DMR Update

Recently I received a Disqus reply to one of the blog posts. Because it was anonymous, I did not approve for it to be published here. If you cannot post your name or call, then it must not have been a post they thought was worth sharing.

The question was what did I now think of DMR. So I will answer that question.

DMR is like FM on steroids. The audio is very nice. You can talk to other via networked repeaters like EchoLink. Radios are certainly cheap just like FM. Other than that, I cannot really say too much more.

Sure there are a lot of repeaters., Pretty much on par with DStar. Fusion is still behind and heck, you still don't find many people on Fusion. I guess some are just content to stay on FM.

However, DMR is now very mature in the amateur market. I still do not see radios capable to interfacing to a computer beyond using the computer to program them. There are still no software packages like D-Rats for sending text or data over a DMR radio. MARC created a sandbox for people to experiment, but after two years has anything come of it? Not that I have seen or could find. If you know of something, please let me know.

Yes, DMR is fun to talk on. So is DStar and Fusion. But again, for all around versatility, DStar is still at the top of the heap in the amateur ranks.

I just wish the radios were more affordable. This is where I see Icom and now Kenwood making a mistake. The cheap Chinese radios are allowing DMR to grown in amateur radio, while the high price of DStar has stalled the growth on that mode. Fusion, well the radios are affordable, but they are so late to the digital game that it is just as stagnant as DStar, but does not have the footprint that DStar and DMR now enjoy.

So there it is folks. My current opinion.
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Why DMR is succeeding

A Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

As many of you know, I am a big fan of DStar. Sure it has some limitations, but for versatility, it is the best for ham radio in my opinion, because it was designed for ham radio. Fusion can make that same claim, but I do not see the versatility there.

DMR is a commercial standard adapted to amateur radio. It seems to be the least flexible for amateur radio, but seems to be growing the fastest at this point. The reason why is what I will try to answer.

DStar was the first digital mode that received wide acceptance in the ham community. It has a slow start, but after a few years, really began to take off. It had P25 as some competition, but P25 never really caught on. Radios were expensive and really appealed to a group in ham radio that felt they needed to have interoperability with police, fire, EMA and other government agencies. I know a lot of emergency agency people and they wanted nothing to do with interoperability with amateur radio. They are the professionals and we are amateurs and the radio kingdom was not going to be intermixed.

DStar caught on with many of the amateurs who like to be on the leading edge and willing to pay for the equipment to be on the leading edge. Because of DStar's design, there were also hams on jumped on the app development bandwagon and created applications for chat and emergency communications like D*Chat and D-RATS. DStar also integrated into APRS very well with gateway software referred to as DPRS.

Because Icom continued to be the only provider of DStar equipment (only recently did Kenwood create a DStar radio) the prices stayed very high….too high for too long and this is where I believe Icom made a critical marketing error.

People began to deploy DMR repeaters. Mostly used Motorola repeaters taken out of commercial operation. They were pretty reasonable and there were used DMR radios coming to market as commercial owners upgraded their radios to newer DMR technology. But then the Chinese entered the market with digital handhelds for under $200. The leading edge crowd started to buy into DMR. Then when the Chinese started shipping handhelds like the MD-380 for a little over $100, many of the trailing edge hams and more budget minded hams (aka cheap) started entering into DMR.

DMR repeaters really started to grow. New networks developed. Hotspots were developed for DMR (and also Fusion) and more people started to flock to DMR.

When hams were looking to try digital, they had a choice of DStar at over $400 a radio, or DMR for a little over $100. Heck, now you can buy an MD-380 for under a $100.

Icom did reduce the price of their radios around $300, but it was too late, DMR had taken the momentum away from DStar.

While all this was going on, about a little over a year ago, Yaesu entered with Fusion. Yaesu offered clubs Fusion repeaters for $500. The issue is that Fusion repeaters can do FM or Digital and many clubs bought them as cheap replacements for FM repeaters. Our club has three with only only just recently being enabled for digital in addition to FM. Now Yaesu did price their radios a bit better than Icom. I think their cheapest mobile Fusion radio is around $139 now and I bought mine when it first came out for around $169 at Dayton in 2016.

Yaesu was too late to the table. Fusion use is rather limited. Most people are still venturing into DMR and to a lesser degree, DStar now.

Here is what is sad. I have said this before, manufacturers should have backed ONE standard.

Second, manufacturers have the capability to make a radio that does multiple digital modes. Why not do it people?

Yaesu, you can hang onto Fusion and Icom can hang onto DStar, but the majority of hams going into digital today are going with DMR because it is affordable. Icom, you kept the DStar radio prices too high for too long. Yaesu, you just took too long to enter the digital marketplace. You would have been better served by backing DStar.

Now the best thing for all the manufacturers to do is to come out with a DStar/DMR/Fusion capable radio at an affordable price. If not, DStar and Fusion may become the next Betamax (old folks will understand that reference).

So in summary, the reason DMR is succeeding right now is the price of the radios. It will continue to grow for that very reason.
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General Update & Thoughts

Here are some updates on my activities and observations on ham radio.

Ten-Tec - It seems that many are starting to give up hope that we'll ever see a return of Ten-Tec. No news from the new owner. He has had the company now for about a year and we still have not seen the start of amateur radio production and sales. The "store" has noted it is under construction for months. It does not take that long to build a website so we have to assume that there is nothing to sell. I wonder if Elecraft has become the new "Ten-Tec" in terms of being an American manufacturer hams can rally around.

Digital Voice Modes (DStar/DMR/Fusion) - Kenwood is now selling their new DStar/APRS radio. The radio looks sweet, but the price is just out of the range of many. Hopefully we'll see the price come down over time.

I have to wonder if Icom has lost real interest in DStar. I love DStar. It is a great mode designed specifically for amateur radio. It can do all sorts of things that modes like DMR or even Fusion cannot do. I think two things have really caused the growth of DStar of slow to a trickle.

First, DMR and cheap Chinese radios. Let's face it, a ham can get into digital voice for a hundred bucks. If DMR radios were $500 and up, DMR never would have exploded. Sure some buy those expensive Motorola radios, but a vast majority got into DMR with low-cost radios. I use DMR and the problem I see with DMR is that for the most part, DMR is just digital voice. There are no digital messaging programs developed for ham use. Most DMR radios have no connection that would allow the radio to connect to a computer to allow for digital messaging (think DRats with DStar). It is just digital voice and networking of repeaters. The DMR sandbox has really produced nothing revolutionary. In fact, I have not seen any announcements of folks even using the sandbox to create new DMR add-ons. Yeah, they have the hotspots and dongle to allow access for those without DMR repeaters nearby, but that is about the extent of it.

