Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Satoshi, 7M3TJZ/AD6GZ's D-Star Node and DV Adapter

Satoshi Yasuda, 7M3TJZ/AD6GZ, has two different constructions projects available. The one that is the main focus of this yahoo group - the node adapter - is basically a GMSK smart modem tailored to D-STAR.

The node adapter has two modes - simplex and repeater. In simplex mode, node adapter only serves to decode/encode the GMSK modulation used by D-STAR radios and turn it into a bit stream that can be fed into a computer. In repeater mode, the node adapter serves as a bit regenerative repeater. However, while in repeater mode, the node adapter does not have the capability to pass any data in/out of the computer. So, in repeater mode, the node adapter can not be linked to any D-STAR gateways/reflectors. This node adapter has no provisions to convert D-Star Digital Voice To Analog Voice. This hardware software combination operates in 100% digital mode.

He began by looking into the UT-118 works. It is entirely of his own design. Mr. Yasuda is/was a member of the D-Star standardization committee.

The main component is the CMX589A GMSK modem chip. The same chip used in many
of the Icom radios.

Probably the next most important chip is the 18F2550 PIC that runs his firmware.
This takes care of formatting/ recognizing the actual D-Star protocol, USB
communications etc.

More information can be found on Satoshi's web site.

Mark, KB9KHM uses his node adaptor in simplex mode with his D-STAR Hot Spot software that Mark wrote to provide a simplex RF point of presence to the D-STAR network. (He uses his D-Star HT with the adaptor hooked to an analog radio's packet port to pass D-Star digitally to a gateway server over the internet.)

In this video, Erik Finskas OH2LAK, of Finland shows his D-Star Hot Spot / node adaptor while holding a QSO:

And here is a slide-show overview of the GMSK Node Adapter:

In a later revision of Mark's hotspot software he added a routine that provides a way around the combination problem repeater mode and linking. Now you only need one pic, as the data received can be sent back out like a loopback, while still keeping a data stream to external D-Plus gateways.

His AMBE DV adaptor on the other hand is a full blown adapter to turn an analog radio in to a D-STAR radio and does include provisions to encode/decode AMBE.

In this video Peter, DJ6ZR/AI4UE and Don, WD4CWE test D-Star on 6 meter and 10m with the Satoshi DV Adapter. With more info at

Mark, G7LTT/NI2O also has had 10 and 6 Meter successful D-Star QSO's using Satoshi's AMBE DV adapters interfaced to two Yaesu FT-8900 quad band FM rigs.

Satoshi's AMBE DV adapter does decode and encode raw D-Star tailored GMSK unlike the the DV Dongle that Moe, AE4JY and Robin, AA4RC have in production.

Satoshi's does seem better suited for the D-Star to SIP translation project that is being investigated.

Monday, January 5, 2009


What you are looking at is Ubiquiti's 2.4 GHz bullet. It's their simplest, and cheapest ($40) 802.11 device. It's basically a ethernet->N converter. Now imagine if it was capable of 420-450 MHz.  (Realistically something for this band would likely first start off in a mini-PCI configuration.)

Ubiquiti products are based on the Atheros chipset which allows you to reduce your channel width with to 5 MHz. This would fit in the lower 12 MHz of the band where ATV is allowed, and can still yield up to a 10 Mbps signaling rate. That kind of throughput can support live video feeds from IP cameras, Asterisk / IP telephony, and just about anything you can dream up.

When WiMAX platforms for operation around 3 GHz were in their planning stage, Ubiquiti acted quickly to provide a 3 GHz 802.11 solution for direct competition. That worked out well for us hams, as there is a 3 GHz ham allocation.    

WiMAX is much like ordinary Wifi except it uses licensed spectrum. Its for last mile connectivity, and the potential of mobile operations. Verizon wireless broadband is probably the most best example that most might be familiar with.
There are certified WiMAX platforms emerging for operation between 400-1000 MHz, covering the 70 and 33 cm bands, with selectable channel widths from 1.5 MHZ to 7 MHz. So a 400 MHz capable product from Ubiquiti or someone else doesn't seem that far fetched. 

If you have experimented on 2.4 GHz, you know how frustrating it can be trying to combat the high noise floor and plethora of Part 15 devices. When you utilize the channels unshared with Part 15, you still at best, are limited by the line of site propagation of those microwave bands. HSMM experimenters are usually few and far between so an organized approach to commercial tower sites is likely not the case. This is what would make a 420-450 MHz capable device ideal.

If the idea of 70 cm HSMM appeals to you, I encourage you to vocalize your interest. (Section managers and Ubiquiti sales seem like logical places to start :)

{Edit 4/11/10}

XAGYL FLR4G30 450MHz 1000mW miniPCI

Friday, January 2, 2009

D-STAR International Coordination Council

Since late summer of 2008, several people have been working to create an organization that would help us to develop the D-STAR technology within a consistent framework, and to gain the consent and assistance of key organizations already associated with D-STAR. We are now ready to discuss the results of those efforts.

This notice is to announce the formation of the D-STAR International Coordination Council. The D-STAR ICC will provide documentation, consistency, and a framework within which new development and testing can take place. This organization has the support of the JARL, ICOM, and several key individuals associated with the D-STAR network. Some of the specific purposes of the organization are to:

-Support the cooperation and coordination of development efforts for products, systems, and services related to the ongoing operation of the International D-STAR network and related technologies.
-Provide a unified forum for expressing the needs and desires of the D-STAR user community to relevant manufacturers and other organizations.
-Define additional items that are not covered by the D-STAR standard, but are agreed by signatories as essential to the deployment of D-STAR networks in particular the regulatory aspects and issues of operators' licenses.
-Ensure interoperability between differing manufacturers of D-STAR application tools or equipment.

