I'm a little late to the party on D-Star, and I really can't find any basic, yet thorough information. I was looking for a way to communicate directly with my Dad and my Brother when we are in our shacks in SC, FL and NJ regardless of propagation conditions. I understand that D-Star sends GPS info, but that would not be important to us. After reading a lot of material and watching countless videos, I do not really see how D-Star would be any more useful than Echolink aside from the fact that we wouldn't be tied to a computer if we had D-Star HTs. That sounds like a cool novelty. I'm not in range of a D-Star repeater, but I know I can buy or build a D-Star hotspot and that will get me up and running. The cost for me would be $250-$350 for a hotspot and ~$500 for a D-Star HT, a minimum of $750 to get going on D-Star. Or, I could get a D-Star dongle for a few hundred, but that still ties me to a computer. Yet Echolink is free, and if we found the right repeater to connect to, problem solved. My conclusion has been that for the initial intention of linking shacks with my Dad and Brother, D-Star is not a financially viable option. If there is a cheaper way I have missed, please clue me in. Also, I'm not ruling it out as something to pursue. Can anyone point me in the direction of basic information on WHAT YOU CAN DO with D-Star as opposed to what D-STAR is. Thanks!