Second, cheap Fusion repeaters from Yaesu. Amateur clubs and organizations bought these repeaters in droves when Yaesu offered them for $500 each. So money that may have gone to a DStar repeater purchase, suddenly went to Yaesu. I mean why not? $500 for a repeater that would do FM or Fusion. Another issue is that most of these repeaters are being used for FM only. I bought a Fusion radio at Dayton this year. It was their low cost mobile and got it for $169 as I recall. I think it is lower now. Trying to find someone to talk to on Fusion digital is almost impossible except during their weekly Fusion net with very few check-ins by the way.

We also have a P25 repeater in the area. I don't have a P25 radio, but I can monitor it. There is very little P25 activity on that repeater.

Again, because we have so many competing digital modes, the activity is rather limited since everyone is spread out among multiple digital voice technologies and repeaters. It has become not only difficult to find someone to talk to on Fusion, but also on DMR and DStar. Sure, you can find someone on the national or state level, but just trying find someone local to talk to is a challenge.

I wish hams would have agreed on one standard and moved forward with a single digital technology and united everyone instead of creating this fragmented mess.

Multi-protocol digital radios - Here is another beef. You would have thought that manufacturers like Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood would have come out with a dual band radio capable of DStar, DMR and Fusion and even P25. But sadly no. However, it looks like some hams have taken this on themselves and starting to just do it without the big three. Albeit the radios are expensive, but still cheaper than buying multiple single technology radios. Hopefully the big three will have taken the hint and will create something to fill this much needed void in the market.

HF and Digital Modes - Sunspots maybe down, but the activity on digital modes is still happening and very strong. DX is even great on the digital modes. So if you are still chasing countries and DX contacts, move to digital as there is still plenty of DX there.

Dayton Hamvention — Finally the Hamvention is moving and away from that dump called Hara Arena. Have to reserve judgement on the new location until this coming May. I am optimistic. I am sure the Hamvention committee is working hard to make this a success. Even if the first year is a little rough, it will not discourage me as they will learn from the issues and make it better the second year. Looking forward to Dayton again in 2017.

SDR Radios - If you have not played around with an SDR radio, think about giving it a try. I have an Afedri and a Funcube and both are fun to experiment with as there a a number of free programs out there that you can try. Even transceivers are moving in the direction of SDR. Icom has taken a real lead incorporating SDR technology into their radios.

With Thanksgiving this week, I hope all my fellow hams have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving. Remember to give thanks to God for all the goodness in our lives.


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DStar, DMR and Fusion Observations & Comments

I've not had the chance to play with Fusion for two weeks. I've had DMR for just about a year now and DStar for a number of years. So here are my thoughts thus far.

First, DMR is now growing fast and catching up to DStar in terms of number of users and repeaters. What has contributed to the growth are a number of very low cost DMR radios from China. Without the cheap radios, I don't think the growth would have occurred. At this year's Hamvention, I heard one vendor was selling the Tytera MD-380 for $99 and R & L had them inside for $110. Pretty cheap and easy way to get into digital voice.

Alinco announced their DMR radio is coming out so they will be the first mainstream amateur radio manufacturer with a DMR radio. Price is still unknown.

Yeasu's Fusion system has caught up with DMR and DStar in terms of the number of repeaters. In fact, Fusion might have the largest number of repeaters. This is because Yaesu was offering them for $500 and $600 to clubs and many club bought them to replace their older repeaters. I mean for $500 a piece, who can refuse. Trouble is that many of those repeaters were installed in FM mode only. However, in my area about four are dual mode FM/Digital so there are a number of Fusion systems that I can hit and actually use digital voice.

With DMR, there are three wide coverage repeaters in my area. A third system just came on-line a few weeks ago. So I have plenty of repeaters to experiment and chat on.

DStar has four repeaters in the area and I have been using them for quite some time along with the DVAP dongle.

Here is my impressions so far for each of the digital technologies.

DStar still has the most flexibility. Because the radios are designed for hams, they allow greater flexibility. All DStar radios have a data port making it easier to connect the radio to a computer or tablet and use an application for texting and file transfer. There are a number of applications written to make use of this feature and include, DRATS, DChat and Ham Radio Deluxe.

None of the three DMR radios I have include a data port. There are still no text for file transfer programs that I am aware of for use on DMR in spite of the fact that MARC has a DMR sandbox available for over a year to provide for such development. So DMR is still pretty much a digital voice method/and some quick texting within the radios and that is about it.

Fusion, I believe has the ability and I believe some radios have a data port, but my FTM-3200 does not. I also have not found any text/file transfer applications for Fusion.

DStar can still pass APRS information to the APRS network. DMR cannot do this and Fusion cannot do this.

As for repeaters, amateurs can easily build their own DStar repeaters. You cannot do this (or at least easily do it) with DMR or Fusion. I believe I read where one ham was able to do it with DMR, but other than that, I have heard nothing more about home brewing a DMR repeater or a Fusion repeater. Heck, at this point, why would you even consider building your own Fusion repeater when Yaesu is almost giving them away?

The cost of a DStar repeater from Icom is moderately expensive, but less than $2,000 for controller and one band. DMR used repeaters are about the same and the new repeaters are very expensive. Fusion again is almost free at this time, but pretty soon Yaesu will stop giving them away.

Depending on where you live, you probably have access to a DStar repeater close by. With DMR, there are many areas that are very well covered, but then again there are some states with very low to no coverage. Heck, look at Missouri where one of the largest cities in America, St. Louis is still without a DMR repeater! Or course with Fusion, the repeaters are now all over the place, but again, many are just in FM mode. Seems Yaesu should have made the repeaters so that they ONLY worked in dual automatic mode. That was a big marketing error in my opinion.

Let's talk about voice quality. The way I saw others ranks voice quality was that Fusion was supposed to be the best, followed by DMR and then DStar. I guess in theory that should be true, but practically, that is not the case from my observation. Side by side, it is hard to tell a difference in audio quality between DMR and Fusion. I just don't hear any difference. DStar is a very close second to DMR and Fusion. DMR and Fusion seem to have more low response than DStar. DStar does sound slightly crisper to me. In any case, just not enough difference in my opinion to make any one of the digital methods any better than the other when making a purchasing decision.

Digital voice recovery. You have all heard about R2D2 with DStar. It is the sound the signal makes when it is not strong enough to decode. DMR has something similar that sounds like a high pitched motor boat. I have not heard what happens when a Fusion signal is getting too weak to decode. I explain later why that is.

