Sub $200 D-Star radio in the making?

This was spotted on a D-Star Yahoo group:

Hi Everyone,

In case you do not know me, I am President of Connect Systems Inc. and I am responsible for getting to HAM market a commercial grade DMR radio for $180. This is about 1/4 the price you would pay for a New Motorola 6550 MotoTRBO radio. Beside running the company I am also a design Engineer.

I few days ago I had a long conversation with Mark Thompson (WB9QZB) and he convinced me I should seriously look into developing a DSTAR radio in competition with ICOM that has a selling price to HAMS for less than $200. He supplied me with three Documents named “D-STAR Uncovered”, “D-STAR System”, and “D-STAR radio packet structure for the Digital Voice (DV) mode. I studied the documents and at first glance I came to the conclusion that the development of this type of Radio is much simpler than either NXDN or DMR. So now I am seriously looking to develop the radio.

I have four questions I would like to ask. Put on the subject matter the word D-STAR someplace if you would like to e-mail me at jerry _at_

Question 1
What features would you like me to add to this radio that is not already in the ICOM radio?

Question 2
Given a choice for a commercial grade D-Star radio for about $200 (Such as Motorola or Kenwood quality) or an amateur grade D-STAR radio for about $30 less (Such as Wouxun) quality), which would you pick?

Question 3
Is there any software (Source Code) available that I could look at that would show how to design the radio part of a DSTAR System. Even better if someone made a working breadboard of a D-STAR radio.

Question 4
Is there anyone who completely understands the protocol of D-STAR down to the bit level?

Thanks in advance for answering these questions.

Jerry Wanger


Connect Systems Inc


15 comments on “Sub $200 D-Star radio in the making?

  1. Pingback: Feedback voor Bami D-star gezocht » Hamnieuws

  2. 3 and 4 shows this person is clueless. Dstar radios arent expensive because they use exotic parts and technologies. They are expensive BY DESIGN because and thanks to patents.

    • clueless? You mean new to the protocol. I’d hardly call anyone who was capable of implementing DMR clueless (and if you know anyone in PA country who can explain the DMR protocol to me in an afternoon, I’d be very interested).

      D-star radios are expensive due to lack of competition, not due to parts. There is the small matter of the AMBE vocoder, but when buying in bulk, the vocoder chips will not be very expensive.

  3. I’m pretty sure the only thing that is patented is the codec. The protocol was invented by a Japanese ham radio club (probably with ties to ICOM) but from what I’ve seen the protocol is open. Just very poorly documented. Several people have made open implementations of the air protocol. Like DVRPTR.

    And a mass hardware manufacturer should be able to negotiate a decent price on the codec chips. I doubt DVSI will give them the codec source but they could always use the chips).

  4. The dvsi chips cost around $25 a unit, when bought in small quantities, and yes only the codec is patented. The protocol is well documented, but you need to be able to translate to your native tongue if you can’t read Japanese.

  5. Pingback: Feedback voor Bami D-star gezocht : PI4UTR "Veron A08 Centrum"

  6. I live in an area where there are only a couple of D-Star repeaters and nothing else digital at all. Without a repeater infrastructure even reasonably-priced digital radios don’t offer any incentive for use. So, are there equally cheap DMR repeaters available or planned?

    • Chicken / egg problem…

      It was the same here a year ago. Now we have plenty of DMR repeaters, almost covering the entire country.

      • Was there anything in particular that helped get the ball rolling? I can afford a radio but putting up a repeater isn’t possible given where I live. I’d like to know how I can somehow get some momentum going locally.

      • Not much more than ham spirit and willing to invest in new technologies. Many amateurs also donated money to get things on the road.

    • I live in an area where there are only a one of D-Star repeater. But there is the D-star DVAP. Or a DSTAR hot spot. Please look up on You Tube..I’m using a D-star DVAP vhf model. Works well.
      N4vbr (Tim)

  7. Jerry, I would it be possible for you to take these suggestions at the PAPA meeting in April?

    Thanks again.

    Love the DMR radio!


  8. #1 DMR , D-star & SSB Mode’s

    Big Batterypack at least 3000 mAH Lithium Ion with desktop charger.

    Flexible Antenna SMA, not a dummyload like Icom uses.

    Big Oled screen , GPS .

    APRS modem

    SD memory slot, 6 power levels min 0.2 watt – max 4-5 Watt

    Water Proof

    1.5 Watt audio speaker

    squelch and volume dial on top

    Handheld Emergency LED Flashlight + Radio (AM/FM, wideband rx coverage

    # 2 Amateur Grade

  9. Take a look at the ICOM 51A for a tidy blueprint of features. DPRS is a good feature on a hanheld but make it easy to turn the GPS on-off so you can save battery when you aren’t hiking or responding to an emergency.

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