Manager - AB7RG
Manager Notes

Say Yes To D-Star

Created by on 2013-05-18

Say Yes To D-Star

Well after reading an article on the internet titled "Say No To D-Star" I thought it was appropriate for me as a D-Star user to defend D-star. These are some of the misconceptions people have about D-star.


D-Star doesn't work without the internet. False. First off D-Star can operate simplex or point-to-point like we use at hamfests to tell our friends about a hot deal we've spotted for them. It can also function like an analog repeater re-transmitting signals using a specific frequency pair. Now here's where the internet comes in. Since these are digital signals they can be routed through gateways attached to the internet to communicate to other D-Star repeaters around the world.


D-Star isn't radio. False. This is similar to point number one but I hear it all the time. If you're talking into a microphone connected to a radio with an antenna attached to it then you're using a radio. Period. This is D-Star. And yes there is a device that hooks to your computer called a DV dongle and it relies solely on the internet using your computer for the microphone and speaker. This is actually a pretty cool device when you're traveling so when you're in a hotel you can work your home repeater anywhere in the world. While this D-Star device connects directly to the internet it also connects you to repeaters that transmit RF.


D-Star is just too "computery" for me. I don't want to mess around with computers. I just like to pick up my microphone and start talking to people. Hmmmm. I'll bet you use a computer for logging contacts or maybe controlling your HF radio. Actually if I put an analog and D-Star mobile radio next to each other and asked you pick out the D-Star radio you couldn't tell the difference because they both have, a microphone.


D-Star is proprietary since ICOM is the only radio manufacture selling it. False. The D-Star format was developed by the JARL as an open standard protocol. This means any radio manufacture can build D-Star radios. The only part of D-Star that is proprietary is the digital codec or the Ambi digital encoder chip. But if you want to go down that road I can open up any analog radio and show you custom chips they use as well. Kenwood and Yaesu could have built D-Star radios but they chose not to take the gamble. ICOM took the gamble and they are now reaping the rewards. With the success of ICOM these other manufactures are now looking to develop their own formats to get into the digital radio business. This is unfortunate and will only confuse hams since the D-Star format is already a very popular digital standard.


D-Star is too expensive. Sort of, with two thoughts. If Yaesu and Kenwood would simply humble themselves and build a D-Star radio giving ICOM some competition then prices would come down. I agree that $600 for a dual band analog/digital HT is expensive. However on the flip side we've been conditioned to think that a dual band HT should cost $50 with all the Baofengs being dumped on the market from China. Try pricing a Japanese dual band HT for a better real world price comparison. Also remember a D-Star radio does digital and analog so it should cost more. You do get what you pay for. Here's an example of an economical way to get into D-Star. If you own an analog transceiver with a built-in serial port connector such as a Kenwood TM-D710, An ICOM IC-7000 or a Yaesu FT-857 you can buy a $100.00 PCBA that will install between this radio and your PC with a USB cable. This is one example of the many non ICOM D-Star ideas being created because of the nature of this open standard. D-Star is exploding and I'm looking forward to seeing all the new ideas at Dayton.


I've heard D-Star audio and when the signal gets weak I can't understand anything at all. It sounds like R2D2 from Star Wars. That is true but in side-by-side test comparisons between and an analog and a D-Star radio with the same power, same antenna and the same distance the D-Star radio was more readable than the analog radio. The difference is that when an analog radio signal gets weak it fades gracefully into the noise floor. When the D-Star signal gets weak it starts breaking up and this sound can be a bit jarring.


This D-Star stuff takes up a lot of bandwidth on the ham bands. False. Because the D-Star digital signal is compressed it takes up only 6.25 KHz vs. 25 KHz for a wide band FM signal. If some of the dormant analog repeaters were switched to digital there could be almost 4 times as many frequencies available for the space taken up by one analog FM signal. I'm not promoting this idea but in densely populated areas where frequency pairs aren't as available this would be a good solution.


I don't like D-Star because it will replace analog. False. Both formats can and do co-exist. Remember before FM came along on VHF and UHF there was only AM. Keep this in the back of your mind with regard to D-Star as it grows more popular over time.


Why do I have to register my call sign to use D-Star. I don't have to do that with analog. When you register your call sign with the D-Star network the second you transmit the whole world knows you are on the air. This is handy when you want to find your other D-Star friends. There is also another function called call sign routing that allows you to work your home repeater through another D-Star repeater as you travel. If you are only using your D-Star radio simplex then registration is not required. Registration has its benefits because every time you key your mike your call sign appears on all the D-Star radios listening to that frequency. Personally I think this accountability keeps jammers away. Remember those anonymous crank phone calls we would get before caller ID came along? I know, now we have the telemarketers calling but at least we know who is now calling so we can elect to ignore the call.


The Audio on D-Star just sounds funny to me. Sort of true. Digital audio is compressed and as such is not as full sounding as wideband FM. However after listening to it for a while you learn to appreciate the quietness between words and the overall clarity. Occasionally some users of D-Star sound like they are underwater or are very muffled. These are usually hams using their computers to get on D-Star and their computers have very poor quality microphones. I recommend for those using their computers for D-Star to use a quality headset with a quality mike. If you use the standard hand mike on the radio you'll sound great.

In conclusion, say yes to D-Star. Whenever something new comes along we tend to resist change. Then after we use it for a while we wonder how we lived without it. Remember that new thing called the Internet! I encourage everyone to learn more about D-Star by attending one of the free D-Star seminars being held every so often or talk to a D-Star user to experience it first hand. My hope is when you hear derogatory comments about D-Star you'll now know the other side of the story. The nature of ham radio is learning and experimenting so keep an open mind as fresh ideas come along advancing our hobby.

Very 73,

David J. Holmgren

K4TOJ 2013-06-26
RE: Say Absolutely NO NO NO To D-Star

>>....... They could have at least built some sort of codec->>switching capability into the system. All it would have taken was >>to dedicate a couple of bits in their packet format for labeling >>the codec.

>>Then DStar radios could have negotiated a codec. An open one >>could have been added as a second codec in newer radios with >>Ambe eventually getting phased out. Instead they just made the >>voice part of DStar essentially closed to homebrew and >>experimentation..........

That's a pretty good idea! I wonder why they didn't do it? What if the set bits were missed? How would the radio handle it then? Garbage until the transmission stopped? Thinking......

>>Now we do have Codec2 available, an open codec which >>arguably sounds better than Ambe! But to use it DStar will have >>to be scrapped.

I'm not so sure about that. There have been IT systems that could handle multiple codecs at the same time. Look at the cell phones that can work with multiple carriers due to chipsets having several codecs available to use. Eventually the older radios would be phased out, sure, just like older cell phones.

>>Nope! Try 20.

>>And... it isn't one patent, it's several software 'methods' with >>their own patents. More importantly, companies usually don't >>patent the whole protocol at once. They patent enough pieces >>to make it impossible for anybody else to be compatible with >>them. Then... as those patents aproach expiration they patent >>other pieces!

>>Even a single 20-year patent period could be enough to >>discourage a whole generation of hams from homebrewing. >>With piecemeal patenting it could be half a century or more >>before our airwaves are open again.

>>Even if you don't care at all about homebrewing we still lose out >>by having a proprietary protocol become comonplace. See those >>cool (and expensive) DV dongles that allow one to do DStar >>stuff with their computers? That's $150 or more to do >>something you could do FOR FREE with no extra hardware using >>an open codec like Codec2. You only need the dongle because >>they don't want to let you have the codec in the form of a piece >>of software. They put it in a chip inside a box and charge big >>profit for it instead. Codec2 lets you have the software for free!

That's interesting about the 20 year patent. About the DV Dongles though, that's just what the one manufacturer chose to charge for what they put together. The chip itself is available for $20 - $25 I believe which isn't that bad to me. You can make your own "dongle" for not much more than that. Since I'm not interested in taking the time to build anything, I don't mind paying for what I want. I definitely understand those that want to experiment and try to come up with something cooler. Maybe when I retire one day, I'll do some of that.
KC8RWR 2013-06-26
RE: Say Absolutely NO NO NO To D-Star
>>"So there is a chip that has proprietary A to D voice conversion. They looked at the options available and none matched what they could do. That's why it was chosen."

There were some pretty good open, low-bandwidth voice codecs out there at the time, they just didn't handle the kind of interference once sees with RF very well.

So.. in a hurry to get DStar out there they designed an otherwise open system that was tainted with a proprietary codec. They could have at least built some sort of codec-switching capability into the system. All it would have taken was to dedicate a couple of bits in their packet format for labeling the codec.

Then DStar radios could have negotiated a codec. An open one could have been added as a second codec in newer radios with Ambe eventually getting phased out. Instead they just made the voice part of DStar essentially closed to homebrew and experimentation. That was VERY short sighted!

Now we do have Codec2 available, an open codec which arguably sounds better than Ambe! But to use it DStar will have to be scrapped.

>>"Now, how long do companies get to have exclusive use of their patents? 10 years? Then what? Quite frankly, I don't care. Some people apparently do."

Nope! Try 20.

And... it isn't one patent, it's several software 'methods' with their own patents. More importantly, companies usually don't patent the whole protocol at once. They patent enough pieces to make it impossible for anybody else to be compatible with them. Then... as those patents aproach expiration they patent other pieces!

Even a single 20-year patent period could be enough to discourage a whole generation of hams from homebrewing. With piecemeal patenting it could be half a century or more before our airwaves are open again.

Even if you don't care at all about homebrewing we still lose out by having a proprietary protocol become comonplace. See those cool (and expensive) DV dongles that allow one to do DStar stuff with their computers? That's $150 or more to do something you could do FOR FREE with no extra hardware using an open codec like Codec2. You only need the dongle because they don't want to let you have the codec in the form of a piece of software. They put it in a chip inside a box and charge big profit for it instead. Codec2 lets you have the software for free!
K1CJS 2013-06-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"...Lets not get hung up on the 'proprietary' issue with the AMBE chip, does anyone really think that the code driving their Ten/Ken/Yae/Ico/Ele HF box is open source?..."

But that is the whole point (to me at least) of this D-star discussion! Sure, there are other proprietary chips out there driving the different radios so they can operate--but they can still operate and communicate with each other no matter what that proprietary chips is doing inside the box. D-STAR DOES NOT DO THAT! D-star radios using the D-star protocol can communicate--ONLY WITH OTHER D-STAR RADIOS!

The proprietary chips in other radios do NOT force you to use one mode--as the D-star proprietary chips does--and don't try saying that D-star radios are capable of using FM if the op wants them to, that's beside the point!
KT4EP 2013-06-23
Say Yes To D-Star
Niche radio. There's enough modes for everyone. I push Olivia over PSK31, and some hams sneer at those modes. Like I won't get an amp for HF phone, either. In fact, I steer clear of HF phone most of the time. Just like people steer clear of digital modes. Or local "CB" VHF. And there are the CW fans who think that is real ham radio. There's plenty of room for all of us to have fun in our own niches.
N4QA 2013-06-23
Submit to the will of Landru !
Kirk out...
N1DVJ 2013-06-23
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
" Lets not get hung up on the 'proprietary' issue with the AMBE chip, does anyone really think that the code driving their Ten/Ken/Yae/Ico/Ele HF box is open source ? "

But you still don't get it.

It's not about the box.

It's not about the hardware.

It's about the MODE, and it being propriatary.

Sure, every manufacturer has propriatary code in their box. But think of it like a car. Every manufacturer has propriatary boxes in their cars to control the motor and drivetrain. But they ALL can coexists on the same highway. D-Star is like Jeep saying they have a propriatary 4WD and you aren't allowed on their courses, on public land, with your Chevy or other brands of SUV.
GM0DYU 2013-06-23
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I'm afraid I don't see it as a say 'Yes or 'No' to D-Star question, if you like/need the facilities offered by the D-Star infrastructure then buy into it, just as you did years ago when SSB and FM analoue repeaters came along, amateur radio is a broad enough church with something in it for everyone, I spend whatever I can reasonably afford on what interests me - and right now that includes D-Star. Lets not get hung up on the 'proprietary' issue with the AMBE chip, does anyone really think that the code driving their Ten/Ken/Yae/Ico/Ele HF box is open source ?

73 Mike.
K4TOJ 2013-06-21
RE: Say Absolutely NO NO NO To D-Star
Well, thanks for proving a point I make from time to time. The people who tend to be against DSTAR don't know much about it. You admitted it earlier too, but still go on. If you knew anything about it, you would not have reacted the way you did about linking repeaters.

I'm aware that you can use IRLP for some of the functions DSTAR provides. It's just easier to me with DSTAR.

If you are using FM, you can't use SSB to communicate with them and thus blocking them out of the conversation.

If you use CW, you are blocking out the people who either don't know CW or know how to use a computer to receive and send.

If you use a computer to send/receive RTTY, PSK, PACTOR, etc, you are blocking out people who don't know how to use those methods of communication. You certainly can't use any one of those together on the same frequency.

I'm not saying that DSTAR is the best thing out there. It's just amazing to me the arguments people seem to want to make against it and the time they take to let the world know their view.
N1DVJ 2013-06-20
RE: Say Absolutely NO NO NO To D-Star
Well, almost everything you say could be done with EXISTING technology pre-D-Star and NOT be exclusive to a single mode. Mic-E could do almost everything you talk about and STILL allow normal FM to work on the SAME repeater without having to make the non-equiped ham 'go away'.

As to linking repeaters? Just what we need. Less than 1% of the ham community with a closed protocol that's an expensive buy in tie up MULTIPLE repeaters.

Does D-Star add utility to a radio? Yes, it does. But not in a way that I personally feel is advantageous to ham radio.

On the plus side, I see that ICOM is now advertising rigs that are 'D-Star capable'. To me that implies that they have a tap to enhance them to D-Star in the future. Or... Maybe something new? Something that will leave the existing D-Star people out in the cold? Just remember, any 'new' technology is going to block out D-Star the same way D-Star blocks out non-D-Star people now. And if a new technology plays well with others, it will quickly lead to D-Star being the orphan child, and it's only use will be point to point communications. Is that bad? Not necessarily, but it may become a fact of life.
K4TOJ 2013-06-19
RE: Say Absolutely NO NO NO To D-Star
Well, when I first got licensed my first radio was the IC-92AD. I'm a computer geek and wanted to experiment with the technology. I'm more in to HF now, but:

- Checking in to nets - advantage DSTAR. All you have to do is key the mike. Your call appears on the controller's screen and he notes it - or if his computer is hooked up, a last caller's list appears and he notes the calls from there. I noticed it was MUCH faster than a regular analog net.