The one thing I really like about DStar and Fusion is the use of call signs. So when someone transmits, I see their call on my display. In fact, I also see the calls of the repeaters. With DMR, being a commercial standard that hams are using, the radio has an ID that is associated to the callsign. The display however is not automatic like it is with DStar and Fusion. If you program the radio with other users callsign and radio number, the radio is then capable of displaying the call. Now most of the commercial DMR radios are limited to storing 1,000 or less contacts. Only Connect System radios can go up to slightly over 65,000. Since I have two Connect System radios, I can load all 35,000+ DMR contacts into my radio. This is a manual process and has to be repeated every so often to keep the radios up to date.

Usage of the three is widely different at this point. DStar has kind of leveled off though DStar radios were selling well at Dayton and Kenwood is coming out with their DStar radio this Fall. DMR use has exploded as I mentioned previously due to the availability of low cost radios. Fusion on the other hand has few users compared to the other two. I wonder if the low cost of the DMR radios is having an impact on this. So far with numerous calls on Fusion repeaters, I have only had one person respond. The only other activity has been weekly nets and those have sparse checkins.

So all three work. It depends on the area you live at this point as to what technology you go with because you want a repeater and you want others to talk to. Many are going with multiple technologies if their budgets can handle it.

Check the repeaters maps to see what repeaters are available in your area. But even if you have Fusion repeaters in your area, and a lot of them, just remember, if you are like me, that does not mean a lot of hams in the area are going to have radios. If you have DMR or DStar repeaters in your area, there is a good chance there are users so you are probably safe going with either or both. If you are cheap like many hams and have DMR repeaters in your area, pick up a Tytera MD-380.

Oh, and for DMR, you want to find someone in your area who will share their "code-plug" with you. A code-plug is just the terminology used in DMR which means the programming file. You can also find them all over the Internet for your area. Just download, enter your call, and some other basic information, load to the radio and start talking.

I'll comment about networking of the three technologies in another upcoming blog.



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Dayton Hamvention 2016 Recap

This year I was able to attend the Hamvention for only one day. I was on a business trip and did not get back until Friday night at about 11:00 PM. But it was great to still be able to attend the Hamvention for at least one day. So here are some of my comments about this year's Hamvention.

First, the Hara Arena is rapidly decaying. There are all sorts of rumors about Montgomery County wanting the property to the county fairgrounds. There are also rumors about the owners losing money, taxes owed, etc. Clearly there is no money being put into any upkeep of the facility. The condition of Hara this year was the worst I have even seen.

Restrooms were filthy and poorly maintained. Two of my friends used the outside port-a-lets because they were cleaner than the bathrooms!

Attendance was down quite a bit. I am guessing it might have been as low as 16,000. From what I heard from other hams, the place is just too unattractive and turning off many from attending.

The parking lot that host the flea market is also deteriorating. The pavement is crumbling in many places. Very few garbage cans were placed in the flea market. As a result, you saw piles of old electronics abandoned on the ground. Guess the XYL told them to sell it or leave it.

We tried attending the Yaesu Fusion forum, but the room had to be in the mid 80's so it was just too hot to sit in there. Apparently Hara's air conditioning was not working or they could not afford to turn it on. The rest of the forum rooms were also too warm. No forums this year.

Since Yeasu came out with a very affordable Fusion radio, the FTM-3200, I purchased one from Ham Radio Outlet (HRO). At $169 it will give me the opportunity to evaluate and compare the various digital voice methods commonly being used on the VHF/UHF bands. I'll write a blog with a comparison between DStar, DMR and Fusion soon.

Speaking of DStar, Kenwood was showing their new DStar, APRS, FM dual-band handheld. It is supposed to be available around November of this year. This has been rumored since November of last year so it now appears to be reality. Now that a second major manufacturer has begun selling DStar radios, that should put to bed all that FUD about DStar being proprietary and only an Icom standard. The radio looked great as it uses a color screen. The problem is the list price is supposed to be north of $600. Needs to be in the $300 range or it is going to be out of the reach of many hams.

The Europeans were there showing off their concept of a multi-digital mode VHF/UHF radio that supports DStar, DMR, Fusion and FM. The radio is tentatively priced between $800 to $1,000. Kind of high, but might be worth it as everything will be built into one radio. If a group of hams can pull this off, surely Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu can do it also. It's just a crying shame that all the manufacturers could not agree on one standard instead of creating the division by having so many different digital modes.

Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) was showing the JT-65 capability that will soon be added to the DM-780 application within the HRD Suite of fully integrated applications. That is the best ham radio application out there for someone who wants software to do it all. Spoke to Rick at HRD who said they have over 50,000 paid users! If you build and maintain it, they will come!

While on the subject of vendors, there was also a reduction in the number of commercial vendors. For that matter, even the number of flea market vendors seemed down but the rain might have forced many to just give up.

There were a number of niche vendors there showing off their products and there was just too many of those new products to talk about here. More SDR radios, more digital voice hotspots, and a host of other things being discussed on many of the forum boards at eham, QRZ and Yahoo Groups.

All I can say is that DARA better find a new venue fast and find a way to invigorate the Hamvention.



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Update on Everything

Yes I know I have been a bit quiet on the blog recently. And this is really not about everything. I've actually been fairly active on DStar, DMR, and JT-65. Messed around with a few other modes like CW, FSQ, and of course FM on 2 and 440.

Looks like Connect Systems has finally gotten close to finishing the firmware on the CS750 handheld and CS800 mobile radios for DMR and FM. Still a few bugs but they are almost there. Still would like to see the CS7000 which promises to support both DMR and DStar. Now wouldn't it be nice to have a radio that did all the digital modes and FM? Well they say they can get there but want to do DMR and DStar first.

Yaesu Fusion is out there and a number of people/clubs bought their repeaters at the special price of around $500. However, our club only has them in FM operation. I think a lot of clubs did the same thing. Not many people using them for Fusion. Seems like DStar and DMR seem to be the predominant digital modes. DStar still in the lead and there is still so much more activity on DStar than DMR in my opinion. In any case, for voice, they both do a nice job. When it comes to more than voice, DStar is still the choice.

I am sure you all read where TenTec changed hands yet again. Fourth owner in two years. But we have to face it, the old TenTec is gone. The new owner of the assets of the old company promises a new more invigorated TenTec with great products. So we'll see. However, I would not expect anything new for at least a year. There is a lot of work to do to basically start the company from scratch.

