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Introduction to D-STAR 2013 Amateur Radio Digital Modes for the 21 st Century. Philadelphia Digital Radio Association The K3PDR Digital Repeater System Jack Coupe – WA3BXH. PDRA Overview

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introduction to d star 2013 amateur radio digital modes for the 21 st century
Introduction to D-STAR 2013Amateur Radio Digital Modes for the 21st Century

Philadelphia Digital Radio Association

The K3PDR Digital Repeater SystemJack Coupe – WA3BXH


PDRA Overview

Formed in 2007. PDRA’s membership now includes over 30 amateurs who explore new digital radio modulation technologies to communicate both voice and data.

The club currently operates coordinated repeaters on 440/445.18125 mHz and 146.61/01. The repeater uses the D-Star format and is located at the Mermaid Lane tower in Wyndmoor, Montgomery County, PA at the Montgomery County/Philadelphia border. Tx-Rx antennas are shared with a commercial operation and UHF antennas are located near the top of the tower at approximately 550 feet agl, and over 900 feet amsl while the VHF is at 300 feet. We hope to establish 1.2 gHz. DD and DV links in the future as funds permit

The club supports many other amateur radio organizations to provide training and awareness of emerging digital modes as well as technical support to amateurs becoming involved with digital communications and strives to be the preeminent amateur organization promoting amateur digital radio operations.


Throughout history Amateur Radio Operators have established a reputation for public service communications


And, for Disaster and Emergency Relief Efforts…

D-STAR and Amateur Radio Operators can provide the “first” and “last” mile communications to enable an effective emergency response in Disaster communications

Amateur Radio operators can now put D-STAR’s Hi-Speed data capabilities to work supporting their “served agencies” with IT tools they understand and expect…

Email Spreadsheets

File Transfer Graphics

Web browsing Maps


For EMCOMM Operations, D-STARcan link Field Shelter and EOC Staff with Digital Data

  • Email in the Field
  • Site to Site Digital Communications
  • Keyboard to Keyboard text messaging
  • Fully HIPPA compliant
D-STAR can bridge the Gap in Disaster Communicationswith…..
  • Damage Assessment
  • Wide Area Networking
  • Shelter Management
  • Field Digital Data (Photos, etc)
  • Visual Asset Tracking

Damage Assessment

By utilizing D-Star’s High Speed Digital Data, public safety management members can see exactly what their in-the-field staff sees during windshield surveys, providing a useful tool for real-time on-scene visuals


Wide Area Networking

Compliments existing emergency management networks – covers miles and not just meters

Embedded Position information with links to Digital Maps, Charts and more

Shelter Management

D-Star enables shelters to share vital information digitally….

  • Inventory, medical supplies, fuel supplies, and water availability, bed counts, etc.
  • Logistics and Coordination
  • Staff and Schedule

Visual Asset Tracking

D-STAR integrates GPS information automatically with normal Tactical Communications….

Position is included with every Voice transmission

  • Real time map plots on computers running Automatic Position Reporting (APRS) software
  • Allocate efficiently at a glance
Why is D-STAR interesting?
  • Digital packet carries both Digital Voice and concurrent Data Stream
  • Radios automatically transmit call sign along with the voice communications, and it is displayed on all receiving stations screens
  • No need to Voice ID since the call sign is sent with each transmission (Even though you don’t need to voice ID to be legal on D-Star, it is still a good operating practice to do so)
  • GPS location transmitted along with voice communications
  • Wide Area Networking with Digital Data (DD) that can be sent in high-volume while traditional modes are slow
  • Can dispatch assets accurately and place data in the hands of those who need it the most – fast image, text and document data exchanges
and for so many amateur radio uses
And for so many Amateur Radio Uses

Think of how these same D-Star features can be used in your other Amateur Radio communications support

  • Parades
  • Walk-a-thons
  • Bicycle marathons
  • Major event coordination
D-STAR is now the fastest growing

new technology in Amateur



D-Star History

  • Began as a government funded project by the Japanese Amateur Radio League for mobile digital communications.
  • Provides Digital Smart Technology for Amateur Radio
  • Plenty of additional information is available on internet especially at Icom and JARL sites
  • D-Star is an open standard, available for any amateur or manufacturer. Only the codec (AMBE vocorder) is proprietary and licensed.
d star history cont
D-Star History – cont.
  • 1999 - Funded by the Japanese government and administered by the JARL, development of protocols for a new digital technology for amateur radio.
  • 2001 - Protocols are published by JARL
  • 2002 - Icom offers first commercial radios

D-Star SystemsTopography – Peer to Peer!

