Question on Ham Digital modes.

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I am wondering about which Digital mode is the most popular on the Amateur Bands, DMR, DSTAR, Fusion, or P25? The purpose of the question is not compare modes but to get an idea of which one is used to most. I am sure there are pockets where one mode could more popular and others areas where a different one is used/more popular some where else. I am wanting to do some traveling and would be covered without having five different radios in my vehicle.
 

Will001

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From what I've seen, there are a lot more DMR repeaters than DStar, Fusion, or P25. Having used these four modes many times before, DMR is almost guaranteed to have some sort of conversation on one of the national or international talkgroups (if the repeater is outfitted with these talkgroups).
 

jaspence

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DMR seems to lead the parade, but a lot of inexperienced users who spend most of the time looking for a radio check.
Also hams from HF bands that use it for long winded contacts or stay on a TG for long periods without coming up for air. I know this will aggrivate some users, but I have used DMR for almost 10 years and the changes have not necessarily been positive.
 

tweiss3

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Check with your state's ARRL section. For example, Ohio's ARRL section has a large DMR group, and help getting started. The larger the local support, the more popular (in general) the digital mode will be.

You can also ask your local amateur radio clubs. There are 5 different clubs around me, and 2 specifically have DMR repeaters, one has a DMR/Analog (auto select) repeater (haven't tried out how that works).
 

Whiskey3JMC

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DMR is most popular by far not just for amateur radio but also quite popular among Part 90 land mobile users (businesses, etc) Occasionally public safety too though not as often as the aforementioned 2
 

prcguy

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I agree that DMR seems to be the dominant digital mode and there is a lot going for it like more repeaters, the ability for two different conversations on the same repeater at the same time, etc. Problem is DMR is more of a commercial mode and its harder to set up for the average person. You really want to find a code plug for your type of radio that has everything already programmed for your area, otherwise there will be a learning curve. D-star and Fusion are amateur only modes and are much easier to get going just taking the radio out of the box.

One thing I don't like about D-star and Fusion is when you dial up another distant repeater, talk group, chat room, whatever, you have tied up the entire repeater with that function and local users just wanting a repeater are shut out for the duration. DMR has the ability to have the main local repeater available at all times and a second function like different talk group or chat room going on at the same time on the same frequency.

As for which mode sounds better, I think they all sound about the same and there will be more differences in the make and model radio used as there is between modes. I've heard DMR sound pretty bad on a Chinese radio but on a Motorola it sounds pretty good. Similar with Fusion, a higher end radio can sound better than an entry level model. P25 is another commercial digital mode available in some areas on amateur and it can also sound good on a commercial radio, but P25 only has a tiny following compared to the other digital modes.
 

chief21

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I am sure there are pockets where one mode could more popular and other areas where a different one is used/more popular some where else. I am wanting to do some traveling and would be covered without having five different radios in my vehicle.
Many distance drivers install a hotspot in their vehicle, thus allowing amateur digital communication from nearly anywhere.
 

popnokick

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If you are traveling without a hotspot then you'd be foolish to ignore DMR. And if you are looking for some hard numbers regarding how many repeaters are DMR, Fusion, or other digital modes, look at Repeaterbook.com - Home The database is searchable, sortable, and selectable enabling lookups by state, mode, frequency, etc. Thousands of repeaters in the North America listings, more in the WorldWide db. As is true with most frequency listings (even RadioReference) these are user-generated listings. But RepeaterBook is accurate in many areas of North America with repeater-admin submitted listings and info.
 

Vern

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Depending on your locale, don't forget about NXDN (Icom IDAS and Kenwood NEXEDGE). Southwest FL has a large network of UHF (440 MHz) repeaters on NXDN that are internet connected.

A bunch of us (hams) in the mountains of north GA use NXDN to scan local public safety channels and have ham simplex channels in them as well.
The older (used) commercial radios have hot receivers in them and seem to out-perform the typical ham gear that I've bought new. I consider NXDN to have great audio compared to D-Star.

But I have a D-Star rig in my truck (Icom ID-5100A) because I can download a current national library of analog and D-Star repeaters onto an SD card, install the card in the ID-5100A and go on a road-trip. This Icom rig has built-in GPS so no matter where I go, I can have it look-up nearest analog or D-Star machines and press a button and make a QSO (contact).

My advice is figure out what digital format is popular in your area and go with that. Meet up with hams who have some of the digital equipment and try it out... they're always willing to show off their gear.

