Getting Started With Allstar

Hello, this is Lucy, CH1MP, with some information about the Allstar System. After reading this you will learn how Chimp Pan Easy it is to use. So let’s get started.

Lucy CH1MP posing before a vintage telephone switchboard.

Anything new can be overwhelming. I am by no means an expert, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t play in the Allstar sandbox. Think of Allstar in terms of a telephone network. In fact, it was modeled after a PBX, or Private Branch Exchange. Large corporations have their own internal phone systems, or PBXs which can also interface with the outside world. Think of the Allstar network as your very own HBX or Ham Branch Exchange.

LARC repeater’s Allstar capability means it can connect to thousands of other hams. It uses the old switchboard telephone model, but with software and the Internet substituting for patch cords and copper wires. The only hardware you will need to take full advantage of the system is a radio capable of sending DTMF tones. DTMF tones are the sounds that your phone makes when you dial a number. Most ham radios have this capability. For example, to send the DTMF tones for the number 1234 using a Baofeng, press and hold the transmit button while pressing in sequence the keys 1, 2, 3 and 4.

You will need to learn a few control codes: *1, *2, and *3. You will also need to select a Node number from the list of available Nodes. This website will help. It lists hundreds of Nodes. Our repeater is one of them. It isNode number 49715.

Control codes are combined with Node numbers in the following way:

*1 followed by a Nodenumber. This will disconnect you from the Node number you entered.
*2 followed by a Nodenumber. This will only allow you to listen to traffic on the Node number entered.
*3 followed by a Nodenumber. This code puts you in transceiver mode, or two way communication. This is probably the one you want to use.

Here is a snapshot of part of what you will see when you click on the link above. This is the place to get Node numbers, Maps showing the location of a Node, and Bubble charts, which tell you who is connected to who.

By clicking on Map for a given Node number, you can pinpoint the location of that Node.
Here is an example. The Node for Tampa was selected. In this case only two Nodes are connected.

Finally, there is the Bubble chart. The following is a very simple one. It shows three Nodes connected to a fourth.

Here is a tip to help you pick a Node. Join the crowd. Pick a Nodethat is designated as a Hub. Do this by sending *3 followed by the Node number of the hub you select. You will be added to the group. As a group member you are now connected to anyone who is also connected to the hub. When you transmit, everyone hears you, and you can hear everyone else. Think of this as a party-line. Don’t be surprised if you get an answer back from someone in Denver, when you put your call sign out. This is possible if the Denver station is connected to the same hub you are connected to.

So now for some practical stuff.

How do I let everyone know I am connecting to an Allstar link and it is not my grandson messing with my HT?
        Good procedure is to announce your intentions before you send any DTMF codes. Say “This is ‘your call sign’ connecting to Allstar.”

Can I cause any damage by punching in something incorrectly?
        Not likely. The system is robust.

If I connect to a Node, do I have to disconnect after I am done with a session?
        You don’t have to, but if you open a pathway to Dusseldorf Germany, and don’t  disconnect it, some of your fellow hams might be caught off guard if Hans responds to their request for a signal report in a heavy German accent.

Can someone else disconnect a link I established but forgot or purposely left open?
        Yes. Anyone can disconnect our repeater from any Node using *1 followed by the Nodenumber sequence.

How can I tell which Node or Nodes the LARC repeater is connected to?
         This is wherethe bubble chart comes in handy. It will show any connections to the LARC repeater.

Can you recommend a hub?
         You might try Node2577. This hub is located in Central Florida.

Yes, there is more to learn, but the best way to learn any new skill is to get some hands on experience. You now have enough information to get started, so go bananas! You’d be a chimp not to.