Kenwood APRS vs Icom D-star? Which to choose?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KC0BUS, Aug 18, 2009.

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  1. KC0BUS

    KC0BUS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Which VHF/UHF mobile transceiver should I choose: Kenwood TM-D710A or the Icom IC-2820H? Both are practically the same exact price. Other than D-star, what can the Kenwood TM-D710A do that the Icom IC-2820H transceiver can't be made to do and vice versa?

  2. AJ4FJ

    AJ4FJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have never used the Icom, but I own a D710 and have been very happy with it. In addition to APRS, there's Echolink, of course the built in TNC, dual VFOs, wide band rx, cross-band repeat, and SkyCommand II (really cool if you have other Kenwood gear).

    I've used a 706MkII and some Yaesu stuff and the Kenwood stuff has definitely been the easiest to operate and configure. But that's just me.

    I'm sure both rigs are fine radios.

  3. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Apples and Oranges. You have 2 different things here APRS and D-Star. You are going to have your APRS fans (of which I am one) saying one thing and your D-Star fans (of which I am not) saying another.
    Personally I own 2 of the Kenwood TM-D700 and love them.
  4. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have used the I-2820 for over a year and have been very happy with it and all of it's features. I do have the D-star with GPS also a very handy tool I like being to connect very easily with other hams in other cities so painlessly


    73 de N0AZZ Fred
  5. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It depends.

    If you have DSTAR in your area and don't travel much, the ICOM might be the best answer for you.

    However, DSTAR isn't that common, and APRS is. Indeed, there are very few places you can go in the U.S. and much of the civilized world and not be in range of the APRS network.

    I have both the TM-D710 and the older TM-D700 and they are both excellent radios that just happen to do first-class APRS, too.

    I had the ICOM 2720H and I am a little gunshy about ICOM VHF/UHF mobiles right now, because that radio had problems - the addition of a $100 outboard filter to cure the intermod problem made it a pretty nice rig, but without the filter it was useless here. There was another workaround that would put the rig in 'half-crippled' mode to get around the intermods, but I didn't consider it a viable option. The D710 will suffer a little intermod if I'm sitting right under one of the KW paging transmitters here in town, but it's very easy to live with.

    See the September issue of QST for an article from WB4APR about 'Universal Text Messaging for Hams". He details all the many ways of sending text messages to and from ham radio and APRS. Also, his website has lots of information on other APRS-based applications.

    As yet, only two people here in town own DSTAR radios. If I find the kind of money it takes laying around, I might make it three. But as my main VHF/UHF mobile rig, I like to travel, and APRS is everywhere.
  6. KB1NXE

    KB1NXE Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I own both APRS and D-Star. As said, these are different animals. APRS is for position reporting and does text messaging as a side. It is an analog medium (inasmuch as the data is modulated into analog sounds for transmission and demodulated from the analog to digital). It is a wide bandwidth method of transmitting up to 9600 baud with 1200 typical. It is relatively slow in it's transmission speed.

    D-Star is a digital encoding method for voice (using a VOCODER). Since it is a digital medium, it lends itself to digital message transmission at a higher rate of up to 128Kbps. Some have experienced 196Kbps. It is possible to 'surf the web' using a D-Star system. It is a narrow bandwidth system

    Both can connect via GPS receivers and relay their position. The APRS system typically need outboard equipment (laptops, Packet TNCs, GPS) in order to do both text and position reporting. D-Star may need external GPS inputs with some rigs offering all in one solutions. The closest I know of in an APRS system is the aforementioned 710 has a built in TNC, but requires an outboard laptop (I may be wrong here, someone correct me if I am) to do messaging. I own a 708 that does not have the built-in TNC (only difference as I understand it from the 710). The D-Star can send text using a method similar to cell phone texting. With an outboard laptop on a D-Start rig, you have many options for chat, messaging, E-Mail, file sharing, etc.

    As I said, I own both. I think the D-Star solution is a much easier and less cumbersome approach. It is not widely available as a digital repeater system, but becoming more and more so. Use of a D-Star rig does not preclude you from using analog systems (repeaters) with the exception of the Icom ID-1 which is a 1.2GHz digital only rig. By digital only, I mean it is incapable of working analog repeaters.

    If you want a recommendation - go with the D-Star system. It will grow (is growing) and it is still usable as an APRS system in much the same way many of the available rigs are today. With a D-Star rig, you can have them both, but not the other way around.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  7. KA9MOT

    KA9MOT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Consider yourself corrected.
    My only problem with D-Star is it is proprietary. And that is why I think D-Star is a passing fad. There are folks who are trying to get computer based D-Star working and Icom won't play. Seriously big bucks are involved as well.
    I gave up on Icom a couple of years ago when they tried to sell me a relay for $78. I bought it from RF parts for $9.99 plus shipping.

    Do you have D-Star in your area?
  8. KB1KIX

    KB1KIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    DSTAR is growing quite a bit here. Even when you check online, there are DSTAR repeaters going online almost just about weekly (here in the US). They do have a decent footprint and there is a lot going for it - if you like that sort of thing.

    We have 4 DSTAR repeaters in my area now with a few more going up (that is 4 sites, not just 4 repeaters if you count the different bands).

    As for the price of the two radios being the same..... Me don't think so! The 2820 is the same price WITHOUT the DSTAR module!

    I think the biggest mistake Icom made with the DSTAR rigs is not allowing standard APRS to be used. The DSTAR version works.... but it's not really compatible unless you have a net connection with other non-DSTAR APRS setups.

    I actually like both of those rigs quite a bit. A friend has the 2820 and been using it for almost 2 years and really likes it.

  9. KB1NXE

    KB1NXE Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think the point I was trying to make, and may have clouded in my comments is you CAN do APRS via standard analog methods using the current offered D-Star rigs.

    You'd use it like a standard Analog setup with external TNC, PC, software and cables. You CAN also do Digital APRS (some call it DAPRS) using a software package over Digital (D-Star) repeaters and the Internet.
  10. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dstar, while there may be instances of OPEN repeaters, is primarily used by special interest groups. Here in SoCal, there is a D-Star group that has an excellent repeater system. But they charge something like $100 a year to be a member!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Meanwhile, APRS is 100% free.
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