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Opinions on APRS & D-Star equipment

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by KK4CAQ, Dec 3, 2012.

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  1. KK4CAQ

    KK4CAQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I operate mostly on 2m. I have numerous radios for that purpose including a cheap HT.

    My question revolves around whether it is worth getting a APRS radio or D-Star radio. Although I see clear advantages of both, I am not sure that I would really use the functionality or even need it.

    Can anyone shed some light on it?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  2. N8MSA

    N8MSA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just out of primate curiosity, did you do a search? Neither of these technologies are new, and there has already been a lot of discussion about both...
  3. KK4CAQ

    KK4CAQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    actually I did but did not come up with anything I thought was relevant
  4. N8MSA

    N8MSA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  5. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I assume you know that those are two different technogies/applications right? They don't overlap except that you can use APRS on D-star.

    APRS is interesting and useful for some operators - myself, I don't care to broadcast my physical location to the world, but it has other very useful application apart from that.

    D-Star is digital voice - you might check where you are, but there are several flavors and adoption varies by area - more densely populated areas are more likely to have d-star repeaters available to you.
  6. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    APRS just tells folks where you are, and in some cases the direction and distance other stations are from you. If you get a fancy radio and plug in one of the compatible GPS units, you can see it all on the map. From some casual surfing it appears D-Star has D-APRS, but I think it is exclusive to D-Star and doesn't report to the regular APRS website.

    D-Star is kinda cool if you want to talk to someone out of RF range -- assuming they also have a D-Star radio and both of you have access to a D-Star repeater or an access point. If you travel a bunch and want to keep in touch with other D-Star folks in another area, it is a good deal. The D-Star radios will also work with normal FM repeaters and simplex as well.
  7. KC2SIZ

    KC2SIZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not long ago I was shopping for a new HT. I'm not really an "HT guy". Still, I thought I'd enjoy having a new one so long as it offered me something different, something in addition to all of the kerchunking and fart noises on the local repeaters, which I can already hear just fine 24/7.

    One possibility was to get a D-Star radio, but D-Star just doesn't interest me very much. Then I noticed the (relatively pricey) Kenwood TH-D72A. It has a built-in TNC. So, you can use it for APRS or packet. Packet, however "outdated" it may be, interests me a lot, and to be able to do it with just an HT was a very appealing idea. So, I got the TH-D72A and I am definitely enjoying it. And I have used the APRS from time to time, due in part to the fact that the International Space Station has an APRS digipeater! More generally, the D72A is a good choice for satellite work (something I hope to do more of in future) since it has dual receive capability.

    In the end it all boils down to what interests you and what kind of operating you hope to do. Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
  8. KK4CAQ

    KK4CAQ Ham Member QRZ Page


    Yes I know they are different thanks... Just trying to see if if i really want to spend the $ to get either/or.

    Thanks for all the responses! :cool:
  9. N5RFX

    N5RFX Ham Member QRZ Page

    D-PRS does report to the APRS-IS through D-Star repeaters and hotspots.

    Mark N5RFX
  10. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    WRT to APRS, there are certainly some rigs better equipped from the factory for the addition of the APRS hardware. If you KNOW you will want APRS, you can save yourself some work by purchasing one of those models - I'm not that familiar with the specifics, but their ads usually mention that capability.

    The ability to use D-star for data transmission presents some interesting capabilities to be sure. In my QTH it's not even a blip on the radio radar however.
  11. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You have two DSTAR repeaters near you, so you would at least have somebody to talk to. Once you're set up, you should be able to link repeaters and link to conferences everywhere. However, activity on DSTAR is not really high. I find it interesting and fun, but if I were you, I wouldn't invest more than I needed to get the capability. There is a UHF repeater near you, so the entry level UHF ID-31 would seem like a good choice to me. Universal has them for $299. There is a dualband version of the ID-31 either in the works or new. If you travel much that might be a good idea.

    On DSTAR, people use something called DPRS that works a little like APRS and there is a DPRS gateway to APRS that can be installed in the local repeater or hotspot. But, I think analog APRS is a lot more useful.

