What is it? Why do I love it? Well I hope to break that down!
D-STAR stands for Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio. It’s just that! It was developed by the JARL (Japanese Amateur Radio League) for Amateur Radio. It’s not a commercial standard tweaked for hams.
Now lets bust the myth of D-STAR being a proprietary format of Icom! It’s NOT! The technology is open and there are other manufactures hopping on board to bring D-STAR to their radios. Flex recently announced that by adding a Thumb DV to your Flex 6000 series radio. You can now add D-STAR!
So what can you do with D-STAR?
Well the sky is the limit really! D-STAR has the ability to send GPS and call sign data with every key of the mic. With features like DPRS you can update your position to the APRS network and have it show up on aprs.fi. Have the ability to send images and text over low speed data to other users via a Android Phone or Tablet linked to the radio. All this could be life saving information in a emergency situation. Plus, it’s all built right into the radio.
Repeater Linking and Reflector linking is amazing. If you travel a lot like me. You have the ability to connect to any repeater in the area and link back to any repeater on the network! Say I am traveling and my buddy kk4vsn is traveling somewhere also. I like chatting with him but I am not quite sure where he is. With D-STAR you have the ability to do call sign routing. Enter in his call sign key up and it links the repeaters from the last place he keyed up! With the simple press of a button he links back to me and there is all his info! Location and all on my screen! Now this feature has it’s limitations. If I call sign route and it comes out on a different repeater. I am not 100% sure there is not a QSO that I will be stepping on. How can we solve this. Well in my opinion, its the use of reflectors. (There are also other ways)
Reflectors can be connected to any repeater on the network. In fact most repeaters stay connected to some sort of reflector. Here locally our VHF module stays connected to REF058B and the UHF Module stays connected to REF001C (International Mega Reflector). If I knew kk4vsn always monitored REF58B then I could simply link the local repeater I am using to that reflector. Make sure there is no QSO in progress and call out for him! Linking and unlinking is super easy with D-STAR. Simply add a command in the UR Field, key the mic and presto! DONE! Commands can be stored in memories for quick access. If you use a 5100 or a 51A Plus. It’s as simple as selecting the command from the touchscreen keying and completing. Super simple! (These radios include the DPLUS commands that make this simple)
There are many ways to get on the D-STAR network.
I recently picked up a DV MEGA from Giga Parts. Paired it with a Raspberry Pi Model B+ I had laying around, and BAM! Portable DSTAR hot spot. It can pair with the Wifi AP on my Smart Phone or to any other wifi network available. This allows for a number of things. I have the ability to link reflectors or repeaters right from the DVMEGA. So if I am traveling to a area without a repeater, no problem. If there is QSO on my local repeater but I want to link somewhere else. I can do that. I’ll try and touch base on the DVMEGA more in depth in another post.
There is also the DV Dongles and most recently the DV3K dongle. These little beauties connect right into your computer or tablet and you are able to talk straight though your computer on the D-STAR network! The DV3K runs about $149.99 and is the cheapest way to get talking on D-STAR. You can also use the dongle with DRATS (A Communications Tool for D-STAR) More on this later. It will also require it’s own post.
Another gun great feature about D-STAR is. You can talk to anyone around the world like they where right there with you. Always someone to talk to and not a bunch of noise to have to fight!
I haven’t even touched on the high speed 1.2Ghz data side yet!
Any other questions? Drop me a line via the contact form!
Look for lots more to come about DSTAR and some fun ways to use it, and make it work for you!