D-STAR Terminal Mode Reflector Linking – Step by Step

This page covers D-STAR Terminal Mode-capable radios connected to a computer using the OPC-2350LU data cable.  The newest radios (e.g. 9700, 705) can also link to reflectors using a different method (which will be covered in another note.)

What’s needed:

  • ICOM D-STAR radio that supports Terminal Mode (51 Plus2, 31 Plus, 4100, 5100) via OPC-2350LU data cable
  • ICOM OPC-2350LU data cable (often ships with the 51 Plus2, or check the price here)
  • Virtually any model of Raspberry Pi single board computer, SD card, power supply (Note that versions with Wi-Fi chip make it easier to connect to your router for internet.)
Raspberry Pi Zero W

Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Procure a Raspberry Pi
  2. Configure an SD card with the Pi-Star image
  3. Configure radio to set Gateway to Terminal Mode
  4. Configure Pi-Star  for Terminal Mode
  5. Do Echo Test
  6. Have fun!

That’s all there is to it.  Here are the details:

Step 1
Get a Raspberry Pi – old, new, full-size, small Pi Zero W — all will work well.  If you don’t have an unused full-sized Pi in your closet, I recommend you purchase the small Pi Zero W.  The computer itself will cost US $10, and I bought one recently from Adafruit for US $15 with shipping.  But you will also need an SD card (I usually get a 16GB card) and a power supply.  Some people also get an enclosure made for the Pi Zero.   Keep in mind this tiny computer can sit in the background, and you probably will not look at it much at all.

Step 2
Burn the latest Pi-Star image to an SD card:

  • Download the image from the Pi-Star website — Pick the latest version named Pi-Star_RPI_……zip .
  • Unzip the .zip file.
  • You will need an SD card reader, for example this adapter
  • Use your favorite program to write or “burn” the .img file to the SD card.  On Windows, a good one is Win32DiskImager.
  • Assuming you have WiFi on the Pi (e.g. Pi Zero W), go to the Pi-Star WiFi Builder page, fill in country, your router’s SSID and password.  Save the generated file (wpa_supplicant.conf) to the / or top level folder on the SD card (whose volume id by default is boot).  Don’t try to save it in the lower-level folder called boot.
  • Remove the SD card and place it in your Pi.

Step 3
Configure your DStar radio for Terminal Mode and connect data cable:

  • Set MyCall to your callsign
  • Set Gateway or Gateway Select to Terminal mode (For 9700 and 705, choose External Gateway)
  • Connect your radio to the Pi using the OPC-2350LU data cable (or USB cable for IC-705)
  • Power up your radio (most radios will indicate Terminal mode) – Step 4 requires the radio be on, connected by the cable and in Terminal mode

Step 4  (This part will actually go very quickly)
Configure Pi-Star  for Terminal Mode – see Pi-Star screen shot  at bottom of this page

  • Place SD card in Pi.
  • Connect your radio to the Pi using the OPC-2350LU, then plug in power to the Pi
  • Note that the first-time bootup takes quite a while, since Pi-Star does a lot of automatic configuration for you.  Please be patient.
  • If this is your only Pi-Star hotspot, open your browser to http://pi-star/admin/ — if you have other Pi-Stars, use the new Pi’s IP to log on.  Each router has its own way to display the internal IP addresses assigned to connected devices.  Or there are apps available that can help you find the IP address of your new hotspot so you can log onto it to finish configuration.
  • Configuration page
    * Control Software -> DStarRepeater
    * Leave Mode on Simplex Node
    * Apply Changes (then wait)
  • Power page
    * Reboot
  • (If Control Software not set to DStarRepeater, do again) Configuration page
    * Control Software -> DStarRepeater
    * Leave Mode on Simplex Node
    * Apply Changes
  • General Configuration
    * Set Node Callsign to your callsign
    * Set Radio/Modem Type to Icom Radio in Terminal Mode (DStarRepeater only)
    * Apply Changes
  • General Configuration (again)
    * (Optional) Choose a Hostname (e.g. pistarterm)
    * (Optional) Set Latitude, Longitude, Town, Country, URL
    * (Optional) Set System Time Zone, Dashboard Language
    * Apply Changes
  • D-Star Configuration
    * Set RPT1 Callsign module letter
    * Set Default Reflector to something other than REF001C & choose Startup/Manual
    * Apply Changes

Step 5
Do Echo Test –  this is a quick way to do an end to end test from your radio to the hotspot to the internet to a reflector and back.

  • Select Admin -> D-Star Link Manager:
    * Select any REF reflector, select module letter E, Link, click Request Change
    * When link completes, hit PTT and send test transmission
    * Reflector should play back your recorded transmission
    * Click Unlink and click Request Change

Have Some QSOs
Now find some reflectors, link in and have some QSOs.  Check out REF reflectors, XRF reflectors,  and this nice discussion about the various kinds of reflectors.

Later, when you get some time, I suggest you read a little about DR Mode in your radio’s manual.  But don’t study it.  Mainly, use your new Terminal Mode Hotspot!

Terminal Mode Example:

ID-51A Plus2 in Terminal Mode
OPC-2350LU Data Cable
Raspberry Pi Zero W

       Pi Zero W with case top


For reference, here is a screenshot of my own Terminal Mode Hotspot config page: