The Beginner’s Corner for WiRES-X and System Fusion

The Beginner’s Corner for WiRES-X and System Fusion

A WiRES-X software interface:

Disclaimer: The Yellow River Digital Group (Yard Dogs) has no association with Yaesu Musen Corporation. We receive no renumeration of any sort. This is simply our hobby.

Getting used to the terminology:

In order to avoid confusion later on, it may be best to review some of the terminology now. Some words are used to mean more than one thing. You may wish to refer back to this section along the way.
WiRES-X:  This is one of Yaesu’s current methods of Internet linking. It is used primarily for linking Yaesu amateur digital radios.
IMRS:  Internet-Linked Multi-Site Repeater System. This system also uses the Internet but primarily links Yaesu amateur digital repeaters. Either IMRS OR WiRES-X can link repeaters, but not both at the same time.
System Fusion:  Basically this refers to the ability of Yaesu’s amateur digital radios to automatically switch between analog FM and digital FM use. You may select either, or automatic switching.
System Fusion vs. System Fusion II: System Fusion II simply refers to upgraded capabilities that came with software and firmware updates. All System Fusion radios with the latest firmware are System Fusion II compatible.
C4FM:  C4FM refers to a type of modulation that is used by Yaesu in their amateur digital radios as well as by others. Yaesu  has made their radios incompatible with other existing commercial digital platforms.
Now let’s move on to more specific terms:
     AMS or Automatic mode Select:  This is the method by which your digital repeater or radio can automatically switch between analog and digital. Using AMS causes your device to match the incoming type of signal. If your device is a repeater in AMS, it will re-transmit in whatever mode it received. If your device is a handie-talkie or mobile in AMS mode, it will match the incoming mode and your next transmission will be in that mode as well. Obviously you can change the settings to lock out AMS or to switch modes even if AMS changed modes.
NODE:  This term can be confusing so we should get to it right away. A ‘node’ is basically the hardware necessary to establish an Internet terminal…terminal meaning a point at which to input and output information.
     In the case of WiRES-X, our Internet linking system, a node will consist of a node radio or repeater, cables to a PC running WiRES-X software and an Internet connection.  It may also consist of a Yaesu interface device called an HRI-200.
ROOM:  A room differs from a node in a couple of ways. Whereas a node is tangible, a room is virtual. A room only exists where a node employing an HRI-200 exists. A room only exists where it is told to exist. The room will not exist without the supporting node.
NODES vs. ROOMS:  A node may contact another node or it may contact a room. Think of a node as an individual. A room cannot contact anything…it can only BE contacted. A room is a collection of nodes…a meeting place. A room can be empty however with no one in at it a given time. If every node in a room signs out, the room can still exist, waiting for the next nodes to come back in.
     Rooms are not automatically established. You must take a few simple steps to establish one. You can dis-establish a room if you desire as well as limit who may join the room. The rules for entry could be digital vs. analog or it could simply be stations you chose. Connecting nodes can be blocked from a room or have their audio muted if they are causing a problem.
LISTSERVER:  The listserver is one of a number of servers operated by Yaesu for the purpose of letting WiRES-X users know who is available for a contact. Even though a station (be it a room or node) is ‘available’, this does not mean they are listening to their radio at that moment. It simply means their node or room is online.
     The listserver is like a phone book that is dynamic. It changes all the time according to who checks in and out. Your software ‘checks in’ when you turn it on with an active Internet connection. If the information sent by your node matches the Yaesu database, you are listed in the ‘phone book’. If you turn your node off, you drop out of the phone book.
     You will not be able to see the complete listserver ‘lists’ unless you are operating a node and can see the computer screen displaying the WiRES-X software. The listserver displays both active ‘rooms’ and active ‘nodes’. This does not mean you cannot make use of the system unless in front of the computer, rather, it means you will either need to search for the right access codes, know them or have stored them in a memory for later access.
     There is one alternative if you are not where you can see the WiRES-X PC software screen. You can go online and look up ‘Yaesu WiRES-X Active Nodes List” or ‘Yaesu WiRES-X Active Rooms List’. Limited information is available here, but it is better than nothing.
NODE NUMBERS/ROOM NUMBERS/DTMF ID’s:  To operate a node, you must first have registered with Yaesu. They will send you both a node AND room number for every registration. It is only necessary to have one registration for every radio that will be operating in the WiRES-X system AT ONE TIME. That is, even if you have 50 digital radios, if you will never use more than one at a time, you will only need one registration. However, most stations get two or three. You may wish to have a fixed node at home and a mobile node that could be transmitting at the same time.
     These numbers are then used by your radio to establish contact with nodes or rooms. They can be input manually or saved into memory, or even searched for by a ‘synced’ radio.
SYNCED RADIO:  This refers to a state of connection between a radio and a node whereby the radio can manipulate the node. The radio must be within a certain range so that commands are properly received. You may want to do this when your radio is a handheld or mobile and the node radio has the Internet connection. This method extends the range of the HT or mobile to reach anywhere the Internet reaches and beyond!
