Discussion in 'Digital Radio, DMR, Fusion, Wires, DSTAR' started by AC2MM, Mar 27, 2021.

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  1. AC2MM

    AC2MM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I could use the Internet, yes, but I thought an explanation for this could be better coming from hams.
    What is DStar and what is it used for?
    Other than a DStar radio, do you need a special antenna? This sounds like a dumb question myself, since a Kenwood with DStar capabilities uses it's own antenna I think, but I use HRD for my regular coms, and it has a DStar selection, which opens a dialogue box. This is confusing since I use standard vertical antennas.

    I don't have a portable, and was thinking of buying a Kenwood to take on trips and such, and the DStar model is significantly more expensive.

  2. WE4B

    WE4B Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll try to explain in a simplistic manner. D-Star is basically a version of digital voice (or data). A D-Star radio turns your voice into a digital signal. This digital signal can be sent over the HF/VHF/UHF airways via simplex to another D-Star user or over the airways to a repeater. In the case of using a repeater, the repeater might just repeat your D-Star signal over your local QTH or it may have the ability to send your signal to the internet where you can link the repeater to either other repeaters in other places or to internet reflectors. These reflectors are like digital voice chat rooms. These chatroom can be local, regional, worldwide and many cater to specific interests. If you don't have a local, traditional repeater, you can buy/build a hotspot which is like your own personal mini-repeater that you use in your home. The hotspot will allow you to link your radio to your internet connection so that you can link to other repeaters or reflectors.

    D-Star is just like having another tool in your ham radio toolbox. It can allow you to contact people all over the world with nothing more than a handheld HT or even no radio just using a computer. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to ham radio and enjoy using RF to make contacts but being able to use D-Star or DMR (another digital voice mode) allows me some options. When I use these modes, I'm still doing so from an RF radio, even if it is just to a local repeater or hotspot. Some people love it. Some people hate it and some people could care less. DMR radios are less expensive and can be linked to D-Star or System Fusion (Yaesu's digital voice mode).

    Maybe you could find someone in your area or a club member that might let you try out these digital modes firsthand so you can see if it's something you might like to add to your station. Best of luck, have fun and I hope what I have tried to explain helpts a little bit.
    AF7XI, W7DCM, KC4IUL and 5 others like this.
  3. N1YR

    N1YR Ham Member QRZ Page

    DStar is a voice format that is sent as digitally coded audio over the air. Each radio needs a digital voice encoder/decoder ("vocoder") to send or receive the messages. The internet can connect different DStar access points together. These access points might be repeaters or personal hot spots. I have no experience with DStar operation, so I can't explain further, but I can talk about antennas.

    You do not need a special 'digital' antenna.

    Antennas are tuned to the frequency band and more precisely to the approximate wavelength of operation. It usually* doesn't matter what kind of modulation is applied on that frequency, whether it is analog or digital. A two meter antenna doesn't care if you are sending voice, data, or CW on that band.

    *The one exception is when very wide bandwidth signals fed into a very high Q antenna system with limited bandwidth. An example might be trying to run high fidelity AM that might be 10 kHz wide using an electrically short mobile whip that is electrically matched for a couple of kHz on the low HF frequency bands. It is possible the transmitted voice could be distorted a bit as the dual sidebands exceed the antenna tuning.

    But you will not run into this problem on VHF/UHF.

    The question of whether you should spend the extra money for DStar capability may be answered by whether there are repeaters supporting DStar in the places you intend to travel to. Check out repeater listings for those ares. Of course, if you get hooked on the mode, you can use a handheld at home with a personal hot spot.
    K3UJ likes this.
  4. AC2MM

    AC2MM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks guys for taking the time to reply.
    The latest version of QST made a point of a national calling frequency for people out in the wild country using their handhelds, 146.50 I think, but I am looking at any advantages I might enjoy when the wife and I take one of our long-winded motorcycle journeys. For safety, for help if I need it, and also for using around here for emergency purposes since we have so many violent storms and twisters. It has to have some practical purposes or why waste the money.
    I had an old BoFang years ago , but literally threw it away when I found out it didn't meet FCC regs. But even when it was working, and a friend who uses handhelds only explained how to use it, it seemed that there was a lot of work figuring out if there were any repeaters in the area (If you knew where you were) and I kinda lost interest. You can't program in frequencies beforehand if you're not sure where you're going.