- Linking repeaters or advanced repeater operation - advantage DSTAR. All you need to do is save in memory what you want to do and key up on that memory channel to make it happen. Unlink, no problem. Link to another repeater, key the mike. Link to a reflector, key the mike. It's easy. Want to know the status of the repeater? key the mike.

- Want to talk with someone but not sure where they are? Advantage DSTAR - just put their call sign in UR Call and the system will send your signal to the repeater they were last transmitting on.

- Want to talk to people in other countries and the propagation is off? Advantage DSTAR - you can just hit one of the reflectors and talk with people all over the world. You can do so using a DVAP dongle.

Check this link:

With two sets that have DSTAR and GPS, you can find out the direction and distance the other person is located at without referencing anything but the screen.

I'm not convinced that DSTAR adds that much more than what you pay for radios without. When I've compared the features and durability of DSTAR radios, they seem to be fairly competitive. If you take the chinese offerings in to consideration, they may seem expensive. But I truly believe you get what you pay for with those radios. Their quality and ease of use seems lacking to me.

So there is a chip that has proprietary A to D voice conversion. They looked at the options available and none matched what they could do. That's why it was chosen. Now, how long do companies get to have exclusive use of their patents? 10 years? Then what? Quite frankly, I don't care. Some people apparently do.

By the way - last time I checked, you couldn't do SSB, CW, RTTY, PSK or any other mode on the same channel at the same time either.

Cheers and 73!
K1CJS 2013-06-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Geez, AK4OL, did you have to write a book? ;-) But in all fairness, I had the same idea--to use what you just posted as reference.

While the mode may be proprietary because of the need for that chip, the protocol isn't. What is needed (if it can be done) is for someone to take the protocol and develop it into an open standard. Of course the two modes may well not be able to communicate with each other and more so on the data part of the information stream, but if someone else did develop an open standard, D-star might well be dead--dead and buried.
N1DVJ 2013-06-19
Say Absolutely NO NO NO To D-Star
I have to agree. About the caps. When I see postings like that, I think 'what a ...' I'll leave that blank right now for civility. But really, I do think it was a post by an uneducated ..., someone to ignore.

However, while I don't think his post is position altering to the readers (not because of the caps) I do agree, at least with the sentiment. And that is that D-Star has no place in ham radio. But my feelings are based on different foundations.

1) It's propriatary. And no, not the chip. The MODE. IF you were to figure out how it works and IF you were to develop your own protocol stack and IF you were to start passing it out... Want to guess how long it would be till you were talking to lawyers?

2) It's locked. It's not Gods gift to ham radio in its current form. That means an upgrade. Or enhancements. Or supersets. Want to guess how you get any of those? Yep, buy new. Totally new. Radio in a lot of cases. Dongles in others. And just how much is this Gods gift going to cost you? Per radio?

3) It doesn't play well with others. Yep, it pretty much needs its own dedicated channel. Since when does ham radio give exclusive access to a single mode? A single propriatary mode? An EXPENSIVE single propriatary mode?

4) Technically it leaves a lot to be desired. While I'm not that knowledgeable about the mode, unless someone explains otherwise with some data to back it up, it's not much different than single mono-directional streaming data. No provisions for sharing or time-slicing. Really, how much better is it than recording a wav file and just streaming it out?
K4TOJ 2013-06-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
And your words are more relevant because they are in all caps and thus come across as yelling, right? Quite frankly, I personally take such posts as ignorant no matter what they say.

DSTAR has been implemented as a VHF + mode where FM is prevalent and much wider than the 6.25 KHZ DSTAR uses. Some are looking to use it in HF. But it's far from common.
AA0PO 2013-06-19
Say Yes To D-Star
N1DVJ 2013-06-15
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I'm keeping a copy of that for reference! Good points!

AK4OL 2013-06-15
Say Yes To D-Star

"But if you want to go down that road I can open up any analog radio and show you custom chips they use as well."
Totally flawed argument. You are confusing the implementation with the protocol. For analog, other radios, or software, are free to implement what is done by a custom chip in one radio using different chips, different approaches, and/or in reprogrammable software or reprogrammable logic. FM, AM, USB, etc. are not patented undocumented proprietary systems. If you want to implement a d-star radio in software, you need to buy a $200 dongle just to do what should be implemented in software. If you want to access the D-star network over the internet from your Desktop PC, Laptop, Netbook, Tablet, and smartphone, that is 5 dvdongles at $200 each for a total of $1000, not to mention an unweildy mess and that money doesn't get you a radio accessory, just a codec that would be done in software if you were using any sensible protocol. Because of the cost of equipment and the hobby nature and decentrallized nature of ham radio and the fact that equipment that uses different codecs and modulations techniques cannot interoperate, you are stuck with the repurcussions of any bad decisions in the core system for decades.

With cell phones, you can upgrade from GSM v1 to GSM v2
to GSM v3, whatever they want to call it, and even across protocol families to some extent because it is a one to one communication between the cell phone and the tower. So the tower can support multiple protocols and support phones of different generations simultaneously. For digital 2-way radio, even a single outdated radio on a net can drag all the other radios down, at least as far as major revisions are concerned (and even for minor revisions if the protocol is not extensible). Have one radio on the net that can't support codec2? Then you are stuck with AMBE. One radio doesnn't suport C4FM? then you are stuck with GMSK. So you better get your modulation and your codec and your fundamental mode of operation packet vs 100% duty cycle right from the get go because you will be stuck with them for a very long time. And you better make sure that the rest of the protocol is designed for extensibility. With ham radio, you would need very expensive duplicates (or triplicates) of the repeater system and use up two channels for each. So, you would have your analog repeater, your d-star repeater, and your real digital repeater. All colocated and linked. All so you could have one net where people could communicate with different generations of radios and carry on one conversation at a time. The cell phone network has some duplication like this but the differerence is they have hundreds or thousands of channels, anyway; the newer stuff can typically speak the older protocols and having mixed users means you can upgrade your equipment more slowly as you can keep users of old equipment on the channels served by equipment that hasn't been upgraded. This doesn't work on ham radio where all radios sharing the channel need to be able to decode the audio sent by the repeater; thus you need multiple copies on multiple channels.

Around here, most people aren't loaded with money. We still turn off CTCSS on the repeaters when we have a net because there are still radios without CTCSS floating around. And tone was an option available in ham radios 30 years ago (and the system itself has been around about 60 years) though many didn't have the option installed. And people today still forget to unsquelch the radio before transmitting to avoid stepping on someone who is transmitting with a different CTCSS tone. And d-star radios are a much more substantial investment than CTCSS enabled ones. And unlike the analog radios of 30 years ago, they are much less mature. Sunk costs, lock in, and the upgrade treadmill are a significant problem.

D-star radios have been commercially available for 9 years. But something like 99% of hams don't have d-star on even one radio, let alone all their radios.
There are around 3million hams worldwide. But only 28,000 dstar registered users. And, as a recent survey on this site shows, many of those hams have many radios (most here had 5+ to 10+) Figure most would want to have 3, just for VHF/UHF: home, car, and HT. That is something like $2000 in upgrades, not counting accessories or dvdongles. That is a lot of money to spend on something that was obsolete yesterday.

The rest of your arguments are basically strawmen and ignore the real issues. And the counterarguments were pretty erroneous as well. The real issues are that the technical design of d-star is fundamentally flawed and obsolete and adopting such a poor standard will do more harm to amateur radio than good.

I haven't delved deep into the bowels of d-stars protocol design but I can already see that there is very little, if anything, about D-star's core design that doesn't need to be completely thrown out or at least massively overhauled. And you can't overhaul because you are locked in by all the deployed radios that apparently will not or can not be upgraded. A radio that uses a proprietary chip instead of a dsp to implement the codec can not be upgraded to, for example, codec2 unless it at least has sufficient surplus DSP power in the radio (that should have been available if it had a proper software codec in the first place) while a codec2 radio could be upgraded to a new codec of similar computation demand. And as soon as the manufacturer of your radio orphans it, you don't get software updates; unlike an open platform.

modulation: outdated GMSK modulation. Commercial digital radios have moved on to other modulation schemes such as C4FM that are twice as good. And they did this 20 years ago. APCO P.25 and DMR use C4FM.
codec: proprietary crap
rest of network stack: haven't looked at the details but it is flawed in its very concept.
implementation: custom codec chips not upgradable by user community, unlike a reprogrammable DSP. Network stack, not upgradable by user community. Application layer: not upgradable by user community. User interface: not upgradable by user community.
Extensibility: I don't know how well d-star takes protocol upgrades. Some systems like P25 are very poor at that.

D-star transmits 100% duty cycle on single channel. As long as you hold down the ptt button, your radio monopolizes the channel. There is no back channel. This is an inherently flawed design. You can't have a modern digital system until you eliminate this and eliminating this hogging of the airwave is one of the primary reasons to go digital in the first place, at least real digital. No feedback that the person you are talking to didn't copy. No feedback that the person you are talking to wants to interrupt. No feedback that someone else wants to break in. No feedback that someone else on channel has arrived. No feedback that someone else on channel has moved (APRS eqivalent). No feedback that someone else on channel has higher priority traffic or even a bona-fide emergency. A more sensible protocol would transmit, say, 80% of the time, and during the next 10% allow the designated recipient to respond and during the following 10% let anyone else respond. So, perhaps 800ms send audio and two 100ms receive windows per second. Of course on HF or satellite, you have to consider latency so the other stations can actually hit that window, though at least in a true emergency the breaking station can transmit 100% duty cycle interrupt signal. On a more sensible system, you could ask you radio to find A1AA and it would, without relying on any internet backbones that will not function in an emergency, transmit a query on all the local channels, while people were talking (during the 10% window) poling for a radio registered to that user to find out what channel they were on and find out where they were. It could even send a signal (or a text message) to that users radio to jump to a different repeater that wasn't being used. All while people are talking. A little switch (physical or virtual) on your radio can indicate whether you are unavailable, possibly listening, available, CQ (want someone to call), have routine traffic, have priority traffic, or have emergency traffic. If you are logged into a net, you flip that switch to priority traffic and net control and the person currently talking know almost immediately (within 1 second). And net control could send a "source quench" to the radio of the person talking at which point that radio would stop transmitting and alert the user.

On a sensible system, you would have two S-meters. One tells you how well you are receiving the other station and the other tells you how well the other station is receiving you. Maybe a third if you are going through a repeater and primarily talking to one station instead of a group.

People do a poor job of sharing a radio channel, even when they are trying to be polite. A well designed protocol can do better.

In the event that the primary receiving station does not copy, a good digital system would have several options. One it would alert the user speaking. Then the user can change power levels, location, radios, etc. or temporarily cede the channel to someone who is able t get through. Or the user can repeat the portions which his/her radio told him were clobbered by fading or static. Or the radio could be instructed to resend the portions which didn't get through the first time, telling the user to shut up temporarily while the radio catches up.

Too many times on nets I have seen someone talk for several minutes unaware that a good portion was not being heard because of noise or a repeater timeout or whatever. You have to wait for them to stop talking before you can tell them they aren't being received. Then you have to tell them which part wasn't received but by that time both you and they have forgotten what the last part received was, or what was said, or what part was said after the loss of comms and which before.

Almost everwhere but two-way voice radio and some telemetry or telecommand systems and broadcast, digital communications support time division two way communications in small time slices if they don't support full duplex. Packets. Ethernet, wifi, bluetooth, zigbee, wimax. All of these allow communications in both directions over a short time period and allow more than one use to access the channel in a similarly short time period. And some systems like P25 have a multiple voice channels plus a control channel.

A modern digital system might well support two simultaneous voice conversations on a single repeater in the bandwidth used by one analog channel. And scale to more channels. Or, the extra bandwidth to support two voice channels could be subdivided another way. One repeater time division multiplexes the inbound and outbound audio on a single channel. Basically, it operates kinda like a simplex repeater except it repeats 1 second snippets of audio. 400ms inbound, 400ms outbound, 200ms for turn around time and third party interjection. All without expensive duplexers and only needing one transceiver. And a sensible radio would have the repeater controller built in. So, a repeater installation basically just needs a single good radio, antenna, power source, and internet link. Without internet linking, an emergency repeater deployment consists of parking a car on a hilltop or on top of a parking garage or an emcomm box. Not only that, but the repeater could also be an operating "client" station in its own network. So now you can promote the digital radio you predeployed at the 911 center to an emergency repeater running on 911 center generators and using the 911 center tower for the antenna when your main repeater goes down because of lack of power, interference, or damage. Not only that, you could cross band repeat to your HT as well by synchronizing your HT with the vehicle/base station and the main repeater. Being able to fit two voice steams in a single channel also has a.

Another issue, that depends on having duplex is having remotely located control operators. A serious problem for emergency communication is that we can't share radios with unlicensed users at all. Giving them radios would be not only a legal issue but likely cause mayhem on the airwaves. But when you can give slave VHF/UHF radios to family members, members of your cert team, local officials, etc. and those radios will only operate when they are within range of your radio (or the radios of certain other designated amateurs) and you can knock them off the air mid transmission, then you have the ability to have three classes of users: licensed hams, ham supervised unlicensed users, and unlicensed users (no access to ham bands). No longer does the control operator have to be in the same physical location (slight changes to the rules might be needed).

The argument given in the article about internet reliance is incorrect. D-star does rely on the internet for more than linking remote repeaters to talk to people remotely. It uses the internet for 1) authentication and 2) user location. I have already explained how #2 can be done (locally) by a better designed system without infrastructure - just using the local repeaters and/or standard simplex channels. And for #1 you can replace the real time reliance on a central server and the internet to reach it with digitally signed certificates.

This isn't a situation where every d-star radio sold gets us closer to a world of digital ham radio. On the contrary, each d-star radio is more like a dead albatross impeding real progress. Ok for people who want to experiment with an expensive disposable radio but anybody who buys these with the expectation that it is a serious piece of communications gear with a future is going to be part of the problem, not the solution. But if you want to buy one to learn how NOT to do digital radio, then it could be useful.

In short, D-star radios do very little that a digital radio should be able to do. And they likely never will.

