FF-800 FAQ Index:

FF-8070 DVR FAQ Index:


The FF-800 FAQ:

Will the FF-800 support multiple repeaters?

No, and yes. The multi-port structure of the FF-800 allows several ports to be configured as repeater ports -- however, the FF-800 can not separate these repeaters and therefore will not support multiple repeaters unless they are to be linked at all times.

Does the FF-800 have a voter?

The FF-800 does not provide a voting feature except to select a port based on its priority over other ports. An external voter may be easily interfaced to the FF-800 for courtesy tone selection. The courtesy tone may be configured by the sysop to indicate the last active receiver, or most active receiver.

How well does the FF-800 support CTCSS?

Currently, the FF-800 uses logic inputs from external decoders to input CTCSS signals. Current firmware supports selective encode options (to allow an external PL encoder to turn on and off during selective parts of the repeater activity). A programmable tone board (FF-Tone) is also supported for remote programmable encode and decode operations.

I don't need an autopatch, can I get an FF-800 without the patch and save some money?

The autopatch circuitry of the FF-800 is a relatively small part of the overall cost of the controller, eliminating it would cost more in time and special handling than it would save in the cost to the consumer. We therefore do not offer the autopatch as an option, it is standard with all systems.

Can the speed dial command issue a special message for each stored number, such as a call sign identifying the individual?

The current firmware supports this feature and allows up to 7 words to be programmed for each speed dial slot.

Does the FF-800 have reverse autopatch?

Yes, the FF-800 can support a reverse patch where users may call the repeater and have their call answered by an operator on the repeater. This feature may be done with or without a password -- if a password is required, the user would call the repeater, enter the password, and wait for an operator on the air to answer the call. If no password is required, the same procedure is used except no password is required. The reverse patch is answered by issuing the autopatch command code (with no additional digits) and is terminated just like a normal autopatch. During the entire cycle, the on-air operators have total control over the system. At no time during a reverse (or normal) autopatch does the person on the telephone have access to the DTMF receiver of the FF-800.

What is the difference between reverse patch and control patch?

As described above, a reverse patch is where a user calls the repeater to make a contact on the repeater via the phone lines. A control patch is where a sysop calls the repeater to issue control commands. The responses to the control patch are filtered from the repeater output so that there is no indication that there is a person issuing control commands. The only evidence to a control patch is that the DTMF decoder is switched to the phone line and DTMF commands entered at the repeater input will not be recognized.

Our group has almost 200 members, how can we manage our speed dial slots?

The FF-800 serial port interface has several commands which ease the job of entering and maintaining a speed dial data base. This, combined with scripting capabilities of most terminal programs, allows a sysop to easily edit and maintain a speed dial database off-line that may be uploaded (using scripts) to the FF-800.

The commercial owner of our site has provided us with a phone line, but we can not interfere with their system if a call is in progress -- can the FF-800 handle this situation?

Yes, the FF-800 has a PHONE BUSY input which may be used to signal the FF-800 that the phone line is in use. In this situation, the FF-800 will not allow a patch command until the busy condition is removed.

At our repeater site we must dial "9" to get an outside line, is this supported?

Yes, the FF-800 has provisions for a dial prefix which is specifically intended to allow access to an outside line on PBX style phone systems.

Can a prefix be programmed in to be dialed before the number is dialed (i.e.., *67 to disable the caller ID displays)?

Yes, the dial prefix feature can hold up to six digits, so it can be used to send the caller ID lockout as well as the PBX line seize (if needed).

We want to restrict long distance calls, but allow 1-800 calls, can the FF-800 do this?

The FF-800 has what we call a "Lock-out list" and a "Lock-in list". The lock-out list is used to restrict phone numbers. Wild cards are allowed, so you may lock out all numbers starting with a "1" or "0". The lock-in list is a list of exceptions to the lock-out list. Thus, you may lock-out "1" and "0" calls, but lock-in "1-800" (and now, "1-888"), this will allow toll free calls while restricting toll calls.

Can the FF-800 lock out specific number(s)?

Yes, the lock-out list can restrict a range of numbers using wild cards, or can lock-out specific numbers by entering the entire number into the list.

Is there a limit on the number of phone numbers you can lock out?

