Thursday, June 11, 2009

ID-1 and D-Star in the shack

The station grew a D-Star capability today as an Icom ID-1 was added as probably the last transceiver for a little while :-)
The shack now has at least a basic capability of operating from 40m through to 23cm, though I'm still waiting for a 2m/70cm/23cm vertical antenna to be delivered as the permanent antenna system for VHF/UHF, complimenting the Cushcraft R8 on HF/6m.

While I'm waiting for the antenna, I have a temporary mag-mount and Comet mobile 1.2GHz vertical with which to set up and test the unit.

As usual, I find it a little bit of a shame that there's no Macintosh software provided for the radio, but this isn't unexpected and Parallels or Fusion serves to run small apps such as the provided control software. I think the ID-1 was developed around the turn of the century and the Mac has only recently been making anything like meaningful market share gains.

Commissioning and using a D-Star system is completely different from a 'normal' analogue radio, as you might expect. So far I have only scanned through the manual and made a very few simple configuration settings: basically setting MY CALL and storing the local D-Star 1.2GHz repeater frequency for DV mode in a memory. I was expecting to see some kind of activity on the repeater frequency, but there was no obvious activity in the 10 minutes or so that I had the radio on and tuned to the correct frequency. Thus, I haven't even been able to test whether the repeater is workable from my little indoor antenna arrangement yet. Hopefully I'll figure that out tomorrow.

How one makes a D-Star digital voice (DV) call through the repeater isn't what I'd call super-clear from the manual. From what I can gather, having set up your MY call, tuned the radio to the repeater frequency, and registered your call sign with the repeater administrator, you are ready to actually make a call. The manual deftly omits to show any actual examples of routing a call through a repeater, and only shows CQCQCQ as the call sign to address as UR (your) call to make a CQ call, but it doesn't show what you put into the repeater box in the address strip. As far as I can tell from a bit of web searching, you need to address the right ports of repeaters through which you wish to connect to the desired call sign (or CQ). Thus, it appears that to send a CQ out through my local repeater's 2m port, I would use both repeater address slots, setting the first to VE7RAG A (my side of the connection is the VE7RAG repeater's "A" port, the conventional name for the 1.2GHz radio on the repeater). The second repeater slot would be set to VE7RAG C (the destination end of the call will be the same repeater's "C" port, the conventional name for the 2m radio on the repeater). Keying the PTT is then supposed to send the call/CQ. It turns out that the port letter has to be in the 8th character position of the repeater call to work properly. None of this D-Star-Fu is noted in the ID-1 manual as far as I can see (unless its in some appendix I haven't read yet). Having read that the gateway software has been upgraded since the initial release, I'm guessing that this isn't mentioned in the radio manuals for reasons of allowing for the details to change - accuracy but not precision!

Hopefully my first D-Star QSO will happen successfully tomorrow - if I can find a willing soul on one of the three local repeater ports! Otherwise, I'll see if I can figure how to point my local repeater at a distant one, perhaps one in an mid-evening time zone somewhere in the world where I might be able to drum up someone settling down to play a little radio after dinner on a Friday evening.


  1. Luke
    There is a Friday night Can Net at 18:00 Local. hosted by Gordon Dirk VE7FKY. Usually ICM but he has opened up RAG.
    73 Bill VA7ZBL

  2. Thanks Bill.

    Actually, I had the pleasure of talking with Gord on ICM this evening - my first proper D-Star QSO.

    He put me straight on a few configuration points that I'll blog about (gateway registration details).

    I'll look to join the net if I can figure out how to listen in on 23cm ;-)