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Friday, February 5, 2010

Surfin': Viewing the New Star of Ham Radio

This week, Surfin' explores D-STAR via the telescope known as “the Internet.”


  1. I suspect -- strike that -- I'm almost certain that a big part of D-STAR's success was the campaign that Icom waged to get early adoption, including giving away repeaters. From a marketting perspective, kudos to Icom.

    I'm sure the number of amateurs with D-STAR equipment will grow well beyond 11,000 if there were other options than Icom. Not that there's anything wrong with Icom; it's just that Icom's the only D-STAR player in town right now.

    I get it that a key piece of the compression algorithm is proprietary (I don't like it, but I'm willing to work with it). I find it interesting that other radio manufacturers haven't licensed the algorithm. Yes, I know there's the DV Dongle, but that doesn't do me any good when I'm away from my house, or if I want to try the data piece.

    What I'd really like to see (in lieu of the compression algorithm being made freely available for amateur use) is a chip with that algorithm that I could use in a circuit to inject D-STAR phone & data into my V/UHF SSB transceiver just like any other digital mode. Once that's available, then D-STAR won't be locked into a single radio vendor, or any radio vendor for that matter. We'll be able to experiment with it and find new and clever ways to use it. Isn't that (one of) the things that's the hallmark of amateur radio?

  2. There is no way to accurately measure the number of IRLP users but I'm guessing it is more than 11,000. There are some 1600+ nodes, most of them on repeaters that cover wide areas and anyone with standard, low-cost equipment can access those repeaters - and therefore IRLP, without special gear.

    I've yet to be impressed with D-STAR despite very much hype from the ARRL, the free equipment giveaways by ICOM, and the government tax money spent on numerous "emergency" D-STAR systems.

    The only thing this proves for certain is that if the equipment is given away for free, people will take it...

    73, Jeff KE9V

  3. Christopher, you can get the chip with the embedded codec for around $20. Anyone can buy them.

    I just got into D-Star about two weeks ago. Bought one radio, became hooked and bought a second one a week later. We have two repeaters in the area now. The audio quality is great, linking is incredible and my first QSO was with a guy in Las Vegas with me in Cincinnati. D-Star is wonderful and I hope other manufacturers jump on the bandwagon soon.

    Duffy, WB8NUT - Cincinnati