Home-build D-Star radio

Years ago, after I built my Elecraft K2 I had the idea that I would only use home-built radio equipment. However I found that it was no longer possible to buy a kit to build a 2m FM radio. This afternoon I visited a site mentioned by Tim, G4VXE in his latest blog posting and was intrigued to find that a Dutch group is working on a design for a VHF/UHF transceiver kit. Not only that, it is apparently being developed in consultation with Elecraft and is built into an Elecraft EC-1 (K2) enclosure!

The basic kit will be for an analogue FM transceiver with modules for 2m, 70cm and 23cm (it isn’t clear to me whether you must choose one of these bands or whether you can fit all of the modules.) But with the addition of another module it can also become a D-Star transceiver!

Now I have never made any secret of my dislike of D-Star, mainly due to the fact that one manufacturer has a monopoly on the provision of radios. But a home-brew D-Star transceiver that doesn’t require you to buy anything from Icom and would sit neatly alongside my K2 in a matching enclosure could just be the thing that makes me swallow my objections. Yes, it will still have an AMBE chip containing the proprietary codec. But most of my radios contain chips with proprietary firmware so I don’t think that’s a good enough reason for continuing to avoid D-Star.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “Home-build D-Star radio”

  • Fred W0FMS:

    Hey! 1985 called and wants it’s modem back!

    Hopefully, someone will come up with something better than Machester Encoded FSK 4800 baud over FM and use CODEC2 instead of AMBE soon.

    I think D-Star is an interesting use of old technology (like for example APRS), but ICOM (I said it! ICOM!) wants 4x what the stuff is worth for it’s proprietary “non-proprietary” system.

    D-Star, in it’s current form should be killed off.. sorry… Maybe something decent and modern could replace it. As it is it’s encourging slowing down techinology in the ham bands. Bah Humbug!

  • “Hey! 1985 called and wants it’s modem back!”


  • w4oza:

    I just do not like it too expensive for my tast.

  • Phil - N4LNE:

    I have to chime in here all ham radio has become far to expensive. There are HF radios above 2000.00 each and many far more expensive than that. I do use D-Star but I also agree it is far too expensive and I keep hoping the cost will come down. I want to return to HF but find that the only radios I can afford are older units. It would be nice if someone would make a good entry level HF rig that was not CW only, less than 5 watts and built in a tuna can. I looked at the K3 and thought Wow a real kit radio then I discovered that it cost just as much as a factory built unit, no reason to spend my money here. I looked at SDR radios again nothing in the box but they have a price that would make you think they do. Oh well I going to eat some tuna for dinner and build a radio! On second thought I will just get on D-Star and talk to Australia.

  • Goody K3NG:

    All of my radios have chips with proprietary firmware in them, too. The difference is I don’t have to buy Yaesu’s firmware to run SSB, or Kenwood’s firmware to run CW, or Elecraft’s firmware to run AM.

  • Mike. VK5AAZ:

    Like most hams I am trying to find a cheek way to get on D-Star.
    No success as yet.

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