From the high-level objectives, you can see that the key organizations are interested in working with the User Community to enhance the D-STAR capabilities. This is a HUGE step for us!

A prime consideration is the fact that the D-STAR ICC is supported by the JARL, who owns the D-STAR protocol, and by ICOM, the current major manufacturer of commercial D-STAR equipment. This means that we won't be operating independently, but in cooperation to move D-STAR forward.

Since this will be a world-wide effort, there is still much work to accomplish in order to establish an effective organization. We expect to have most of the details worked out in the next few weeks, and to begin work on some key tasks, such as creating comprehensive documentation for the two primary D-STAR protocols – the Over-the-Air protocol, and the Gateway-to-Gateway protocol. While we are working to get these published, we also intend to create some standards for development and testing that will allow a developer to gain "D-STAR Compatibility" status for new efforts.

As the new organization develops, we'll have information available for you at the web site http://WWW.D-STAR-ICC.Org . If you're interested in creating and maintaining that web site, please contact N5MIJ at D-STAR-ICC.Org, and put "D-STAR ICC Web Site" in the subject line.

D-Star is growing and evolving. Here's a chance for us to positively impact that evolution.

Jim McClellan, N5MIJ

Jim gives more clues on this council in an earlier message.


It's time for us to band together and take D-STAR into the next phase.

At this point, we do not yet have a full translation of the D-STAR specification available. We have at least 4 different groups that have done some level of reverse-engineering to determine parts of what is going on within the system. And we’re all still “starting from scratch” with our efforts.

In order for us to reduce the duplication-of-effort and to move forward in a more rapid and coordinated manner, we propose that we form a common group, tentatively known as D-STAR International Coordination Committees. (And yes, we get to argue about a name for the group!) There’s a beginning of a charter available online at:
This document is not yet designed to be a comprehensive charter, but rather a starting point from which to build a charter. The D-STAR ICC would be our International User Group for D-STAR.

The desire would be to form the D-STAR ICC, and then to rapidly develop the sub-groups as designed. As rapidly as possible, we would then organize efforts to add features to our existing capabilities (if we can get access to the necessary code to do so), or to replace our existing capabilities with ones that we can support and expand.

Participation and contribution – here’s the big deal! If you’d like to volunteer to participate actively and directly, post a note in the Participation Forum. If you feel strongly about someone else participating, please post a note in the Nominations Forum.
Initial membership of the D-STAR ICC will be chosen based on recommendations received from the general population, as well as input from key members of the international D-STAR community. This is a Users Group, and we need to keep the users involved! (And yes, we get to argue about a name for the group!)

Please make your comments now, and let’s get this moving!

Jim McClellan, N5MIJ

I like the concept behind this newly created council. I hope it proves successful and to read more about it as time goes on.

Here are a couple recommendations that have been floating around in my head:

-Encourage manufactures to support perhaps a mini-usb port/non-proprietary/standardized digital interface on the radio to allow access to the on-air data stream on their radios. Just like the TAPR-2 analog data jack on analog radios. This digital version should allow access to the raw GMSK and decoded AMBE audio, so that the radios can be connected together into wide area networks.

-Continued encouragement of an extension of that proposed by John, K7VE. That is the D-Star to SIP translation. This can start by interfacing to a gateway sever, but should consider true over the air support using that standardized digital interface on the radios themselves.

I only know of one software GMSK decoder/encoder tailored to D-Star, and unfortunately it doesn't include source code. This development I also feel should be encouraged and worked into the Linux kernel. I feel that once this happens we can expect to see radios with an actual OS under the hood, like a smart phone/radio, capable of text messaging and so forth 

Existing integral players:
Allstar / Asterisk app_rpt

XIPAR - The Open Source Amateur Radio Over IP Project

Scott, KI4LKF's rtpDir bridge

Jakub Hruska's D-Star decoder program

DV Dongle Moe, AE4JY / Robin, AA4RC

Satoshi, 7M3TJZ's D-STAR GMSK Node Adapter & DV Adapter

And possibly others..


In this video; Jim N5MIJ, talks at the Friedrichshafen, Germany International Exhibition for Radio Amateurs that was held June 26-28th, 2009 about the D-Star International Coodination Council, where he mentions working with several open source developers.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A compatible IRLP Interface Schematic

IRLP nodes generally must use official IRLP boards. Their reasoning is that headaches the IRLP volunteers would have to deal due to nodes using self-built cards that weren't behaving properly. It appears impossible to obtain an IRLP node number without an order form and payment. The IRLP board is $105. They also suggest a $40 donation.

However maybe you are interested in messing with a Linux based repeater controller. Or are I need of a spare IRLP board for interim node setups and testing.

Kyle, K0KN has designed a schematic for people in these situations, to emulate the IRLP board. This is perfect for people in these situations, as seen here. Otherwise you might find some people willing to part with theirs on the IRLP mailing list.

The IRLP board has an on-board hardware MT8870 DTMF decoder. It feeds the decoded digits as a four bit word to the printer port on the PC. This helps to ensure you have dull duplex control at all times, no matter what the state of /dev/dsp.. The decoded digits hit the custom_decode file where you can script/define functions.

If you wish to use IRLP with a different open interface such as the VA3TO, WB2REM, G3VFP, G4CDY,...Rigblasters, MFJ, SignalLink, etc. (as many of these interfaces have schematics readily available.) The following two open projects have the code necessary to talk to interface IRLP to other hardware interfaces. The rtpdir bridge - to bridge EchoLink IRLP and Asterisk . And thelinkbox also supporting USB sound FOB interfaces.