    I have both DSTAR and APRS and I use APRS a lot more. There are APRS nodes just about everywhere you go, particularly in the west. Once you're set up, anybody can track you via the web site. Licensed hams can also send you APRS messages from their computer or over the air, wherever you are. You can send email outbound via APRS (very short messages though). DSTAR allows you to stay in touch with someone no matter what DSTAR repeater they are on - the system keeps track of you. This is quite useful if you travel to places that have DSTAR repeaters and have friends on DSTAR that want to keep in touch. DSTAR data is great for 'security by obscurity' if you are using it on simplex, because there are no scanners out there that can be used to intercept it.
  12. KV4PI

    KV4PI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I really enjoy D-Star a lot! That being said, if you don't already own an HF rig, I would spend the money there first. There has been nothing more exhilarating for me as a new Ham than my first DX contact to Wales on ten meters when I was a tech. When the gentleman came back with my call sign, I jumped out of my seat! Thousands of QSO's later, my heart rate still jumps up when I make a good contact.
  13. KK4CAQ

    KK4CAQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nice! I was thinking the same thing but I always shy away due to the restrictions in my neighborhood. I know there are ways to get around this but I really need to be creative to not draw attention from the Neighborhood Nazis. Thanks for making me think in another direction. I already have a dual band HT but was looking to upgrade. After everyone's help here and reading article upon article, APRS or D-Star does not seem practical to me right now.

    Thanks to this truly awesome community!
  14. KV4PI

    KV4PI Ham Member QRZ Page

    You will not regret getting into HF. You can get a good used rig for $400 or less many times.

    There are a lot of stealth antenna possibilities. I don't need a stealth arrangement but still enjoy reading about them anyway. Additionally, this is a great time of year to hang wire antennas if you mix in a few strings of Christmas lights too. Most people won't even notice when a few lines don't come down. I was in HRO in Virginia a while back, and they had some black antenna wire that was extremely thin. I think it would be fine running 100 watts or less. The cost was around $20 per 50 ft or so.

    The main eye sore I think neighbors notice is feedline coming down from the antenna. An end fed half wave or random wire is a good alternative to the dipole in my opinion.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!
  15. KB2FCV

    KB2FCV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used to run stealth antennas back in my apartment living days. In my older apartment I had a long wire antenna. At the time I used magnet wire and fishing line. It was invisible. It stayed up a while, but usually wind took it out. You can probably get away with something a little stronger and darn near invisible to the eye. Outside not an option? At my last apartment I had access to the attic from the 2nd floor. I strung up a loop, a 6m dipole and even had a 2m yagi with rotator up there! When I left I took it all out and you'd never know it was ever there. You probably have more stealth options than you think, just need to think outside the box.

    As for D-Star, I purchased one when my 2m shack rig went belly up. I bought an ID-800h to see what the fuss was about. I've had some nice QSO's with it with hams all over the world. Pretty neat technology. I've since added a 2200h mobile with the d-star board in it for the car. I don't use VHF/UHF much to begin with. WHen I am I am more apt to be making satellite QSO's or EME QSO's nowadays. Most of my radio operations is absolutely on HF. If you don't have an HF rig yet, it's a great place to start.
  16. N0WYO

    N0WYO Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are a lot of ways to make a stealth antenna. There are also some really good ideas ready to go on the internet too. For instance, a flagpole with a vertical antenna hidden inside.

    I know someone in Kansas who built a gazebo in his back yard, and incorporated a hexbeam in the design. You're only limited by your imagination.
  17. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been using D-Star since 2007 starting with a IC-2820 in the shack I now have 3 D-Star radios 2 IC-2200H with chip. I talk to friends around the world almost daily in fact it is the "Only" 2m repeater I use no others. On 2m I use SSB/Digital modes for repeaters I use a 6m one but 90+% of the time is spent working DX on HF/6m.

    I must admit I do live in the country and have very good antennas which mean a lot on HF but you can work the world on HF with just 25w and a poor antennas using JT65HF for one. Everyone can get an antenna up for HF and work contacts.
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