P.25 is noted for having poor extensibility.

Yeasu has their own entry that uses a more modern modulation method but basically sounds like it lacks a protocol stack or they are suggesting you use DMR.
But the article will tell you what is wrong with d-star's modulation.

Say yes to digital but no to crap that is horribly obsolete even before it has any significant levels of adoption. Digitally savvy people say no to d-star because it is a bad design totally unworthy of being a standard. Others say no to it because it offers very little incentive. It is like the transition to DTV/HDTV. A very large portion of the people did not want to spend the money to upgrade. It took federal mandates and federal subsidies to pull off that transition. And D-star doesn't even offer high definition as an incentive. So getting people to switch to d-star now is a serious problem and getting them to switch away from d-star to something sensible will be another problem. It is insane to try to get people to spend lots of money to switch to a system that is already a major failure.

A digital radio system is going to require:

- Non-proprietary codec, modulation, protocol, etc.
- user/community upgradable software defined radio
- A decent codec
- A decent form of modulation
- A decent protocol stack
- Time division multiple access during a voice transmission: shut up and listen to allow real time two way data. don't monopolize the channel, third parties need to get in as well.
- Extensibility built into protocol stack.

And these are just fundamental design issues. We aren't even getting into the "features" that are offered on top of the foundation. These are the things which will be set in stone for a very long time and which you can not easily undo if they are done wrong. Until you get ALL these fundamental things right, you have no business asking people to adopt.

And the radio needs to have a touch screen so you can actually access the features and a usb or ethernet port which handles real time audio, high speed data, memory programming, real time rig control, and firmware updates.

D-star is a dead end. It needs to be shot and put out of our misery. Perhaps some of the higher level layers, i.e. d*rats, can be salvaged and reused in a decent system. I.E. file transfer, forms, position reporting, text messaging, repeater linking, remote access, etc.

The future of amateur radio is digital. But it isn't d-star.

K1CJS 2013-06-12
RE: Say Yes To D-$tar
With the way some copyrights and some patents are ignored over there, that may just happen.
KF6QEX 2013-06-11
Say Yes To D-$tar
Until the D-Star Price Problem is fixed, it will remain overpriced and overhyped.

I mean c'mon, if it were so good, hams would risk being late on their mortgage payment so they can get one.
D-Star had perhaps half a chance before the chinese HTs came to exist.

Now the only chance D-Star has is for the same chinese manufactures to slap it on the their next model HT and sell it for an extra $10 over the price of an FM only HT.

Until then, D-Star will only be successful as a topic of arguments,articles and comments.
K1CJS 2013-06-09
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
BUT... You got your rig for a lower price than brand new. That's one good thing.

But sometimes trying something new isn't a 'good thing.' Sometimes it is simply enjoyable--and wears thin. Sometimes it's found not to be so good--and the people who bought into it sell their unwanted rig on E-bay! :-)
N2MWE 2013-06-09
Say Yes To D-Star
I had my doubts, then bought an ID31 on ebay for a good price. D Star is awesome! I have Motorola for P25 repeaters, and now D Star for my local 440 machine. Trying something new is always a good thing!
G3SEA 2013-06-04
Expensive ? Sort of ? :0

Good technology but way more expensive than your low cost FM rig.

Upside is the ability to stream gobs of data in emergency conditions as opposed to what can be spoken in the same time frame.

Downside is D Star ( like a cell phone ) cannot hold a signal in marginal conditions. The signal will simply drop out v an analog signal which will get noisy but hold.

K1CJS 2013-06-02
Say Yes To D-Star
I've come to this conclusion regarding the D-star movement although I don't have a D-star rig. The mode is still experimental and was brought to market way too early. It's evident by useage, reports--and this article's feedback--that the quality was lacking in older units and possibly newer ones as well, and that there is simply too many problems associated with both the mode and the rigs. Yes, newer rigs may be better--because feedback to the designers and the manufacturer has made them catch up, but how about the first models that came out? Could well be that the marketing damage done by those will take years to be forgotten by the people who bought them.

That also could well be why others haven't gotten into it as of yet and why only one other manufacturer has tried--in a very limited market--seeing if the mode had any merit. That could also be why that manufacturer hasn't offered a D-star rig to the entire world market yet too.

D-star may well be catching on, but it's still not as good as the other voice modes are as of yet--especially FM. It's still experimental, and if some hams want to pay a premium price for experimental rigs, all the more power to them. The rest of us will wait till the technology actually does catch up to its claims. 73!
N6CAZ 2013-05-31
RE: On the fence about D-Star
As someone officially on the fence, I must say this has at least generated a lot of hearty debate.

My D-Star experience started after a friend pointed out a listing for an ID-800H mobile rig, and I decided to take the plunge. My first experiences were frustrating to say the least. If you want to ruin D-Star for someone, have them learn with that rig! I soon replaced it with an ID-880H and it was a night and day difference. Of course there is still a learning curve. Oh, and it also doesn't help that even the repeater gurus couldn't explain why my callsign wasn't properly going through the gateway at first - another period of frustration but also one in which I learned more than I needed to about D-Star overall.

A tip of the hat to the PAPA group in Southern CA - they were very helpful and a good source of information and patient with me as a newcomer. Whether offering seminars on the features and functions of D-Star to local hams, to showcasing it at hamfests and running nets, they are quite a group and also have developed an extensive repeater network that sees a lot of activity.

On the negative side, several factors never quite made it stick for me. First, I couldn't quite get used to the a moving vehicle with other noises, it was just hard to get used to and was "pinched" enough that everyone sounded the same. Even at home, listening to the net the PAPA group held, it was OK until a screech was heard followed by someone claiming "you went R2" broke the flow. I'll give the nod to analog here - a signal may fade, you might lose a word or two, but sometimes the digital signal will drop and not recover until the next transmission. Second, I never quite got to the point where I didn't have to fiddle with menus, settings, or something on the ID-880H except for using just a local repeater. In an age when there are so many distractions while driving, I really felt this was a downside. Maybe I didn't have things set up correctly, but no one could explain it any better. Lastly, while some areas have excellent or at least SOME D-Star repeater coverage, I am now in Central PA, and there is no D-Star activity. Local hams don't seem to be too worried about it either. In fact, someone was selling an unused D-Star repeater at a hamfest last summer. There are too many analog repeaters that go unused as well.

I don't regret for a moment trying something DIFFERENT with the hobby. My initial investment was $400 for a lightly used rig, and I got to sell it for the same price almost two years later after seriously considering keeping it just for the analog VHF/UHF.

On a final note, while I don't see the advantage to D-Star for voice per se, I DO see potential in the routing and Internet functions especially for emergency communications. Some are quick to knock the technology as a whole, but like everything else in a HOBBY, it has a place and thankfully folks to give it a try. Not all will flock to it, some will dismiss it without even trying it, and I hope it keeps building momentum but I doubt it'll completely make analog repeaters obsolete. If the pricing remains an obstacle, maybe another digital mode will pick up the slack.

Had to comment on this one:

"Sorry, I already have "Internet Chat" on my PC and it didn't cost $600." - So by that logic why would you spend $$ on radios and antennas and call CQ??
N8RAT 2013-05-31
Say Yes To D-Star
If it sounds anything like P-25, I think I'll pass.
K1CJS 2013-05-30
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>"Unless two manufacturers are pushing it, it is 'proprietary'. "

No, no, no... You just don't get it.<<<

Could be he meant two CHIP manufacturers. Agreed that the statement was too general.
KK4CZT 2013-05-30
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
D-Star repeaters are not what they should be they have along way to go, it takes some hard work and mods to make it work right, I am done with them forever.
WB8VLC 2013-05-30
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
It's a 100% cost issue for me, especially when I can buy a used Motorola or GE radio for the most around 50 dollars and then roll a Microchip PIC control head to make the better performing commercial radio into a front programmable model then I'm still only out less than 100 dollars.

I don't care for a dual band radio either as listening to one band at a time is just fine for me.

Even if I factor in the PIC programming tools which are homebrew and the compiler which is also free then I'm still better off than purchasing a 500 dollar plus D-Star radio.

I can then apply the savings to feeding the family or maybe even purchasing some Aluminum tubing to make my own antennas.

After all it's ham radio and when I started in radio years ago we used to build a lot of our equipment instead of throwing hundreds of dollars into it.

If the Mfg's can get the cost down under 100 dollars then maybe I will think about it, also listening to others where I live the consensus is that the cost is 100 percent why some will not even consider D-Star.
N1DVJ 2013-05-30
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"Unless two manufacturers are pushing it, it is 'proprietary'. "

No, no, no... You just don't get it. Please learn a bit more so that you will make intelligent sounds when you are trying to say something about this.

It doesn't matter HOW MANY manufacturers are pushing it. 1, 2, 10, nobody or everybody.

Look up the definition.

The MODE is proprietary. The chip that supports the mode is proprietary. And it's supported only by one chip. And if you even develop something compatible with it, you could be sued.
K5DHL 2013-05-29
Say Yes To D-Star
I purchased an ICOM-880H radio shortly after getting my first (tech lic) license. It was great to make a contact with Europeans on my lunch break (from my car). I use the D-Star repeater all the time, and almost never use the analog repeaters in the Oklahoma City area. It is a great radio & lots of fun!
K6CRC 2013-05-29
Say Yes To D-Star
Unless two manufacturers are pushing it, it is 'proprietary'.

If users really want D-Star to take off, then someone needs to essentially give it away (sell at cost), and figure out how to make money on the backend. Tech vendors in all areas of computing have figured that out.

Otherwise, toss it in the 'good try' pile at the next swap.
W4KVW 2013-05-29
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I have only been on D-STAR for 2 days now & think it's an interesting mode of operation.Everyone has been very nice & helpful with getting me setup & running.I am a BIG fan of ICOM gear so when I found the IC-91AD at an AWESOME price I decided it was time to take the plunge. There are only two of us locally with D-STAR at the moment but maybe more will join in since we are a VERY small community.Others are interested but the price has so far kept them away.For now I'm happy that I decided to give it a try & looking forward to making many contacts & friends on D-STAR as I have with other modes of Ham Radio.Keep up the great work ICOM & THANKS to those D-STAR users who have helped me get started. {:>)

KC8RWR 2013-05-28
Say Yes To D-Star
>>D-Star is proprietary since ICOM is the only radio manufacture selling it.

No! D-Star IS proprietary because the very audio format it uses is proprietary. It's not that ICom is the only current manufacturer of D-Star rigs. Any of the other manufacturers could chose to purchase chips from DVSI and start building their own D-Star radios around them if they wanted to.

What cannot be done is a ham cannot fully design, build and/or understand his/her own D-Star radio. At the very least one must purchase a chip from DVSI which is a magic black box appliance, audio in Ambe out / vice versa. This is completely counter to what amateur radio has been all about!

>>The only part of D-Star that is proprietary is the digital codec or the Ambi[sic] digital encoder chip.

And that part is too much!

>>But if you want to go down that road I can open up any analog radio and show you custom chips they use as well.

No. That isn't the same thing at all. Those chips may be custom and their exact internal design may be trade secrets but what they do is quite generic. An amplifier is an amplifier, a product detector is a product detector, etc... Everything in a 'proprietary' analog radio is described in the manuals we study to get our licenses! You can learn about what they do, how they do it and you can build your own if you so chose.

A rig that transmits SSB/FM/AM/etc... using trade secret parts can easily communicate with one that was built by hand in ones shack. A D-Star radio can only communicate with a radio that speaks Ambe and that requires an Ambe chip from DVSI.

Does this mean that I think we should not have digital amateur radio? Absolutely not! ham radio is supposed to keep on the 'cutting edge'!

Hams have tinkered with technology and openly shared what they have learned with one another since the begining. In the 'computer world' a great analog to this would be the Open Source Software community. They were proving themselves, writing software as good or better than what the proprietary companies produced including audio codecs long before D-Star ever became popular. Unfortunately their audio codecs were designed mainly for internet use and didn't quite work well with typical radio interference.

I'm not sure exactly how this division happened, with the computer technology 'amateurs' in the open source community and the analog technology ones in ham radio. Finally the groups are starting to mix and we have a good set that are in both. And, they are putting the finishing touches on an open audio codec called Codec2 which actually works better than Ambe!

I really think we should kick Ambe and any other proprietary codecs out of amateur radio. We can easily replace them with Codec2 and probably others in the future. This way every amateur has the opportunity to understand exactly how his/her radio works. I'm not proposing that every amateur should become a computer programmer and/or learn all the technical details of audio codecs and how they model the human voice as mathematical equations, etc... But.. we should all have that choice.

You should be able to pick up your store bought radio and join a round-table with a ham who built the analog portion of his/her radio from scratch while tacking on a prepackaged codec chip and another person who is doing the encoding on his computer using a program he wrote himself!

Just Say No to Ambe!
N4UED 2013-05-26
Say Yes To D-Star
Hello I have been in ham radio for 25 years . I am a CW man . I watched the Dayton 2012 video about D-STAR in September of last year . I was very excited . I decided to purchase a used Icom HT and a 2 M DVAP . I have never looked back .
I purchased a MOENCOMM STARBOARD . It was just 119 dollars . I use it with a used 25 dollar Motorola M120 mobile . I have it connected to a old Windows XP machine and the internet . The antenna is a homemade J-pole about 75 Feet up . It is a simplex UHF node . I have found that the people on D-STAR are friendly .
I feel like I have known the hams I speak with on D-STAR forever . The people are very nice . D-STAR is growing and no repeater is needed .
Chuck N4UED in NC .
K1CJS 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
One digital mode, I think it is Pactor II, requires you purchase software to utilize it--and that mode got the same type of attention paid to it that is being shown here. Some people simply refused to buy the software. The key to the matter is that even though it had to be paid for--it was freely available, that is, anyone could purchase it.

It's a shame that the manufacturer seems to be holding the entire extended mode hostage to a price tag, but there isn't any rule that prohibits it--unfortunately. It isn't right, but it is legal.

I'd like to see someone else come out with a compatible chip that would allow access to the AMBE protocols, but at least the open architecture that JARL put out will allow basic D-star operation, provided that you can make the architecture work with your radio. Maybe the Northwest Digital group will get it done.
K1CJS 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
No problem, 'DVJ. Just wanted to make sure you knew who was who. ;-)

N1DVJ 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Sorry CJS, but this system doesn't have a way to say who you are replying too, and I didn't explicitly say.

