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Digital Voice for Amateur Use - Discuss use of digital voice technologies on the amateur radio bands. This is to include technologies such as VoIP, P25, DMR/TRBO, NXDN, D-STAR, etc.

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 03-21-2017, 4:08 PM
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Preorders are closed, due to them deciding to redesign the internals.
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Old 03-21-2017, 9:16 PM
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I vote DMR & DSTAR over System Fusion. But let's look at the facts.

DMR - Radios are inexpensive. However, programming can be a ***** to a new user. Even if you get a decent code plug to work, chances are it is out of date, unless you get a fairly up-to-date plug. Repeaters are popping up everywhere. However, one radio will not get you on every system. The radios are either VHF or UHF, NOT BOTH! So, while cheaper than DSTAR or Yaesu System Fusion, you need two radios to operate both VHF and UHF DMR. Do you really want to carry two HTs just to access DMR? It can be a hassle, especially when traveling. Oh, while the majority of DMR repeaters can operate dual-mode (analog and digital), most of them don't. And yes, DMR radios operate both analog and digital… But only on UHF or VHF, no dual-band radios here!

DSTAR - Radios are more expensive but also dual-band. Meaning only one radio for both VHF and UHF. And, while DSTAR repeaters (by ICOM) only operate digital, you can operate both analog and digital with DSTAR Radios. Sure, the headache of registering for access on the DSTAR gateway can be a pain, you only have to do it once. (You also have to apply for a user ID on DMR to even transmit on the repeaters and talk-groups, so DMR is like DSTAR in this sense.)

Yaesu System Fusion - Radios are more expensive but also are dual-mode and dual-band. Repeaters are popping up but not lasting. The repeaters are built out of two mobile radios and fail if running at, what Yaesu said, true 100% duty cycle. Most failures are caused by the finals failing in the radios inside the repeaters. You can reduce the RF power and run a repeater amp but chances are, the repeater will eventually fail even at 5 watts. The club I belong to has had 3 YSF repeaters and all of them are back at Yaesu for repair for yet another time! Yaesu knows about the failure issues but does nothing to correct it, except tell you to run lower power out of the repeater. Pretty sad, yes?

So, you pay your money and take your pick. Honestly, you have to try them out for yourself and find which one you like the best.

I hope this helps… Some thoughts are my own about what I said above. Not trying to start a war among DMR/YSF/DSTAR users.
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Last edited by kf4sek; 03-21-2017 at 9:21 PM..
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Old 03-22-2017, 10:29 AM
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As a user of all three modes, I find that use by hams is dependent on where you are.
In the Tennessee Valley region, most hams use DStar. DMR is slowly coming along, but often times I hear no one and it's rare that I throw out my call sign and have someone return the call. Fusion is also starting to come alive here.
DStar offers the most flexibility and functionality. You do what you want. DMR is very limited, as the repeater owners determine which talk groups you may use with their repeater and their code plug. Fusion is very easy to use and has superior audio quality. And with Fusion you do not have to register with any data bases.
Now, the game changers I believe are hot spots, like the SharkRF OpenSpot. You don't need a repeater to access any of the ham DV networks! It's your own gateway that you can use at home, or take on the road. The SharkRF is amazingly simple to set up, unlike Raspberry PI, DVAPS and DV Megas. No more confusing, convoluted processes to set up.
I do find much more ham activity on DStar, including nets, round tables and general rag chewing on many reflectors. Most of the DMR talkgroups here are quiet, except for National 3100.in fact, I have never heard anyone answer my CQ call on the local, statewide and regional talkgroups. I think Fusion will only grow as it's much simpler to use, better audio and easy connectivity to wherever you want to communicate.
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Old 03-22-2017, 2:38 PM
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From what I understand, both DMR and D-Star require the "registration" of your call sign on some website somewhere before you can use them. This is where Fusion is different. All you need to get on the air is a capable radio and repeater.
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Old 03-22-2017, 3:45 PM
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Without registration there is anonymity, which is very appealing to those with malicious intent using a radio. But we all know that jamming and unidentifiable carriers and transmissions do not happen in the Amateur Radio service.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinballwiz86 View Post
The newest Icom HT's don't need DV dongles. They just connect to your wi-fi!
For $500 per ID-51a Plus2

I'll spend the $350 per radio for the ID-51a Plus (x3, one for each licensed family member) plus under $150 for a DV4Mini and under $50 for a Raspberry Pi so everyone can have connectivity around the house.

