D-STAR

D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) is a digital voice and data protocol specification developed as the result of research by the Japan Amateur Radio League to investigate digital technologies for amateur radio. While there are other digital on-air technologies being used by amateurs that have come from other services, D-Star is one of the first on-air and packet-based standards to be widely deployed and sold by a major radio manufacturer that is designed specifically for amateur service use.

My current (June 2013) D-STAR transceiver is an ICOM IC-880H mobile dual band, but I'm using it as a base radio connected to a Cushcraft Ringo 2m/440 base antenna.

 

 

DV Access Point Dongle (DVAP) - This device plugs into the USB Port of an internet connected computer and allows a D-STAR radio within range to get on the D-STAR network. The DVAP is sold in 2m and 70cm versions for around $250 - U.S. dollars.


Experiments using the DVAP and an IC-92AD handheld:

I purchased (April, 2010) a DVAP from Ham Radio Outlet of Salem, NH because the D-Star repeater/gateway near me still needs work to get back online, and my home is too far to reach the D-Star repeaters about 40 miles away with my handheld radio. The advertised range is listed as 100 yards. But I was hoping I can reach it from much farther way, as rumor had it that it may go miles. So I did some experiments. The dongle operates on 2 meters so I set it up for 146.450 simplex likewise the IC-92AD.

With the dongle connected to a PC with VISTA home premium.. setup was a snap. I placed the dongle in my shack, on the second floor, about 20ft above ground. I took a walk outside with my IC-92AD (stock antenna) in hand and keyed up with the info or echo command to hear back the recording from the dongle. I did this about every 50 feet or so. With the supplied stub antenna installed (pictured above) , I was able to reach the Access Point from a distance of about 1000ft ! Awesome. This was line of site, with multiple trees in the way without leaves.

For the next part of the test I installed a 15" 2 meter portable whip antenna on the DVAP. I drove my car with the IC-92AD connected to my 1/4 wave mag mount on the roof. I drove away from the shack keying up the portable radio every 50 yards or so hearing the recording each time to confirm that I was hitting the DVAP. I drove up the hill I live on so I'd have line of site as I got further and higher... this was a good test for range since I maintained line of site except it had to through
hundreds of trees. I was able to echo my voice from the dongle out to .65 miles ! That's about 3400 feet. Wow. This is really a good range considering that the DVAP only puts out .01 watt (10mw). I got the most range when I boosted the IC-92 to 2.5 W.

When I reached the maximum range of .65 miles, I stopped the car and replaced the mag mount with a gain portable antenna made by MFJ, the1717S. It's a dual band for portables that I use to just extend the range of my handy talkies. I keyed up the mic and had no problem using the DVAP with the 15" antenna on the radio at this distance.

The dongle Access Point exceeded my expectations in performance, build quality and ease of installation. It has a flashing green LED when connected to the USB port on the computer, and a flashing blue LED when the software open's the AP as a gateway. The LEDs are internal and flash through the ruby red dongle case.

It was a difficult decision for me to buy the dongle because of the price tag of $250 but I can now access any gateway D-Star repeater or reflector on the planet from my neighborhood.. cool !

DVAP with new antenna installed - stock stub antenna can be seen in photo.

 

 


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