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YSF Reflector

After earning my ham radio technician license on 10/28/2020, I dove head first into the hobby. One of the things that interests me in particular is digital modes and packet radio. At the recommendation of a colleague, and many folks on the Internet, I picked up an OpenSpot3 hotspot. This hotspot is very capable, and is a good fit for my C4FM based Yaesu radios. I made the rounds with AmericaLink and ZombieNet, but initially had no idea these were not actually Wires-X rooms, but rather, other entry points accessible to hotspots that were being bridged to their native existence.

Ok, got it, I think. In essence, my first visit to the digital ham world was via my local clubs dual-mode (FM & C4FM digital) repeater. Armed with the frequency and tone info from RepeaterBook, and fumbling my way through learning to program my new FT3DR, I was speaking digital. This repeater in particular is part of a set of repeaters in my general geography, which are all integrated via a device called an HRI-200 which allows them to connect to an IP-based system known as Wires-X which is operated by Yaesu, and allows RF to be bridged into the IP world, and directed to other stations and repeaters anywhere in the world.

Clear? Of course not. I finally stumbled upon this explanation and the key here is "Hotspots can only connect to YSF or FCS reflectors. A station on a given reflector system can only talk to other stations on that system unless the system has been bridged."

So, I think of Wires-X as a closed/proprietary set of "chat rooms" that only Yaesu equipment can reach. Non-proprietary "open" versions of this idea have been developed by the ham community, and YSFReflector is one such distributed system which hotspots not affiliated with Yaesu work with. So now, I'm embarking on 1.) building my own YSFReflector and then 2.) bridging it to Wires-X. This will allow anyone to reach the Wires-X room my local clubs repeater network is normally in, but from anywhere in the world as long as they have a hotspot, Internet access, and a radio.

I deployed this reflector in AWS since it was cheap, easy, familiar, and bad-ass. There are a few steps here that I'll gloss over for now, but it wasn't too difficult and is operational. If you have an OpenSpot, you can connect to it like below, making sure to use a simplex frequency appropriate for your area.

It should connect right up, and leave you with a status page similar to

Excellent. Now, configure and call from your radio to the hotspot's frequency, and the digital RF will get packetized and transmitted to the reflector over the Internet. Once it reaches the reflector, that's where the "reflecting" actually occurs, meaning, the transmission will be sent via IP to all other stations pointing at the reflector. How many you ask? For now, probably very few, like KC4JCB (me) and KO4JET, since I'm new and not popular.

Anyway, it's my reflector and I'm having fun with it, even if it is basically empty 👌 But, there's a clever web dashboard you can watch to see who is/has been there.

I'll keep playing with this and learning about the cross-modes, and how to best get it bridged into a true Wires-X room. Hit me up if you like!


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