Saturday, June 13, 2009

D-Star Simplex Station

Ok first off I promise not to turn into a D-Star fanatic. Nothing has urked me more lately than the D-Star hype fanatics. The most recent example is this D-Star newsletter.

D-Star isn't for everyone, nor is it the saving grace of amateur radio. Bombarding folks with growth (peer pressure) statistics from isn't cool kids.

To me; D-Star overall is Disappointment-Star. My feeling are that ham radio needs narrow band like the ARRL needs aging members. But that's no fault of D-Star's design, more so of our bandplans. D-Star was designed to work into existing ham band plans.

So why did I pick up a D-Star radio you may be wondering? Simple, it's emerging technology and experimenting with that sort of thing is right up my alley. It was hard to justify because the local big radio club around here will spend grant money on foolish redundant equipment that only gets used occasionally. But the concept of trying to define and set the pace for the areas ham radio future by deploying new infrastructure is apparently beyond them. (IMHO a CW and spark gap forever mentality.)

I've shared my thoughts before on the enormous amount of development potential there is with D-Star despite it's utterly useless low bit rate. Enhancing the no-frills controller, and a SIP to D-Star translation for IP telephony interconnection.

However that's all stuff a bit beyond what one or two guys with a HT can start messing with.

So what I have been throwing a few ideas around with and messing with some code that is doing things with the receive callsign heard data as a simplex station. Bruce, KG7WI has a nice perl routine for to get and put data from/to an IC-91AD that can be adapted for the IC-92AD as well.

The concept is, since each user transmission contains a callsign, we are able to create custom greetings based off decoded data, by using a text to speech engine such as Cepstral or Festival. "Welcome KB9MWR to the N9DKH simplex station." "You have one voice mail message from Kevin, left yesterday"... A relational database or QRZ lookup could even make it more personal with first name greetings. Last heard callsign stats could be kept and queried via touch tones and/or exported to a club webpage. D-Star low speed short messages could be posted to twitter for those hams who don't have a HT genetically attached to their hip at all times. And so much more...

To make this interactive, I was hoping the digitized DTMF would be available via CI-V. This is not the case, so they will have to be decoded externally-analog style.

Other ideas include reposting the received short text messages once can send from their radio to twitter. Or reporting recent heard - on the air status messages to twitter.

Icom could share the CI-V command codes, which could them sell D-Star, as more excitement there would be generated and people using the D-Star radios. But so far there hasn't been any openly published for this particular radio. A true bummer, as well as their choice to deny a fairly major radio issue. Those are bad business moves in my book.

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