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What's D-STAR? D-STAR features The D-STAR repeater What can D-STAR do for me? Glossary Technical specs Myths Forums

D-STAR, a standard published in 2001, is the result of three years of research funded by the Japanese government and administered by the JARL to investigate digital technologies for amateur radio. The research involved Japanese radio manufacturers and other observers. Icom provided the equipment used for development and testing. D-STAR radios and repeaters have been tested extensively and are now ready for public use.

D-STAR is an open protocol – although it is published by JARL, it is available to be implemented by anyone. (For definitions and explanations of terms, there is a glossary on page 6.) While Icom is the only company to date that manufactures D-STAR-compatible radios, any equipment or software that supports the D-STAR protocol will work with a D-STAR system. D-STAR systems can be built using both commercial and homebrew equipment and software.

In a D-STAR system, the air link portion of the protocol applies to signals travelling between radios or between a radio and a repeater. D-STAR radios can talk directly to each other without any intermediate equipment or through a repeater using D-STAR voice or data transceivers. The gateway portion of the protocol applies to the digital interface between D-STAR repeaters (see figure 1). D-STAR also specifies how a voice signal is converted to and from streams of digital data, a function called a codec. The D-STAR codec is known as AMBE® (Advanced Multi-Band Excitation) and the voice signal is transmitted in the D-STAR system at 3600 bits/second (3.6 kbps).

The D-STAR system supports two types of digital data streams. The Digital Voice (DV) stream used on 144 and 440 MHz contains both digitized voice (3600 bps including error correction) and digital data (1200 bps). Using a DV radio is like having both a packet link and FM voice operating simultaneously. The Digital Data (DD) stream, used only on 1.2 GHz, is entirely data with a bit rate of 128k bps. The data connection to a radio that uses DV is via an RS-232 interface or USB 1.0. An Ethernet connection is used for high-speed DD D-STAR data. Ordinary terminal emulation software (DV) or a Web browser (DD) will do just fine for exchanging data (see figure 2).


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*The contents for this fearure are authorised by Icom America