D-STAR Notes by Richard Browning (AD5RB), Updated 4/8/2018
D-STAR reflectors have become the central organizing feature of the D-STAR world. This is where people meet to chat and run nets.The original D-PLUS type reflectors, such as REF001 or REF030, are still the most popular for running nets, but there are also other types of reflectors such as XRFnnn based on the IRC-DDB gateway software.The original D-PLUS system used with ICOM gateway software doesn’t know how to link to the XRF nodes, however most IRC-DDB derived packages can link to either REF or XRF nodes.Each gateway has four or more ports that are usually labeled with letters and might have dedicated uses specified by the gateway owners.REF001C and REF030C are very popular gathering places for casual QSOs.Other reflectors such as REF055A are seldom used except for scheduled nets and special events.Check out the Reflectors tab at http://dstarinfo.com.
D-STAR nets There is an extensive list of D-STAR nets at http://dstarinfo.com under the Nets tab.Here is a selected set of nets for each day of the week:
SundayREF001C6:00 PM MTInternational D-STAR net.This is the first and largest net.Usually run by Connie KB0ZSG.
MondayREF055A7:15 PM MTEl Paso D-STAR net.Net controls: Lew KB5HPT, Doug AE5HE or Russell KG5QFN.
TuesdayREF004B7:00 PM MTTexas D-STAR net.Net control: Roy WJ5Z.This is also a very long running net, started just after D-PLUS reflectors were initially set up.Roy asks about the equipment used to access the reflector so you can get a feel for what is currently popular and what it sounds like.The software used with the different access points can make a big difference in sound quality and reliability.
WednesdayREF014C about 8:00 PM MTHamNation After Show D-STAR net.This net is a discussion of the Ham Nation TV show which usually finishes up a little after 8:00 PM MT.Questions and comments are encouraged.
Thursday REF055A 8:00 PM MT NM D-STAR Voice Net.This net features a question and a different net control operator for each week of the month:Alden AG5S, Daryl WX1DER, Richard AD5RB, Lew KB5HPT, and in months with five Thursdays we have Anne KD5NLN.
FridayREF024A 6:00 PM MT D-STAR Trains and Railroads net, usually conducted by Daryl WX1DER.This must be heard to be appreciated.First time check-ins get a certificate.
Saturday REF009C 7:00 PM AZ, so this is 7:00 PM MST in winter and 8:00 MDT during daylight savings.The net control is usually Dave AC7DS.
Other specialty nets include ones devoted to CERT, Raspberry Pi computers, weather nets, round table nets for technical questions,and nets run on HF frequencies.
This is a very abbreviated list of nets.On any given evening there are many nets running.Sadly, there is a lot of overlap in the times, so unless you have multiple repeaters within range, or multiple hot-spots, you must pick and choose what you listen to.
To access these nets you can try listening to local repeaters and if necessary linking them to the reflectors.In the first few years of D-PLUS operation, this was the only way to do it.But then, a series of inexpensive devices that let you access the reflectors or repeaters directly were introduced.All you really need is an internet connection and, typically, some type of computer.These are priced in the range of a few hundred dollars and allow you easy local control of linking and unlinking without tying up a wide-area repeater.Look for names such as DV-Dongle, DVAP, DV4mini, DV3000, ThumbDV, DVMega, or SharkRF Openspot. Some of these are USB-attached devices to do the DV voice encoding and you use headphones with mic attached to your computer, so there is no local radio involved at all.The other type of device is the access point, which uses a low power simplex radio built into a USB adaptor or a single board computer shield to communicate with a standard D-STAR radio, either hand-held or mobile.The range of a D-STAR access point is typically hundreds of meters, so very convenient for use around the house, motel rooms, or in your car if you have a wi-fi capability from your cell phone for example.Depending on the software used with the access points, you might also be able to use DMR, Fusion, or P25 radios as well.This is a rapidly evolving aspect of digital voice technology so you really need to be on the web and tech nets to keep up.
D-STAR-capable radios are available from ICOM, Kenwood, and Flex Radio.ICOM has a very complete selection of VHF, UHF, and HF radios.The original 1.2 GHz ID-1 is no longer available new from ICOM, but you might be able to find a used one.Kenwood makes a very popular vhf-uhf handheld, the TH-D74.The FLEX-6000 series radios can use a DV3000 ThumbDV to do D-STAR.
Web Site Links The status and usage of D-STAR is recorded on multiple web sites. A few links are listed below:
www.dstarinfo.com :This is one of the most comprehensive sources of information about all things D-STAR.It is dependent on net control operators, repeater owners, and others to keep things up to date, so sometimes the information is a bit stale.
www.dstarusers.org : This shows all activity on the D-PLUS network in real time.There are also links off this page showing a map of D-STAR repeaters world-wide.You need to zoom in a bit to see all the repeaters in a given area.If you zoom in a lot you can see that we have nine repeaters in New Mexico plus two in El Paso.
http://refnnn.dstargateway.org :If you replace the nnn with the numbers for a particular reflector, so for example http://ref055.dstargateway.org for our reflector in Albuquerque, then you get a Dashboard display of the status of the gateway.That is, what repeaters are linked in, what hotspots are linked in, and who has keyed up recently on a connected hotspot.It does not show you stations coming in through a linked repeater though.
There are similar status pages available for the ircDDB D-STAR gateways and related DMR and P25 based reflectors.Google can find these for you.
Registration The original D-STAR implementation by ICOM has one to four repeaters connected to a Linux-based computer called a gateway. Another requirement is that all interconnected gateways have one gateway that is the Trust Server.Although you can have multiple Trust Servers, gateways can only communicate with other gateways that are using the same Trust Server.In the USA, and a large part of the rest of the world, this is the K5TIT gateway in Dallas TX. Anyone with a D-STAR capable radio can access a repeater for local use.However to access the gateway, and other repeaters through the gateway, your call sign must be registered on one of the connected gateways.Initially the recommendation was that you register on the closest gateway.The registration process is not difficult, but it does involve the gateway owner approving each registration.This caused problems because there was no easy way for repeater owners to know when someone applied for registration.Recently the recommendation changed so that everyone should register on a single gateway that is appropriately staffed with volunteers to approve the registration requests.This central registration system is located at https://registration.dstargateway.org/Dstar.do .
This registration process is a nuisance, but still needed to use the D-PLUS system.The folks that developed the ircDDB based reflectors and gateways chose to eliminate this requirement.It does simplify the getting started process, but ICOM claims that registration is still legally required in some parts of the world, so they are adamant about continuing with the registration process.
Lightning Protection - Phenomenology and Methods or What You Should Do vs What K5KH Actually Did by David Holtkamp (K5KH) (SK)
The pdf file for download below is a scan of a presentation David Holtkamp gave around mid-1990.