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DSTAR Radios are FM transceivers that have the same features as most everyday VHF / UHF, single or dual band, ham radios. If you never use DSTAR features these are still fully functional ham radios with Memories, VFOs, Scan, Subaudible Tones, and Power Settings.

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dstar essentials how to more fully use your radio

DSTAR Radios are FM transceivers that have the same features as most everyday VHF / UHF, single or dual band, ham radios. If you never use DSTAR features these are still fully functional ham radios with Memories, VFOs, Scan, Subaudible Tones, and Power Settings.

DSTAR EssentialsHow to More Fully use your Radio !
dstar essentials

This presentation will focus on how to use your DSTAR Radio in the Digital Voice Mode.

There are similarities like entering Send and Receive frequencies, and setting an offset frequency for repeater operation, bandwidth, and power levels that are the same for Analog FM or Digital Voice.

Manual Programming is not discussed in this presentation due to differences in models of radio.

DSTAR Essentials
cloning control software

We can provide model specific information if there is sufficient demand.

Radios can be programmed manually, but this is a very tedious job and cloning software makes it easy to add or change features. Your favorite Ham Radio Store will provide OEM Icom copyrighted software and cables at a nominal cost. Dan Smith KK7DS offers open source cloning software available at http://chirp.danplanet.com/wiki/

Cloning / Control Software
cloning control software4

Cloning Software allows you to create a personality for a radio and download to and upload from the radio.

Control Software lets your PC interact with your radio and lets you control your radio from the PC in real time.

Icom Cloning Files are stored at *.icf files

Cloning / Control Software
control cloning software

Chirp lets you export a cloning file to a Comma Separated Variable (CSV ) file that can be imported and edited using Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc Spreadsheets. This makes it easy to edit a Temple DSTAR File and send it to the UK for use there, or to transport memory channels between different radio models.

Control / Cloning Software
ic91 ic2820 cloning cable

Cloning cables for the IC91 and IC2820 are simple to build using a readily available DB9 Female Plug and a 2.5 mm Miniature Stereo Plug. Newer computers not equipped with a COM port require an USB to COM port adaptor and driver software. Remember to configure the COM port number after installation.

The ID800 requires a different cloning cable that includes an RS-232 to TTL level shifter and may not be practical to build at home.

IC91 / IC2820 Cloning Cable
id800 ic2820 cloning cable

In addition to the simple do it yourself cable for the 2820, the ID800 (OPC-478U) cable will program the IC2820 through the external speaker jack. Normally the 2820 programs through the data port.

ID800 / IC2820 Cloning Cable
UR – Sets who you send to.

RPT 1 – Sets the local repeater call and band.

RPT 2 – Sets Call Routing – Local or Distant.

MY – Who YOU are.

4 DSTAR FieldsThe 'Ohms Law' of DSTAR

UR determines where your transmission will go. UR along with RPT2 determines whether your transmission stays on your local repeater or is routed to other places.

It is important to mention that DSTAR radios control SENDING. It is up to the station on the other end to send back to you. You cannot just enter a UR and listen to what is taking place on the distant repeater station. (Reflector Linking – mentioned later - is an exception and you can listen to distant call when both repeaters are linked to a reflector).

ur cqcqcq rpt2 not use

UR=CQCQCQ tells the gateway not to route your call to any particular repeater or station.

RPT2=NOT USE prevents your call from being routed to the internet.

What happens here stays here.

responses to a call

After transmitting your radio will display a response.

UR* or YOUR* means your call reached the destination repeater and should have gone out over the air.

RPT? means either the far end was busy, the call was mis-programmed, the far end Gateway was off line, or the call was directed to a Reflector or Link.

Responses to a Call
rpt1 example r1 ke5rcs b

Rpt 1 is used much like tone coded squelch to activate only one repeater. In areas where there is an overlap in coverage, only the Repeater 1 you have programmed will repeat. Other Repeaters sharing the radio channel will key up and send ID data, but only the repeater you have programmed in RPT1 will repeat your call. In the example above ^ represents a blank space. KE5RCS is the call sign of the Walburg, TX repeater, and 'B' signifies the B or 70 cm Band. (B is in the 8th Character Position).

