BrandMeister static, dynamic, and auto‑static talkgroups

Revised: Jul 2019, CC BY-SA = open in new tab ]
Most up-to-date version: amateurradionotes.com/auto-static.htm Links: Standalone articles & PDFs

These are simple features made a bit more complex by the fact that things behave differently when you connect to a BrandMeister talkgroup via a hotspot than when you connect via a BrandMeister repeater. Additionally, simplex and duplex hotspots behave differently related to auto-static talkgroups.

Here's how I understand BrandMeister static, dynamic, and auto-static talkgroups to be working as of Jun 2019.

Via repeaters

When you're connected via a BrandMeister repeater, talkgroups can be static (always activated) or dynamic (user activated). John, AA7US, wrote a good explanation of this in a post in the old, now closed Pi-Star Users Support Group:

On a regular repeater system there are "static" and "dynamic" talk groups.…

Regular static talk groups are permanently linked to a repeater by an administrator using BrandMeister's SelfCare web dashboard. They can only be disconnected by the repeater administrator.

Dynamic talk groups are only temporarily linked to a repeater system each time someone keys up on a talk group. A dynamic talk group will time out … and automatically disconnect from the repeater. This makes it easy for users to share a repeater with different talk groups.

Network system administrators or repeater administrators determine how their repeaters are configured. Some allow only specific static talkgroups to be used on each time slot; others allow only static talkgroups on time slot 2, and allow dynamic talkgroups on time slot 1. In the latter case, the convention is to use time slot 1 to key up dynamic wide-area talkgroups, while local talkgroups typically are static on time slot 2.

BrandMeister system administrators tend to allow more dynamic talkgroups, while other networks can be more restrictive. The best way to understand how a repeater is configured is by visiting the specific repeater's website or by contacting the repeater operator.

When you activate a dynamic talkgroup on a repeater's time slot by keying up, it remains activated while there are transmissions on it, then drops from the repeater after some preconfigured period of inactivity, most commonly 15 minutes, but it can be some other period of time that the administrator has configured. When you're finished using a dynamic talkgroup, you don't need to manually unlink from that talkgroup; you can just key up another talkgroup or turn off your radio.

Note: Keep in mind that that this article is specifically addressing talkgroups. BrandMeister formerly supported linking to reflectors as well, but discontinued allowing that in late 2018. Some other networks still support linking to reflectors.

Via personal hotspots

This section mainly addresses how auto-static talkgroups work with hotspots, but also will address how static talkgroups work with hotspots.

Auto-static talkgroups

The BrandMeister network has an additional talkgroup connection feature called "Auto Static" that applies to simplex hotspots.

Disclaimer: I don't know the background of why the auto-static feature was designed to work as it does. Perhaps it's meant to make things easier for hotspot users, so that we don't need to log into BrandMeister SelfCare in order to make a talkgroup we want to connect to static so that it won't time out. Regardless, that's the way the BrandMeister system administrators have designed things. My personal goal is to try to understand the feature well and use it as best as possible. The good news is that the auto-static feature is currently working better than ever.

Replying to a question about auto-static behavior related to simplex and duplex hotspots, Andrew, M1DNS, posted a good answer in the Pi-Star User Forum:

Simplex (hotspots) stay connected, the connection doesn't drop. Duplex hotspot / Repeater installation: the link is dynamic and will drop after X mins of no local use, unless you set a static [connection] with BrandMeister SelfCare.

So the behavior of a duplex hotspot is similar to a repeater, but the behavior of a simplex hotspot is different.

When you key up a BrandMeister talkgroup via your simplex hotspot, it automatically becomes static, in other words, it becomes auto-static. You can view this behavior via BrandMeister's SelfCare:

  1. Register for a BrandMeister SelfCare account:
    https://brandmeister.network/
    BrandMeister SelfCare Registration link
  2. After logging into your BrandMeister SelfCare account, key up a BrandMeister talkgroup via your hotspot, and then find the My hotspots option in the BrandMeister menu:
    • In a wide browser window, it's the open left panel.
    • On a mobile device or in a narrower browser window, it can be opened by clicking the top left Menu button (looks like three lines stacked on each other, and is commonly called the "hamburger" button).
      BrandMeister Menu link
  3. Click My hotspots to open a list of your hotspots, and then click the CCS7 ID associated with the hotspot you want to look at.
    BrandMeister My hotspots
  4. In the hotspot Settings window that opens, scroll down to the Static Talkgroups section to see which talkgroups are static.
    BrandMeister Static Talkgroups
    Note: It can take a minute or so for an auto-static talkgroup to show up in the Static Talkgroups list (sometimes you must refresh to see the change).
  5. In a desktop browser window, if you point your mouse cursor at a listed auto-static talkgroup, you'll see a tooltip identifying it as "Auto Static."
    BrandMeister Auto-Static Talkgroups
    Note: The rest of the tooltip hasn't been updated to accurately reflect how the auto-static feature is working as of Mar 2019. Per my testing, the tooltip should read: "This talkgroup was set automatically as auto-static due to it being the last talkgroup keyed up."

Per my testing—again, as of Mar 2019—there are a couple ways to disconnect from an auto-static talkgroup:

Note: During my testing, when I keyed up a talkgroup on my duplex hotspot (the MMDVM_HS_Dual_Hat by Florian, DF2ET, Mathis, DB9MAT, and Andreas, DO7EN), it was listed in the Pi-Star Admin Dashboard's Active BrandMeister Connections module as a Dynamic Talkgroup. After 15 minutes of inactivity, it was cleared off that list; however, it didn't get cleared from being displayed as the linked talkgroup in the DMR Repeater module (on the left side of the Admin dashboard). Turns out that this is due to the fact that the dynamic listing is dropped server side, but that doesn't trigger any action in the local dashboard. The Active BrandMeister Connections module is reporting actions on the server side, while the the DMR Repeater module is reporting local dashboard status.

Static talkgroups

When you're using a hotspot, simplex or duplex, it's also possible to create one or more static talkgroups:

  1. Log into BrandMeister SelfCare.
  2. Make sure you have your hotspot turned on and the DMR mode enabled so that your hotspot is connected to a DMR server.
  3. In the BrandMeister Menu, click My hotspots to open the list of your hotspots, and then click the CCS7 ID of the hotspot you want to configure.
  4. In the hotspot Settings window, scroll down to the Static Talkgroups section.
  5. Type the number of the talkgroup that you want to make static in the left field (or, on a mobile device or in a narrower browser window, the top field), and then click the Right-Arrow button to move it to the right (or bottom) field and make it static.
    BrandMeister Static Talkgroups section
    Note: TAC channels should not be used as primary calling channels. In the U.S., the TAC channels (talkgroups 310 - 319) can't be added as static talkgroups, and also won't become auto-static. If you want a primary calling channel, try something like the U.S. Wide talkgroup, 3100. For more information, see the BrandMeister U.S. Wiki.