Selecting Equipment For Digital Amateur Radio Use

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JASII

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I have been a ham for quite a while now, but I havne't been real active on the air, however. All I have for equipment right now is a pair of Yaesu FT-8800s that I am considering replacing. Unlike many (most?) hams, I don't keep every piece of gear I ahve ever owner, but instead I sell it to help finance the purchase of new (or newer) gear. Which is what brings me here. I might as well give some consideration to getting gear that will do some digital voice mode. Help me put this is perspective, it looks like the predominant digital voice modes for US amateur use areas follows:

-Icom D-Star

-APCO P25

-MOTO TRBO

-NXDN

If I understand correctly, Icom is the only manufacturer of genuine amateur equipment with a digital VHF/UHF mode. It looks like P25 would require Motorola or other P25 land mobile equipment. It looks like MOTO TRBO would be the same. Is NXDN sort of a generic term for either Icom IDAS or Kenwood NEXEDGE format then. And I assume that means Icom land mobile for IDAS and Kenwood land mobile for NEXEDGE then.

I even looked at the equipment websites last night. It looked like:

-Alinco: Has the DR-635T/E with optional EJ-47U digital modulation uint, but what digital mode is it?

-Icom: D-Star is their ham digital mode, but IDAS is their land mobile digital mode

-Kenwood: Analog only ham gear, but NEXEDGE for land mobile

-Yaesu: Analog only ham gear, but has announced P25 and DMR forthcoming for amateur radios. They have land mobile (Vertex/Standard) in P25 and MOTO TRBO.

Is this a safe synopsis so far. Am I missing in other VHF/UHF digital voice modes in use by US amateurs?

To be honest, I have been taking a "wait and see" approcah to this, so far. I have end user experience with P25 over a year ago. I also have over a year of end user experience with MOTO TRBO. It looks like in my geographic area, D-Star is the dominant amateur digital VHF/UHF mode, but there is at least one system that is analog and P25, so I suspect a Motorola Quantar. I

Waht about other land mobile equipment manufacturers. What is Midland, Tait, Bendix-King, and others producing? Have they gone P25, MOTO TRBO?
 
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16b

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If I understand correctly, Icom is the only manufacturer of genuine amateur equipment with a digital VHF/UHF mode.
Yes, other than the Alinco radio you mentioned below, and the not-yet-released Yaesu.

It looks like P25 would require Motorola or other P25 land mobile equipment. It looks like MOTO TRBO would be the same.
Correct again. MotoTRBO uses a protocol called DMR, which is an open standard. Motorola has some proprietary extensions to DMR, but for the most part a generic DMR radio from another manufacturer will work with MotoTRBO radios and repeaters.

Is NXDN sort of a generic term for either Icom IDAS or Kenwood NEXEDGE format then. And I assume that means Icom land mobile for IDAS and Kenwood land mobile for NEXEDGE then.
That is correct. I believe that NXDN is the name of the protocol (like DMR above), but I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. I don't know much about NXDN, but I believe that the Kenwood and Icom radios are mostly compatible with each other.

-Alinco: Has the DR-635T/E with optional EJ-47U digital modulation uint, but what digital mode is it?
A unique one, as far as I know. I don't know the name of it, but it was either developed by Alinco or at least used exclusively by them. From what I've heard it was pretty bad.

-Icom: D-Star is their ham digital mode, but IDAS is their land mobile digital mode
Yes. Technically D-Star is an open standard like P25 and DMR, but Icom is the only manufacturer of D-Star equipment as far as I know. And since Yaesu basically said "screw D-Star" when they announced their new digital radio, Icom may very well continue to be the only manufacturer of D-Star equipment.

-Kenwood: Analog only ham gear, but NEXEDGE for land mobile
Yes.

-Yaesu: Analog only ham gear, but has announced P25 and DMR forthcoming for amateur radios. They have land mobile (Vertex/Standard) in P25 and MOTO TRBO.
The document that I read about Yaesu's new digital radio did not say what high level protocol it would be compatible with, if any. I would bet money that it won't be compatible with P25.