I have this comment...

How can we allow someone to come in with a 'secret protocol' like this? Taking resources?

Sure, right now, but there's already 2 other protocols on the horizon. What about 5? What about 10? Are only the first ones to get in the ones that are allowed? Where do we draw the line when a protocol appears that is EXCLUSIVE and only available under a license to purchase?

For years we couldn't run most open digital formats because they were considered 'secret'. Now they allow this???
K9MHZ 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I think in the end, it will be the market that will decide. That Northwest Digital Radio outfit is trying like mad to get into a niche' area of bridging APRS, D-STAR, etc. Again at Dayton, it was almost comical to see their D-STAR Forum presenter scoff at any questions raised about P25. "We're hams and we should develop ham-related gear, not adapt stuff made for commercial purposes!..." I went away with a sense of: "where a person stands depends upon where they sit". All good until the rah-rahs begin. If they want a noble and dedicated group of developers, then open it ALL up. Until then, I'll just remain a satisfied Icom/D-STAR customer, not a myopic cheerleader of some else's business. The NFL, NBA, NASCAR, etc, have already accomplished that quite well.

K1CJS 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
WI0T, You still refuse to see that the entire mode--no matter what has the chip in it, be it a radio, a dongle, or an add on box--is not possible to use without THAT chip. It isn't the $25. Not at all. It's the idea that this one manufacturer--DSVI--holds "all the marbles" for the use of the D-star mode.

Ever hear the term "It's MY way or the highway?" That, in effect, is what that manufacterer--AND ICOM--is saying to us. If we wish to try the mode, that manufacturer AND ITS PATENTS AND COPYRIGHTS holds us hostage! Without DSVI and its chip, we simply can NOT use D-star. THAT is the problem in a nutshell--it's the principle of the thing.
K9MHZ 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>>VE3ES on May 24, 2013 Can someone tell me why I should go the D-Star route instead of Mototrbo's DMR-MARC route???? What's the difference???<<<<

Location, location, location. Find out what activity is around you.
KE7TMA 2013-05-25
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
WI0T: "Between you (K1CJS) and(KE7TMA), the basis of your distaste (to put it mildly) is the
AMBE chip - which is about $25.00 in single unit quantity (last time I priced it).

So a 25 buck chip is the problem. And it's not ICOM's chip, it's from DVSI."

I still feel like you are laboring to misunderstand me. It's not the cost of the chip, it is the fact that it is completely proprietary, and unfriendly to the spirit of openness and experimentation that is one of the chief qualities of amateur radio.

I would have thought my last post would have made this clear, but now I realize that, as I suspected, you labor to deliberately misunderstand my point.
K1CJS 2013-05-24
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
BTW, I was responding to WI0T. Reread his post. He is the one arguing that D-star is like any other mode and there is proprietary equipment in just about any new radio.
K1CJS 2013-05-24
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
'DVJ, we're both arguing on the same side. You just restated exactly what I was saying, that D-star is a proprietary MODE.
VE3ES 2013-05-24
Say Yes To D-Star
Can someone tell me why I should go the D-Star route instead of Mototrbo's DMR-MARC route???? What's the difference???
AI2IA 2013-05-24
If price is not a stumbling block -
"What can you do with a $3000 radio that you can't with a $1500 radio? Seems to me you're simply paying more money for a radio that does pretty much the same thing."

Seeming and being are not the same. If price is not a barrier, and if you have the patience and skill to appreciate fine increments of distinction, then you can only know the difference by experiencing average rigs and top of the line rigs and working all the options.At that point in time you will know the difference.

Sad to say, most of my ham friends never work all the options on their rigs even once. You might just as well not pay for features, if you don't use them. Contrary-wise, if you bought the features, it behooves you to take full advantage of them.

N1DVJ 2013-05-24
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I think I could respond to "...How can you be so blind?" with another "...How can you be so blind?"

The problem is you just don't get it.

It's not about proprietary chips. It's essentially impossible to get most any piece of modern high tech gear without crossing a proprietary line.

It's about proprietary modes.

If you don't get it, then you just don't get it. More power too you. You don't have to get it.

It's not about you Chevy having a motor that won't work in a Dodge. Or your Sony TV having a remote that you HAVE to get from Sony. You can still drive both your Chevy and a Dodge on the same road. Your Sony can still watch the program material people with Visio and LG watch.

It's about having an environment that ONLY a specific part work with. Like a private road only your Jeep is allowed on. Or worse, if you modify your Ford to take it off-road and be able to do what the Jeep can do, the Jeep people will sue you for intellectual infringement. Even worse, when they build the road for 'only Jeep', they take real estate and road space away from the 'puplic' road.

Sort of like building a members only Country Club with a big initiation fee by using eminent domain to sieze a few city blocks of housing...

I guess you just don't get it. Or... "...How can you be so blind?"
WI0T 2013-05-24
Say Yes To D-Star
K1CJS wrote:

"...How can you be so blind?"

That's kind of rude.

Between you (K1CJS) and(KE7TMA), the basis of your distaste (to put it mildly) is the
AMBE chip - which is about $25.00 in single unit quantity (last time I priced it).

So a 25 buck chip is the problem. And it's not ICOM's chip, it's from DVSI.

How many chips in your radios are also made by 1 manufacturer ?

True you can buy another radio for HF (for example), which has other parts made
by another (or the same) single manufacturer. Not much different.

And yes, we can go back to the basics. A crystal (how many crystal manufacturers these
days?) and an 2N2222 transistor for ham radio, but are you really going to do that ?

So for 25 bucks, embrace the horror and have some fun with D*Star..

Rod WI0T
W4KVU 2013-05-24
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
W4KVU 2013-05-24
Say Yes To D-Star
K7CB 2013-05-24
RE: HF worth the price?
"People pay more money for radios with features they think they need, be they filters, enhanced sensitivity and selectivity, more amplification, panadapters, and so forth. These radios may allow you to "do more" depending on your requirements.

If this wasn't true, why is there an enormous range of HF radios offered, some costing less than $750 and some which cost more than a small car?"

Exactly, and was kind of my point. If you have an interest or simply want something, you'll more than likely justify the expense and buy it. If someone wants D-Star equipment, they'll pay for it...just like someone who wants a top of the line HF radio will pay the high cost for one.
K0RGR 2013-05-23
Say Yes To D-Star
I have an investment in DSTAR, and I don't regret it. But, I still don't know where it's going. We have a statewide DSTAR network now, and sometimes, it's fairly busy. I enjoy listening to the PAPA System via DSTAR and a few other nets and reflectors.

I think everyone has something they'd like to see change with DSTAR. Lack of adoption by the other Japanese manufacturers is a serious problem. The system was developed by JARL as an open architecture - the individual manufacturers are free to add their own innovations to it, but instead, only Kenwood has produced a DSTAR radio that they don't sell here, and the others have developed their own, incompatible systems.

I do compare this to SSB vs. AM - most of the arguments I am hearing against DSTAR were also leveled against SSB. SSB was much too expensive and complicated, it wasn't 'real radio', and it sounded like Donald Duck. The difference here is that there isn't as clear an advantage to DSTAR over FM.

Another thing I compare it to is SSTV. SSTV has always been a 'niche' mode. Back when we had to have special monitors and special equipment to generate the SSTV images, the same complaints arose. Today, SSTV is still with us, but the cost has been greatly reduced, and quality has greatly improved. None of the Big 3 radio makers embraced the mode.

Yes, I wish ICOM would lower their prices. The ID-31 is a start, but why is the ID-51 so high? They should at least come out with a monoband 2 meter rig in that series - many areas have only 2 meter DSTAR repeaters.

Audio quality is not that bad at all - and it's not an inherent problem with the mode. If you hear the new ID31's on the air, they sound great - as good or better than any analog radio, with much greater dynamic range. You can hear a pin drop, and a lot of other quiet sounds.Frankly, the older ICOM DSTAR rigs didn't sound good on DSTAR or on FM. It's nice to see ICOM put some effort into the audio this time around.
KE7TMA 2013-05-23
RE: HF worth the price?
People pay more money for radios with features they think they need, be they filters, enhanced sensitivity and selectivity, more amplification, panadapters, and so forth. These radios may allow you to "do more" depending on your requirements.

If this wasn't true, why is there an enormous range of HF radios offered, some costing less than $750 and some which cost more than a small car?
K7CB 2013-05-23
RE: HF worth the price?
AI2IA said:
"Well, gosh! Certainly most hams would be willing to spend much more for a good HF rig than some VHF/UHF rig.

There happens to be some differences in activity between HF and VHF/UHF.

Does this need to be said?"

What can you do with a $3000 radio that you can't with a $1500 radio? Seems to me you're simply paying more money for a radio that does pretty much the same thing.
KE7TMA 2013-05-23
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
WI0T: "You are correct, but most radios made in the past 10 years have proprietary technology in them - firmware or chips - especially if you have any DSP in the IF or audio stages of your radio. You want those radios, you buy the chips that are in them."

We're not talking about proprietary radio designs here, we're talking about a proprietary MODE! There's a huge difference between a manufacturer making a radio using whatever parts they desire, and pushing a PROPRIETARY MODE that uses audio encoding technology that can not be implemented other than buying a part from one manufacturer! I am not aware of any other radio mode in widespread amateur use that is proprietary in this way, and why would there be? It's just a stupid idea.

WI0T: "I take it you have no radios with any sort of proprietary technology in them."

I have no radios that feature proprietary MODES. See above to understand the difference between proprietary PARTS and proprietary MODES.

WI0T: "There are technical criticisms of EVERY mode. There is no technically perfect mode. So what? D*Start is another dimension of ham. It's not going to replace FM on VHF/UHF as the dominate mode, just as JT65 or PSK will not replace SSB on the HF bands. I just don't get the D*Star bashing that goes on. "

Again, I think you are trying to (perhaps deliberately?) confuse yourself. You aren't confusing me, though. JT65 and PSK31 (and other popular digital modes) are free for anybody to implement. There is no proprietary chip only available from one single vendor that you must buy to play on these modes. If any radio manufacturer wants to put them into their radio, they can. If I wish, as an experimenter, to implement them in my own designs, I can do it any way I wish. I don't have to buy a chip from a single vendor.

DStar is not a "dimension of ham" as far as I am concerned. It's simply Icom and DVSI's way to make some huge money at the expense of amateur radio operators. At least that was the plan! After a decade it still only has 50,000 users, and they practically had to give the equipment away for a long time.

Why do I bash DStar? Because it represents an ugly intrusion into our hobby, and it is simply a cynical attempt to move people to a proprietary locked-in system. I can not understand why this is difficult for some people to understand, unless they are deliberately choosing not to understand.
K1CJS 2013-05-23
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"I take it you have no radios with any sort of proprietary technology in them."

There is proprietary technology in almost any newer radio out there, but it isn't so proprietary that an entire mode is unavailable without its use. D-star is just that. Unless you use that chip, you cannot use the D-star mode.

As others have said, there are older radios that allow you to use older technologies to access any mode--but that does NOT include D-star. How can you be so blind?
WI0T 2013-05-23
Say Yes To D-Star
KE7TMA wrote:

"...DStar's voice codec is known as AMBE and is proprietary technology. The company that owns this technology sells a chip that you have to use if you want to talk in DV mode with other DStar users. There is no other option, buy the chip or not..."

You are correct, but most radios made in the past 10 years have proprietary technology in them - firmware or
chips - especially if you have any DSP in the IF or audio stages of your radio. You want those radios,
you buy the chips that are in them.

"...This is antithetical to the spirit of amateur radio in my opinion and many others."

I take it you have no radios with any sort of proprietary technology in them.

"... Not only that but there are other technical criticisms of DStar that have been made right here in this thread."

There are technical criticisms of EVERY mode. There
is no technically perfect mode. So what ?

D*Start is another dimension of ham. It's not going to
replace FM on VHF/UHF as the dominate mode, just as
JT65 or PSK will not replace SSB on the HF bands.

I just don't get the D*Star bashing that goes on.


K1CJS 2013-05-23
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
"Amateur radio is all about new technologies and experimentation."

Yes.... And No. Amateur radio is not ALL about new technologies, but it IS about experimenting with technologies--new AND old. As someone already said, P25 'encryption' is already finding its way onto the amateur bands, D-star is here, and so on. But until a way is found to make those modes just as clear and pleasant sounding as conventional FM is, they're not going to be as widely accepted as FM. That's all--no matter how many data channels can be included or how the bandwidth use compared to conventional FM can be cut.

Yes, D-star has advantages, but it has as many drawbacks too--and that is one thing that isn't being considered here. Until pricing comes down AND the drawbacks (the chief one being consistency of the sound heard) are minimized, don't look for D-star to overtake FM as the choice of the majority. It simply isn't going to happen.
KE7TMA 2013-05-22
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"W8JAS said: DStar is excellent technology and not proprietary. Comments to the contrary just show the ignorance and bias of the poster."

Time for an education sir. DStar's voice codec is known as AMBE and is proprietary technology. The company that owns this technology sells a chip that you have to use if you want to talk in DV mode with other DStar users. There is no other option, buy the chip or not. This is antithetical to the spirit of amateur radio in my opinion and many others. Not only that but there are other technical criticisms of DStar that have been made right here in this thread.

The real icing on the cake is calling anybody who disagrees with you ignorant and biased, even when you have your facts crooked.
AI2IA 2013-05-22
HF worth the price?
Well, gosh! Certainly most hams would be willing to spend much more for a good HF rig than some VHF/UHF rig.

There happens to be some differences in activity between HF and VHF/UHF.

Does this need to be said?
K7CB 2013-05-22
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
One thing that's kind of funny to me are the comments from those complaining the cost of a D-Star radio is too high. These same people probably wouldn't think twice about shelling out a couple thousand dollars for a high end HF radio such as an FT-5000.
KASSY 2013-05-22
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
I tried it. I didn't like it. Not because it was digital, not because Icom used some proprietary codec, but because there was not enough activity to be enjoyable. And I didn't like the audio quality.

Embrace change? I sponsored and helped build our club's RBN node. That's a younger technology than DSTAR. I routinely operate my HF stations remotely. When DSTAR came about, that was rare, and I was doing it.

