Orange County EART Radio Programming data file reference

                                                                                                                                                          Dean Groe  KD4TWJ, 15 June 2012

This document explains the methodology and parameters used in developing the radio programming data files provided here.

Most of the data files will be provided in the native file format of the manufacture’s software, or third party software, that is specific to a radio model.   While we are aware of some software, such as Chirp, that supports multiple radios, we have not found any of that software to fully support most radios programming features.  Hopefully that will change in the future. 

Before loading any of these programming data files into your radio(s), make sure that you have your existing programming and configuration parameters backed up and / or documented!  Some of these data files will write generic configuration parameters to your radio.  We cannot provide data files for each possible individual radio user, so some of the configuration parameters are generic, because they have to be.  This is especially true for radios that have extended capabilities, such as the Kenwood radios that also have TNC and APRS functionality. 
Also, you may have frequencies programmed in your radios that you may find useful, but would be improper for us to provide as an organization. 
So make sure that you have documentation and backup of radio data that is important to you! 

The sequence of memory programming is such that repeaters are generally grouped by Central Florida counties, with the known Emergency Communications Amateur Radio repeaters listed first for each county.  This creates a delineation of county groups, which should make it easier to find memories based on your location at any given time.  For example, the first few programmed memories are for the Orange County Emergency Amateur Team repeaters, followed by the rest of the most commonly used Orange County repeaters.  There will be a few skipped memories, and then you will find the Seminole County ARES repeaters, followed by a group of additional Seminole County repeaters.  Next you will notice the Lake County repeaters, as well as a short skip in the memory numbers, and so on.   The skipped memories serve to assist with future memory editing, as repeaters do change.  There are also a few additional skipped memories within county groups, especially the larger groups. 
In some of the programming data files, you will also see a small group of repeaters that are not listed by county.  These are repeaters that are well outside of our typical areas of interest, but may still be useful when travelling, such as some of the Tampa Bay Area repeaters. 

Channel names will vary some, based on the capabilities of the radio.  Channel names are not required, but can be a very helpful convenience.  Some of the radios, such as the Kenwood TM-D700, allow simultaneous display of the operating frequency and the channel name.  Most of the radios do not have that flexibility, requiring either frequency display or channel name, but not both.  There are also differences in the number of characters that some radios can display.  We try to limit channel names to no more than eight characters.  This gives a fairly broad level of compatibility, while still conveying usable description and frequency information.   Some radios are not capable of even eight character channel names, most notably the Yaesu FT-60R, which only supports six character channel names.  This can be a real challenge, but can also be addressed. 

Channel names are usually structured in the following ways;
Designated two meter band and seventy centimeter band County Emergency Communications repeaters are prefixed by a three or four character county designator, followed by the last Megahertz place of the radio user’s receive frequency, and then the next three characters of the radio user’s receive frequency (Kilohertz). 
Other two meter and seventy centimeter repeaters can also be specified by location with this same naming convention, except you will not use a county designator.  County designators should only be used to indicate designated County Emergency Communications repeaters. 
Another naming convention that will be used is to identify large linked repeater systems, such as the West Central Florida NI4CE repeater system.  In this instance you will see a four character prefix identifier, followed by the last Megahertz place of the radio user’s receive frequency, and then the next three characters of the radio user’s receive frequency (Kilohertz).