Or I'll spend $600 per radio and get an extra band (1.25m) for the TH-D74.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KF5ZIS View Post
For $500 per ID-51a Plus2

I'll spend the $350 per radio for the ID-51a Plus (x3, one for each licensed family member) plus under $150 for a DV4Mini and under $50 for a Raspberry Pi so everyone can have connectivity around the house.

Or I'll spend $600 per radio and get an extra band (1.25m) for the TH-D74.
I run a Raspberry Pi D-Star hot spot myself. I was just...saying.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinballwiz86 View Post
I run a Raspberry Pi D-Star hot spot myself. I was just...saying.
Fair enough.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a cool feature. I just happen to feel that $500 for an HT is pretty steep. I do love my ID-51a Plus. That's an extremely feature rich radio, though it doesn't seem to take full advantage of all the features it has built in.
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Old 03-27-2017, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kf4sek View Post
I vote DMR & DSTAR over System Fusion. But let's look at the facts.

DMR - Radios are inexpensive. However, programming can be a ***** to a new user. Even if you get a decent code plug to work, chances are it is out of date, unless you get a fairly up-to-date plug.
Codeplug,..."get".

Why is it everyone wants to "get" code plugs instead of writing their own? Get one for reference, (That might even be full of errors) and use that as a training template for your self. The sooner you have an understanding of it, the better for you, and the users around you. (audio settings)

I've seen several people loose thier Moto 25khz key, because they loaded someone else's plug, who wasn't using, or hadn't programmed any WB analog. A couple of other folks bricked MD380s using other peoples plugs.

I write my own. I chose my naming conventions, what goes in each zone, and any number of personal preferences.
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
Nonetheless, you asserted that D-Star and Yaesu System Fusion are proprietary when they are not. They may not be as popular as DMR and you may like them as much as you do DMR, but that does not give you carte blanche to make false claims about them.
The Dstar digital codec is proprietary. Chained to the DVSI chip.

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Old 03-27-2017, 1:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KD8DVR View Post
The Dstar digital codec is proprietary. Chained to the DVSI chip.
Same can be said of any digital voice radio. They all rely on some proprietary codec that either requires buying the code from the developer or paying them a license fee.
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Old 04-04-2017, 9:46 AM
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Did I not read something that said Icom's ID5100 and ID51 radios did NOT use the DVSI chip; that they used a firmware-based codec? As I understand it, one may not simulate the DVSI internals without violating their proprietary rights, but one may encode and decode the D-STAR digital format through any other means freely, as D-STAR is not in itself proprietary?

I am searching to find the discussion thread that mentioned the latest Icom products NOT using DVSI technology... My memory isn't perfect.
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Old 04-04-2017, 11:15 AM
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Default Who's talking

To the OP:

My advice is to program the different digital repeaters near you into a plain old analog scanner, and see which actually have conversations going on them. If you're 'hood is like my 'hood, there's plenty of all three listed in the repeater directory. But most are drier than last year's birds nest. Be a shame to see you spend some pennies on one of the modes, and then no one's talking. There's two digital repeaters I know of near me that have never been on the air, but the owners keep renewing the listing.

Like I said, scan the digital repeaters listed near you with an analog scanner. See which one's open up the squelch for extended periods of time. That will tell you someone's actually using the machine.
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Old 04-04-2017, 2:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k7ng View Post
Did I not read something that said Icom's ID5100 and ID51 radios did NOT use the DVSI chip; that they used a firmware-based codec?
You don't have to use the DVSI chips, the company is happy that you implement the codec in your own CPU. Of course you still pay the license to cover the time and effort that went into inventing and developing the voice coding intellectual property in the first place. The DVSI chips are actually third party DSP chips running DVSI's own code.

DSTAR is as much an open standard as DMR. Both have published specifications and both use a proprietary codec from DVSI (DSTAR uses AMBE, DMR AMBE2+). But this not the whole story, because the Icom infrastructure gateway backhaul is not well documented (it had to be reverse engineered) same story with Motorola.