Rumors were that Kenwood was going to announce a DStar radio around Thanksgiving. So far, just the sound of crickets.

Another rumor is that Alnico is going to introduce a DMR radio for hams. So we'll see if that comes to fruition.

Since most of the nation is facing snow and cold, you might as well get on the air and communicate with someone. Ham radio was meant for cold Winter nights. So take advantage of the season and get on the radio!



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DStar versus DMR - First Impressions

Well I like to experiment with new things in amateur radio. While I continue to voice my disappointment with the lack of a united digital standard in amateur radio, I have resigned myself to the belief that we are going to have multiple digital methods in use for sometime until the market, if ever, determines which digital method will win out....which of course may never happen in the foreseeable future.

Since the price of new DMR radios has come down quite a bit, mostly because of the cheap Chinese radios, I decided to order one. I did not actually place an order until we had a few DMR repeaters in the area. I mean why buy a radio without anyone to talk to?

I ordered a CS750 which is a Chinese built radio by Covalue and marketed by Connect Systems in California. Connect Systems is also the company trying to produce the CS7000 which promises to support both DStar and DMR. The reason I purchased this radio is because it is low cost and second, because Connect Systems will service it if there is an issue with it.

So here are the first impressions with a radio and digital method I have used in less than 24 hours.

First, I have been told that DMR adoption is exploding with repeaters and users. Not my experience. I was told by a current DMR user that the North American talk group was one of the busiest. Not many people answering calls and not a lot of activity. I had a few QSOs, but compared to DStar Reflector 30 (which is just a regional reflector), there is no comparison. I have not found any activity yet on the DMR Midwest talk group or any of the local talk groups. In other words, where is everyone?

Second, audio quality between DStar and DMR is about equal. I really do not hear any significant difference. I will give to DMR that it seems to recover faster than DStar which means you do not hear the "R2D2" sounds when DMR becomes marginal.

Third, programming DMR is laborious in my opinion compared to DStar. With the newest generation DStar radios, about the only thing you need to program is your call. All the current DStar repeaters are pre-programmed into the DStar radios and the newest DStar radios have a GPS which will locate the closest DStar repeater for you. No guessing when traveling. DMR does not seem to have the ability to have such a function. I do not see anywhere where you can store the GPS coordinates of the DMR repeater.

The software that came with the CS750 is not nearly as easy to use as the Icom DStar programs or even Chirp. When I tried to import repeaters and contacts into the CS750 software, instead of appending the new contacts and repeaters to the existing contacts and repeaters, it just overwrites what was already there. This means I have to really do the cut and pasting with Excel first before trying to do the import. Yikes, more work.

Fourth, DMR does not seem to have the ability to let users build their own repeaters like you can with DStar. So as I understand it, the cost of a DMR repeater is about $1,800 minimum. I am not sure if that includes the networking gear to allow it to connect to all these various talk groups. Yes, you can easily build your own DStar repeaters and some have done it for a few hundred bucks.

Fifth, as far as I can determine, I also do not see an ability to use an external program like D-RATS to send digital messages and data through the radios. Maybe that is coming. We'll see.

Sixth, there does not seem to be a way, or maybe any availability, to provide hotspots. This would allow someone who does not have a local repeater to still be able to access talk groups from home, car etc.

Finally the biggest issue is the use of a registration number instead of a callsign. So when a user is transmitting on DMR, you do not see his or her call, you see a number. We are hams, we have calls and we use our calls. Surprising that DMR could not be modified to use a call instead of these registration numbers. Now you can get the call to display instead of the registration number, but that requires you entering in the user call along with the registration number into the contacts list. It's all manual. With DStar the call is always displayed.

So in quick summary, while DMR is useable, it is not nearly as ham friendly as DStar. That's because DStar was created for hams, but hams. DMR was created by commercial interests for commercial users and we hams are trying to make it work for us.

I will continue to use both and report on my experiences and findings in the future.
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More reasons for DStar over DMR

I have been following Jerry Wanger’s comments on his work designing a DStar handheld to be introduced later this year. Jerry is president of Connect Systems and has already designed and selling a DMR radio at an affordable price. Now he wants to make DStar radios more affordable.

Jerry hopes to have a radio that can be upgraded to other digital methods so that one hand-held can work on a variety of digital methods including Codec2.

On the Yahoo discussion there were some comments he made about having to pay DVSI for using the codec as well as having to pay Motorola for license fees for Mototrbo (or related technologies) which is Motorola’s implementation of DMR. So apparently DMR is not always DMR and while Mototrbo is DMR, DMR is not always Mototrbo.

Don’t believe me? Take a look here: http://www.motorolasolutions.com/US-EN/Technology_Licensing/Standards-Based+Licensing/DMR+Essentials+Licensing+Program

There are no license fees for DStar other than for the DVSI codec.

So DStar is DStar. A completely open standard.

DMR is open, or maybe not if you have to pay Motorola license fees. But maybe license fees are only if you use Motorola’s implementation of DMR which means DMR is not DMR and can very from manufacturer to manufacturer depending on how someone may want to proprietarily enhance their “version” of DMR. What a freaking nightmare.

But people like Northwest Digital Radio, DutchStar, and now Connect Systems are all making or in the process of making DStar radios proving again that DStar is completely open.

You would expect this since DStar was designed by amateurs for amateurs specifically and only for the amateur marketplace.

DMR was designed by commercial interests for a commercial marketplace without consideration for amateurs. Hence why with DStar you register your call and you can use any DStar Gateway anywhere with any DStar capable radio that you programmed your call into. With DMR you register EACH radio.

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DStar Audio Samples Added to Website

If you would like to hear samples of DStar audio, I have added them at the bottom of the DStar information page. These samples were recorded directly from an Icom ID-51A handheld using the built-in recording capability of the 51A. These are actual unaltered recordings.

You can listening to them by clicking here and going to the bottom of the webpage.
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Digital Voice in Amateur Radio - Still a Fragmented Mess

While D-Star still reigns king as the digital voice standard in Amateur Radio, there is growing fragmentation in the ranks. Everyone has their own biases as to which one they like. Everyone throwing fud around trying the make the other guy’s choice look inferior. Yeah, I have been somewhat guilty of that too.

But it is amazing the number of choices out there. Icom with D-Star and Yaesu with its System Fusion are the only manufacturers making equipment specifically for hams. Those who want to use P25, DMR, NXDN have to rely on getting equipment from manufacturers who are concentrating on the commercial markets.

