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 aprs.fi 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.
EchoLink, IRLP and DSTAR - adding interest to repeaters worldwide 24X7
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.
Originally Posted by KK4CAQ
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!
You will not regret getting into HF. You can get a good used rig for $400 or less many times.
Originally Posted by KK4CAQ
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!
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.
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.
"America's quiet warriors are the legion of ham radio operators, 700,000 of them, who are always at ready for backup duty in emergencies – amateur, unpaid, uncelebrated, civilian radio operators, during and after floods and fires and tornadoes. After the 9/11 attacks, hams were indispensable in reuniting friends and families. Most recently it was they who expedited the search for debris after the Columbia Explosion , and right now, at this moment, they are involved in homeland security to a greater degree than you would want me to make public."
— Paul Harvey News and Comment, ABC Radio, March 19, 2003
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.
73 de Fred N0AZZ
The License is Only Your Starting Point in Radio!
MVDX/CC of SW MO., DX Hogs, OARS, NARC, NCDXF
ARRL member, ARRL and W5YI VE
DX the thrill of the chase
""D-STAR making use of the 2/ 440m repeaters for real world Digital Voice usage around town and around the world""
" Not one of us can do what all of us can do " ** Max Lucado