I embrace change when the change does something I appreciate. My experience with DSTAR showed that they had some audio problems to work out. And, just my opinion, but the price is too high, and because of that, there aren't enough adopters yet. It's been around since 2004 and has only 50,000 users...that's a clue that Icom needs to do something different in order to increase the numbers of users. My guess is reduce pricing, but there may be some who are staying away because it is still a single-vendor solution. Yes, I know, my radios have chips in them that are single-vendor, but you don't NEED those chips to make a different compatible radio. There's a difference.

Ham radio is a hobby. I will do what I find enjoyable in it. I did not find anything about DSTAR to enhance my enjoyment. If you find it enjoyable, then go for it.

- k

KASSY 2013-05-22
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"For the same reason we can't learn how to type properly, MEANING IT IS RUDE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS. Please learn to use the 'shift' key"

Give the guy a break. He might be visually-impaired. Ham radio, if anything, is about diversity and accepting others for what they are. It's been called the great equalizer by many. King Hussein had QSOs with people in the US on welfare. They were just hams.

- k
K8QV 2013-05-22
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
<<<Gee wiz, will some adults in ham radio ever grow up and embrace change?>>>

And will others ever realize that some changes are not necessarily advancements?

In the rush to be the first adopter, the most forward looking state-of-the-art guy, the hippest ham on the block, we can lose sight of reality and practicality. It is not a black and white issue. People who don't see any advantage to D-Star cannot be labeled as generally "not embracing change." They cannot be labeled as unable to understand the technology. They cannot be labeled as simply too cheap to spend the big bucks. They have simply formed a different opinion than you. That opinion is as valid as yours, so dismount that high horse please.
W8JAS 2013-05-22
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
For the same reason we can't learn how to type properly, MEANING IT IS RUDE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS. Please learn to use the 'shift' key.
KASSY 2013-05-22
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
Nonsense. I sat on my granddad's knee in the late 60s and early 70s, listening to AM/SSB debates. Nobody defended SSB - they just used it and enjoyed it. They did not proselytize it to the AMers. If anything, the ones "defending" were the AMers.

Speaking of audio modes. This discussion did get me to thinking about the audio quality. I remember when I had that DSTAR rig, the audio was sort of warbly/watery. Has that improved? I tried looking on YouTube for demos showing DSTAR audio quality, but all the DSTAR demos used camera microphones listening to really crappy internal radio speakers...the audio would sound awful no matter how good DSTAR might be.

FM is capable of such great audio, but most repeaters wreck it. DSTAR, as I recall, sounds watery and warbly like a typical cell phone, harder to understand than analog. I know that's not needed - CDs sound perfectly fine, after all, and they're digital.

Can you point me to any YouTube vids that demo the difference between FM and DSTAR audio? I'd like to hear if it's improved.

50,000 users. Honestly, that doesn't sound like a lot, given how long DSTAR's been out. If the price comes down, then there'll probably be wider adoption and it'll be active enough to be interesting.

- k
W4KVW 2013-05-22
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
KZ5A says,

Anyone pushing a proprietary (as in only available from one manufacturer) technology on ham operators should be ashamed of themselves.

D-Star is a poor technology, that is however doing what it's manufacturer intends, separating rich fools from their money.

Just FYI the technology is available to Yaesu, Alinco,Kenwood& all others but they CHOOSE "NOT" to use it because it's NOT their own & of course we can't have that in Ham Radio.It's like the WIRES system that Yaesu has had for years,NOBODY wanted to join in with it either.Not even Yaesu users it appears so I understand it is going away like the dinosaurs.As someone once said,"WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG"?

W4KVW 2013-05-22
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
Well I FINALLY took the D-STAR plunge TODAY.I purchased an ICOM 91AD & am going to give it a shot.I guess I will give it a fair chance & see what I think of it.Now just awaiting the arrival of the radio so I can get started.

W8JAS 2013-05-22
RE: First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
LOL, because so many hams are resistant to change, over the years all modes had to be defended. AM, SSB, FM and still to this day, CW and I am not even talking about the digimodes. So if you were half way out the door because people are defending a mode, then you must be the rest of the way out the door with that bit of information. I guess some of you are too young to remember the SSB/AM debates of years gone by.

Gee wiz, will some adults in ham radio ever grow up and embrace change?

If you don't like something, don't buy it or use it. But if you have to bash something because you don't like it, it really shows a fear of what you are bashing. Why else would you even comment?

Most everyone who learns about DStar and adopts it, loves it. Especially after they explore all that it can do. Many people are just ignorant and refuse to learn. That's OK. The comments about Icom, Internet, like IRLP and Echolink, proprietary, etc. just show ignorance by those making the comments because they obviously do not understand the technology.

Amateur radio is all about new technologies and experimentation. If you want to continue just sitting in front of the radio talking on FM or SSB growing fat and using a scooter to drive around the hamfests, fine that's your choice. But if you want to move around a bit and stay thin by experimenting and learning new things and venturing out, then try experimenting and using new modes and technologies.
W8JAS 2013-05-22
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
DStar is excellent technology and not proprietary. Comments to the contrary just show the ignorance and bias of the poster.

Audio quality of DStar is great. There are many people manufacturing DStar add-ons, and one NW Digital, who is creating a DStar/Data Radio that will be available for sale in a few months.

2,000 repeaters world-wide, 50,000+ users, and rapidly growing. Users love it and it has gotten many back on the radio.

Icom is looking at getting the costs down even further and offered to help other manufacturers introduce their own DStar radios.

The Yaeus offering is already DOA. Little interest in their stuff at Dayton. Their display was dead compared to prior years. Kenwood display also dead. Icom booth packed all the time as was the DStar display. Shows that thinking hams see the value of Icom and DStar.
OE5AKM 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Why "painting" OR "digital photograph"?
Why "horse" OR "car"?
Why "wireless" OR "wire-bound"?

Just do your thing(s)!

73 de Alfred, OE5AKM
KASSY 2013-05-21
First flag - a mode that needs "defending"
If a mode needs defending, then I'm already halfway out the door.

Then the "article" is chock-full of mis-spellings, grammar so bad you have to read sentences multiple times to figure out what he meant and...*sigh* sorry, but the author is not a particularly good emissary for his/her chosen mode.

VHF/UHF radios are already expensive, when you measure dollars per band, dollars per mode, or dollars per mile covered. D-STAR makes them an even worse deal.

I have a dual-band mobile FM rig for 144/440. I used to leave it on, scanning the local repeaters. I tired of hearing the local intercoms and "buy some milk on your way home" stuff, so I turned it off.

I was later convinced to try a D-STAR radio. I borrowed one. We have several local DSTAR repeaters. Each one had a local weekly net - and an awful lot of silence.

I'm in it for the QSOs. I just don't hear enough on 144/440 to begin with, and then even less on DSTAR.

Maybe when the DSTAR rigs get down to the same dollars per band as a typical 100W SSB/CW HF rig...

- k
K9CTB 2013-05-21
Say Yes To D-Star
I really did give a listen to D-Star and D/V in general, but over the last few years, I've decided it's not for me. Not really poo-pooing it for anyone else, but I listened to side-by-side comparisons between D-Star and standard FM. In an urban setting there is no contest; Digital voice systems (D-Star, P25, etc) don't shine very well. Multipath and interference clobber a digital signal when a 5KHz FM signal is Q5 copy. It's not just D-Star. Even the "bill-of-goods" P25 protocol is having trouble in that same urban setting. Add encryption (or bit-scrambling) to the mix and the performance is even worse. Ask the LE professionals and other first responders what they think. Digital voice *is* a cool toy and it *is* fun to play with, but expensive, proprietary protocols (Icom) kind of took the fun out of D-Star. That and the inherent poor performance tells me why it hasn't "caught on". If you can afford D-Star and you don't mind the drawbacks, I think it's a good thing. I would never want to deny fellow hams the bandwidth to experiment with the mode - I just don't see any benefit, speaking for myself.

AI2IA 2013-05-21
Radio manufacture is a business.
Radio manufacture is a business. In a business profit is put first. Exclusiveness is held in high regard. Profits are comfortable. Proprietary systems are lucrative. The stockholders need to be fully satisfied.

Amateur radio is an avocation. Service is held in high regard. Cost of operation is done for the most part on a shoestring budget. Open conventions are useful and welcomed. The family budget needs to be fully satisfied.

Don't buy until the price drops, the concept is further improved and made open to all, and the digital support repeaters populate.

Do as the lawyers do. Make haste slowly.

The budget you save may be your own. Keep your wife happy. Stay analog for awhile. There is the chance something better may come along, in which case D-Star will eventually be sought by collectors - garbage collectors.

Twist my words at your own peril. There is still room in your attic or basement and stalls are available at the flea markets.
K1CJS 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
By KZ5A:

...D-Star is a poor technology, that is however doing what it's manufacturer intends, separating rich fools from their money."

That's about it in a nutshell, although I don't call the technology itself poor. Rather I call the way it's being marketed "poor."

In any event, people who want to can pay the exorbitant prices that D-Star rigs are fetching and play with their features. Please stop at insisting that others should do so also-- as some in this thread are doing. 73.
N1DVJ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"you know that Sony controlled the Beta content and no "adult" titles were offered. That is what killed Beta."

Are you serious? That's total BS. Did you lead a sheltered life? While it is true that some shops 'adult' section was VHS only, that was only later. When the small independent video stores were in the rapid growth phase in the mid to late 80's, most shops had both in their 'back rooms'. By 1990 you started seeing limited releases in Beta in the back rooms. But that was NOT an issue of availability.

You know, there's so much revisionist BS out there about Beta and VHS it's amazing. Just today someone sent me a link to a video that claimed the first Sony BetaMax with a tuner was the SL-7200. Uh, excuse me... I personally owned an SL-7100 that I gave to my parents when I picked up an SL-7200. The difference was the 7100 was Beta 1 only, and the 7200 was Beta 1/2. I think the 7100 had an AC synchronous motor for the drum and the 7200 had a DC servo motor. And there's STILL people that think you couldn't go beyond 2 hours on a Beta tape. That's the limit on a 500 series cassette in Beta 2, but there were 750 and 830 tapes, and later a Beta 3 speed. The Beta HiFi deck I still have only does Beta 2/3. 830 tapes were kind of touchy, but you just needed to fast forward and rewind them before use to make sure they were 'free' in the casing. (But I did that with my audio cassettes too. I would slap them on a table top, both side, then fast forward and rewind them before recording.)
K8QV 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
<<<"Those solid state finals aren't real ham radio at all...">>>

No, real radio is nothing more or less than generating some RF and putting it out to the atmosphere via an antenna. "Communication" can involve radio, Internet, smoke signals or two tin cans and a string.
K9MHZ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>>by KD8MJR on May 21, 2013 I don't even understand why all the Beta Max vs VHS Tape comparisons are being made! In the end both of them died out!<<<<

Yeah, and that video tape cassette example is getting to be such ancient'd have thought that the HD DVD vs. Blu Ray disks comparison would have been relevant to more people today.

In ham radio, I'll never forget the same chorus of resistance to solid state gear, especially the no-tune finals. The idea of not having to turn the load and tune variable caps in a transmitter's PA tank circuit was unthinkable. "Those solid state finals aren't real ham radio at all..." and other little nuggets were very common.

AD7II 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
?"What killed Beta was that it was too good."? If you remember the movie selection in rental shops that had both Beta and VHS tapes, you know that Sony controlled the Beta content and no "adult" titles were offered. That is what killed Beta.

I welcome digital audio to ham radio, but expect it to earn its way in. Having data subcarriers is not an advantage, nor is thumbing a ride on the internet. It needs to provide superior intelligibility and be very narrow band. Think of going voice to text at the sending end and transmitting PSK31, then going text to voice at the receiving end. It's not hi-fi, the receiving ham can make you sound like Bing Crosby or like Megan Mullally, but the message gets through.

KD8MJR 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I don't even understand why all the Beta Max vs VHS Tape comparisons are being made! In the end both of them died out!

As for the argument about D-Star Audio quality getting better or could be better etc. Yeah that’s only going to happen if you use even more bandwidth than its already using.

I think this whole thing has become some sort of PR exercise for D-Star that has horribly backfired.

KZ5A 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Sorry, I already have "Internet Chat" on my PC and it didn't cost $600.

Anyone pushing a proprietary (as in only available from one manufacturer) technology on ham operators should be ashamed of themselves.

D-Star is a poor technology, that is however doing what it's manufacturer intends, separating rich fools from their money.

N1DVJ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"You have it backwards. D*Star is more VHS than Beta. "

If that's the case, sell your D-Star now, because VHS sucked compared to Beta.

What killed Beta was that it was too good. It gave far superior quality than VHS, and it would actually copy media from a popular VHS 'copy protected' source. Played fine on Beta, and you could copy to other Beta. But if taken back to VHS, wouldn't play. Beta did have problems with high speed duplication. The rapidly growing porn industry couldn't dup programs fast enough, so they pretty much focused on VHS. Couple that with the fact that they could copy protect VHS and not Beta... Then the mom and pop video stores didn't want to carry multiple formats in their usually very space limited 'adult' rooms. Rent out a Beta and people copied it and your customer base quickly saturated. Rent out copy protected VHS and you could keep renting it out. (Unless customers had both decks and copied it to Beta!)

When Sony finally started licensing Beta technology to others about 1983 or 84, it was too late. VHS had about a 7:1 advantage countrywide in the marketplace (but some reports show that people markets the entertainment industry were only 4:1) but with almost a 20:1 brand name ratio it was actually amazing. Plus... a lot of 'internal Hollywood distribution' was all done on Beta. The tapes that were given to the stars and workers. They eventually had to be canary trapped since they couldn't effectively be copy protected with Beta.

Then Beta-HiFi vs VHS-HiFi? Come on. It was Beta-HiFi vs VHS-Stereo. There were VERY few real VHS-HiFi decks out there. Most were the quality of hacker FM stereo stations for quality. I have a Beta-HiFi deck (wish I could get it repaired) that rivaled a lot of CD systems. It even has a switch on a flip down panel on the front of the unit that changes it to an audio deck. I think it kills something in the video luminence so that it has more audio headroom.

The market will tell. But I really think D-Star has to fail. The first to market almost always does.
KK8ZZ 2013-05-21
Say Yes To D-Star
Tried it, no good repeaters around SE Cleveland area. I agree with the gentleman who said "just because we can, doesn't mean we should (or I would add, "doesn't mean we need to").