Is this a safe synopsis so far. Am I missing in other VHF/UHF digital voice modes in use by US amateurs?

To be honest, I have been taking a "wait and see" approcah to this, so far. I have end user experience with P25 over a year ago. I also have over a year of end user experience with MOTO TRBO. It looks like in my geographic area, D-Star is the dominant amateur digital VHF/UHF mode, but there is at least one system that is analog and P25, so I suspect a Motorola Quantar. I

Waht about other land mobile equipment manufacturers. What is Midland, Tait, Bendix-King, and others producing? Have they gone P25, MOTO TRBO?
D-Star is by far the most widely adopted across the country simply because it is the only digital system purpose-built for ham radio (so far). Many hams are wary of commercial radios. P25 has been around for a while, so surplus radios are not hard to find and not terribly expensive. One of the downsides to P25 is that there is no standard for interconnecting repeaters. MotoTRBO/DMR has taken off lately, and I can see it overtaking P25 in popularity on the ham bands because it provides easier repeater linking, and the radios are pretty affordable (new ones cost less than some D-Star radios).

As far as other manufacturers, I think that all of the ones you mentioned make P25 radios now.
 

W2NJS

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Probably the most important thing to determine at this point is what others are favoring/using in your area, but we don't know where you live so we can't consult the Repeater Directory to help you out with local digital repeater information.

You've got all the other stuff pretty straight so far. In my area it's P25 or D-Star. D-Star is a Japanese system intended only for amateur radio. Most of the "other manufacturers" are also selling digital equipment in various forms, so look up their websites.

Again, the worst thing you can do is buy the wrong digital equipment and end up having no one to talk to.

Regards,

Tom, W2NJS
Washington DC
 

stevelton

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I will diddo above.

If you like commercial LMR type radio, then go with one of the commercial digital modes.
If you hate not having VFO and other hammy funcutions, better go with D-Star. At least with D-star, even if there is no infastructure near by you, you can get a d-star radio for you, and get the DVAP for your house, and have your own D-Star hotspot in your neighborhood.

Locally, there is no P25 activity that I know of on ham. Our group has bought into Icom IDAS on 440mHz.
I know of a home built d-star repeater 30 miles away.

You might look at the NXDN for ham radio thread here on this board to see if there is an NXDN repeater near you. The list just got started, so Im sure there are many more out there but we just dont know about them.

Steven
 

SCPD

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So what's up in your area

Like W2NJS said, the radio(s) you need to buy would be for the repeaters around you.
Theres no MotoTrbo repeaters near me, I'm not putting much thought into picking up a Trbo radio for ham use. Makes sense. I have one P25 machine not too far from me, but far enough I'd have to get a mobile on a power supply to hit it from my house. So I'm not likely to spend money on that.
Do you have P25 machines near you?
Do you have Trbo machines that you can hit?
I'm taking a guess you don't have any NXDN/Nexedge/IDAS machines in the neighborhood.
That just may be a leading factor in deciding what equipment you want to be asking about, if you are wanting advice on what to buy.
 
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kb9gig

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Mar 15, 2005
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Clinton Il.
dstar alternative

Of course everybody forgot to mention you can use your ft8800 for dstar and not have to buy a new radio.
there is a device called a dv adaptor and it will work on any radio that has a 9600 baud packet port.
If you like your yaesu you dont have to get rid of it to move to dstar, I have both an Icom radio and a yaesu ft 847 i use on dstar and i much prefere the yaesu
If you like your yaesu then there is no need to switch
radio ref. wont allow me to post the website on here but if you email me i would be glad to send it to you
i am good in QRZ with my yaesu ft 847 i can run dstar on 6 meters and 10 meters and there are some experimental dstar hotspots on hf ocasionally , I do not represent the group that builds the dv adaptor i am just a satisfied customer.
kb9gig john:
 
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