Then of course there is the Open Codec projects. All the systems mentioned above use a proprietary codec. Open Codec is an attempt to create a codec free of license fees. No ham manufacturer has adopted it and it seems to be only used on the HF bands right now using a software application that has to reside on a PC/Mac/Linux system.

In any case, Icom and Yaesu have put their digital stakes in the ground. Kenwood and the others continue to sit on the sidelines I guess waiting to see where the chips fall.

I just wonder how long the inevitable shake-out with the digital voice technologies will take. It could be years and years. One thing is for sure, the longer it takes, the longer it will be for the vast majority of amateurs to move from FM and adopt digital. No one wants to buy a radio that is going to end up an orphan.
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Dayton Hamvention 2013 Recap

Another Dayton Hamvention has come and gone.

The weather was pretty nice most of the time, though there was a quick shower on Saturday morning. Attendance seemed on par with last year. Noticed that a large number of people taking the amateur license exams were passing.

There were a number of vendors missing this year. AES, Ham Station, Scanner Master were the vendors I noticed. But some of the indoor display areas had isles completely empty. Not a lot, but very noticeable to those of us who go to Dayton annually.

Again, as last year, there were a large number of empty flea market spaces. Also, as usual, most of the stuff being sold in the flea market is junk that no one would even put on eBay. It seems to be a recurring theme that the good stuff that will bring increasing bids goes to eBay, while the junk that no one really wants is brought to the flea market. Prices for the junk in many cases is too high and unrealistic. Why would I buy a beat-up and scratched radio with questionable history for $100 less than I can buy one new? But people don't seem to mind bringing that same junk back to hamfest after hamfest. Seems to me, you take what you can get quickly and move on.

As far as the big-five at the Hamvention.

Icom's exhibit was packed as usual. DStar is still hot and growing rapidly. At the DStar forum they indicated that world-wide, there are now over 2,000 DStar repeaters and 50,000+ DStar registered users. The reports that you see on dstarinfo are only for U.S. Gateway 2 registrations and do not include the other gateway infrastructures. So clearly, DStar is even bigger than many of us thought. Icom as usual had a separate DStar display that was packed with people all the time. The ID-51A dual-band DStar radio was flying off the shelves with most vendors sold out by Friday night. HRO some how got another 50 for Saturday and they blew out. This radio has all the world-wide DStar repeaters already loaded. It can program the nearest repeater using its built-in GPS. As usual there was much interest in all the Icom HF offerings.

Kenwood's display seemed lightly attended. The only "new" thing they had was a $7,000 HF rig so since that is way out of the budget of most hams, it was not creating much excitement. Fact is, I have never witnessed such a dismal crowd at the Kenwood display. Probably because there was nothing new.

Yaesu was not giving out their traditional hat. They were giving out mouse pads instead. Yawn. Their display was also lightly attended, though not as bad as Kenwood. Hardly any interest in their new digital VHF/UHF handheld which is finally for sale. The woman who was manning the position could not say much about it. Still no repeater offering from Yaesu. Frankly, Yaesu's entrance into the digital voice world has been a disaster. Yaesu, wake up and go with DStar as that is where the momentum is in the worldwide market.

The DMR Mototrbo folks are trying to make everyone think DMR is overtaking DStar, but their booth was no where to be found. Someone told me yesterday it was located in the ARRL area. I was in the ARRL area at least four times, and did not see them at all. Frankly DMR has so many issues that DStar is continuing to rule and outgrow them. The DMR radios are a nightmare to program. Each radio has to be registered and not the more simple method of registering the ham call sign only. TDMA is reported to having problems when the distance is more than 45 miles. It does not seem to do integrated data and voice as some say it is "capable" of doing. It's not the right technology for ham radio. It's a commercial standard for a commercial market. But some people continue to push a square peg into a round hole.

TenTec was fairly busy all the time. They had a new computer controlled CW QRP radio. Boring. Yet another CW QRP rig for the market (I have a picture of it on the Hamvention 2013 Photo page on this website). Does anyone have any ingenuity? Their new QRP radio the Argonaut VI was not creating a lot of excitement. Many hams have shied away since it is a crippled radio missing 6, 12 and 60 meters. In this day and age given the technology, how can you create an HF radio with missing bands?

Elecraft was packed as usual. Their influence in the U.S. ham market is obviously growing. The fact that they continue to create new products and rapidly bring them to market is why they create excitement at the Dayton Hamvention year after year. TenTec needs to take a lesson from them. They created an all-band QRP rig in a smaller package than TenTec that can also include an antenna tuner, battery and 2 meter module. Why TenTec cannot do the same is beyond me. Elecraft was also not offering any discounts because the demand for their products is so high.

As for other vendors.

Flexradio had a lot of visitors to their booths as usual. Still showing the 6000 series of radios and software, but still no deliveries. Mel K0PFX told me that he has had his order into Flex now for a year and still no radio. The Flex1500 and Flex3000 are still the most economical way to get into an SDR transceiver.

Ham Radio Deluxe is doing well and has a growing following since the new owners have taken over. Great full-featured product for rig control, digital modes, logbook and satellite tracking.

LNR Precision was showing a dual-band CW QRP radio - again yawn - BUT the real exciting thing was a quad-band SSB and CW QRP radio that they will be offering around the Q3/Q4 timeframe. 5 watts and very small. This was really neat and supposed to be less than $500 when offered for sale. Watch for an announcement at http://www.lnrprecision.com.

Silent System is a tiny Japanese company who is offering a very small QRP PSK transceiver with built-in display. Connect a keyboard, antenna and power supply, and you have a fully-functional PSK station. The only issue I saw was the power output was only 100 milliwatts. The price was under $300 as I recall and you can get more information or order it at http://silentsystem.jp/handypsk.htm.

The FreeDV/Codec2 folks had a nice display in the main arena. They even showed a concept of an open source digital voice handheld.

Palstar was showing their new TR-30 5-Band SSB/CW (full QSK) touch screen transceiver. Great idea, but not yet available, but it should be later this year. My only concern is the price as they quoted it would be around $1,600. Maybe a little high if it were all band, but for only 5 bands I think it is a bit overpriced.

GRE America was there and yet not there. They used to have two booths in the past. One for scanners and the other booth showcasing Alinco. This year it was a combined single booth and none of the usual GRE America folks were there as it looked like all Alinco staff manning the booth. GRE made some of the best scanners in the past. But the parent shut down the scanner line and it looks like GRE America is trying to become independent and restart scanner manufacturing. Not sure where they are in that process.