I tried two different radios. A royal PITA to program and use. Sold at a loss. I still haven't forgiven Icom.

Too expensive for bands which often have so little traditional activity anyway.

In my evaluation, NO. DStar is a dog. YMMV de KK8ZZ
AI2IA 2013-05-21
Say Yes To D-Star
D-Star features sound good.
Check book says no.
Make it cheaper and the users will come.
W8JAS 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
No, the Codec is proprietary. However, all the Codecs being used (DMR/Mototrbo/P25) are proprietary so no difference there.

DStar currently has over 2,000 repeaters and more than 50,000 users all across the world.

DStar was designed by hams for hams. It's not some rehashed commercial standard thus trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Networking is superior for ham radio.

It is capable to handling data with voice.

It is better suited for distance. TDMA starts having issues when distance greater than 45 miles. It's a timing thing.

Current generation of DStar radios require no programming other than entering your call. Finds and programs closest repeater for you. Simple.

Does not have to have EACH radio registered. It's ham radio, DStar just uses your call.

It works and works well.

It does NOT have to use the Internet, thus it is not like IRLP or Echolink. The Internet is just there if you want to use it. So it is just like everyday amateur radio, only better.
WI0T 2013-05-21
Say Yes To D-Star

You have it backwards. D*Star is more VHS than Beta.

1) D*Star has more repeaters (i.e. infrastructure) than
P25 or Moto<whatever>.

2) D*Star as more radios available, although I wish
someone other than ICOM made some radios.

Technically others maybe better, but the market
(consumer) will decide the winner. So far that's

And regarding proprietary CODEC, the spec is not but
the chip is. Most hams have radios with proprietary
chips already, so that's not a valid issue.

D*Star is just fun to play around with when I'm tired
of HF CW or the bands are in bad shape.

N1DVJ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"Digital has better audio quality than analog - Really? Can't believe someone actually put that in writing."

Well, what SHOULD have been said is:

Digital has the capability of APPARENTLY better audio quality than analog

That's a far cry from saying an absolute qualitative comparison. Digital is limited by a number of factors. Sample rate and resolution right off the bat. And then there's error detection and correction/recovery, two very different aspects that can make or break the perceived quality of a digital interchange.

Yeah, right now most of the digital implementations, from anybody, not just D-Star, pretty much suck 2 week old eggs left in the sun. But it may not always be that way. It just sucks now.

Any you pay for that suck.

That doesn't mean it won't always be that way.

The real gotcha is all the people buying into it now, and THEN realizing the protocol changes... Even if D-Star wins out, does anyone think it will be the same?

Can you say laserdisk? Anyone?

K8NDS 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Let me clarify my comment by saying that digital will be more clear with a much lower SNR with out the annoying background noise. If cell phone was a perfect world without cell tower overload the audio quality would be outstanding. Do yourself a favor and bring up the You Tube video's on HF DV and you will see what is possible.
N1DVJ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"I read this and had to laugh. But on retrospection, I realize that this is a valid comment. D-Star does equal Beta."

I think you have it partially right. Right that D-Star will probably lose in the long run, being propriatary and all, but wrong in the fact that Beta was a far superior technology.

Beta failed for a number of reasons, and believe it or not, a lot of the failure was related to issues related to it's superiority over VHS.

But it's primary reason for failure was marketing. Consumers could go into a store and see 20+ brands on the shelf. All but one of them VHS. Sony even tried to capitalize on that fact, spouting "Sony, the one and only" in their Betamax ads. From that standpoint alone, it's amazing Beta held on for as long as it did.
N1DVJ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Wow, thanks for the totally unbiased commercial on D-Star!!

Where's the disclaimer?
K9MHZ 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>>by K1CJS on May 21, 2013
BTW, expensive fad is right--but Icom is trying its darndest to promote D-Star and cement its position of the premiere digital mode, even to the point of just about giving away D-Star repeater systems.<<<<

Yeah, you know at this year's D-STAR forum, one of the speakers concluded his remarks with a bit of a slam on the guys who dare suggest that ham radio should embrace P25. I think he was the speaker from a proprietary venture that's creating these Linux-based D-STAR to APRS bridges, etc, so his "rah rah D-STAR" appeared to be suspect, even if he genuinely feels that way.

"Advancement of the radio art" leaves open many options, and there was even a booth manned by a group that's promoting a P25-based amateur system, I think it was. The guys up in Chicago are already well underway with P25.

D-STAR is good, I enjoy it, blah, blah. But competition is better that myopic deference to something. The ham consumer will figure it out and go with what best suits his interest and pocketbook.
KG4NEL 2013-05-21
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"Digital has better audio quality than analog - Really? Can't believe someone actually put that in writing."

Perfect Sound Forever ;)
K8QV 2013-05-21
Say Yes To D-Star
Sorry, but this reminds me of teenagers standing in line for hours so they can be the first to have the latest overpriced smart phone. Then they go to the mall to buy the latest pair of sneakers for $250, and they do nothing that a $40 pair won't do.

I can video chat anywhere in the world to hams and non-hams on my $50 cell phone. Tell me again, how advanced and cutting edge is D-Star? It's the latest technology (to hams, anyway) and very expensive. That is the attraction, IMO.

WA3FKG 2013-05-21
Say Yes To D-Star
We now have three D-Star repeaters in the Pittsburgh area but I'm not yet ready to take the plunge and invest in D-Star technology as I consider it too expensive for the benefits derived from the system. If you could get a decent data rate on VHF/UHF along with the voice channel I would jump right in.

Part of the high cost problem could have been solved if Icom had gone to the hams in the open source community and asked them to develop a free and open codex available to all manufacturers for incorporation into their product lines.

I also think that if Yaesu and Kenwood come out with their own standards for digital voice transmission that it will create a mess and probably add significant time to reaching on a system that everyone can agree on. Still I would rather see that than have us locked into something proprietary that will limit our access to one manufacturers rigs.

Lets hope that reason, logic and an open market place win out in the end.
N0FPE 2013-05-21
Say no To D-Star
I will pass. For a number of reasons.

1. costs too much at this time
2. audio is just plain bad
3. even here is Phoenix it is a wasteland. There are a few Dstar systems. Totally unused. maybe 6 people
4. The EM from the area cities WERE putting up a valley wide system. It died on the vine! Never happened, equipment taken down and sent to surplus storage.
5. no other dstar in the state at this time

Now on the other hand there is a statewide linked system on DMR. 5 high sites with more coming online this year. LOTS more locals on DMR. Audio is way better, radios are abt the same price. BUT they are made by lots of companies. DMR is an OPEN source codex. heck even ICOM make DMR radios!!!

So I say NO to D-Snore because its asleep here..
K1CJS 2013-05-21
RE: Say, "I'll wait," to D-Star.
"If all is good with it, it will endure and grow. If it is just an expensive fad, it will fade away."

That is it in a nutshell. With the proprietary coding used in D-Star and it's limited availability unless one BUYS it, D-Star does seem to be the Beta in the VHS/Beta war. I agree that if the other manufacturers agree on a NO COST, OPEN standard of digital encoding, D-Star is going to be left in the dust, and Icom is going to have to do some fancy footwork to salvage its hold on ham radio digital encryption.

BTW, expensive fad is right--but Icom is trying its darndest to promote D-Star and cement its position of the premiere digital mode, even to the point of just about giving away D-Star repeater systems. That's another reason that the individual radios are so expensive--someone has to pay for those repeaters!
KC2MJT 2013-05-20
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Digital has better audio quality than analog - Really? Can't believe someone actually put that in writing.
K8NDS 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
Personally I am not much of a VHF/UHF user so analog is fine for me with the little that I use it.
I must add that D-star offers a different addition to Ham Radio for the guys that are into radio/computers.
Just like the old days of the battle between AM vs SSB, I remember how all the A-mer's Boo-Hooed SSB.
SSB is a much better mode then AM but AM has it's place for the Boat Anchor people. The same will happen with digital radio, it will just take more time as the Curmudgeons die off. I am in that group although I welcome new technology and plan to be around for many more years..... hi hi. I am waiting for HF Digital Voice to take off, check out to see the action there. I'M building a HFDV system right now. I have heard it on the air, it is fantastic! Now here will go the battle between SSBer's and HFDV. I will use both and appreciate the clear reception of HF DV. I have to agree that computers and ham radio have their place together but to me Ham radio is HF stand alone, not depending on the internet.
I can use the telephone for local com until the S hits the fan then, all that will be left is HF, whether SSB, AM, CW or HFDV of my battery/ Solar supply. All New tech is welcome to me, I like some and don't care for others like D-star but everyone has their own preference.
K4TOJ 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
When I was new to Amateur radio about 3 years back, I researched what I wanted for my first radio. Initially it was to be something for my cars and repeater use even though I was a general licensee. I wanted more time to research what I would do to get on HF.

I have a few cars and a motorcycle. My first radio needed to be something that could move from vehicle to vehicle easily. Plus, I knew there were special events where I wanted to help, that would require an HT. So my first radio would be an HT. I looked at the three key manufacturers (china wasn't in the game yet) - Kenwood, Yaesu, and ICOM.

Feature for feature, quality of build, ICOM won me over. I went with the 92AD so I could have weather protection and after researching DSTAR, decided I wanted to give it a try.

I found DSTAR to be a VERY cool technology. It works much better than Echolink and IRLP when you are using a repeater to access other repeaters. I agree with just about everything this commentary stated. The advantages DSTAR has and what ICOM did with it run circles around what others have tried and are trying now.

So my vote for DSTAR is YES YES YES. I personally wish more people would accept and adopt it. But like SSB, FM, and other modes took time, so will this.

For the naysayers who posted comments here, if you don't like it, why in the world would you take the time to read what the OP wrote and THEN take the time to comment about it? IF you don't like DSTAR, why spend any time on it?
KB7XU 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star

I had a couple of friends who had D-Star handitalkies. So, I bought an Icom V82 which was a nice, inexpensive HT. I liked the audio of the non-optioned HT and the rig was easy enough to use.

Then, I joined my friends by adding the optional UT-118 which provides D-STAR format digital voice and slow data communication. The D-Star worked as well as my friends' units but I didn't like the crappy audio and I found D-Star operations to be much too "fiddly." I used the D-Star equipped HT for about six months and was glad to sell it because I no longer enjoyed the hassle and sound of "Garble-Star."

I compared the experience with that of experimenting with AM stereo years ago, i.e., a waste of my time. I came to the conclusion, "How loud can I shrug?"

For those of you who enjoy D-Star, then go for it. I've back to the much nicer audio and relative ease-of-use of my standard FM Yaesu handitalkies. ~73
W2CSH 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
I almost purchased an ID-51 when they became available in January. I looked at the D-STAR repeater directory again and found that in the Philadelphia Metro area there are only two or three D-STAR repeaters on 2 meters. The county EOM's in New Jersey and south eastern PA have set up some 70CM D-STAR repeaters but they are only to be used in emergencies and are not available for general use. They were a gift from Dept of Homeland Security. There are hundreds of analog repeaters available and there are also clubs that are setting up Motorola DMR repeaters because the radios are readily available new and used and can be programmed for the amateur bands. So I will continue to say no to D-STAR. Last fall during super storm Sandy it was the good old analog repeaters that were used when the cell towers died to provide emergency communications. Turns out that a lot of hams didn't have D-STAR radios so having D-STAR repeaters didn't really help anyone. DHS also gave my township money to buy a new ladder truck for the fire department. It can reach up to a ten story building. We don't have any buildings taller than three stories in the township so It hasn't had much use, just like the D-STAR repeater at the county OEM.
KB2FCV 2013-05-20
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I have D-Star but I don't use it all that much. I happened to pick up two D-Star radios (ID-800H for the house, IC-2200H for the car) when both of my 'analog' mobile rigs died and we had a D-Star presentation at our club shortly before I needed to purchase some new radios. I figured I'd go D-Star to see what all the hype was about. I only considered it an option if I had local repeaters, which I did. Doing the whole DV dongle thing just didn't appeal to me.

It took a while to figure out how to program.. I highly recommend using the computer software to do it. I don't really use 2 meters or 440 much to begin with as I tend to operate HF or 6m openings. I did a bit of EME last year on 2m.

D-Star has been out and around for a number of years, I have no idea if it's growing.. staying the same or declining as I simply don't use it a lot. It's interesting when they link up to other places.. but you can do the same thing on echolink.

It would be nice to see everyone agree on one digital standard as the digital mode is interesting in itself.. it's definitely another 'facet' of ham radio. I've seen some neat stuff done with d-rats software which could be useful for emergency / event communications.
W6CAW 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
D-$. Will never pay $500.00 for an HT till a loaf of bread goes for $50.00!
KB2HUK 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
There are no real repeaters in my area there is one or two listed but none are functional . I have watched the Dayton videos , got the instructional book and still have not learned to use Dstar . I even committed to Dstar by buying a 92,31 and Dvap dongle and I had to sell off everything because of lack of local support , difficulty in programing radio . Waiting to see what Yaesu comes out with . John kb2huk
K9MHZ 2013-05-20
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>>By VK3DWZ on May 19, 2013 These days, it seems you have to be a multi-millionaire to be an amateur<<<<

Well, I'll nitpick at that one a bit, even though I know you're trying to make a larger point, and probably not intending to be completely literal about that statement.

Gear today is fabulous, and way more affordable than ever, D-STAR or not. Someone mentioned "snobbish", etc, but D-STAR costs are minuscule compared to what guys were paying for Collins gear years ago, and yes the same was said about them back then.

I personally prefer Icom gear (well, so what?) but saw presentations of the Yaesu FTDx 1200 and 3000 models at Dayton, and found them to be very affordable radios that are terrific. A new ham today has so much great gear (and modes) to choose from, I'm almost envious of them joining our ranks today, and not having to wade through years of Heathkit junk and early generation gear of far less capability, that was full of VFO drift and birdies.

WA0ZZG 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
I agree that digital does belong on the amateur radio bands but I also have to look to history to help decide what it will be.
Traditionally, amateurs use surplus commercial equipment as the least costly route to a new technology and also go with what is the most widely available. A lot of P25 Conventional is now showing up. I suspect this trend will increase as Phase II technologies become more widely used.
KC9DRE 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
I am a fan of digital technology as it creates more of the band to be available. Here is where I have an issue with "D-STAR" I have a few Alinco rigs and some Yaesu as well and neither will talk to the ICOM at this point without some modification, this isn't ICOM's fault however they are the only manufacture to use this currently and that makes it to an extent proprietary to ICOM at this time. and the additional cost isn't worth it to me right now.

