Sunday, March 7, 2010

Reasons to like / dislike D-Star

Here is a thought from a local club member that contacted me about D-Star:

The thought occurs to me that D-Star is one future standard and why not purchase a D-Star radio ahead of the roll-out? One issue is that it adds expense and why buy something today that you can’t use when the standard may evolve to something better in the future. Therefore, a waste of money now?

He actually has a good thought process. The thing I see is that since D-Star is based on the JARL standard, some parts of it cannot change. By that I mean, GMSK modulation and data rates for example. Evolve, yes it already is, and that is why I like it.

What he means is be replaced (not evolved) by something else radically different, perhaps TDMA based or what have you.

My feeling is that this is not a big consideration/fear simply because ham radio is in such a decline. You will likely never see another replacement simply because it's not on ham manufactures priority list as they market is simply not there.

Resons I like D-Star:
I've been in the hobby for nearly 15 years. I'm starting to become a been there, done that kind of guy. This is something different... a step in the right direction, to the future.

From a repeater stand-point the slow speed data & voice are not only spectrally efficient, but efficient on the club pocket book. Else you have to deploy separate APRS and voice repeater feedlines and antennas.

The framework is open so some development and evolution is possible. This paves the way for additional functionality that can be added later.

And it can be done remotely (SSH) since this is a digital system. No more spending $$ on new controllers and scheduling trips to the site to interface them.

D-Star helps attract a new breed to the hobby. The computer savvy. Which is good, since we should be one the path to software defined radio (SDR).

Some of my dislikes:

-Closed codec.
-User radios are not firmware upgradable
-DTMF encoding implemented wrong ?
-The term "D-Star" trademarked by Icom
-One vendor

The attached images shows some starter ideas of how to add additional functionality.

One of the problems since ham radio is so stagnant is that no one really monitors. It becomes so infrequent that people are on at the same time. Those once 24/7 radio active hams are now amusing themselves with Ipods and smart phones.

So one of the script ideas report the callsigns of who is in the air to twitter. This way people know when to put down the Ipod and pick up the HT. Other scripts report current temperatures as text messages periodically.


Kurt said...

I agree with your review of D-Star, however, one comment you made was that ham radio was in a state of decline.

I just wanted to bring your attention to the new amateur licensing rates and how they have been steadily increasing.

You can see the numbers here:

Steve said...

I don't pay attention to the statistics (aka numbers game). My comment is based on what I observe in my area with actual on the air activity.

Unknown said...

The fact that ONLY ICOM supports it tells me there is something very wrong with it....ridiculous licensing, stupid high costs etc..

Call me when there is something just like D-Star that is free cheap easy and open to implement.

Until then, I will not touch this with a 100 foot pole.

Anonymous said...

2 weeks ago I decided to buy a D-Star radio. I'm sorry you guys but is this the best we can do? I keep waiting for someone to yell APRIL FOOLS.

A. If I wanted to hear a speak and spell voice I would buy a speak and spell.

B. And that's when I can actually hear a voice! 90% of the time all I hear is digitally scrambled noise.

I am not the kind of guy who will write something off without playing with it first but now I have to ask.. what is the attraction to D-Star again?


Steve said...

The main attraction is that it is probably the last "major" development ham radio will see before the hobby goes extinct. I feel much the same way, disappointed. Yet I guess at least it is something different... that has some movement behind it.

James said...

Wow, what a negative attitude. Sure there's some stagnant users, overly conservative operators that are content to use 50+ year old technology. But it's not always going to be that way. I don't see D-Star as the dieing gasp of the hobby at all. It's the first baby steps into a new generation. I'm not happy at all about the closed source licensed codec, but an alternative is in development. I think the younger generations are much more interested in this technology than the older one.

WB2MIC Jozef said...

I tried DSTAR in the fall of 2010. I no longer have DSTAR. Here is my webpage with my thoughts on DSTAR:

Gruvin said...

I say keep the codec locked up tight. SOMETHING in this new fangled thing has to be built of stone, lest we have no foundation worth a damn. After that (which thankfully is now) you get to choose to either get on board to build something, instead of sitting back bitching that the hobby is dying, or not. 73 ZL1HIT.