Is D-Star sole-sourced by ICOM?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by AJ4QE, May 18, 2009.

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  1. AJ4QE

    AJ4QE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've read that D-Star is an open standard, but I've only seen D-Star equipment ads by ICOM. Are other manufacturers currently making D-Star equipment? If not, do we know if patent licensing problems could be part of the reason?
  2. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    No and Yes.

    Icom is the only manufacturer currently producing D-Star radios for the US market.

    The Codec is owned by the Japanese amateur association, and the standard is published (in Japanese) as i understand it.

    I believe that an ic chip is available with the codec as well, if you feel like designing your own circuits.

    No need to get in an uproar. Everything is on the up and up.

    73, Bill
  3. WU8Y

    WU8Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    Unfortunately, ICOM is the only company manufacturing D-STAR radios for sale in North America. I'd rather there be more competition. The DV Dongle is an alternative, in some situations, but it's not as flexible as a RF link.

    The D-STAR specification is published here.
  4. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Domo arigato!

  5. KA7O

    KA7O Ham Member QRZ Page

    Been awhile since I looked at all this - but near as I remember....

    The D-star spec is published. It specifies the AMBE 2020 codec.

    The codec is not freely available. It must be licensed from DVSI as a 'black box' (either chips or pre-compiled binaries). No one but DVSI knows exactly how it works. Since the codec isn't freely published it's a tad tricky to conjure up a compatible 3rd party codec that would work with D-star. It also may be of questionable legality under the DMCA, at least in the US.

    That's the crux of the 'open' vs 'proprietary' debate around D-star. If a freely available and published codc could be used, then D-star would be truely free and open.
  6. AI6DX

    AI6DX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think that D-STAR will fall to the demise just like 1.2G did about 15 years ago. Back then, the 1.2G advertising was "all-the-rage." Now look at it. One can't find affordable and NEW MOBILE 1.2G radios on the market. I don't care about the hand helds. The ICOM ID-1 (mobile) is the only amateur radio that makes a NEW mobile which offers both D-STAR and analog FM........ All for around $1,100 msrp.

    Not worth it in the long run........
    Last edited: May 18, 2009
  7. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    "Licensing" is the answer you are looking for...
  8. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    The original specification IS in the public domain, developed by JARL. Apparently only one company has seen fit (or gone through the trouble) to develop a hardware CODEC to fit the standard. Use of THEIR codec may well require licensing, which is what Icom has done.
    Other manufacturers could develop their own codec (at considerable R&D expense) or license the current source for a fee (Kenwood has reportedly done the latter with some equipment sold in the Japanese/Asian Market.)
    If another company wished to develop their own codec, and (most easily and efficiently) put it on a chip, no one can (legally) stop them. But no other company or manufacturer has seen fit (or seen the profit) in "reinventing the wheel."
    Apparently, Yaesu and Kenwood are waiting to see if Icom can create enough interest amoungst the Amateur community to make D-Star a viable concept in the Amateur market world-wide, or if it will merely become a "niche" specialty aspect of Amateur radio, and not justify the expense of developing their own implementation of D-Star, or merely license the current technology and pay the royality fees for such. With the current price differential between traditional analogue equipment and the D-Star equipment, it's doubtful it will become THE mainstream mode used on VHF and higher in the foreseeable future.
    Last edited: May 18, 2009
  9. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Tate -

    Absolutely. Your last sentence is the best summary and
    D-STAR's future sucess or failure in the USA -- will be decided by this DVSI CODEC issue.

  10. N5RFX

    N5RFX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Other manufacturers could produce DStar radios, but have not. This was a marketing decision on their part. The DStar protocol is open, but there have been some ICOM advancements that will need to be licesned.

    As far as the DVSI AMBE 2020 codec is concerned, it is the best and only codec out there that can meet the requirments for digital voice. Name a open source codec that can be used with a GMSK modem and occupy 6.25 kHz. You won't find one. APCO 25 uses the DVSI IMBE chip that occupied 12.5 kHz and will be moving to AMBE.

    There are boards that are available now that will allow you to convert a non-dstar radio to dstar with a bit of surgury. An avancment to the DV Dongle was shown at Dayton which is supposed to lead to a product that will allow non dstar radios to use dstar. It is yet to be seen what type of surgury will be needed on the radio.

    With the emphasis on Dstar at Dayton and the interest I saw at the DStar users group booth, the momentum is there for the other manufacturers to take notice.

    Mark N5RFX
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