I might have been too quick to dismiss DMR, but my brief experience with DMR TG's a year or so ago reminded me of having a CB back in the 70's. Those folks didn't even sound like licensed hams.
Have fun with it.
Vern.
 

vagrant

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One thing I don't like about D-star and Fusion is when you dial up another distant repeater, talk group, chat room, whatever, you have tied up the entire repeater with that function and local users just wanting a repeater are shut out for the duration.
It depends on how one configures things. I have my Yaesu repeater set so that people can come in over Wires-X or local RF, but the repeater cannot be steered elsewhere. I purposely have it set for local RF use and for others to come in (via Wires-X) and talk local.

If someone local to me wants to steer my repeater elsewhere, the answer is no. It errors out if they try themselves. I help them understand that all they need is a cable connecting their Internet connected computer to a proper Yaesu handheld or mobile and they can connect wherever they want without tying up the repeater. I also let them know that others are welcome to connect to my repeater (via Wires-X) and talk to them via RF. Thus, they can sit on the repeater frequency and chat with other local operators, or with their friends, family or persons yet unknown who may be elsewhere and connect in.

Another local Yaesu Fusion repeater is steerable. If it wasn't there, I would probably run another one and let that one be controllable. Options are good.
 

Hit_Factor

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There are not very many P25 amateur repeaters. I think the equipment is more expensive and challenging to program.

DStar and Fusion tend to be in pockets (or regions) around the country. IMHO DMR is only useful with a hotspot when travelling. Locally, it's like any other mode, just harder to program. DMR also seems to be more dynamic, you will spend time tracking talkgroups. Both DStar and Fusion seem to be more stable in that regard.

Generally, DMR uses talkgroups, Fusion uses rooms, and DStar uses reflectors. Different names with very similar functionality.
 

prcguy

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I've never priced a D-star repeater but Fusion repeaters are about $750 new for a DR-2X. P25 repeaters are coming down in price with UHF ham range Quanters going in the $700 range and about $1k for a 2m version. Performance wise a Quantar is about 10X the repeater that a Yaesu or Icom repeater could ever hope to be and it will probably never break. Plus they will put out gobs of power 24/7.

There are not very many P25 amateur repeaters. I think the equipment is more expensive and challenging to program.

DStar and Fusion tend to be in pockets (or regions) around the country. IMHO DMR is only useful with a hotspot when travelling. Locally, it's like any other mode, just harder to program. DMR also seems to be more dynamic, you will spend time tracking talkgroups. Both DStar and Fusion seem to be more stable in that regard.

Generally, DMR uses talkgroups, Fusion uses rooms, and DStar uses reflectors. Different names with very similar functionality.
 

vagrant

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Agreed on the Quantar, especially for the price, power and getting analog and P25 out of it is fantastic. The Yaesu repeater is definitely amateur, with the low power output, easy touch screen programming and what's going on inside hardware wise. Still, with zero Quantar experience, I was able to get one configured and going, although there was a learning curve. Having previously programmed an XTS, APX and XTL helped me to some degree.

Used P25 handhelds are relatively inexpensive. It is the software and lack of experience programming them that keeps it mysterious for many. I have encountered many other amateurs who couldn't understand how to program DMR. They would **** themselves with Moto CPS. Still, I welcome all flavors of digital modes, if I had to choose one it would be P25 and that is due to the quality of the Quantar and older Motorola handhelds/mobiles used to enjoy P25.

As to popular digital modes, we have more DMR repeaters in this area than Yaesu Fusion, D-Star and P25 combined. With that in mind there is significantly more P25 and Fusion traffic than DMR. In central California P25 is used most with Fusion second and DMR last. We currently do not have a D-star repeater nearby, but that is changing soon.
 

vagrant

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I am wondering about which Digital mode is the most popular on the Amateur Bands, DMR, DSTAR, Fusion, or P25? The purpose of the question is not compare modes but to get an idea of which one is used to most. I am sure there are pockets where one mode could more popular and others areas where a different one is used/more popular some where else. I am wanting to do some traveling and would be covered without having five different radios in my vehicle.
1. First and foremost analog is king. If you have an analog radio now you're fine. You'll catch more people on analog.
2. As for traveling and digital modes, Yaesu Fusion is quite easy to program on the fly. Just enter in the frequency and hit a button to select the digital mode. The offset is already set for the band, but you may need to adjust it one way or the other.
3. As an earlier post noted, you can connect via the Internet using hotspots in your vehicle. One that connects you to the Internet, which could be your phone. The other is whatever flavor of hotspot you like. If you have a Yaesu Fusion radio you can chat with others that use DMR, Fusion, D-Star, P25 etc. by connecting to whatever reflector/room. Alternatively, if your Yaesu Fusion radio is connected to a computer running Wires-X, you can also connect to the Wires-X network. I do this with a $100 Windows tablet and extra phone in the car that handles the Internet.

Price for DR-2X is $1700 these days.
As prcguy noted, $700 / $900. A refurbished DR-1X is $400.
 
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