    It would be nice to call my brother in Dallas when we're on the road to let him know we're OK and such, but I don't know how to accomplish that.
    Just a cellphone would be easiest I guess.

    But it would be nice just calling out while I'n riding and see who's in the area for a bit of a chat perhaps, since on long rides I wear a full helmet and communication gear. Keep from getting bored, especially at night.

    I'll call the local ARES group and ask if they have any help in this area.
    Can you think if a handheld can do these other things I mentioned?
  5. AC2MM

    AC2MM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    One thing I wanted to add.
    I checked several lists of "best" survival and emergency handhelds and I was surprised to find Kenwood was only on one of these lists. Not only that, but Beofang was rated top in all three lists, having water resistance, GPS, NOAA capability, higher power in some cases to 10 watts. Most of the three lists had radios I've never heard of besides the Yaesu and KW.
    You guys have the experience here, so what radio(s) would you be looking at and why? (DStar is not required)

    Thanks again,
  6. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    While all three DV modes (DStar, DMR and Fusion) can be used for point-to-point simplex, there is nothing to gain over FM and they all become unusable sooner than FM as the signal to noise ratio falls. Where they do win over FM is when we try to extend the range by linking multiple repeaters together. This started out with Echolink many years ago - I remember the excitement of wandering round North London with a little FM HT in my hand, talking to a station in Australia for the first time. But Echolink was a terrible bodge and really didn't work very well.

    DStar was the first DV mode to be readily available to the ham community and it worked very well, but the call setup was a real pain - you had to understand some fairly arcane routing configuration and drive it by hand from the keypad of the radio. ICOM did put in the effort to fix this later and the current generation of radios make it far easier, but I think the damage was already done by then. Fusion and DMR came out and, although the routing capabilities are not as sophisticated as DStar deep down, they are adequate for almost all of us and they seem to be taking over the market. Round here, at least, DStar repeaters are being shut down and converted to either Fusion or DMR repeaters at a significant rate...

    Martin (G8FXC)
  7. W0JKT

    W0JKT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The anytone878 gets great reviews. I did lots of research with lots of negatives in various sites for Beofang including bad audio, but it's cheap.

    I got the Anytone878 Plus about a month ago but am still struggling learning all the DMR etc stuff, right codeplugs etc. Lots of good videos but still a bit overwhelming to learn it all. Had no idea could use 2m/7cm for worldwide contacts other than just local simplex. May also get a hotspot.

    I have never been on 2m in 57 years of a ham (although just back from 40 yrs absent). So all this stuff is very new. At least if I can get 2m working I will have a rig vs my using remotes on HF SSB. Also never met a Phoenix ham - moved here 25yrs ago - so maybe can via 2m and looking for active clubs - at least after COVID is not a concern.
  8. AC2MM

    AC2MM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for a great summary of the DStar/DMR quandary Martin.
    The AnyTone 878 is the one all the radio shops recommend. But if it's also able to be used by non-ham users, and you don't even need a license for most of the frequencies, it reminds me of the old CB Radio where everyone can listen and talk over anyone else's conversations.
    I also read about the DMR Repeater book, which is supposedly incorrect on a great many frequencies, including this PARROT, whatever that is.
    I asked HRO why you don't see the regular handheld factories, Yaesu, Icom, etc, in on any list when asking about "Best DMR radios". I was informed that the DMR protocol is open source, and the big companies are not going to invest in an open source technology for now since they spent millions on their own protocols.
    I don't see much difference between DMR and the simple digital hunting radios sold at Dicks. More like CB than anything else, just a little bit more technology along with the standard two meter, 70 cm frequencies on any dual band handheld that requires a licence. I guess I'm not impressed.
  9. VK5OHR

    VK5OHR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not really impressed with Dudstar, it cuts you off and mutes you mid-over after about four overs and when you finally get to return only to realise that your QSO has been taken over by someone else!
  10. AC2MM

    AC2MM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm not impressed with DMR or DStar.
    I'm just going to find a good portable with APRS, GPS, and a few goodies and use 146.52 as my emergency calling channel.
    I'm also going to buy a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), they're only about $300 and carry it with me on our MC trips.
    ...and I'm definitely not buying Chinese.
    K8XG likes this.

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