Dayton 2017 – D-STAR and Digital Voice

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There was a lot of D-Star activity at Dayton this year and much of it involved support for multiple modes. The key third-party players who attended were Robin AA4RC of Internet Labs; Uli, Torsten and others from the DV4 Team; and Guus and his DVMEGA Team.

Jonathan G4KLX, Bruce VE2GZI and Jim KI6ZUM were unable to attend, so while their incredible work over the last year was not officially talked about except by Guus of DVMEGA, it was obvious their work has been influencing other developers.

One piece of news I learned that was not officially announced was that ICOM is in talks with Robin to add DPlus linking to the 51A Plus2/4100 new features. I heard it directly from Robin. As of the Hamvention, they had not signed the deal, but it sounded like both ICOM and Robin intend to do it and they are just working out the terms. I asked Robin if I could share this info, and he said yes. The next day, I talked to another ICOM employee and asked him about this. He confirmed there were talks underway.

I do not know how Robin will accomplish this, and if other third party software will be able to leverage the technique to extend linking to other protocols like DExtra and DCS. Of course, if only DPlus were supported, XLX reflectors that can be accessed both by Dextra and DPlus protocols would allow some partial relief.

A video of the D-STAR Forum moderated by Robin is found here. Robin’s talk starts at 41:30.  This video has excellent audio, but the slides are hard to see.  My phone video is not as good, but has a better view of the slides here.

Other news:

  • Robin announced DPlus 3.0 with “Fast Sync” to come out in the next week. The big change is DPlus Reflector code will no longer have to periodically sync all terminals from the Trust server, which will greatly speed things up. DPlus will still get a list of basic callsigns (not terminals) for purposes of authentication, but it sounded like it will not use the sync process to get that list, and of course that is much smaller.
  • Robin was asked if DPlus 3.0 would support XRF and DCS linking. He said his own code would not, but that with the new Fast Sync approach, it might be possible for other systems to be supported. This was really vague and I am inclined to wait and see on this.
  • Robin announced a new family of products called DV Air. These new products address the issue of Hams who don’t want to tinker with a Raspberry Pi, load images, configure, etc. I gather each of these products will contain a pre-programmed and mostly configured computer in a really, really small enclosure. Robin emphasized the key feature is “It just works”. See info from his slides below.
  • John K7VE of Northwest Digital announced they are working on a 1WattSpot — a small board with a 1 watt RF chip on it. This gets around the 7021 problems and with more power. They have more work to do to get D-Star to work (so they are not promising D-Star support yet, though you can tell they plan to get it to work), but they know it will work for several other modes. I think the RF chip has some low audio frequency filtering that they will need the manufacturer to remove to reduce BER on D-Star. Target would be those wanting a mobile Hotspot with more power than 10 milliwatts but not needing a high powered Hotspot. It appears they plan to price this reasonably.
  • Guus van Dooren of DVMEGA had a booth within the Gigaparts area. Ruud PE1MSZ of Combitronics/Bluestack was there, as well as David PA7LIM. Guus referred to them all as the DVMEGA Team, though they operate independently. They announced (at their booth and at the D-Star meeting Friday night at the Drury Inn) a new family of multi mode products called myDV: myDV Dongle, myDV Cast and myDV Handy. See details below. The myDV Cast seems to be an “internet radio” in a (very nice 3-D-printed) box. Inside is a Pi, Nextion LCD, AMBE chip, etc. but no RF. It appears this targets the same market as DV4Home, but pricing will be closer to US $300, not $500. (Personal comment: I noticed the existing DVMEGA products were selling really well at the Gigaparts booth. I think people like that they work, are well-engineered and priced reasonably. But clearly, all multi mode stuff is where the excitement is right now.)
  • Uli of the DV4 Team talked about a new feature of Control Center that will support dynamic creation of a private “room” into which up to 6 people with DV4Minis can connect. Each user can connect using any of their supported modes (DMR, Fusion, D-Star, P25 etc.) and the room will dynamically do the cross mode transcoding. Apparently this feature was accidentally released in an image last week, so this was not a total secret. While this kind of dynamic interoperability across modes is interesting, obviously the restriction that all users must be using DV4minis is significant.
    • Uli also said they will be shipping the long awaited DV4Home2 by June for US $499. It supports DMR+, BrandMeister, as well as DMR-Marc via their IPSec-based software into a C-Bridge. There are two AMBE 3000 chips in the box, allowing transcoding. Uli told me the hold-up for D-Star to DMR transcoding is more licensing, but it sounds like they plan to try to make that happen.
    • Uli announced the DV4Mobile (based on the same board as the DV4Home, but with RF capability) is still being worked on, but will be available later this year. They made 200 boards for Beta testers and once all is working, will sell those for US $800. Production boards, when available, will sell for US $1,200. It will be interesting to see how many of those will be sold.

Details

Internet Labs’ DV Air family – plug and play devices with CPU and embedded OS that support DV Dongle/DV3K and DVAP, with a battery inside, eliminating the need for a Pi or equivalent, a battery and especially configuration.  Here are the words from Robin’s slides about these new products:

DV Air 3K
• AMBE 3K (builtin)
• Wireless Bluetooth
• Wireless Wifi
• Wired Ethernet
• Internal Battery
• iPhone/Android
• Windows/Mac/Linux
• Instant ON
• No SDCARD images
• No glitches

DV Air (no AMBE chip, but added USB Host port)
• Plug & Play with DV Dongle and DV AP
• Wireless Bluetooth
• Wireless Wifi
• Wired Ethernet
• Internal Battery
• iPhone/Android
• Windows/Mac/Linux

DV Air Pro (with AMBE chip and USB Host port)
• Plug & Play with DV AP
• Wireless Bluetooth
• Wireless Wifi
• Wired Ethernet
• Internal Battery
• iPhone/Android
• Windows/Mac?linux
• FM radio? (since DV AP can do analog FM, working on doing D-Star from analog FM radio)

Next – DV Air AP (future product)
• Multimode RF (not 7021, working with new RF chip)
• AMBE 3K
• Wireless Bluetooth
• Wireless Wifi
• Wired Ethernet
• Internal Battery
• iPhone/Android
• Windows/Mac/Linux

———————-

DVMEGA myDV family

myDV Cast
• Multimode Direct Voice Device
• Direction Connection to Talkgroup or Reflector
• Support for D-Star and DMR. Fusion to be done.
• BrandMeister, DCS, XRF, REF, XLX, YSF, FCS and DMRplus

(Don’t have details about myDV Dongle and myDV Handy, but clearly the Handy refers to a D-Star radio.)

— Jim Moen – K6JM