WiRES-X ACCESS: You do not necessarily need to be ‘synced’ with a node radio, or even HAVE a node radio to get on WiRES-X. You WILL need to be in range of a node radio and you WILL need the owner’s permission if you wish to manipulate that node radio.
     Once again, a node radio can be certain HT’s, mobiles or even repeaters. Permission may be stated on a node owner’s web page, on their electronic QSL card that shows up in the WiRES-X software or in the comments shown in the WiRES-X software interface. You might contact the owner by radio or other means to inquire about permission to manipulate a node.  PLEASE DO NOT ASSUME it is okay to manipulate a node. Many nodes/rooms are set up as virtual meeting places, sort of like repeaters. Imagine if you tried to call your local repeater and someone had moved it!
PORTABLE DIGITAL NODE:  Here’s where it gets interesting! In early 2019 Yaesu introduced the PDN or Portable Digital Node. That introduction revolutionized WiRES-X operation. The PDN eliminated the need not only for an HRI-200 (when just running a node), but it eliminated the need for a fixed or dynamic global IP address. This means that in addition to your node radio and your computer with WiRES-X PC software, you will only need an Internet connection. If you have a cellphone or jetpack that can Bluetooth or WiFi over to your computer, you can go mobile or portable with your node, hence the name PDN. Note that a PDN CANNOT support a room.
     The confusion gets going really good when talking about PDN’s because some terms are used over and over with different meanings. So let us start with this concept: THE PDN FUNCTION.
THE PDN FUNCTION:  Essentially this means the use of a Portable Digital Node as opposed to the use of an HRI-200 with your node. The two have different requirements as well as having different capabilities. Within the PDN function are two modes known as PDN Mode and HRI Mode. Don’t worry, it gets deeper.
     Within both those two modes are what might be called ‘sub-modes’. One is known as ‘Direct Mode’ and the other is known as ‘Access Point Mode’. So, within the PDN FUNCTION (meaning you are using a PDN, not and HRI-200) you could be in PDN Mode/Direct Mode, PDN Mode/Access Point Mode, HRI Mode/Direct Mode or even HRI Mode/Access Point Mode. Got it?      
     Just to make it interesting, no HRI-200 is involved in the HRI Mode. It was suggested to me that the HRI Mode emulates the use of the HRI-200 and that’s the best answer I’ve heard for calling it HRI Mode. Now, where do we go from here? Perhaps we should go from top down.
PDN MODE (within the PDN FUNCTION):  The radios that are capable of PDN operation allow you to select either mode…PDN or HRI. The PDN side is generally used for digital-only operation. You will be able to contact digital rooms and nodes. Since a node can be analog or digital by virtue of its architecture or by selection of the owner, you need to know which you are attempting to contact. If the system will not allow you to connect, you will get a message letting you know. However, there’s nothing like looking at the software interface as it gives you a clue right up front. Each room and node has an icon with it indicating its status as digital or analog.
HRI MODE (within the PDN FUNCTION):  While it is called ‘HRI’, you cannot establish a room here. No rooms can be established within the PDN Function. In general, use of the HRI Mode allows you to connect to, talk to and hear analog stations. Some cabling is required to get the audio out through your radio instead of through the PC speakers. Now, to throw a monkey wrench into the works: On some radios, when you enter HRI Mode, the display says “WiRES-X”. This leads to people calling it ‘WiRES-X Mode’. The display of the words ‘WiRES-X’  I think is a bad choice since the manual clearly calls it “HRI Mode”. Not only that, both PDN Mode and HRI Mode are part of WiRES-X, so why would we call just one of them ‘WiREs-X’? Beats me!
DIGITAL vs. ANALOG:  Before I get to Direct and Access Point Modes, I want to try to clear up a real mess. Why do we call certain stations ‘analog’ when they have clearly come across the digital medium known as the Internet? Good question! The answer lies in how they got there to start with. Each digital radio has a ‘vocoder’, or ‘voice encoder’. This part of the radio digitizes your outgoing audio which is then entered into the digital stream going out over RF or into the Internet.
     Being that a true analog radio, or even a pre-amplified microphone can be connected to an HRI-200, signals not digitized by the radio, but rather converted to TCP/IP right away, can be on the system. These signals will not have the other information radio-digitized signals will. Therefore your node will need to be in a mode that can deal with this situation. In the case of the PDN, that is the HRI Mode.
     In addition, analog users can enter the system by virtue of a node in AMS. These radio signals will also not have digtitally-encoded information.
DIRECT MODE:  Direct Mode, known as ‘Terminal Mode’ in other circles, indicates that the node radio itself can be used to propagate audio and other information across the Internet. Prior to the introduction of the PDN Function, TWO radios were necessary to operate on WiRES-X. When in Direct Mode, the node radio DOES NOT transmit RF. Once again, Direct Mode can be chosen for use in both PDN and HRI modes.
ACCESS POINT MODE:  Access Point Mode allows you to remotely contact your PDN. An example might be: You are traveling and are using your PDN enroute. You are talking directly into the node radio of the PDN since you do not need to transmit RF. Then perhaps, you stop at a coffee shop along the way but you wish to stay in contact on WiRES-X. At this point, instead of dragging all the equipment with you, you can switch to Access Point Mode and take an HT into the coffee shop. You communicate with the PDN via the HT. In Access Point Mode, you DO transmit RF. 

