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How to Get On D-STAR Without a Local Repeater

Discussion in 'Ham Equipment' started by Moleculo, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Although the popularity of D-STAR is growing fairly rapidly, there still are not nearly as many digital repeaters as there are traditional analog repeaters. If you don't have a D-STAR repeater close enough to your area, there are a few interesting ways you can join in on the growing worldwide D-STAR network.

    One product that has been on the market for a while is the DV Dongle from INet Labs:

    [​IMG]


    This product is a simple USB device that you plug into your PC or Mac, install the software and use a computer headphones and mic to talk. The DV Dongle handles all of the encoding and decoding. It is priced at $200 and can be found at all major ham radio retailers.

    The other method is to use some type of D-STAR access point, which allows you to use a D-STAR radio in close proximity to the access point, which then routes your signal to the D-STAR network. Think of this method like using a repeater with one channel of the repeater using the internet instead of RF.

    One D-STAR access point product available is the DV Access Point, also from INet Labs:

    [​IMG]

    This device is a 10mw 2 meter simplex transceiver that plugs into your PC or Mac to communicate with a D-STAR gateway. The low power is enough to allow you to walk around your house with a D-STAR HT and access other repeaters over the internet. It's price is approximately $250.

    Perhaps the most flexible and interesting way to install a D-STAR access point is to build your own. To do this, you need three things: A node adapter board that you either buy or purchase as a kit, some free software running on a PC, and a regular VHF or UHF radio.

    [​IMG]

    The node adapters typically cost around $100. The nice thing about this approach is that you can re-purpose an existing VHF/UHF radio and turn the node on or off as necessary. You also have the capability of much farther D-STAR range because of the infinite antenna configurations and higher power capabilities.

    There are three common D-STAR access point node adapters available:

    Of the three, the Matrix Circuits board is the only one that is completely pre-built. Of course, you could always make a completely portable D-STAR hotspot to take D-STAR coverage with you using a notebook computer and WiFi access.

    K6JM has very thorough instructions on how to build and configure your own D-STAR hot spot at DStar GMSK Node Adapter Hotspot Setup. You can even build a simple repeater using one of these node adapters!


     
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  2. jmz

    jmz W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    I kind of feel D-Star is getting crammed down our throats whether we like it or not...I like the idea of digital communications but could do without the Registered TM/Royalties Fees that come with D-Star and would like to see an open source Digital Voice Option take the lead over a proprietary one...

    The technology (D-Star) requires the use of a proprietary AMBE Codec that is owned by Digital Voice Systems, Inc.

    I still like to see the equipment and the technology involved....thank you for the information!

    John - KE4HGR
     
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  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    All three of the node adapters I posted use firmware from Dutch*Star that is typically included with the purchase of the board. This firmware is what handles the codec. The software that is used for the gateway and also manages the board and analog radio is free. There are few to choose from, as well. These solutions are all much cheaper than paying for Icom gateway and repeater solutions.
     
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