DPCN utilizes trunked digital radio, which allows for more efficient use of available spectrum and equipment.
Trunking decouples talkgroups from timeslots. Therefore radio traffic is not restricted to either timeslot 1 or 2 and can move between them automatically depending on repeater usage and system needs. This allows two simultaneous conversations without worrying about transmitting over other hams or having to remember all the underlying technical details of which talkgroup is on what timeslot. If no talk path is available for your call, the radio will indicate busy.
DMR is the ideal candidate for this type of trunking in ham radio because the two timeslots occupy the same frequency, relieving the operator of concerns regarding station identification.
DPCN systems can be a single repeater or more than a dozen linked repeaters across a large geographical area. Linking is done over IP, whether via private microwave backhaul or the public Internet. If a particular site becomes heavily used, another repeater can be added to the site to handle the additional load.
Depending on the system vendor, DPCN users may also be able to converse on the system via a smartphone app.
Because the trunking protocol DPCN uses is a proprietary addition to DMR, all radios must be from the same manufacturer. While these radios are relatively expensive new, they are reasonably priced used (and frequently less expensive than new ham-specific digital radios).
Compatible models will vary depending on the system. See your local system for a list of supported radios.
Because DPCN radios are commercial and made by the same manufacturer, they can be centrally managed. This means:
- No more wasting time building and maintaining codeplugs: all updates are pushed out over the air.
- A common, up to date contact list, updated over the air.
- Private call confirmation: know that your friend is online and in range of the system.
- Ease of use: commercial radios are focused on the experience of everyday users, not just technically-minded hams.
- Customizable: assign hotkeys to specific contacts, add your own contacts, customize your alert tone, turn on vibrate alerts, etc.
Centralized codeplug management
Modern digital protocols are not designed for a pleasant user experience or for ease of use, even ham-specific ones such as D-STAR. Many accomplished and capable hams struggle to configure radio codeplugs with timeslots, color codes, talkgroups, recieve group lists, scan lists, contact lists, etc. Programming a codeplug has so many options nowadays; some settings are incompatible with others and can even unknowingly cause interference with other radios.
Simple to use
DPCN is digital ham radio without the headache: when you don't necessarily want to become an expert at all things digital and instead want use your license for what you're skilled at: communicating. Outsource the technical management to DPCN and enjoy talking on the radio again.
With DPCN you can leave your radio on 24/7 and only receive calls you want to hear. Monitor your local club's talkgroup or leave it on private call only mode where only a transmission directed to your radio will open the squelch.
How it works
For those familiar with computer networking, DMR is basically IP. So a group call would be equivalent to multicast, whereas a private call is directed at a single IP address. If you have a scanner or a DMR radio with promiscuous mode you can still monitor the transmission: it is not encrypted. It's merely that the other radios recognize that the transmission is not directed to them, so they don't listen.