The ARRL had a lot of visitors to their usual large display. Again, there was a great focus on youth in ham radio.

I expected to see more SDR (software defined radios) this year. WinRadio's booth was scaled down. Bonito had their integrated SDR/Control application on display and it looked very interesting, but I expected to see a few more vendors.

Summary - In general the Hamvention is THE hamfest of the year. But clearly the continued poor economy is keeping away vendors and some hams. Another thing that might be keeping away hams is that there just wasn't anything really new to generate the interest in going. Prices on radios and the like were not as good as they have been in the past. Even the cheap Chinese radios were not discounted as much this year. In fact, some of the radios offered could be purchase for less money on Amazon.

I would also suggest that the Hamvention start giving new and smaller ham radio vendors the chance to come for the first year for a very discounted price ($100?) on a first-come-first-served basis for the open slots on the inside. It's a shame to see those precious spaces sitting their empty. I know new upstarts that would love to come to Dayton, but find the cost too much for their budgets. Come on Hamvention committee, let's give them some assistance while growing the Hamvention with new products.




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DStar versus DMR

Recently I have noticed a few people promoting DMR as the DStar replacement. So I have been looking into DMR a bit. Some of you may have read about Mototrbo which is Motorola's marking name for the DMR technology.

I intend to do a more in-depth comparison here between the various digital technologies. Not just DStar versus DMR, but also look at whatever Yaesu is coming out with, APCO25 and Nexedge/NXDN.

So I signed up on Yahoo Groups with a few of the DMR and Mototrbo groups. Via radio reference website, there even is a link to listen to one of the DMR networks/repeaters.

One of the first questions I asked on the groups, "can you build you own DMR/Mototrbo repeaters?" In other words, is it practical?

The answer I got was basically "no" that it is not practical and they way to get a repeater is to "get some of my friends together to share the cost." Also, not practical.

Now with DStar you can build a repeater yourself very easily. You need two transceivers with packet ports capable of supporting 9600 baud packet, a hotspot board and a computer. So here is what it cost to build a home-brew DStar repeater that a couple of folks in a local radio club are considering building.

Two single band Alinco radios. $279 each. Moencomm GMSK Node Adapter (hotspot board) at $120 and a computer, in this case a Raspberry Pi with Ethernet Adapter ($35 for the RPi and $30 for the Ethernet adapter. Total cost of the DStar repeater is $743 using all new equipment except for the duplexers and antenna which the club already has for the old UHF FM repeater days.

DMR well for a new repeater, since there are not a lot of used repeaters, about $3,000.

The other issue I see as a problem is with DMR each radio has an ID that has to be registered and is tied to the callsign of the user. This appears to be a real issue with sharing equipment and callsign routing, that is not an issue with DStar.

Also DMR programming is very complex. Mainly because DMR was meant for the commercial market. There are things that need to be programmed like "talkgroups" which do not exist in ham radio. If I read correctly, since all repeaters in a network are tied together, all transmissions go out over the entire network. There seems to be no way for an amateur operator to connect and disconnect the repeater to the network or network of choice. This is all easily done in DStar.

So here is what it really comes down to. DMR was designed for the commercial user in mind. DStar was designed for amateur radio. One fits better than the other. Both are open protocols except for the Codec which in both cases is proprietary. Both sound equally good.

DStar has over 1,000 repeaters world-wide. DMR less than 100. DStar has thousands of users world-wide while DMR has about 300.

DStar current generation radios can be used without any programming except for entering in the callsign of the user. DMR has to be programmed.

Clearly, DStar is way ahead. The question among many is will it remain there. DStar users say yes and DMR users say no. It's the 21st Century version of the code/no-code argument all over again.
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Misguided Hams on eBay and Mototrbo

I was doing a search on eBay the other day for DStar equipment. I came across this posting. Actually the person had a couple of beat-up commercial items up for auction using this or a similar description:

50 watt 32 channel VHF 136-174

You are bidding on the next technology in digital FM communications. Once I figured out that Motorola commercial Dmr was cheaper than my icom dstar equipment, i sold all my dstar repeaters and gear!

No kidding! Yaesu is coming out with DMR radios soon, but motorola, hytera, vertex already exist. DMR is an open ETSI standard and is legal on the hambands. You can buy a complete repeater new for less than $2000, and mobile rigs for less than $500. This technology fits 2 voice / data channels into 1 repeater! To do this with an icom dstar stack you would need 2 rp and 1 contoller - would cost $4500! Lets face it Dstar is 10 year old technology now.

Yes motorolas software is $250 - but it programs every version of mototrbo mobile and portable. The ham software costs $50 for each model of radio!

Once you've used commercial gear on the ham bands you will never turn back!

See my other auctions for a mototrbo repeater.

I have licensed cps and will program for free for winning bidder, or radio ships with 162.400 and 162.55 wx channels.

Included in auction but not pictured is new mobile bracket and new oem power cable. Radio is in mint condition and never seen mobile use.

Due to the technical nature of this equipment and the potential to brick the unit - No returns! all sales final.

Now I left the grammar and spelling as is. Let's analyze all these claims.

This used and beat-up stuff is supposedly cheaper. The current bid was $200 for a single-band radio with no warranty. I can now buy a NEW DStar radio single band for less than $300 with warranty. Why would I want to buy used stuff without warranty for $200 or more as the bidding is not over? Oh, and that under $300 DStar radio also has a built-in GPS unit.

Then I have to buy the programming software for $250. So now we're at $450 or more. Cheaper? No.

Actually the person says that all software for Icom cost $50 a radio. Not true at all. In many cases, Icom gives you the programming software for free. Or, in all cases, you can use the FREE software from Chirp to program them. Oh, Chirp does not support this commercial crap.

DMR is an open standard. OK, so is DStar. No difference there, but the poster leads you to believe there is. In both cases the Codec used for digital communications is proprietary. Again, no difference.

The other claim, once you have used commercial gear on ham bands, you'll never turn back. Well I have, and because it is not made for the amateur market, I did turn back and will never use commercial surplus again. It is not supported by the manufacturers for amateur use. It is made for commercial markets so it does not have the same flexibility for amateur use. Oh it works, but not worth the aggravation or expense.

The seller will program for free. Great, now that you have the radio, you want to change the programming? Good luck. In most cases, you'll be lucky if you can actually buy the programming software.

Finally here is another myth. The technology is 10 years old so it is outdated. Not true in being outdated. Yes, it is 10 years old, but it is technology designed specifically for hams! All this commercial garbage is designed for markets other than ham radio. Second, if I use that logic, in 5 years when something else comes out for the commercial market, then this Mototrbo stuff the seller is trying to get rid of is also outdated.