And despite the inaccurate stuff posted about an upcoming lawsuit, Motorola helpfully allows developers to join its Application Developer Program and even offers a DMR essential patent licensing program:

https://www.motorolasolutions.com/en...g-program.html

Like most people I expect to get compensation for my job, so rightly DVSI and Motorola expect a return on their investment in R&D.
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Old 04-04-2017, 2:46 PM
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Originally Posted by kf4sek View Post
But only on UHF or VHF, no dual-band radios here!
I hate to look like I'm wanting an argument but just to this often mentioned 'dual band' point, Kenwood now offers dual and even triple band DMR radios.

One nice looking mobile is their NX-5000 that supports NXDN, DMR, and P25 (Phase 1 and 2) as well as analog FM. Only two of the three digital modes can be active at any one time. You can pair 136-174 with 380-470 MHz. The 800 MHz band is available for commercial users, no hack for 33cm yet

While the Kenwood offering is a mobile, at IWCE last week at least two vendors were rumoured to be privately briefing key accounts on upcoming DMR dual band handheld models.
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Old 04-06-2017, 1:54 PM
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I've heard price quotes from $165 - $220 for the TYT MD-2017

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Old 06-19-2018, 8:42 PM
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Well it's been over a year with other priorities preventing me from buying any of the radios discussed in my OP. I still need a new dual band HT and wondering whether or not to dip my toes into one of the digital modes or rather use the full duplex features of the Kenwoods for FM satellite work.

The MD2017 is now available as is the Anytone AT-D868UV. The ID-51A-PLUS2 and TH-D72A are pretty close in price at about $360-$400. And the TH-D74A looks great.
A kind friend for whom I did some work wants to buy me a present, budget around $400-$500 so I am back onto the what HT to get question.
What else has changed since I started this thread over a year ago?
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Old 06-20-2018, 8:10 AM
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Since you are in California, I'd recommend DMR as it seems the most popular digital mode, especially if you travel throughout the state. the Norcal Brandmeister system covers a lot of ground. However, if you stick to your neck of the woods DStar has a decent presence with the PAPA system (you may need to be a member, I'm not sure)

If you go the DMR route, you're pretty much tied to the Chinese radios. I have the Anytone AT-D868UV and I've been pretty happy with it. (It is a bit slow to boot up though) I don't do DStar so I can offer any thoughts on those radios.
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Old 06-20-2018, 8:50 AM
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Samsat, if you have $400+ for a dual or multi band HT, you're a lucky guy.
If it were me, and I am not unbiased, I'd pick a Kenwood TH-D74. You can find them open-box or used for your price range. I got mine for just over 1/2 the new price and it was 'used' because it had been taken out of the box and the battery charged, I guess.

That's a D-Star + analog radio, but it has a third band, 222 MHz, and depending on your location you might find 222 MHz analog to be a place to meet more pleasant, friendly types than other bands. YMMV. The radio also has receiving capability (AM/FM/SSB/CW) of a very wide range and if you have an interest in such things, it makes a half-decent scanner too. I am using D-Star for VHF/UHF digital radio, but I have some surplused P25 radios as well. P25 on ham bands is quite rare compared to D-Star and DMR, but I'm just saying.

I chose D-Star before the big surge of cheap DMR radios, and I'm too invested in time & money to do DMR right now. It may be changing, but the 'maker' contingent has a lot bigger playground with D-Star than DMR at the moment, so if you like Raspberry Pi or Arduino, or might want to get into digital voice hotspots, nonvoice messaging, etc. D-star might suit you better. IMHO.

If you do want to take a careful look at D-star HT's (I have three different types), again consider the TH-D74. I think it's a great radio, as long as you carry an extra battery or don't get too far from a power source for recharging. It's a battery hog.

All the above represents my personal opinion only, and though I have been in Ham Radio & the electronics field a long time, my opinions are worth about the same as anyone else's.
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Old 06-21-2018, 1:55 PM
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Well, my buddy ordered me a TH-D74A. My newest HT is about 10 years old so this will be a great replacement and also let me dabble with DSTAR and of course the other digital options that this radio has to offer.
If I want to take a look at DMR I can keep my eyes open for an MD-380/390. I am certain though that the D74A will be keeping my hands full for some time!
Next will be some accessories like an extra battery and a better antenna.

Thanks for all of the input.

W6TC ex ZS6CBA
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