finally I just had to put that PC into a DMZ on the router for things to work. This is not my preferred option since only a single DMZ is allowed in your router and I like to keep that free in case other issues with devices arise later.  [UPDATE] I was finally able to set a range or ports into a single new rule and that worked only after committing the changes and rebooting the router. I've never had to reboot this router after adding/changing port forwarding rules, but in this case I did.

As you can from the diagram Wires-X bridges many technologies and supports lots of radios.
  • We started simple with an analog FM radio for the node, which allows ANY other analog FM radio to use that node.
  • You could build a digital node using a compatible System Fusion (C4FM) radio for the node radio, which would then allow other Fusion radios to operate into that node digitally. When going all digital you are limited to the number of supported radios, but tons of digital features are now available.
  • You can also add Wires-x to a Repeater.
  • Once connected to the Wires-X universe with either technology, basic voice conversation can occur between everyone, even across the different technologies. 
Once our Wires-X nodes were operational we spent the evening talking back and forth while setting up additional features in the software and balancing our audio input and output so our sound quality was a good as possible.

Wires-X works on a system of user Node ID's and Room's. When you receive your Wires-X registration you receive two unique numbers, one for each.
  • Your personal Node ID can be found in the global master Node list and any one person can connect to your node directly. This operates like a phone call. Two people directly connected to each other having a QSO.
  • Setting up your own Room is optional but this is how you can open your node to a larger group. With a room enabled in the Wires-X software your room is now advertised on a second global Room list and groups larger than just one can join your room. You'll see all persons in your room via the software and a group QSO can occur. As you can imagine Rooms in Wires-X operate like Reflectors in D-Star. Rooms would be suitable for operating Net's or other group type discussions. 

You can create a digital QSL card for sharing when others connect to your ID or your Room.

I guess my next decision is if I should invest in going entirely C4FM digital. The entry point for a compatible node radio would be the Yaesu FTM-100DR. Once that radio is connected to Wires-X I would have a fully digital node. To talk into that node I would need another fully digital Yaesu mobile or handheld.

Yaesu FTM100-DR $450.00 CAD

Yaesu FT1XDR - $425.00 CAD

Yaesu FTM-400XDR $870.00 CAD

Yaesu FT-2DR $575.00 CAD

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