Sure, this commercial stuff fits 2 voice/data channels into one repeater. Yup, but at twice the bandwidth of DStar! Doh, didn't tell you that did he/she!

So he sold all his DStar stuff and went to Mototrbo. Great, who is he talking to? Yaesu has yet to begin selling a Mototrbo for ham radio and apparently whatever it is Yaesu will introduce for hams is not the same at Mototrbo. There are darn few DMR repeaters compared to thousands for DStar. Nothing for this Yaesu ham mototrbo stuff.

Hams have a choice. You can go with DStar with over 1,000 repeaters worldwide. Use a PROVEN technology used by thousands of hams around the world. Use a technology designed for hams by hams.

Or……

You can use Yaesu's commercial equipment, adapted for ham use. Designed without hams in mind. With hardly any users. With maybe a couple of repeaters. No one to really talk to. Price of their equipment still unknown, unless you want to use this "refurbished" commercial junk which is still at a price close to DStar's NEW with warranty equipment.

BTW, one only has to look at Yeasu's record of going against the tide. In the U.S we developed IRLP and Echolink. Yaesu went against IRLP and Echolink and created WIRES. Yeah, that's the useless "WIRES" button Yaesu still puts on their radios. No one barely uses WIRES outside of Japan.

Going against an established trend in Amateur Radio is stupid. Yaesu should have adopted DStar which is already well entrenched around the world.

In any case, don't be fooled by outlandish claims by people trying to dump used commercial gear on unsuspecting hams. Unless or course you are looking for a new boat anchor for your bass boat.
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Upcoming Live D-Star Broadcast

This was sent to me via the website, so I thought it might be interesting to those of you using DStar or considering adopting THE digital standard in Amateur Radio which of course is DStar.

The website http://w5kub.com will be doing a live internet broadcast called "D-Star Live" on Dec 29th from 1600 until 2000 UTC. Ray Novak, N9JA, Sales Manager for Icom, is flying in for this event and there will also be a few other special guests. Robin Cutshaw, AA4RC, the co-inventor and developer of the DV Dongle and DVAP Dongle, will take part in the Internet broadcast. We will discuss all aspects of DStar. There will be a chatroom on the video broadcast page where those interested in DStar can ask questions for the experts to answer. Please visit the website or join the Facebook broadcast page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/279273778772594/ for more details.

Above information courtesy of W5KUB.
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More on the Digital Wars - Icom DStar versus Yaesu Digital

I recently saw that Icom has announced two more radios with DStar.

The first is the ID-51A which is a dual-band (2meter/440Mhz) FM and DStar radio with GPS built-in. The entire DStar repeater database is loaded in a memory card. The GPS allows you to find DStar repeaters that are close to your location. The GPS will also capture your location and send it automatically to the DStar repeater system and using DPRS, feeds the location to the APRS network.

The IC-7100 is another “DC to Daylight” frequency coverage radio that has the usual modes plus DStar. Even has a touch screen.

Yaesu, who first showed their FT-1DR at Dayton. The FT-1DR is a dual band handheld with yet another digital voice mode that is intended to compete with DStar.

Well here we are now almost to October and still no Yaesu digital radio. Frankly, this radio is probably pretty much DOA. I would advise anyone who may be considering such a purchase unless you are looking for a fancier FM radio than what Yaesu already offers.

The Yaesu effort on their digital technology was so lackluster at Dayton, it actually caused a flurry of DStar purchases at Dayton. Many vendors sold out of DStar radios by mid-day Saturday.

Plans for new DStar repeaters actually accelerated following Dayton. There was just no excitement for the Yaesu offering. With DStar exploding in usage and acceptance, buying a Yaesu radio for digital usage means no one to talk to. Just because they came to the digital table late, does not mean it is superior to DStar.

Yaesu has made a huge mistake in going against the tide. They can claim their stuff is newer and the other stuff is older, but DStar sounds incredible in terms of voice quality and handles data with ease with half the bandwidth of Yaesu.

The radios keep coming from Icom and it is just a matter of time before another manufacturer jumps on the DStar bandwagon because that is what hams are buying.

Look at Yaesu’s WIRES Internet linking. No one uses it….well, I think maybe five repeater systems in the U.S. Over here we use Echolink and IRLP. Kenwood implemented Echolink into some of their radios. Smart manufacturers either create a market or go with the market. Yaesu did neither.

Such a waste.
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Dayton Hamvention 2012 Recap

Another Dayton Hamvention has come and gone. I spent Thursday night thru Saturday afternoon with Rod WI0T and Russ WB8ZCC at the Hamvention. Thursday evening was the usual pre-Dayton drinking festivities. WB8ZCC suffered with a headache on Friday.

The good news is that the weather was great. It was the first Dayton Hamvention in recent memory where is did not rain at some point during the weekend. In fact, the skies were blue and beautiful and temperature in the 80s.

The crowd seemed about the same as last year to me, but then on Monday I was listening to the Dayton DStar repeater and the hams there said that the attendance was up this year to around 25,000 people. That means growth again. Great news for the Hamvention going forward.

Flea market vendors were down again. That's OK since most of the vendors who did come had nothing but junk at premium prices. I suspect a number of them toted the stuff home since they apparently think their junk is worth just a little less than buying something new with a warranty. I just don't understand what people are thinking with these asking prices. Some say it is because of eBay, but I don't believe it. Most of this stuff was junk and most of the stuff on eBay is of decent quality, or at least that is my experience.

In any case I anticipated that there would be a big crowd at the Yaesu booth looking at their new digital handheld radio the FT-1DR/E. To my surprise, there was very little interest and no crowd whatsoever. Just the usual people stopping by to get their free Yaesa hat (by the way, someone told me that in Japanese, Yaesu means "free hat." In any case, when I tried discussing the new digital offering with the Yaesu people, about all they could tell me was that "it is not P25 and not DStar."

From what I can tell the bandwidth is twice as wide as DStar, hence faster data speeds, it has a built-in GPS, and that it is capable of taking and sending very low resolution pictures. Since the handheld cannot display the picture I am not sure what the full benefit is with that function. Furthermore, even if sending it to a base unit allowing them to view it on a PC, the picture is so low in resolution it would not be worth much to me. The radio does attach the position of the radio to the picture so you can return to the place where it was taken. In marketing we would call it flash and trash.