RPT1 – Example R1=KE5RCS^B
rpt2 example r2 w5lm g choices are
RPT2 – Example R2=W5LM^^^GChoices are:
  • (NOT USE) – Local calls to UR=CQCQCQ or to a directed local call sign.
  • W5LM^^^G – Gateway or Linking Calls with 'G' for Gateway in the 8th Character Position. W5LM^^^G is the call sign for the Killeen DSTAR Repeater.
my nu5d ic91 my nu5d 800h

The MY field contains the call sign you have registered. The call sign can contain up to 8 characters plus an additional 4 characters after the '/' that are not recognized by the system. Folks sometimes put their name or rig model in this space.

MY=NU5D/IC91 - MY=NU5D/800H

Before your radio can access the DSTAR Gateway system, your Callsign must be registered with the System Administrator. This process assigns an 'internal' internet address and provides you Gateway access to any DSTAR Repeater that uses the Dallas Texas Trusted Server. The repeater directory at http://www.dstarusers.org has a Registration link for each system listed. Follow this link for Registration.

ur cqcqcq rpt2 k5ctx g

UR=CQCQCQ tells the gateway not to route your call to any particular repeater or station.

RPT2=K5CTX G tells the Gateway to present your call to the internet for additional routing.

The routing character 'G' must be in the 8th character position. Use RPT2=K5CTX G (Your local repeater's Callsign plus G) in all cases except calls that are local only or simplex calls.

ur xx yyyz call routed to a gateway

The '/' forward slant in the first character position tells the gateway that this call is destined to another repeater.

XX#YYY represents the call sign of the destination repeater – For Waco this would be W5ZDN

The 8th character, Z tells the Gateway which band to use at the far end. Japan uses 'A' for the first repeater installed, 'B' for the second, and 'C' for the third.

UR=/XX#YYYZ – Call Routed to a Gateway
ur xx yyyz call routed to a gateway26

The 8th Character in the rest of the world represents the Frequency Band at the far end. 'A' represents 23cm., 'B' represents 70cm., and 'C' represents 2M.

Reflectors have 'streams' instead of bands, arbitrarily 'A', 'B', and 'C'. (More on Reflectors later in the program).

See http://www.dstarusers.org for a Repeater Directory.

UR=/XX#YYYZ – Call Routed to a Gateway
ur aa bb call routed to a call sign

Calls can also be routed to an Individual Callsign using the Gateway System. Whenever a DSTAR radio transmits, the MY Callsign and Location are propagated throughout the Gateway system. This allows calls to a station when you are not sure what repeater the called station is listening to. This is ideal to reach hams who travel extensively.

There may be several minutes of lag time between when a roaming station keys up a distant repeater and when the distant repeater updates the rest of the Gateways in the world.

UR=AA#BB – Call Routed to a Call Sign
answering a call

So far the talk has been about placing a call. There is some skill involved in answering a call. The sending station controls where his call is routed. It is up to the sending station to tell the receiving station how to answer his call.

When you initiate a call, tell the receiving station where you are calling from. Announcing 'this is AB5AP calling from K5CTX Repeater B Bravo, Temple, TX', 'or 'this is W5DK calling Reflector 5A' lets folks hearing the call know how to answer.

Answering a Call
answering a call31

When I hear 'this is KJ4VO calling from KI4SBA repeater C, Cumming GA', I either use ONE Touch, or else go to a pre-programmed memory channel with Cumming C already loaded, and reply.

When finished, be sure and go back to CQCQCQ or else you will continue to be heard in Cumming GA, and your local repeater.

Answering a Call
answering a call wa6ytd calling

Suppose you hear WA6YTD calling. It is up to him to let you know how to answer his call.

One way is to announce 'This is WA6YTD calling from K6MDD Repeater B, Mt. Diablo. This tells the receiving station to either capture his call (One Touch) or go to a pre-programmed memory channel with either UR=/K6MDD B or UR=WA6YTD

It is also helpful if the calling station has a transmit message like 'SET UR=/K6MDD B'.

Answering a Call – WA6YTD calling
answering a call wa6ytd calling33

We have added a level of complexity at this point. If the local repeater is linked to a reflector, and the distant repeater is not, then the receiving station has to first UN-LINK, then answer. Otherwise the reply would try and travel two different routes causing either very slow or garbled transmission.

More on Reflector Linking later.