Yes, the current firmware allows approximately 100 total digits in the lock-out list -- the lock-in list also can hold approximately 100 total digits.

Does the FF-800 support a remote phone line?

Yes. All that is needed is a half duplex TX/RX, and a DPDT relay. The sysop simply connects the hardware (as described in the FF-800 manual) and configures the FF-800 for a remote autopatch connection. The remote phone line connection requires an auto patch controller and a full duplex TX/RX.

How many phone lines can the FF-800 access?

The FF-800 has 4 separate autopatch commands that can be used to select from up to 3 different phone lines (with external relays). Each patch command can be individually disabled, and has its own prefix.

Does the FF-800 read-back the phone number before dialing?

The user has Read back, Click suppress, or active suppress options available as they enter a patch command -- the FF-800 manual describes how these options are implemented. For sysops, there is a Read Last Dialed command so that they may query the dialed phone number after suspicious traffic.

Can the FF-800 be operated by a modem or TNC?

Yes, it was designed with remote access in mind. There are several configuration options for controlling the modem or TNC to help with security and sharing issues. This allows you to share your autopatch line with an external modem and avoid conflicts with users on the air.

What type of modem is recommended for the FF-800?

While the FF-800 can operate at 9600 baud, most operations will not be noticeably slowed by using a 2400 baud modem (which are readily available on the used market for $20 or so). Any Hayes style modem will interface to the FF-800.

How does the FF-800 cope with harsh environments?

The FF-800, when installed in an FF-180 chassis, is designed to tolerate temperatures within the commercial range (-20 to +70 C). The CMOS circuitry of the FF-800 and its peripherals is tolerant of most RF fields and we have several systems operating at high power, commercial broadcast installations with no reported difficulty.

How much power does the FF-800 require?

The FF-800 draws 350mA at 13.8V. When the FF-8070 DVR is added, an additional 150mA is required.

What is a Macro?

We use the term "macro" to refer to a list of commands that can be executed by a user as though they were one command. The sysop may edit any of the 64 macros to perform frequent functions or simplify functions for users. Macros are also used by the scheduler, LiTZ, and command trigger inputs to specify what action(s) is to be performed for each input.

What is a command trigger input?

The FF-800 has the ability to execute a sysop defined macro based on the status of a logic input to the controller (there are actually 4 separate inputs which may be individually programmed). These inputs could be used to trigger a site alarm, or warn of some other emergency at the repeater location.

What is a State?

Many of the configuration parameters for the FF-800 are grouped into what we call a "state". A state is nothing more than a snapshot of some of the controller parameters that may be saved or recalled on demand (ACC referred to these as "Macro Sets"). The FF-800 has a total of 6 states that may be used to hold controller configurations for special events, emergencies, etc...

Can the FF-800 measure temperature?

Yes, the analog inputs are designed to interface to the LM-335 temperature sensor which is available from several sources as a TO-92 style package. Only Two wires are required, and no other components.

Why do my temperature readings jump around so much?

The LM-335 has a specified accuracy of +/- 1 degree C. The D/A input on the FF-800 is an 8 bit type with a 5 volt reference. The resolution of the D/A converter is not in sync with the voltage profile of the LM-335, which means that there are noticeable conversion errors. Basically, you can expect about 2 degrees C (or almost 4 degrees F) of resolution -- which means that the temperature readings can "jump" from one reading to the next if the temperature is at one of the D/A crossover voltages.

I've hooked up my LM-335, but it isn't working, what's wrong?

Near the P9 connector on the FF-800 are a series of 4 jumpers. These jumpers select the pull-up resistor required for the LM-335, if the jumper is missing, the LM-335 will not have any bias and will not function. JA corresponds to input #1, JB to input #2, etc...

I've hooked up my S-meter signal, but it isn't working, what's wrong?

Near the P9 connector on the FF-800 are a series of 4 jumpers. These jumpers select the pull-up resistor required for the LM-335, if the jumper is present, the pull-up resistor will "buck" your S-meter signal -- remove the corresponding jumper and make sure the S-meter signal varies from 0 (no signal) to 1.65V (full scale). JA corresponds to input #1, JB to input #2, etc...

Can the analog inputs measure anything besides temperature?

