DStar 101, or How do I do that in DStar?

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 Transceiver Manufacturer.

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 worldwide communications.

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 worked 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.

Dstar overview

In recent 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 adapter,

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.