Sys 1

Sys 2

Sys 6



Sys 3

Sys 5

Sys 4

d star s protocol
D-Star’s Protocol
  • Header is not encrypted
  • GMSK modem sees header fields & passes them to PC
  • DV Payload created by codec in AMBE chip
  • HotSpotGMSK modem passes DV payload as a stream of bits without decoding
Four call signs used – You will see many examples

MYCALL – Call sign of the originating station – your own call spec calls this “Own Callsign”

URCALL – Call sign of the desired target station, or CQCQCQ spec calls this the “Companion Callsign” – can be a port !

RPT1 – Call sign (& port) of the originating (input) repeater

spec calls this the “Departure Repeater Callsign”

RPT2 – Call sign & designator of the gateway (or cross band port)

spec calls this the “Destination Repeater Callsign”

(A bit misleading for Gateway calls)


Gateway Operations


Not required for local use only

Contact your local repeater administrator to get registered :Philadelphia: Stan Hess N3KDA or Mike Campbell, KB3IKP

See K3PDR Yahoo Group files section for more information

No private conversations -

both ends hear all

User linking / routing vs. site linking

Not all users on site can participate - Opportunity for confusion!!!

Each User determines the route his transmission takes in system

Program Your Radio Ahead of time!

Multiple Ways to Traverse Gateway

User-Specific call

“Follow-me Roaming” – Example: specific call to W3ZZZ

Sync Timing may cause delays when user switches (10 minutes typ)

Also, this type of call will typically interrupt an ongoing local QSO

Port call

Example - URCALL = ‘/K5TIT’

Specific routing of port call – defaults to Port ‘A’

Port-specific call

Example – URCALL = ‘/K5TIT C’ be sure the C is in the 8th position

This type of call is “polite” to local QSOs. It will typically not interrupt

D-Plus Linking

d plus software
D-Plus Software
  • Developed by Robin CutshawAA4RC
  • Provides “linking” capability to the gateways similar to how amateur radio operators link analog repeaters.
  • Provides the ability to create D-STAR-only reflectors and to create virtual connections between repeaters and between repeaters and reflectors.
  • Since its inception, it has grown to be a portal for DVDongle users (a USB AMBE codec)
  • Allows static information such as text, prerecorded AMBE audio and Icom front panel messages to be generated by individual repeaters
gateway reflectors
Gateway Reflectors
  • Reflectors allow the interconnection of multiple repeaters to form D-Star networks
  • Can be user or administrator controlled
  • Requires all users to program radios for gateway operations
  • If you initiate linking operation, it is important to clear the reflector following operations
  • is a great resource to use!
future directions
Future Directions
  • Open D-STAR Projects have a Big Impact !
  • The Open D-Star Gateway “ODG” allow us to define our own configurations / ODG by AA4RC
    • Try this
      • UR: K3PDR E RPT1: K3PDR B RPT2: K3PDR G
      • You’ll Get an audio playback – Great for troubleshooting
  • Home Brew D-Star & Experimentation
    • Check out AE4JY’s DVX Transceiver

Questions ?Our sincere thanks to Ron Shaffer - W4VM and Bob Wiseman WB3W ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator for their permission to use some Power Point Slides and to Jim Moen – K6JM for his presentation on hot spots. Additionally to Pete Loveall- AE5PL of the Texas Interconnect Team, and our great friends Fred Varian – WD5ERD of the Texas Interconnect Team and Icom Support, Ray Nowack, Icom Amateur Products Manager and Brian Rode - NJ6N for help and support over the years.Online Discussion Forums


Other D-STAR Web Sites



[email protected]

[email protected]

PDRA meetings are held on the 1st non-holiday Monday at Ambler Community Ambulance Association, 1414 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, PA. Meetings begin at 19:30 hours and generally last about 2 hours. All are welcome. A local net is held on non-meeting Monday evenings at 20:00 hours local. We also participate in the Mid-Atlantic Regional D-Star net on Tuesdays at 19:30 hours.