Idaho Amateur Radio
Emergency Service

Idaho ARES has established a BrandMeister DMR Talk-Group to support Idaho ARES operations at the statewide, district and county levels. The primary purpose for establishing this talk group is to support EMCOMM operations, including civil emergency communications, natural disaster communications, training, exercises and NET activities.

The ARES-ID Talk-Group is established on Brandmeister talk-group 31160.

NOTE: The ARES-ID talk-group moved from 31016 to 31160 on 31 Mar 2017. This move was performed to realign the talk-group assignment with the BrandMeister convention of having the four most significant digits of the talk-group number having the same value as the geographical region (i.e. 3116 denotes Idaho).

Idaho ARES requests that all stations operating on the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group adhere to the following operating guidelines:

  1. Idaho ARES EMCOMM operations, including communications in support of civil emergency events, natural disaster events, training, exercises and NET activities, shall be given priority access to the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group.

  2. When any component of Idaho ARES is not using the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group for Idaho ARES activities, casual use of the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group is allowed, provided that stations adhere to the following DMR operating guidelines:


      At anytime, should the Idaho Section Emergency Coordinator, any Idaho District Emergency Coordinator, any Idaho County Emergency Coordinator, or Idaho ARES NET Control Station make announcement on the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group that Idaho ARES activities are to commence, all users should yield the talk-group to Idaho ARES operations.


      Networked DMR communications is a shared resource, with imposed latencies (delays) that require a high level of ETIQUETTE applied to radio operation. Operators must visualize that their communications may not only be heard by hundreds, or thousands of DMR users, but that resources are being tied up by communications and may deny other users access. Users should invoke a higher level of operational courtesy, and a stronger adherence to structured protocols to avoid denying access to other operators.


      Because of long delays introduced by digitally encoding, network routing, and digitally decoding of DMR signals, communications delays are inherent. Operators should wait after a transmission stops, and before you start a transmission, to accommodate breaking traffic. It should be noted that there is no repeater squelch tail with DMR. Operators should wait for a minimum of 2-seconds after hearing the end of a transmission before initiating a transmission, and then wait an additional 1-second after keying the transmitter before speaking. Remember, users of any DMR repeater, or any DMR hot-spot device, on a world-wide basis, may wish to break in. Failure to adhere to delaying transmission may result in denying other operators access.


      When you arrive on a channel or talk-group, listen for a minimum of 30-seconds to get a sense as to whether the repeater, or the talk-group is in use. If the repeater or talk-group is in use, listen for a while to acquire conversational context, and then intelligently decide whether you can or should interject in the conversation. Do not interject to mislead or take-over a conversation. Rather, wait until the conversation is completed before interjecting if you mean to change topics or focus.

      NOTE: Conversations on DMR are often focused on technical topics, and it is not unusual to experience a significant gap in conversation when a station pauses to refer to technical documentation to support the conversation. A gap in conversation is not necessarily an indication that the DMR repeater or talk-group is not in use. If a gap is observed and you make a call, and a response indicates a QSO already in progress, please yield to the QSO already in process.


      Announcements should be used sparingly. Many operators on DMR are in the habit of announcing their presence on DMR. Many of these announcements occur without applying the Listen First technique described above. There is a time when such announcements are sensible, but far more often than not, such announcements are disruptive and annoying. Over use of announcements tends to deter station operators from monitoring or communicating on a talk-group.

      An announcement may be necessary to notify other repeater users that the repeater is now on a specific talk-group. But for most other purposes, such announcements are unnecessary. If an announcement is made, for the sake of notifying other repeater users that a specific talk-group is in use, the announcement should be made only once, and should not be periodically repeated. Operators should not make themselves a nuisance by periodically and repeatedly announcing their call sign and that they are listening to a specific talk group as doing so literally drives other operators, who may be waiting for a call, to move to another talk group. Remember: A talk group is a wide-area resource, used far beyond the scope of your local repeater or hot-spot, and requires being courteous to other operators by using the resource sparingly. Over use of announcements tends to deter station operators from monitoring or communicating on a talk-group.


      The DMR-ID of a station appearing on the talk-group may be displayed momentarily on your radio, or can be seen on the Brandmeister Last-Heard web page. This can occur when a station momentarily keys their transmitter to switch talk-groups on a repeater or hotspot. This is not necessarily an indication that the station wishes to be called. The station may only wish to monitor the talk-group. It is difficult to determine what the station intends. Do not force a QSO, but allow a station to move to the talk-group with the purpose of monitoring. Do not give the impression to other operators that you are waiting to pounce every time they appear on the talk-group.


      DMR delays can make it difficult to complete a call. If you are casually monitoring a talk-group, and hear a call but are unsure if the call targets your station, do not respond immediately, but provide an opportunity of another station to answer. After a delay, if no station is heard, only then should you key up and ask if your station was called.

      With DMR, and depending on a specific radio's capability or configuration, there may be no indication that doubling has occurred. If you think that your station may have been called but are not certain because you did not actually hear the call, it is important that your first response is to wait in order to allow for the targeted station to respond. It is far better to wait 10 or 15 seconds, and then, if the channel is clear, make a query to ask if your station was called than to respond when uncertain and deny the calling station and called station the opportunity to establish contact. This operating principle employs the primary Amateur Radio operating skill of always listening first.


