If you are a new DMR user, you may find that the transition from analog to digital is a bit confusing. Especially when programming talkgroups, channels, and zones. Hopefully, this post will help clear some of this up.
In the analog world, we would simply program frequencies to a channel and that was the end of the story. There is a little more with DMR and you need to follow a bottom-up approach when programming your radio.
A DMR talkgroup is a method of grouping or assembling multiple users (Radio ID’s) to a single contact. An analogy I like to use is imagining the DMR network as a university campus. You can’t listen to all the lectures at once, so you go to an individual lecture hall or room (talkgroup.)
Channels contain the information required to connect to the repeater and select the talkgroup. Each channel is programmed with the Channel Name, Frequencies, and Talkgroup. There is a myriad of other settings, but for simplicity’s sake, this is the easiest way to “spin the knob” to get to a different talkgroup. Using the university analogy, channels are the method that you use to get to the individual lecture rooms. Whether you are driving, riding a bike, teleconferencing, or walking, you will get to the same room/lecture.
Zones are a way of organizing a collection of channels. You can organize zones however you would like. Think of them as file folders. Mostly, people organize the zones based on location. The following list is an example of zones that are set up by location:
- Zone 1 – Local DMR Repeater
- Zone 2 – Hotspot
- Zone 3 – Nearby DMR Repeater
- Zone 4 – Local Analog Repeaters
When you are creating your code-plug, remember to use a bottom-up approach:
Talkgroup -> Channel -> Zone
There are two diagrams below showing the basic relationships and flow:
Hopefully, this has cleared up some of the confusion. Feel free to post comments on how to improve this post.