Repeater Upgrade – Yaesu DR-1X

Dear GARA members,

As anyone who deals with technology knows, nothing lasts forever. And, like with cars, there is a time when it makes sense to upgrade to a newer model before your old one experiences more problems than you can afford. On rare occasion, someone will come along and offer you a good deal on a car with new features around the same time you’re looking to replace the old model with a new one. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the deal.

Our club is in a similar situation. Because of their age and the era in which they were designed and built, our VHF repeaters are challenging to program and maintain, and they require a binder full of instructions to understand properly. They are also decades old, so there isn’t a way for any of us to tell with any certainty how much longer they’ll last, but that may not matter. The club has an opportunity to purchase a brand new repeater with new features at a very discounted rate, and the board would like your input.

Here is the deal: Yaesu has a new repeater system named “Fusion.” It’s called this because the same repeater can handle both analog and digital signals. Yaesu would like to sell more HTs and mobile VHF radios, so they’ve been offering their new DR-1x repeater to clubs for only $500 – that’s over 70% off the new retail price of almost $1700. This offer isn’t available to individuals or anyone else, just amateur radio clubs. The catch is that the deal ends on March 31, so a decision needs to be made very soon.

It should be noted that many other clubs in the Piedmont area have already taken advantage of this offer and either have this system on the air now, or will deploy it soon. For example, the Reidsville/Madison club is already using two DR-1x repeaters, and both the Thomasville and Winston-Salem clubs will be upgrading in the near future because of this deal. This makes adding it to Greensboro more attractive as the central location in this area.

The DR-1x repeater will be setup so that it can receive both standard analog FM signals and C4FM digital signals from any C4FM compatible radio. Once it receives a digital signal, it will convert it to analog and output an analog signal only so that everyone, both with old and new radios, can hear it. That way, those with existing analog FM radios will be able to continue to use the repeater as always, but those who want to try new C4FM radios can take advantage of their benefits, like improved voice clarity using the same amount of output power at a further distance from the repeater. The DR-1x is also much simpler to program through a front full-color touch panel, and that will help ease setup and maintenance for engineering committees of the future.

In order to maintain our current repeater setup as a fully redundant backup system, the board would prefer to also purchase an additional power amplifier to use with the new repeater to increase the output signal strength. This will add to the cost some, but should be able to be purchased for a reasonable amount of a few hundred dollars.

There will be a discussion about this at this coming Monday’s meeting. Please feel free to ask questions or give thoughts. Also, if you’re interested in this project or are so inclined, please consider giving a one-time donation to offset the cost of purchasing the new equipment. A few people have already pledged to give to the project, so if approved by the membership, the cost to the club will already be less than stated above.

The GARA Board of Directors

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