Using the last Megahertz place with two meter and seventy centimeter band repeaters will usually indicate which band the repeater is on in the Southeastern U.S.  Since most two meter repeaters in the Southeast have transmit frequencies between 145.x and 147.x Mhz, we know that a named channel that has a 5,6,or 7 in the Megahertz place will be a two meter repeater. 
Since most seventy centimeter repeaters in the Southeast have transmit frequencies between 442.x and 444.x Mhz, we know that a named channel that has a 2,3,or 4 in the Megahertz place will be a seventy centimeter repeater. 
For instance, if we see ORNG6730 as a channel name, we can tell that this is a designated Orange County Emergency Communications repeater, and that the repeater output frequency is 146.730, since the Megahertz number is a 6. 
If we see ORNG3525 as a channel name, we know that this is a designated Orange County Emergency Communications repeater, and that the repeater output frequency is 443.525, since the Megahertz number is 3. 
If we see MCO 3400 as a channel name, we know that the repeater is located at MCO (Orlando International Airport), it is NOT a designated county Emergency Communications repeater, since it does not have a county designator, and that the repeater output frequency is 443.400, since the Megahertz number is 3. 
If we see Lake7000 as a channel name, we can tell that this is a designated Lake County Emergency Communications repeater, and that the repeater output frequency is 147.000, since the Megahertz number is a 7. 
If we see NI4C5290 as a channel name, we know that the repeater is part of the NI4CE linked repeater system, it is NOT a designated county Emergency Communications repeater, since it does not have a county designator, and that the repeater output frequency is 145.290, since the Megahertz number is 5.
Hopefully this is starting to make sense. 

Depending on the capabilities of each radio, there may also be some additional Amateur band frequencies programmed into groups, either within or outside of the county group structure.  Some “dual band” or “tri band” radios will support receiving, or even lower power transmit, of less commonly used bands, such as the 6 meter, 1.25 meter, 33 Centimeter, and 23 Centimeter Amateur bands.  As mentioned, this is dependent on the capabilities of each radio model.  There are times when being able to receive a particular band, even without transmit capability, can be useful. 

There is a long list of Simplex frequencies in these data files.  You will find those frequencies grouped together, instead of grouped by county, since those frequencies are fairly broadly recognized as Simplex frequencies in many areas.  These frequencies are often used for point to point communications without repeaters, Voice Over IP Link Nodes, and they are sometimes used for a few different forms of cross band repeat functionality.  The exact list of Simplex frequencies will vary some according to different radio model capabilities. 

As we use the terminology of “groups” to describe how the frequencies are organized, we also need to address the use of groups for the scanning function.  Different manufactures will use different words sometimes to describe this capability, such as zone scan, for some commercial radios.  Not all radios support scanning by groups, and some that do, do not do it well.  For those radios that do provide good capability with scan groups / zones/ etc…  We will try to include that in programming data files.  Likely we will configure the scan groups to coincide with the county memory groupings. 
Earlier we singled out the Yaesu FT-60R as one of the radios that was lacking in the area of display characters, however that radio makes up for that deficiency by having one of the best implementations of group scanning, among Amateur Radios.  Some of the Icom radios also work well for Group Scan. 

You may also find a few routine Public Safety and Commercial / Utility frequencies programmed in the radio data files.  Every effort needs to be made to configure those memories so that if there is an accidental activation of the Push-to-Talk, that the radio attempts to transmit well outside of its design parameters, and therefore will simply not transmit, or even generate an error instead of transmitting.  This is important because some radios are capable of transmitting on Commercial and Public Safety frequencies, after they have had modifications performed on them.   There are often legitimate reasons to have these modifications performed on Amateur Radios, however these modifications can also lead to problematic transmissions outside of the Amateur Radio bands, if a person is not very cautious.  Also, there are some Chinese radios that have recently been marketed to Amateur Radio operators, such as Wouxan, Tyt, Baofeng, and others, that are certified to FCC Part 90 rules.  This means that the radios are type accepted for use on many Commercial and Public Safety frequencies, and can also be used on Amateur Radio frequencies within the radio’s design parameters.  HOWEVER, just because the radio is certified for frequencies outside of the Amateur bands, that does NOT mean that you are!!
If you are creating or updating programming data files for our organization, make absolutely certain that any and all programmed frequencies that are outside of the Amateur Radio bands, cannot cause transmission outside of the Amateur Radio bands.   Accidents can happen, but let's avoid them altogether if we can.