Answering a Call – WA6YTD calling
answering a call wa6ytd calling34

ONE TOUCH. One touch is a name for Call Sign Capture or Reply ID, where the receiving station writes the received Callsign into the UR location automatically. This is good except it does not work for calls from Japan or calls from a reflector link.

You can also program your radio for Auto Received Call Write, but this causes another set of problems when you use linking or a local station breaks into a Gateway call and changes the UR in your radio.

Answering a Call – WA6YTD calling
linking and reflectors

Up to this point Icom Gateway features have been used to route your calls. There is another software application from Robin Cutshaw, AA4RC that 'sniffs' data from the Icom Gateway system and provides additional routing capability. This software is called Dplus.

When you set UR=CQCQCQ and RPT2 for Gateway operation, the Icom Gateway presents your signals to the internet, but with UR=CQCQCQ, they have no place to go. This is where Dplus does the driving.

Linking and Reflectors
linking and reflectors36

DPLUS today allows any user to UNLINK a system.

The system administrator has to option to allow individual users the privilege of linking and unlinking other Gateways on a per user basis.

The Temple and Killeen Systems allow any registered user full access to linking and unlinking.

Linking and Reflectors
dplus linking

DPLUS Commands are used to link, unlink, echo, and report the status of a repeater.

DPLUS Commands are entered in the UR= field.

To send a command, enter the command in the UR, key your mic, and listen to the voice reply.

To check repeater status, UR=K5CTX^^I

The reply will be Robin's voice saying 'Not currently linked' or 'Remote system linked'.

DPLUS Linking
dplus commands


To link from Killeen, TX to Folkestone, Kent, UK

Go to the Killeen DSTAR Repeater. 440.675 + 5.0




MY=Valid Callsign

To UNLINK, change UR=^^^^^^^U

Use Press to Talk to send the commands.

DPLUS Commands
dplus commands39

Routing calls between different gateways is a momentary action. When I send a call with the UR on my radio =/W5LM^^B my call is routed to the W5LM, 70 cm repeater for the duration of my transmission.

DPLUS routing is a static action. When I send a call with the UR on my radio =W5LM^^BL a link will be completed by DPLUS until I send UR=^^^^^^^U to un-link.

DPLUS Commands
dplus commands40

After linking and hearing 'Remote System Linked' you must go from a command UR to UR=CQCQCQ. Otherwise you will hear 'Remote System Linked' after every transmission. I store Temple B and Temple C in Call Channels 1 and 2, so all I have to do is press and hold the CALL button to jump to a call channel. I keep the Reflector links in memory channels.

DPLUS Commands
the reflector

A DSTAR Reflector is a 'repeater' for repeaters.

Many repeaters can LINK to a reflector and every repeater linked to a reflector hears conversations from every other repeater linked to that reflector.

A reflector is actually a computer with a high bandwidth internet connection that receives communications from one location and distributes these communications, voice or data, to every one connected.

The Reflector
the reflector42

Once a reflector link is established on your repeater, set UR=CQCQCQ to prevent repeated connect messages.

Set RPT1=XX#YYY^Z where XX#YYY is the repeater call sign, and Z is the band identifier, A, B, or C, in the 8th Character Position.

Set RPT2=XX#YYY^G where XX#YYY is the repeater call sign and G for Gateway is in the 8th Character Position.

The Reflector
the reflector courtesy

Reflectors may connect DSTAR Repeaters all over the world. There are a few simple common courtesy guidelines to follow.

Keep your transmissions short. If you pause to breathe you have transmitted TOO LONG.

Direct your transmission to another station in a round table manner. DSTAR does not tolerate collisions very well and when stations collide, no one wins.

The Reflector - Courtesy
the reflector courtesy44

Leave plenty of space between transmissions to allow other stations to join in.

Don't monopolize a reflector – make a few contacts and move on. If you want to chat with your close friend across the globe, drop the reflector and chat repeater to repeater, where you don't tie up many repeaters with a semi private chat.

The Reflector - Courtesy
dv dongle

The dongle connects to a USB port on your computer and to uses software available at http://www.dvdongle.com/DV_Dongle/Home.html to connect your PC via Internet to DSTAR Repeaters or Reflectors. Add a Logitech or other headset and you can operate DSTAR in locations not served by a DSTAR repeater. You do have to register with a system administrator, just as you would with a radio, and the dongles are individually serial numbered. They are available from most Ham Stores for $199.

DV Dongle