What is DStar?
That is a very Good question.
The acronym DStar is Digital Smart Technology Amateur Radio. In other
words a Marketing geek made it up.
In reality DStar is a Hybrid radio communications method which uses
both Radio Frequency Transmissions, and the Internet.
It was developed by the Japanese Amateur Relay League, JARL, and Icom a
D-Star uses DV Digital Voice rather than FM. DV offers
incredibly high quality voice communications. D-Star utilises repeaters
very much like those for 70cm and 2m, but simply using DV instead of
FM, these repeaters are then linked to the internet. By linking to the
internet the repeaters can also link to each other, allowing for
Needless to say not all repeaters are linked together at the
same moment, that would just be chaos. Control of the linking process
is controlled from the transceiver, which sends coded information in
the form of 8 character strings, the format for the strings depends
upon what you want the repeater to do.
The original system in Japan only used "Call Routing", which
quite nicely, however for a global market it was felt, that there
needed to be a way of contacting other radio hams randomly, as happens
on other frequencies. So were born "Reflectors",
effectively internet Gateways that would allow multiple repeaters to
communicate with each other. This was fine, but the internet protocol
to effect this trans internet connection just wasn't robust enough.
This lead to Lost communications, and Frustrations.
Radio Hams have always been a resourceful fraternity, and so
alongside the Reflectors there developed xReflectors, a vendor neutral
approach to the Icom based Reflectors.
Since 2012 DStar has seen some massive leaps forward. The
protocol that handles the trans internet connections has been
completely rewritten by Radio
Amateurs, and now the communications are robust. There are still
developements ahead, but DStar has never been stronger.
Solutions for Dstar.
As with most things there isn't just one solution for Dstar.
The most common access to the Dstar world is via Dstar repeaters, these are scattered all over the world.
times the Dstar Hotspot, or simplex gateway has become very popular.
For this you need a computer with internet access, a DV modem or node
The DVRPTR board is a good example, however there are other options available.
A FM transceiver capable of 9k6 packet, and a Dstar
transceiver. This setup does not require an NOV to the licence so long
as you lock the gateway so that only your own transmissions get
propagated to the internet. Most software solutions have this capability.
Also popular is the DVAP Digital Voice Access Point.