Setup your own DMR Network with HBLink3

I see the title got you, but it is not far from the truth. You technically could setup your own network with HBLink3, but why would you want to. With the already dominate network of Brand Meister, why not work with them instead of against them. In this document I am going to walk you through installing and setting up HBLink3. Then in other documents I will out line ways of expanding your new HBLink3 Server.

Let’s start at the beginning. What the heck is HBLink3? Well I’m glad you asked. HBLink3 is the lasted version of HBLink written by Cort Buffington (N0MJS). Cort has created a lot of Ham Radio tools for you to use, and of course we will be focusing on HBLink3. You can find all of his tools at https://github.com/n0mjs710.

You can think of HBLink as a Conference Bridge. With it, you can have 1 or more DMR Hotspots or Repeaters connect to it. Then you can setup private or public talkgroups that you and your friends can talk to each other on. Then you can take that a step further and setup an OpenBridge connection to Brand Meister to have access to the talkgroups on their network.

So what will that buy you? For one, as long as your server is running, regardless of what any other network is doing you and your friends can continue to talk. If you have your own talkgroup, then you can link it to Brand Meister, and introduce other modes without having to involve the Brand Meister Admins. So if you wanted YSF, you could setup a YSF Reflector or XLX Reflector and link that directly to HBLink3, which would then be linked to your BM talkgroup.

That is not to focus of this document, the focus is to help you getting it installed and running, so lets get started. It is possible to run HBLink3 on a Windows or MAC machine, but as most servers run some flavor of Linux, that is what we will focus on. I am going to assume you have some knowledge and basic understanding of Linux.

Getting Started

You can run HBLink3 on just about any type of Linux Server you want, to include a Raspberry PI. You can also run it on nearly any flavor of Linux. I currently use Debian 9, and I also use a VPS (Virtual Private Server). No matter how you want to setup your HBLink3 Server we need to make sure that Python3 is installed, which for most of you it should be. To verify this type the following command:

As a side note, if you need a VPS head over to Vultr and fire one up, they are inexpensive and easy to use and setup.
python3 --version

Once you press enter you should get something back like this:

Python 3.6.9

The actual version number is not as important as the fact that is came back with a version. If it comes back with something like unknown command or command not found, then python3 is not on your server and you will need to install it before proceeding on with this project. It is beyond the scope of this document on how to install and setup python 3, at this point google is your friend.

You will need root access to setup HBLink3, so you should login to a terminal window as root or issue a sudo su command to become the root user. Once you are a root user, issue the following command and press enter to change to the directory we will be working in.

cd /opt

We will need a few tools before we can install the actual HBLink3 software. Because the HBLink3 software is stored on GitHub, we will need to install a tools called git. This tool will allow use to download the required software. Enter the follow command and press enter.

apt-get install git

This will use the package manager to install the git tool. If this command does not work, then you will need to check the documentation for your version of Linux to learn how to install packages.

For all of the commands you will need to press the enter key to actually run the command. Because I can be lazy, any command from this point forward you will need to press the enter key, I am not going to tell you to do it every time.

The first thing we need to do is install HBLink3. Type the following command to install it. Make sure you are still in the /opt directory.

git clone https://github.com/n0mjs710/HBlink3

Once that command is completed there will be a new directory under to opt directory called HBlink3, we need to move to that directory with the following command.

cd HBlink3

If you run the ls command (Directory Listing), you will see several files. Most of which we will not use, but the first one we need to play with is the install.sh file. This script will install everything we need to run HBLink3. We need to make sure it will run, then run it.

chmod +x install.sh
./install.sh

It may take a few minutes for the install.sh script to run as it is getting all of the tools you need to run HBlink on your server.

The next thing we need to do is to enable the config and rules files. What each of the files do will be explained fully below, but for now let’s get them ready. If you do an ls you will see 2 files with the word SAMPLE in them. We need to remove the SAMPLE. Run the following commands.

cp hblink-SAMPLE.cfg hblink.cfg
cp rules_SAMPLE.py rules.py

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