 

Misconceptions:

 — C4FM on a Hotspot —
     Since the Yaesu C4FM modulation method is in the public domain, others can use it. Many of you have seen hotspots featuring C4FM.
     The first misconception then is that using C4FM on one of these hotspots gets you on WIRES-X. IT DOES NOT. Although you may eventually get onto WiRES-X while using the C4FM feature of a hotspot, it will only be because someone established a bridge to WiRES-X. Remember that C4FM is a modulation method and WiRES-X is an Internet linking system. WiRES-X is proprietary and requires Yaesu equipment and/or software somewhere in the process.
— YSF —
     The next misconception (and an easy trap to fall into) is that YSF stands for ‘Yaesu System Fusion’. IT DOES NOT. YSF refers to a system of reflectors (servers) that employ a particular type of software. These reflectors are NOT set up, maintained or owned by Yaesu. These reflectors can be set up by anyone.
— Yaesu Servers —
     Our third misconception is that the Yaesu servers handle your WiRES-X QSO. THEY DO NOT. While Yaesu does maintain servers for the purpose of establishing a WiRES-X database, for authenticating users signing onto WIRES-X and for listing active nodes and rooms, your QSO does not go through these servers.
     Rather, your QSO is handled as standard Internet traffic once a node-to-node or node-to-room connection has been established. During any such QSO, your node will periodically let the Yaesu servers know that you are still active so that you are not dropped from the active lists.
— WiRES and WiRES II —
     Occasionally you may hear of “WiRES” or “WiRES II”. These are systems that Yaesu no longer supports. They ARE NOT compatible with WiRES-X.