      Talk-group Hopping, is a process where a station makes a call on a talk-group, waits a very short period of time, and then moves to the next talk-group before repeating this same process. Talk-group hopping is both disruptive to communications and an abuse of a shared network resource. Talk-group Hopping should be strongly discouraged. If talk-group hopping is a normal operating procedure for you, please do not include the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group in your talk-group hopping sequence.


      If all parties in a QSO are operating on the same repeater, and networked resources are not required to support the QSO, move off of the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group and carry on the QSO on the LOCAL talk-group as configured for the repeater that you are operating on. Do not unnecessarily consume networked bandwidth. If all parties to a QSO are not on the same repeater, then this is a situation where network utilization, and the act of occupying a wide-area networked talk-group is justified.


      If you are using a dynamic, or Push-To-Talk Talk-Group, and cycle your push-to-talk switch to change talk-groups, DO NOT issue a station identification until you have listened first to determine if your identification will result in interference to a QSO that is already in progress on the talk-group.


      Unless otherwise directed by the repeater owner/operator/trustee/control-operator, private calls should be restricted to use only time-slot 1. Move to a time-slot 1 channel before issuing a private call. If receiving a private call on a time-slot 2 channel, move to a time-slot 1 channel and momentarily key and the private call will be re-routed to you on time-slot 1.

      Private calls are not truly private. Per FCC regulations, no encryption is applied. Any DMR capable scanner, or radio with enhanced monitoring capability, may be able to eavesdrop on a private-call QSO. A private call does not ensure privacy, but merely increases the likelyhood that the conversation may not be heard by others. The private call capability finds its largest utility in that it is possible to contact another station that is operating on another repeater, without knowing what repeater or talk-group that called station is operating on. This capability requires that the network be provided with sufficient information to be able to route a private call to the called station, which is accomplished by the called station breifly keying on the repeater after switching from another repeater. Keying in this manner will provide both the called station DMR-MARC ID and repeater DMR-MARC source ID to the network, which then enables the network to route a private call to the called station's radio via the repeater that the called station is operating on.

      By convention, most repeater operators on BrandMeister have their static talk-groups assigned on time-slot 2, and have the dynamic (or push-to-talk) talk-groups on time-slot 1. This convention for time-slot utilization is to provide a courtesy to the bulk of users who are using the static talk-groups.

      Private calls should use the same convention as the dynamic talk-groups. Private calls should, unless otherwise directed by the repeater owner or control operator, be limited to using time-slot 1 to avoid making the static talk-groups unavailable on time-slot 2.

      Private calls can be initiated manually or by pre-programmed channel selection. When initiated manually, the operator should first select a time-slot 1 channel, and then invoke the menu operations to initiate a private call. When initiated by pre-programmed channel selection, the channel is programmed with a private ID in the TX Contact field when programming the channel, and these pre-programmed private call channels should be programmed using time-slot 1.

      If you receive a private call while you are operating on time-slot 2, you can redirect the private call to time-slot 1 by switching to a time-slot 1 channel, and then briefly key-up to notify the BrandMeister server that you have reconfigured your radio. The private call will then be re-routed to your radio via time-slot 1.

      Please note that a given repeater operator may provide different guidance on using their repeater. Always defer to the repeater operator's guidance, but when no guidance is available, please adhere to the convention documented here.


      If your radio supports Enhanced Monitor Mode, which enables listening to all talk-groups on the selected time-slot, please place your radio into this mode. Monitor the entire collection of talk-groups on the selected repeater time-slot to determine if any talk-group is in use prior to keying the transmitter to move the repeater to the talk-group you desire to use. This is to ensure that you do not move the repeater away from a talk-group that is in use (and thereby, disable an existing QSO).


      Please use Color Code Free admit criteria. This option is the best option that supports access to the repeater you wish to use while avoiding a repeater occupying the same frequency with a different color code. Although Always might seem like an easy option, it also has the unintended consequence of allowing an operator to move a repeater to a different talk-group when the repeater is in use, thereby terminating another operator's QSO. Channel Free could deny access to a repeater if another repeater occupies the same frequency with a different color code, which could inhibit access in an emergency. Color Code Free is the best access option, and especially if courtesy to other operators is an operating goal.


      Networked DMR should not be visualized as a peer-to-peer resource that is limited in scope to the sphere of local repeater coverage foot-print. Networked DMR operation is a wide-area resource and demands a higher level of awareness of its wider scope, along with an extra dose of operational courtesy, to ensure that all users are accommodated and that a operations on the talk-group do not repel the very operations for which the talk-group was established.


      Non-compliance with these guidelines may result in over-the-air notification of non-compliance. Should this happen, this is not a personal attack, rather it is a teaching moment. If such notification occurs, stations are requested to bring their operations into compliance with these published guidelines.

It is recommended that the above described guidelines be applied to all DMR operations, not just on the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group.

Repeater owners and organizations that include support for the ARES-ID 31160 talk-group in their repeater programming are encouraged to provide the address of this page to their repeater users.