Club logo.  A red circle containing a green map of the state of Virginia, the ARRL logo, and the text "Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Richmond, Virginia U.S.A."

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society
W4RAT · Richmond, Virginia

An ARRL Affiliated Club Serving Central Virginia Since 1972



Important Programming Update

DMRVA now has a formal partnership with the HEARS/N4HRS system, creating a network of 28 linked repeaters with more planned in 2024.  This has resulted in numerous changes to the talk group lineup on DMRVA and N4HRS repeaters effective December 23, 2023.  DMRVA has published a new talk group list here:  https://www.dmrva.org/talkgroups/

The new lineup eliminates a bunch of older talk groups that are no longer in use and refocuses on Virginia regional communications.

This page has been updated to reflect the 12/23/2023 changes, and the talk group/time slot configuration details provided here should be considered current.  Information found on third party web sites may be outdated.  Only the talk groups listed here are available on the RATS DMR repeater.

What happens if I don't/can't re-program my radio?

You will still be able to use some of the talk groups that are already in your radio.  The following talk groups are (in most cases) unchanged from the previous talk group lineup:  Local/Metro, VA Statewide, TAC A, TAC B, Shenandoah Valley, VA Southwest, VA Peninsula, VA Tidewater, and the Echo Test.  Those talk groups, if currently present in your radio, are still available to you.

HEARS Link is a new talk group.  You probably don't have this one in your existing programming.

Several talk groups have been discontinued:  DCI Bridge/3100, US Southeast, US Mid-Atlantic, TAC 1, TAC channels 310-319, PRN, and OBX Regional.  These talk groups are no longer functional and traffic on these talk groups will not leave your local repeater.

W4RAT DMR C-Bridge Repeater

DMRVA Logo - RVA Digital Mobile RadioRATS operates a Digital Mobile Radio (DMR/MotoTRBO™) repeater as part of the DMRVA system which covers most of Virginia.  This repeater went into service on May 30, 2014 with the generous assistance of Jay Lovelady KD4BPZ and Dave Meier N4MW.  This Motorola XPR8300 was originally placed in service on a backup UHF antenna at around 465 feet.  It spent 2020-2022 at 680 feet.  It's currently using an antenna at 580 feet.  And it'll move again, back to 465 feet, if/when we reinstall a backup VHF antenna at that 580 foot position.  Transmitter power was given a boost from 20 to 25 watts (full power) in July 2023 when this repeater was reinstalled following a nearly one-year hiatus.

Like the rest of the W4RAT repeater systems, the DMR repeater and its network connectivity are serviced by emergency battery and diesel generator power.

Before going on the air, repeater users should be familiar with the particulars of DMR operation, as well the RATS Repeater Rules & Policies, basic repeater etiquette, and some general talkgroup etiquette from our friends at DMRVA.  You must also transmit a valid DMR radio ID.  If you need help becoming familiar with DMR or have questions about operating procedures, please contact the RATS Technical Committee.  We will be happy to help in any way we can.  If you make regular use of the system, please consider club membership or a donation to show your support.

Planning to use a DMR hotspot?  Read this first.

Questions about the DMRVA network, including requests relating to nets or special events on a DMRVA member repeater, should be directed to DMRVA.  Questions about the RATS DMR repeater specifically may be directed to our Technical Committee.

Frequency:  443.5875 MHz,  +5 MHz offset
Call Sign:  W4RAT/R
Mode:  DMR Tier II, fully digital (two time slots)
Configuration:  Color Code 1

All DMRVA repeaters are Color Code 1.  C-Bridge talk groups are configured by the repeater owner and can be designated as either dynamic (PTT-activated) or static (always on).  A list of current DMRVA talk groups is available here.

You can listen to select talk groups online and see recent traffic using Last Heard.

DMRVA & HEARS Repeaters - Talkgroup List

As of January 1, 2024.  Click here for coverage estimations.


Notes:

  1. CC = color code. Either 1 or 9 is used on repeater sites.
  2. UHF repeaters frequency offset is + 5Mhz.  Listed frequency is repeater transmit.  Enter this frequency as your mobile/portable receive frequency.
  3. Frequency offset is - 600 kHz for Fredericksburg VHF.  Listed frequency is repeater transmit.  Enter this frequency as your mobile/portable receive frequency.
  4. Frequency offset is + 600 kHz for Fort Lewis VHF.  Listed frequency is repeater transmit.  Enter this frequency as your mobile/portable receive frequency.
  5. "On" means the talkgroup is always connected.  There is no need to "kerchunk" to activate this talkgroup.  Where a number is shown -- either 5 or 15 -- this is the inactivity timeout for on-demand talkgroups.  Try to remember to use the Clear Timeslot function when you are done using any of these channels.
  6. Colors for 27500 indicate local TG's that are connected together.  Gray is local only. 27500 may have name variations (i.e. Richmond Metro, Rapp Regional, etc).
  7. Richmond Metro is also available through the Brandmeister network on 31511 and PTT on Spotsylvania repeaters TS1 TG 31511.
  8. Roanoke Local is also linked to Brandmeister Long Ridge site (BM TG 315136).
  9. Echotest is available on TG 9998 and 9999 (group call). Both enabled to make transition from N4HRS to DMRVA easy for users.
  10. Testing/Intermittent availability, pending final site work in early 2024.

