A taste of D-star

Lots of hams showed up

Yesterday evening I visited a meeting in my home town, Almere, organized by D-star enthusiasts. Personally I don’t care much about D-star (yet), but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested. After all, it’s an extension of our hobby. It proved to be an interesting evening, with lots of room to get questions answered, and enough time for some hands-on experience.

Murphy’s law
When you want to demonstrate something, convinced that everything will work perfectly, Mr. Murphy will often pay you a visit. Although there was an internet connection in the cafe, no connection could be made. It’s one of the disadvantages of digital communication – if your service provider is down, or won’t allow you to change parameters in a firewall, your system is dead in the water. The same applies to technologies such as Echolink.

Hams are creative people by nature, so the problem was solved quickly by converting an iPhone into an access point.

PA2TSL trying to decode a D-star station

All current hardware was present: USB dongles, mobile transceivers, handhelds, a bunch of computers and even a working repeater. I made a few QSO’s with stations in New Zealand and a mobile station in Canada. It worked fine, with no packet loss at all, but I have to get used to the audio quality. Compression ratio is high, and it shows.

It’s a reminder that the word ‘digital’ doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to image or audio quality. It just depends on the codecs used, and the available bandwidth you have at your disposal. The background noise (some hams were real chatterboxes!) didn’t make reception easier either, haha!

When it comes to adopting D-star, pricing proved to be the biggest hurdle. D-star equipment is quite expensive, too expensive for some. This the reason for D-star picking up slowly in the Netherlands.

Some more pictures (click for larger version)