Yes, the FF-800 currently supports an S-meter function based on a 1.65V full scale signal. Future software revisions are planned to provide programmable meter faces, and "alarm set points" that would allow the system to execute a macro if an analog signal was above or below as specific value.

Why does the FF-800 have those funky mini-DIN connectors?

When developing the FF-800 layout, we wanted to provide individual connectors for each receiver and transmitter (instead of one mega connector, like some controllers have). Since we needed 8 connectors to fit into a relatively limited space, we had to look at connectors that had a small footprint. For small footprint, rugged construction, and low cost there were few alternatives that were as attractive as the mini-DIN. At the time, these connectors were relatively new to the world -- since then they have gained some popularity, primarily for the same reasons we chose them.

What is the AUXDTMF input for?

This input is provided to allow a link or remote base to have command access to the FF-800 when the indicated port is deactivated. When a port is deactivated on the FF-800 -- it is completely off-line, the controller does not service it in any way. By connecting the audio from the link receiver to the AUXDTMF input, the FF-800 has a control path to allow commands to be entered and processed even though the port has been de-activated.

Why is there a local microphone input?

This feature has its roots in our earliest development models. We used a DTMF microphone as the "test receiver" for a quick and easy test set-up. This feature found its way into the finished design for no other reason than "it was there". We added a PTT and audio output which allow the local microphone port to function as a 5th T/R port, if desired. Even though they make relatively few trips to their site, many users enjoy having the convenience of a local microphone when they are working on their system.

Does the FF-800 support the RBI-1 interface from Doug Hall?

Yes, we support the full range of features offered by their product and follow their updates very closely. This includes the memory channel support first released on the RBI-1 V3.0.

My RBI-1 memory commands don't work correctly, what is wrong?

Our first support of the RBI-1 V3.0 firmware has a bug in the memory commands. Update your FF-800 to V2.19L (or later) to fix the problem.

Are there any other alternatives for frequency agile remote bases?

In addition to using a BCD style radio, we offer the FF-8090 and FF-8900 interfaces for the IC-901 (FF-8090) and ACC's FC-900 (FF-8900) ICOM radios. These interfaces support frequency agility, multi-band operation (two bands at a time), and CTCSS options. The FF-8090 also features remote squelch control and individual remote volume controls for the main and sub bands.

Does the FF-800 support an HF remote base?

Yes, our FF-899 interface supports a variety of HF rigs. It also features I/O capabilities for interfacing an antenna rotor and/or remote coax switch.

What are the benefits of using an audio delay?

There are two reasons for using a delay module (like our FF-CAD): 1) to eliminate DTMF "blips" from your repeater audio, and 2) to eliminate squelch "bumps" from your receiver audio. If neither of these issues is a problem, you don't need a delay module. Adding a delay module is just a method of cleaning up the audio through your system. When installed and adjusted properly, users are generally forced to listen for courtesy tones because that is the only way to determine when a station has stopped transmitting.

I don't like the fidelity of bucket brigade delay modules...what makes the FF-CAD any better?

The older style delay modules offered by S-Comm and ACC (among others) had several problems: Another innovation introduced with the FF-CAD is the idea of a delay inhibit signal. This allows a simple logic input to the FF-CAD to disable the delay function without the need for a specially wired relay.

FF-8070 DVR FAQ:

Can the DVR speech data be directly loaded from a PC?

No, the memory structure of the DVR is such that direct access to the speech data is not feasible -- because of this, recorded speech data can not be "archived" once stored in the DVR. Tracks can be recorded using a sound blaster (or similar interface) or DAT system to facilitate archive operations. However, they must be recorded by the FF-8070 in the analog domain.

Can the voice mail feature be disabled?

Yes, if not desired, the voice mail can be completely disabled to provide more space for system recordings.

What is a "system track"?

System tracks differ from voice mail tracks in that they are designed to provide IDs, function announcements, or other "system" information. Voice mail is intended to provide a message storage and retrieval system for multi-user access. Voice mail and system tracks are separate and distinct in the FF-8070 system.

Can the DVR be accessed via telephone?

The full range of DVR features is available via the control patch interface on the FF-800. Configuration commands, track recording, and track playback can all be performed using DTMF digits via telephone. A single DTMF digit is used to signal record start and stop operations, with automatic play-back of recorded audio to allow quick verification of the recorded information.