So what happens when Yaesu, Kenwood, Alinco, and others decide on a standard that is different then the Icom and all those rigs talk to each other out of the box? Yep its VHS and beta all over again. and more recent Blueray and HD-DVD and we see how those panned out. So I will wait until there is more inter-operation before I run out and get on the digital voice bandwagon
K8QV 2013-05-20
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
<<<"Radio" is not fully "wireless" anymore: Google is finding 40.000.000 sites for "internet radio" and "internet radio" is far from being "wireless".>>>

Of course the term "Internet Radio" refers to commercial services that emulate or redistribute actual commercial radio programming. With all the current emphasis on amateur radio emergency operation always being viable because it is independent from the infrastructure, why is there also a move to make radio dependent on the Internet? When it's working and you have access to the Internet, it is far superior to radio communication, so why bother injecting a radio into the mix? It's like looking at a digital photograph of a painting rather than looking at the painting itself. As far as that goes, why bother to create a painting when you have a digital camera? Why ride a horse when you have a car? Following the logic, I guess you could carry your horse around in the car.
OE5AKM 2013-05-20
Say Yes To D-Star
"Radio" is not fully "wireless" anymore: Google is finding 40.000.000 sites for "internet radio" and "internet radio" is far from being "wireless".

So say "Yes" to ARoIP = Amateur Radio over Internet Protocol.

73 de Alfred, OE5AKM
G8UBJ 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
The future is digital but not D-Star, its not in the spirit of Ham radio

We will all eventually agree on an open standard requiring no license or payment of rights or royalties.

Look at it this way. if someone invented lower sideband back in the day then licensed use of it we would all be using Upper Sideband.

keep flushing and eventually this thing will go away.
VK3DWZ 2013-05-19
Say Yes To D-Star
An interesting article, Mr. Holmgrem. I would like to try something like this but can't--it seems to be just too expensive. These days, it seems you have to be a multi-millionaire to be an amateur.

I hate to be picky, but your refernce (in #4) to any analog wireless having "special" I.C.s inside may not be entirely correct. Yes, the little Tecsun PL-310 wireless I have sitting beside me has at least one "special" I.C. inside, but I cannot see any I.C's, or transistors for that matter in our Collins/Hammarlund R-390A/URR out in our wireless room!
KD8MJR 2013-05-19
RE: Say, "I'll wait," to D-Star.
For me I personally have a hard time seeing the huge difference between a cell phone and D-Star but I guess that none of that matters to a person who just likes the idea of having D-Star equipment.

Many of us Hams experience the rolling eyes we get from friends and relatives when we talk about being Ham operators but the one thing that I find always gets their attention and respect is when I explain to them that I can pack up my radio put it into a small backpack along with a G5RV and 50 ft of cable and get in my Car and drive to were I am needed and be able to establish communication with just about any part of the world if my country or my city experienced a major catastrophic event. Most people already know that even a moderate event typically wipes out all modern forms of communication so its not a hard concept to explain or sell to a non Ham.

It's the simple nature of the beast that makes Ham Radio enjoyable and also using my grey matter to pick out weak signals and not having some micro chip decide that the error rate is too high and give me nothing to work with.

D-Star is like a Death Star to the long term viability of the Ham Radio Hobby! If D-Star should ever become as popular as some hams would like it to be, then in the future say 30 years from now almost all the future Hams will just be playing around with Dongles plugged into Tablets and those hams would have absolutely no use in emergencies so the Hobby would then lose most of its global importance and eventually die out.

And BTW yes that would be true because Freq allocations would be yanked if most hams used Dongles and dongles would be the future since True radios with D-Star would eventually get priced out in favor of cheaper more popular integrated systems. Oh but Wifi could still be used so it would still be a "Radio"

Just My 2 Cents.
AI2IA 2013-05-19
Say, "I'll wait," to D-Star.
Never be among the first to try a new feature. Never be among the last either.
If all is good with it, it will endure and grow. If it is just an expensive fad, it will fade away.
Confucius said, "All things come to he who waits."
In Manhattan they say, "If you take care of your check book, then it will take care of you. - 'nuff said.
KF4HR 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
AI4WC - Units like the AOR ARD9000 Mk 2 digital voice modem and also digital audio software such as FreeDV, basically just digitize (encode) your voice signal and recover (decode) the digitized info at the other end using a digitizing algorithm.

The reason you may not being hearing too many digital voice signals on the HF bands is, it really doesn't work that great. On the plus side, when HF conditions are near perfect digital audio quality on HF is very good, even excellent. But QRM, QRN, QSB, and multipath causes the BER (Bit Error Rate) to exceed limits, and poof... the digital signal disappears. HF Digital Voice is fun to experiment with, but personally, in an emergency I'd opt for SSB or CW.

So what makes D-Star a different digital animal? Within the D-Star data stream resides the digital voice information of course, but also embedded in the data stream are both routing data (similar to IP address data) and GPS data (if you decide to send it). With the exception of certain programming necessities and getting your callsign entered into the "D-Star System", using a D-Star transceiver within local D-Star repeater range is very similar to using any analog VHF/UHF repeater, except the reception of VHF/UHF D-Star audio sounds like users are talking into a barrel.

The main benefit to D-Star is when D-Star repeaters are connected to the internet. This allows the user to route (link) their signal through their local repeater (or their computer) to numerous D-Star repeaters. At last count I heard there were 2,521 D-Star repeaters around the globe.

A D-Star user can also link multiple repeaters simultaneously via D-Star Reflectors, or a user can link to a specific callsign anywhere within the D-Star network, and you can even use D-Star without a D-Star radio using what's called a DV Dongle and a computer. Plenty of digital trickery, to be sure.

D-Star works pretty good, but it's not perfect. It's just another mode.

Hope this answers your questions.

K9MHZ 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>>by ZL2UFI on May 18, 2013
5. Yaesu, Alinco, Kenwood and others are just mudding the waters with their 'favours' of digital radio. Remember the VHS V Beta wars.<<<<

I don't think that's true at all about Alinco, and in fact, it seems that only Yaesu has made efforts toward a true digital CODEC system of their own.

FWIW, a friend asked the Alinco people at Dayton about the rumors of a 220/902 MHz FM mobile to match their handheld, and they all shook their heads and said that their efforts now are going to be in SDR.

KG4RUL 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"5. Yaesu, Alinco, Kenwood and others are just mudding the waters with their 'favours' of digital radio. Remember the VHS V Beta wars. "

I read this and had to laugh. But on retrospection, I realize that this is a valid comment. D-Star does equal Beta.
N1KDO 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Every D-Star radio pays a patent tax for the AMBE chip. To my knowledge, this is the first time in the history of amateur radio that a licensed product *must* be used to access a particular mode, at least a mode that is targeted as mainstream...

You cannot operate the mode without paying the DVSI tax. Period. Whether Icom D-Star rig, DV-Dongle, whatever, you cannot experiment with this mode without paying a single source vendor (DVSI) for a part that they won't even tell you how it works! In my opinion, this is contrary to the spirit of amateur radio. Every other part used in every other radio has a data sheet you can read and learn what's going on inside the part. You can make your own implementation of those radio parts if you choose to. But not for D-Star, no. It has DVSI's patented secret algorithm in it -- you must buy their part if you want to play...

Fortunately, many other hams feel the same way about using a proprietary, closed-source CODEC, and they have invested significant effort into a new "open-source" CODEC called Codec2. (see This new CODEC has the potential to replace the proprietary AMBE codec used by D-STAR, which as far as I am concerned, means the current D-STAR implementation is ALREADY OBSOLETE. Bummer.
W7KKK 2013-05-19
Say Yes To D-Star
I live in the mountains of Arizona and there isn't a D~Star repeater within 100 miles of my QTH.
Then again I have never been much for VHF/UHF and the 1st place so I guess it doesn't matter.
I think much of this type of stuff is just a gimmick to get you to pay substantially more money for the equipment as others have said.
I think I will pass.
G6NJR 2013-05-19
Say Yes To D-Star
Thanks but no thanks No to D-Star.

There are enough things reporting your every move already (all turned of by me ) we dont need any more .

K9MHZ 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
>>>>by KF4HR on May 19, 2013....There's no pie in the sky......<<<<

Yeah, I think that sums it up best. In defense of Icom, they really don't cram this down people's throats. Mostly, it's operators (like me) who think something's cool, so it gets talked about a lot and others think they're being left out if they can't/won't jump in with both feet.

The audio's not great, but very narrow, which is a good thing. I think the eSSB crowd from the previous thread won't agree. But there's data, although you need to get up in the ID-1 freqs to make it worthwhile, and then have a real need for this solution.....most don't.

The callsign routing, repeater linking, etc features are very handy if you travel. Lots of capability overseas. If you just want VOIP to a distant repeater, then yes, save your cash and get smart on Echolink.

But it's nice to have something that fulfills specific needs, and it actually does that very well. I still don't get the vitriolic attitudes about a stupid transmission mode....that is really strange behavior that you'd expect more out of the young hipster Apple computer crowd. (yes, we have one of those, too...who cares?)
AI4WC 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I'm coming in late in this discussion, but I'd appreciate someone telling me why/how D-Star differs from my AOR ARD9000 Mk 2 digital voice modem, specifically how it differs OTHER THAN USING A D-Star repeater. I have tried to find digital voice activity on the 20 M and 40 M bands, but have found nothing (please don't enumerate the "digital" frequency spots for me - I know them; I simply don't find any activity).
I REPEAT - MY QUESTION IS GENUINE. Please don't crucify me in your comments.
K8QV 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
<<<QV....where on earth did you come up with any of that? "Too cheap, too stupid", etc.>>>

It's the message from some D-Dtar proponents in this very thread. People who do not jump on the latest new bandwagon are often characterized in these ways by those elite folks who see themselves as being on the cutting edge of technology and representing the future of our hobby while those who disagree represent the past.
KF4HR 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Reference question 7.

The "funny sounding" D-Star audio is, well, let's face it, pretty terrible audio. On 2 meters and 70cm (better D-Star audio on 1.2ghz due to wider bandwidth) it sounds like people are talking into a barrel. D-Star poor audio quality is a factor of its 6.25khz transmission bandwidth, and also residing in that 6.25khz bandwidth are data areas for house-keeping and GPS data (whether you transmit GPS data or not), which further reduces the bandwidth set aside for D-Star audio.

Yes, you can squeeze 4 times as many D-Star signals into the space required for a NBFM signal but in most of the towns and cities, is that necessary right now? In most of the country the current NBFM Band Space is no where near being fully utilized with analog signals.

Personally I would have liked to have seen ICOM offer multiple D-Star transmission bandwidth options, from 6.26khz, up through standard NBFM bandwidths. This would have allowed users to select which bandwidth option best suited their specific area. This way users could enjoy excellent digital audio quality (using wider bandwidths), unless band space issues dictated otherwise.

As for Saying Yes To D-Star. I use D-Star occasionally. It's just another mode, but definitely not the mode to take over all other modes. D-Star has a few advantages (mainly when coupled with an internet connection) but D-Star also has its operational challenges. Some consider these challenges disadvantages. I think both analog and digital modes have their place.

Given the choice I much prefer listening analog NBFM audio, just as I prefer listening to AM audio over SSB audio. There's no pie in the sky. Generally if you narrow the transmission bandwidth and you narrow audio quality.

K9MHZ 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
QV....where on earth did you come up with any of that? "Too cheap, too stupid", etc. I have NEVER heard anyone on D-STAR or FM ever even remotely say or imply such things. Sheesh.

As for the OP's's way too much rah, rah of something that he's (and I am) fond of. Things are priced according to what the market will bear, and Icom is the master of that idea by squeaking every last dollar out of the buying amateur. So, the: "c'mon boys, let's get with it" will ring hollow for people who aren't as impressed with the whole idea as we are.

But guys..."elitist, snobbery", etc? You've got to be kidding. It's just a radio. I'm a "snob" because my handheld costs $600 and yours was a mere $300? Man, I don't know what's worse, a guy (whom I've NEVER, EVER run across) with that attitude, or others who perceive such things. Too friggin' weird in either case.

It's just a radio and it's just a hobby. And yes, D-STAR will go away some day, that's just the nature of advancing things....remember packet in the 1980s?

Values, people....real values, not "stuff values."

K8QV 2013-05-19
Say Yes To D-Star
See, this is the situation I alluded to earlier. Early adopters can't accept the fact that others can simply have different opinions. They must claim we are either too cheap to buy into their dream technology or we are too stupid to understand it. Can we not simply reject it as not suitable for us and not be labeled as old fart rag chewers, 2 meter net idiots and intractable Luddite morons? Communications is made possible by many technologies; some like anything new and digital, some like the Internet and others still prefer sending RF into the atmosphere and seeing where it comes down. To each his own.
ZL1AZS 2013-05-19
Say Yes To D-Star
Interesting article but for those who want a compressed easily scannable list of the advantages/disadvantages of D-Star it would have been useful to add that.

73 - John - ZL1AZS
KV4BL 2013-05-19
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Well said, KB9TMP! I used to have to listen to Motorola "Astro"/APCO 25 all day. It was like fingernails on chalkboard. The same is true of D-STAR on the D-STAR network.

When I got my first Icom 2800 a few years ago, the D-STAR was fun to play with on simplex. The richness of its sound, even on fringe contacts with the few in my area who had these radios was something to behold. A couple of local hams (to their extreme credit as hams, not their detriment) put up D-STAR repeaters. The audio quality suffered when going through the repeater. Then they connected their repeaters to the D-STAR network and the quality of audio through the "network" plummeted. I really hope this is a passing fad that does not gain any more traction than it already has. SERA has been allocating D-STAR machines between the 20 KHz spaced repeaters in the 145 MHz range and it has played havoc with some of the users of the analog machines. They claim a narrow bandwidth for D-STAR, but it sure can bleed over on an analog machine on a nearby frequency.