Node Radios:

     Only certain Yaesu radios will function as ‘node radios’. That is, only certain ones will interface with the Yaesu software for the purpose of establishing a terminal that connects to the Internet. This is necessary to pass digital data.
     For a node using the HRI-200 interface, you may use any of the repeater series: DR-1(beta), DR-1X, DR-1XFR or DR-2X. You may also use the FTM-100DR, FTM-400DR and FTM-400XDR mobile radios. All have the required hardware.
     When operating in the PDN Function, you may use the above mobile radios as well as the FT-2DR and FT-3DR handheld radios.

Manuals:

     Although your radio is supplied with a physical manual, it very likely is not the only manual you will need. Usually there are a series of manuals that you will need to understand all the different features of your radio. These manuals are always available online from Yaesu.
     While having a hardcopy manual can be handy, it is usually outdated with the first update of your radio or of related Yaesu systems. Errata and supplemental sheets are not provided. One suggestion is to download all relevant manuals to a digital device so that they are at hand when needed. If your radio goes mobile or portable, may I then suggest that your electronic manuals be loaded onto a portable device such as a tablet that you can carry with you.
     Pay particular attention to the publication date of each manual as there can be older editions with similar names.

Etiquette:

     Most issues are related to learning the technical side of things, but there are a few items which might be worth noting here.
WHO DO I CALL FIRST?
     When trying to reach a particular station, do you call his/her node first or their room? May I suggest you try their room first, assuming they have established one. The reason is, that because you might accidentally pull a node out of its own room if you connect to the node first. This will depend on how a station has arranged its settings. It could also happen that a station that got knocked out of its own room does not go back to that room unless you send it back. Once again, this will depend upon the settings made by the node owner.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT?
     How long should you wait before transmitting over C4FM or WiRES-X? A good indicator might be the data displayed on your radio or computer screen. When incoming data stops being displayed, then it is a fairly safe assumption that it’s okay to key up.
PERMISSION REQUIRED?
    Do you need permission to change a node from its current connection? By all means, seek the approval of the node owner if you wish to manipulate their node. Some nodes/rooms have become virtual meeting places where stations congregate. They connect to that node, or more likely, room, expecting to find certain stations there. If you have changed things, you might upset someone, so yes, get permission first.
     Not all node owner will want you to make changes. Not all will want you to connect using a particular mode. Some desire a particular language be spoken. Some nodes/rooms desire that no bridges be connected. Please respect the wishes of each.
     So how do I know? One of the best places is the PC software interface. Space for comments is provided there. What if you do not have the PC interface? You can always check on the Internet by going to the Yaesu WiRES-X Active Nodes List and Active Rooms List. Comments are also posted there. In addition, there are electronic QSL cards that pop up on the PC interface screen, often with comments.
RTFM!
    Read the fine manual: Some folks like to ask questions, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t bypass reading the manuals first. You might want to read the manuals over and over. Yes, at times you will find a subject that doesn’t seem to be covered in the manual, but for the most part, they are.
     These days all sorts of companies rely on a ‘knowledge base’ built by the users. In days gone by, the manufacturer knew more about their products than did the users, but now the users learn things the manufacturer hasn’t anticipated. Perhaps it has to be this way since today’s technology is so complex. However, the manufacturer DID build the system in the case of System Fusion and WiRES-X, so take advantage of all the literature they have published. In other words, don’t make someone else read the manual for you, do it yourself.

Other items of interest:

OPERATING MULTIPLE NODES:
    If you have a need or desire to operate multiple nodes from a single location, it is possible. You will need to understand a few things first.
     Each HRI-200 you operate needs its own IP address. So, you will need to use a VPN service or something like that for every extra (more than one) HRI-200 at a location served by a single IP address. We are mainly talking about residential Internet services here. But yes, you can run multiple HRI-200’s from home if you really want to.
     What about PDN’s? Glad you asked! Since PDN’s do not need a fixed or dynamic global IP address, you can run PDN’s simultaneously with you HRI-200’s. Just remember that EVERY simultaneously active node will need a unique registration. This means unique node and room numbers.