Ham Radio D-Star... What they dont tell you.

A lot of hams want to get into the new digital modes and end up frustrated. Having helped people get this working, I needed to share this with everyone.

DStar is more popular with more repeaters but the documentation that comes with the radio will not get you on the air, and Dstar is very convoluted and not very well though out for a user point of view.  But it's not too hard once you get the correct information that seems to be hard to come by.

First, the reason nobody ever hears you on the local repeater is because Icom Radios DO NOT setup a dstar connection in any way when you setup a repeater.   you havet o go in and enter a lot of other information first that could be automated by the radios.

To make it easy...   you have 4 fields   MY, RPT1,RPT2,UR    These are as follows

MY = your callsign
RPT1 = the repeater you are connected to 8 characters long (I'll get to that in a second)
RPT2 = where are you connecting to, 99.9% of the time it's the repeater's gateway 8 characters long
UR = Your call  which is confusing.   I dont meand YOUR call I mean the other persons call.    it should be named Target

So you just bought a new DStar radio and want to rag chew on the repeater....  you need to set up connecting to the repeater frequency and if you look it's got a UR of CQCQCQ   and nothing in RPT1, and RPT2  which is fine, but will not work as that is only for simplex.   you need to add information into RPT1 and RPT2 which is the repeaters callsign spaces and then the Node B if 440 C if it's 2M, and then the gateway that is usually the callsign of the repeater padded spaces and a G.

Ok still confusing  because DStar and it's protocol written  20 years ago.

so for example...
I am on W1AW repeater at 444.4400mhz +5 offset.   It calls its self the W1AW-B repeater...  we need to know the B
RPT1 = W1AW[s][s][s]B  [s] = a space   the B is what the repeater called it's self.  this is almost always the repeater
RPT2 = W1AW[s][s][s]G  Always a G because this is the gateway if we are using the gateway.

This tells the repeater to take what is received on slot B that is the 440Reciever and send it to the gateway, that is then sent back out the repeater to the call sign CQCQCQ which means broadcast it to everyone that does not have callsign squelch on.

MY ID880H and my ID-51a do not do this... they only slap in the CQCQCQ and ignore the RPT fields and I am never ever able to talk to anyone on any repeater.   It's not clearly spelled out like this in ANY documentation online.  Even the Dstar websites assume you are a Dstar expert and do not walk you through all this.

Now the cool part is linking and reflectors.

back at the W1AW  C 440 Repeater...  I want to link to the REF004C reflector that is  the USa rag chew reflector..

I need to add 4 more memories to my radios as follows.

MY, RPT1, RPT2 are all exactly yhe same as above but my UR changes

[8spaces]I  = report link status
[8spaces]U = Unlink any current links
[8spaces]E = Do a Echo test and repeat my audio back at me
REF004CL = Link to the REFoo4C reflector   (The L tells it to link)

Once I link I scroll back to the CQCQCQ one and now I am talking on the link to the reflector AND the repeater.

when done I switch to the memory with the U and unlink.  (always unlink when done)

Yes that means you need a total of 5 memories for every single DStar Repeater.

This is just the basics.   I'm going to do a full write up with more details including calling a specific ham at a specific repeater, etc...   but the above at least gets you operating, something your radio and it's manual is incapable of doing