It does allow for a micro SD card to back-up data and store GPS positions just like the current DStar handheld radio the ID-31. It also has digital ARTS, but I have never seen or known anyone to use ARTS on their analog radios.

There is no mention of call-sign routing or being able to use the GPS function to transfer position to the APRS network as there is today with DStar.

You can apparently send Group Short Messages and we all know it is not easy to send messages with the keyboards on anyone's handheld….at least not fast.

It appears that this Yaesu digital radio is really just trying to migrate a commercial technology into ham radio. We all know that DStar from the ground up was designed specifically for amateur radio. So now you have a choice between a technology designed for amateur radio and one designed for commercial users and shoe horned for you. An easy selection in my opinion.

So Yaesu was not selling any of the radios, with little excitement from amateurs, with no one to talk to because of zero Yaesu digital capable repeaters, why would you buy it? Again, I think Yaesu made a big mistake with this direction since DStar is already an established digital standard that works extremely well in spite of Yaesu's attempt to create FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) by saying it is old technology. Don't believe it folks.

Well I had to have some fun with Yaesu and mock their poor decision to go in another digital direction. WI0T, WB8ZCC and I did wear some yellow T-Shirts I had produced prior to the Hamvention that said "DStar, THE Digital Standard for Amateur Radio" on the front and "DStar Accept No Substitutes" on the back. We wore them the entire day on Saturday. People loved it for the most part. A few made negative comments, probably the old hate to change CW forever crowd. We also wore them at the Yaesu booth and stood around talking. Yaesu folks didn't seem to care and since most people passed on taking a look at their new FT-1DR/E, the average ham didn't even get the meaning.

In summary, it looks to me that the Yaesu digital offering is DOA.

On the other hand, DStar is alive and well with tremendous and growing interest at the Hamvention. The DStar gatherings on Thursday and Friday nights were packed with hams. Icom gave a presentation on the history of DStar that was very interesting. It outlined why they selected the Codec and GMSK for the base of DStar. Once you listen to that presentation, it all makes sense.

The DStar education forum was also packed with hams eager to learn about the DStar technology and all that it can offer.

Many of the vendors of DStar equipment had sold most of the on-site DStar inventory by Saturday morning. The ID-31 handhelds were the first to sell-out as that is the latest and greatest easy to use DStar handheld complete with GPS and the entire DStar repeater database. With the GPS, the ID-31 can automatically find and program the radio for the closest repeater. Of course since it has the built-in GPS, it can also send your position to the APRS network. So DStar is growing very rapidly now and just exploding in growth. With close to a thousand world-wide DStar repeaters now and all 50 states covered, it is no wonder the digital excitement is with DStar and not Yaesu.

TenTec showed off the new QRP transceiver and the new QRP amplifier. The amp looks very interesting. The QRP transceiver is missing 12 meters. TenTec said it would not fit. Huh? So Elecraft can bring out a 10 watt QRP radio with 160 meters up to 6 meters in a smaller box and TenTec cannot even get all the HF bands to fit into a larger box. Very puzzling to me.

Alinco showed off their new SDR transceiver. Frankly, it looks like their regular HF transceiver without the panel and with a computer to control it. No comparison to the Flexradio SDR radios.

Flexradio showed off their new and coming new SDR radio. This is aimed towards the money crowd with a price to be around $7,000. Out of my league, but I am sure it is going to be great.

Kenwood showed their new 990 HF radio. Wow, this thing is a monster and rumored to be around $10K list price. Again, for the money crowd, but the radio looked great.

Go to my Dayton Hamvention 2012 Photo Album for pictures of all the new offerings.

The ARRL booth was crazy with activity and helps to create a lot of excitement around ham radio.

W4PC and the Ham Radio Deluxe gang were there to show off what is coming in the new 6.0 release. They had a line of people waiting to pay $60 for support and the next HRD version 6.0 which of course will start the paid subscription model of HRD. HRD is by far the best radio control, multimode and logging program out there supporting all the major radios with one license. I know hams are use to mostly free software. But if we want people to continue to support and develop their software, we're going to have to start paying them to do so. There is nothing more frustrating to me than to use and like a program, only to have the author drop support because it takes up too much of his free time. These guys and gals need to get compensated for their time. Let's support HRD folks.

There were also many vendors selling all those new cheap China radios. Many people were buying the Wouxun, Baofeng, TYT and some other weird name radios. Hey, they're pretty much cheap throw-a-ways. I mean were else can you get a dual band four or five watt handheld with rapid charger for $65 bucks?

So we had a great time and there is so much more to talk about. After all there are hundreds of vendors and I would wear my fingers out typing comments about all of them so I just tried to hit the highlights.

I know gas prices are up, but the trip to Dayton each year is well worth it.
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The Yaesu Mistake

Happy New Year!

Last week I was getting ready to head down to Atlanta to visit my daughter and her family. Atlanta is a great place to visit, especially if you are into D-Star. Heck, the whole Southeast area of the United States is a D-Star haven. But I digress.

I read a post on the TAPR APRS SIG about Yaesu finally introducing digital radio. It looks like they are going to bring out something that is based on P25. P25 is a digital mode developed for the United States Public Sevices - as in police, fire, government service, etc.

Now Icom introduced D-Star a number of years ago. D-Star was developed for the amateur radio community and developed for an international market. P25 is a digital method developed for the U.S. government market and not a worldwide market and hardly developed for the amateur community. D-Star is a completely open standard. The only thing proprietary is the digital Codec. Not a big deal.

There is a well established and growing D-Star presence throughout the world. So now Yaesu is going to come along and hose things up by introducing something different. What's next, Kenwood coming out with their own digital mode?

Yaesu's actions are nothing short of nuts. Why not go with what is already established and a defacto standard in the amateur community? What are they trying to create, the Beta/VHS war of years ago?

One amateur on the list who will remain nameless commented that he never got D-Star and thought it was stupid. Why? Because if could not interoperate with the U.S. public service systems! Well I have got news for him and everyone else. The police and fire agencies are NEVER going to link their communication systems with amateur systems. Thinking this is nothing but foolish. Each service will stand on its own. So that kind of blows the whole need for one common system for digital. Heck, even in the U.S., the railroads have chosen their own digital system. There is no standard across all services. Each service picks its own standard.

D-Star has become the standard. What a mistake for Yaesu to not have jumped on the D-Star bandwagon. Remember, Yaesu is the same company who went with "Wires" instead of Echolink and IRLP. As a result of that horrible decision, almost no one uses Wires. Yaesu is making another mistake trying to go on its own. This can only benefit Icom.
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