An Important Note about Codeplugs

As of August 2022, DMRVA no longer furnishes pre-built codeplugs for its network but we have some available.  For additional information, see this page.

Static Talk Groups

Our two static talk groups are Richmond Metro and Virginia Statewide.  These two talk groups are always active.

Dynamic Talk Groups

All other talk groups are dynamic:  they're only active when needed.  Most of the time you will not hear any traffic on these talk groups.  While the repeater will allow more than one simultaneous dynamic talk group to be active, this will produce unpredictable and usually undesirable behavior.  Here are some best practices for using dynamic talk groups:

Best practice:  Have a channel configured in your radio to perform a "monitor all" or "scan" function on all talk groups to ensure nobody else is currently using a dynamic talk group.  You'll need to set this up in advance using your radio's CPS.  Listen for a reasonable amount of time (10-15 seconds).

Select the desired talk group, briefly press the PTT key.  Yes, kerchunk the repeater.  (We know, you've been trained for years that this is bad, but it's better than barging in on top of someone's QSO with your call sign.  Here's the official word from DMRVA.)  This kerchunk will activate the talk group.  Because talk groups are shared with other repeaters on the network, you will again need to wait several moments to begin hearing any distant traffic that may already be taking place on that talk group.

Hearing no traffic on that talk group, make your call.  It's a good idea to say which talk group you're calling on because the receiving station may have their radio in a scan mode.  "AB1CDE, this is K4ABC on Virginia Southwest"

When you are finished with your QSO, transmit your call sign to the "Clear Time slot" talk group.  This will deactivate the dynamic talk group and free the repeater for another user.

Dynamic talk groups are on a timeout and will deactivate if there is no local traffic (that is, no transmissions coming in to our repeater) for 15 minutes (5 minutes on TAC A and TAC B).  You will need to transmit to the talk group to reactivate it after timeout.  If you have a special need for extended access to a dynamic talk group, consider the use of a DMR hotspot device instead of the repeater.

Locals and Metros

The Local talk group (27500) works a little different depending on which DMRVA or HEARS repeater you are using.

In many instances, the Local talk group is shared across multiple repeaters.  When more than one repeater share a Local talk group, we call this a Metro talk group.

  • RVA Metro or Richmond Metro is available on these repeaters:
    • Beaverdam (BEA)
    • Lexington #1 (LX1)
    • New Kent (NKC)
    • Petersburg (PBG)
    • Portable Repeater (POR)
    • Powhatan (POW)
    • Richmond (RIC)
    • Spotsylvania (SPO) PTT-activated TS1 TG 31511
    • Brandmeister repeaters and hotspots as TG 31511
  • Charlottesville Metro is available on:
    • Charlottesville West (CHO)
    • Carter Mountain (CAR)
    • Elliot Mountain (ELL)
    • Fredericksburg #1 (FB1)
    • Harrisonburg (HAR)
    • Linden (LIN)
  • Roanoke Metro is available on:
    • Salem (SAL)
    • Mountain Lake (NRV)
    • Roanoke - Poor Mountain (ROP)
    • Roanoke - Tinker Mountain (ROT)
    • Brandmeister repeaters and hotspots as TG 315136
  • Rappahannock Regional or Rappahannock Metro is available on:
    • Fredericksburg #2 (FB2)
    • Heathsville (HEA)
    • Spotsylvania (SPO)
  •  Southside Metro is available on:
    • South Boston (SBO)
    • South Hill (SOU)
  • The following repeaters have a truly local Local -- the Local talk group stays local and isn't shared with any other system:
    • Alexandria (ALX)
    • Farmville (FVL)
    • Lexington #2 (LX2)
    • Martinsville (MAR)
    • Paint Bank (PBK)
    • Pearisburg (PRB)
    • Pulaski (PUL)
    • Vesta (LLP)

Receiving a Call on a Dynamic Talk Group

If you are expecting a call from someone on a different repeater (including another DMRVA repeater) using a dynamic talk group, you will need to already have the talk group active in order to hear their incoming call.  Follow the procedure described previously for activating a dynamic talk group.  Of course, if you're the one initiating the call, the distant party will need to have done the same, otherwise the talk group will not be active on their end.

Coverage Map


Above:  Map showing projected coverage of the RATS 443.5875 MHz DMR repeater, generated using Radio Mobile Online by Roger Coud√© VE2DBE.

2 photo(s) Updated on: 11 Mar 2023
  • Rear of the W4RAT Motorola XPR8300 system.
  • Front of the W4RAT Motorola XPR8300 system.

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Inc. (RATS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. PO Box 70613, Henrico VA, 23255
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