Ham radio has historically gotten through, "when all else fails", in part, because of its simplicity. These digital audio modes necessarily add considerably to not only the cost, but the complexity of radios made to handle them. I hope D-STAR, and all current versions of digital voice are a passing fad. They just do not give that much for the expense and loss of audio quality.
VA6LM 2013-05-19
Say Yes To D-Star
If your too cheap to buy a new D-Star radio then buy a used one. Price is NOT a reason not to get into D-Star. The guy that runs our local ham store says "D-Star is not ham radio." I beg to differ. Some say D-Star sounds like Donald Duck. Listen to SSB sometime. Some amateurs are analog only operators. Good for you, no need to knock the digital modes. I have heard more than one D-Star user say they have sold all their HF equipment and are having a great deal of pleasure talking to hams all over the world on D-Star. If there is no D-Star repeater in your area, set up a DVAP Hotspot at your home to get into it. Did you turn your HF rig on the other day only to find the bands dead? D-Star is never dead. You cannot operate a computer? Your not technically minded? D-Star may be too complex for you. You hang out on 14.313 or the NUT profanity repeaters? D-Star may not be for you. You like bashing things you know nothing about? D-Star may not be for you. Yes D-Star is somewhat elite as when we switch from FM to D-Star those listening are cut off from the conversation and may feel left out. Gee reminds me of the old days when SSB was introduced.
KB9BNY 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Yes Icom is the only major manufacturer that is producing gear, but there are several companies that have been built up to bring d-star options to the market. There are GMSK modems you can use to run Dstar on a FM rig, all you need is a DV Dongle and a rig that will run 9600 baud packet. There are several options to run Dstar hotspots that include the DVAP.

Believe it or not there are several options on the repeater side for software and people are converting Kenwood LMR repeaters to run as Dstar repeaters.

As far as price is concerned,,you can get a ID31 HT for $275. It is a monoband HT, but the majority of repeaters are on UHF.

Just google Dstar and you will find a lot of activity out there that isn't Icom.


AD7II 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
And some say using a repeater is a different hobby altogether. Digital voice such as provided by DSTAR can be used for direct rig to rig communication - is anybody doing it? Used that way, does it have any advantage over FM or SSB?
WB6DGN 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Don't own an Alinco, Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu or any other Asian import, analog or digital, and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future, however I do tinker around with digital voice.
D-star is not the only game in town nor is it, in my opinion, the best game in town.
And, its not a matter of snobbery. Far from it. Most users will be more than happy to help any licensed individual to acquire and use a suitable radio to join in just as many of us did when FM was "the new kid on the amateur radio block".
I could muster a great deal more support for this article if its premise included all forms of digital voice rather than just one proprietary brand.
AA8X 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Dstar is unaffordable for the average ham. Price is totally unreasonable for what you get.
Bob, AA8X
AK4YH 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
All very interesting, but asking myself why I would need a digital voice mode, I come up with nothing. FM works, and it is much cheaper. Sometimes it is better to leave simple things as they are... Nothing against D-Star mind you. It will appeal to people interested in new gear more than in radio, and that is fine. D-Star users won't bother me, so I am all for it, just not for myself.

W8MLD 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
DSTAR is ok, but I am all for competition. If Kenwood, Alinco, Yaesu and etc got together on a single digital format DSTAR would go the way of the Dinosaurs. But they will all only push their own digital codec, and most likely fail due to being late to the table. Now I do find it odd that Kenwood has a DSTAR radio, but it is available in Japan only. I have not researched why that is yet though.

My biggest beef with Icom is their pricing, and introducing digital voice on HF with the future 7100. I feel this could be an issue on the HF bands due to the 6 KHz signal width. I know an AM signal is that wide, but many AMers tend to gather together on one frequency and ragchew together. If 20 hams carry on 10 separate QSOs on let's say 40 meters that is 60 KHz of bandwidth taken up. This could become an issue; especially on the bandwidth starved WARC bands. I really think that they could make it narrower than a SSB signal if they tried. I feel that digital should be used to make a signal more efficient in its use of bandwidth; not less.
N0YXB 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Very good points indeed ZL2UFI.

And some say D-Star is a different hobby altogether. Not any more than EME is different from phone, phone from PSK31, CW from FM, etc. Different modes and niches are what keep this hobby fresh and interesting.
ZL2UFI 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Some interesting comments to this excellent article.

I have been using D-Star for two years now...

I have these comments to add:

1. Having experienced D-Star (any Digital mode really) mobile compared to FM analogue I would never go back to FM analogue - the quality of the audio is outstanding.

2. I cannot believe that I allowed this technology to pass me by without making an attempt to understand it and use it.

3. There are too many mis-informed people, putting out the wrong information, convincing other people that D-Star is bad. You cannot let rumours get in the way of a good story!

4. People need to get over the AMBE chip having closed source codec - 99.9% of people even if they had the source code for the codec would never know what to do with it anyway. These claims are simply stupid.

5. Yaesu, Alinco, Kenwood and others are just mudding the waters with their 'favours' of digital radio. Remember the VHS V Beta wars.

6. The D-Star community is huge, the offers are large and you just need to look for the products, DV Dongles, DVAP's, DVRPTR boards, check youtube VK5ZEA non-ICOM repeater, this list goes on...

7. There will always be knockers to any mode they don't understand....

Hope people go into D-Star with open eyes and make an informed decision, and not knock those who choose to use it.

KG4RUL 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
From day one, D-Star has always appeared to me to be a solution waiting for a problem.
WE8Q 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
The real shame is that Icom probably charges more for their non-D Star radios (including HF radios) to make up for the engineering investment that they have in D-Star. I believe that we are all paying for D-Star every time we buy any new Icom radio!
HAMMYGUY 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Come out with a good D-star add-on that works with an existing radio, then yes I'll consider purchasing one. As it is though the only digital voice add-on I know of is the AOR ARD9000. Which plugs directly into the mic connector.

I have yet to see the fascination with digital audio in ham radio. While I use it in my work, the money spent to put up the new infrastructure was a complete waste that duplicated existing coverage. The only one who benefited was Motorola.
N6AJR 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I tried D-star a while back with the Icom mobile rig, 808H or something like that. I never could program it myself and finally got it programed by a D-star gruru for me. It was still a pain in the derier to use. and most of the time folks sounded like they were inhaling helium when they spoke. I messed with it for a couple of months and finally sold it. Just not something I need.
K7LA 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
I'll pass on the "shack-on-a-belt" toy.
KE6SLS 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star

Some good points for and against s Dstar. For me, the codec is the show stopper. If it was free'd, then I'd be much more interested. However, I wouldn't push this in our area since we can't cobble our own stuff to link system since we don't have access to this codec under-the-hood so to speak.

I am excited about digital RF future, I am glad Dstar started getting into this and moving the tech forward. Now we will introduce other codecs, some free, and that will evolve as well.

I am looking forward to the day when we can have a dozen linked repeaters with audio quality as good on the first machine as it is at the farthest link. That will be a very good day.

Thanks Icom and thanks to all the hams that are building free codecs!

K8QV 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
<<<These guys are part of a different hobby...>>>

I believe that's true. Using the newest technology (well, new to ham radio, anyway) and it's not just D-Star, frequently allows a ham to elevate himself above the Luddites who choose not to follow every new trend whether it makes sense or not and whether it's even radio or not. It's becoming a competitor for the venerable code/no code divisive stance. Experiment with whatever audio techniques, digital modes, Internet communication, whatever floats your boat - but remember that your niche of interest doesn't make you special or better than the DXer, contester, QRPer, satellite buff, etc.
KO3D 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Whatever its pros or cons, I'm troubled by the fact that D-Star is being used as defacto encryption by cliques of elitist hams wanting to keep away from those they perceive to be lesser operators than themselves. The author of "Just Say No to D-Star" writes "I have heard more than a few DSTAR hams say they wanted to keep the mode safe from certain factions of hams." I have heard the same thing. "Switch to D-Star" is an often heard refrain when one of the Elite ends up calling on FM. These guys are part of a different hobby and quite frankly I'm glad because I don't have to hear them anymore. Unfortunately, it is dividing the amateur community into non-communicating groups and that is not healthful.
K0JEG 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
(Originally posted in the Digital forum under same topic)

OK, first off, I agree with your points. When I have enough saved up for an IC-9100 (hopefully later this year) it will have the Dstar module installed (although because there's 0 Dstar activity around here I'll be on 10 and 6 meters mostly). I'm absolutely serious, I want a Dstar radio and have for some time now.

However, my main argument against Dstar is that it is primarily (and presented as) a digital voice mode. Who cares about voice these days? I have a box in my pocket that can download 10Mbps and upload 2Mbps. It can stream (bidirectionally) HD video. Meanwhile, the Dstar folks want me to spend a few hundred on a radio who's latest innovation is a GPS and a repeater database? That can stream telephone quality audio at a paltry 128Kbps? Where's the camera? When will we see an Android OS built in? If you look at today's HTs, they look a lot like cell phones did in the 1990s, with blocky text LCDs, rubber buttons and very thick. I don't really care about radio thickness, but an all-in-one communications device that connects at a reasonable speed to repeaters or nodes or whatever we want to call them could really push clubs to build out modern digital networks. One just needs to look at the success of APRS and the nearly nation-wide coverage it offers to show what happens with a generic network (yes, most people just beacon their position, but there's a lot of IM style messaging and DX spotting messages too), and that's just 2 lines of text.

When packet first came on the scene, most computers connected to dial-up modems were running at 300 baud. 1200bps (while in reality due to all the handshaking and hopping was very slow), seemed like a major step up and was only possible because we had the bandwidth to do it (recall that phone systems were only 4KHz wide while our FM band was set up for (as you point out) 25KHz channels. And if you could do some surgery on your radio you could even get to 9600bps! (of course there was no one else to talk to). Dstar seems to be a major step backward. I had a cell phone that could do 128Kbps in the early 90s. We're supposed to be pushing the state of the art in radio, not sitting back and watching the rest of the world pass us by. I'd say the weak signal HF modes are doing more to push the state of the art than Dstar. And don't tell me the tech is difficult and expensive. I work in an industry that has seen a revolution in wide band RF chips that can send out channels as wide as 100MHz just as easily as a few kilohertz. If cost is a factor, just use last year's chip. If the tech is difficult to comprehend, just download the application sheet.

Digital networks shouldn't be pigeonholed into "voice" "video" "data" etc. It's all just bits and bandwidth.
K0JEG 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
K0VH wrote: "Icom would do DStar a great service if they would knock down the prices of all their new DStar 144/440 handhelds and mobile rigs at least 20%."

It's my understanding that they basically sold repeaters to clubs below cost to get the infrastructure started. Not a bad strategy when you think about it, but because of the Baofeng invasion a couple hundred bucks for an HT isn't all that good a deal anymore.
K8QV 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Just because we CAN do a thing doesn't mean we SHOULD. I don't see how adding another layer of complexity and expense to amateur radio is useful. Of course there are always early adopters who want to be "cutting edge" and believe that all technological innovation is actually an advancement. Honestly, I miss analog TV because the digital signal breaks up and drops out rather than just getting a little snowy. I miss the true sound reproduction of analog LPs when compared to sliced and diced digital music. Of course, digital products for the masses are much easier to create and distribute to a large audience, but ham operators aren't by any stretch the masses. Advantage: analog.

BTW, I do enjoy computers and use new technology whenever it offers an advantage. I made my living on computers for a dozen years. I just don't see the advantage of whiz-bang technology outweighing the disadvantage when it comes to ham radio.
K0VH 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Our local club put up a 440 DStar repeater a couple years back and I was curious how it all worked, mainly because I like to try a new ham radio "thing" every year after over 45 years of hamming. I did some research and almost bought a new ID31 at Dayton last year, then waited for the ID51 only to find it priced way out of my budget. I bought a used ID31 a few months back and have been on the air with it quite a bit this spring. It's a fun mode, not all that "new", and I'd encourage anyone in the range of a DStar repeater to try out this mode. I'm not hung up on the audio or the internet connections to other systems/reflectors, but yeah, my preference is to have some RF in the picture vs the DV dongle approach which may work fine for travelers or those that want to try it out that way.

Icom would do DStar a great service if they would knock down the prices of all their new DStar 144/440 handhelds and mobile rigs at least 20%. I think the mode would take off even more if they acted like they had competition ...
K1DA 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
Someone with a wattmeter, a signal generator and a DVM might just be able to fix a dead analog radio. Of course there are lots of newbies with 5 grand radios who "can't afford" a DVM.
K1DA 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
NY7Q 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
K7CB 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
"The only part of D-Star that is proprietary is the digital codec or the Ambi digital encoder chip."

It's actually AMBE.

"With the success of ICOM these other manufactures are now looking to develop their own formats to get into the digital radio business. This is unfortunate and will only confuse hams since the D-Star format is already a very popular digital standard"

I have to agree with you on this. I think Yaesu is making a mistake with their new digital format. For one thing, they have radios but no infrastructure (i.e. repeaters) available so all digital transmissions are restricted to simplex operation - limiting the effective range. Guess we'll see how it works out for them.
KB9TMP 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
Where I work we use digital Kenwood radios, and I listen to digital audio all day long. When I am off work and want to "play" radio I want to hear analog! Just like Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, I'm an ANALOG MAN!
AD9DX 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
D-Star, like Echolink really isn't ham radio anymore. Heck, it's just like picking up a cellphone.
KD7YVV 2013-05-18
RE: Say Yes To D-Star
I'm in an area without a D-Star repeater having moved
from an area that has one. Although the audio can and
will at times sound like R2D2 on crack, it all depends
on propagation etc. There are some advantages, such as
the ability to send small pictures from PC to PC via this mode.
However, I do have to agree, the radios are expensive.
I had one stolen, but I keep hoping it will
turn up someday. I did get another one, but as I said,
I'm in an area without a D-Star machine so for me, the
mode is useless until I can move back to an area that
has one.
K1CJS 2013-05-18
Say Yes To D-Star
I do have to agree with one thing here--and it's not to the advantage of D-Star. When you have to pay over three times what another quality radio rig would cost just to take advantage of D-Star's 'advantages,' it isn't worth either the cost or the effort.

I do rail on this site about how those Chinese radios are because of my experience with them, and I'll do it with Icom's D-Star too. Those radios simply aren't worth the extra money that is being asked for them, and I don't say that because I don't like Icom. My shack is mostly Icom now.

Let the other manufacturers get into the game--and force prices down--and I'll embrace that D-Star standard too. It's just right now the price is too high to do so. So let me change just one of those suppositions--and make it true. ICOM'S D-Star is too expensive as it stands right now.