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:

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.


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.

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.


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.