How to Get Into DMR … Without a Radio!

Are you a licensed ham who is interested in Dstar or DMR – but without the cost of expensive radios?

Here are three steps you can take to accomplish the task. This applies to the three most popular protocols.

It begins by acquiring a special USB Dongle that contains an analog to digital and digital to analog IC chip reffered to as an AMBE3000. They
sell for about $100 but that’s still only 1/4 the cost of an Icom IC-51HT or DV4HOME V2 SDR.

Because only licensed hams are permitted on each system, registration is required.

For Dstar go to:
(Login then click REGISTER, it takes 10+- days).

For DMR registration go to:

You can confirm your DStar Registration later at:

For software I recommend the free BlueDV Windows client:
(note: expand the BlueDV-09548-preBETA.ZIP and RUN the contained .MSI installer).

and here for the latest changes to build 9548:

When you plug in the ThumbDV it should create a new “virtual” serial port. Look under Control Panel, Device Manager, Com & LPT . You must note the new COM port# it creates and use that COM# when setting up the BlueDV setup software. Also remember the ThumbDV™
Dongle works at 460800 baud (older models are at 230400).

Be aware that BlueDV build 9548 is BETA, although the Dstar and DMR operations are very stable, Fusion has yet to be fully implemented, currently limited to receive only.

I quote from David, the author: “Press CTRL+1 to activate C4FM (Fusion) on BlueDV but it currently only works in receive mode. I find BlueDV software to be superior to WinDV.

As always, install any software you download online at your own risk. Every computer configuration is different and not all software will be compatible with all systems.

Youtube Help and setup video for BlueDV:

73 & Happy Digitizing!

Mike Raymond, K5HUM, is a special contributor to and writes from Louisiana, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

14 Responses to “How to Get Into DMR … Without a Radio!”

  • W4DEY/Derrick Young:

    what about those of us running Android or Linux? will this work under Wine on Linux?


  • n1kdo:

    Is it radio?

    The web site says “you can make a ( DSTAR or DMR ) QSO without a radio.”

    So it’s NOT RADIO. It’s a internet audio chat room, that just might be transmitted on a few unwitting/unwilling repeaters.

    I’m not saying it is not fun, or worthwhile, but if you are working hotspot-to-hotspot, why not just use a chat room and not tie up a talk group on physical repeaters? And since it’s not radio, when Comcast or AT&T internet goes down, who are you going to work? Nobody.

  • SV1LJJ:

    You know that there are DMR radios that are cheaper than the dongle, right?

    In DMR this is only handful when you can not install an outdoor antenna!!!


  • Ralf VK4FMGC:

    Yes you can get cheaper HT’s than the price of the new Dongle, but as radio’s go, they leave a lot to be desired. Also you won’t need anymore Hotspots, repeaters or multiple HT’s to cover all the three modes. I guess that this is only the beginning with more to come.

    Great job David you have done so much for Amateur Radio. Keep up the good work.
    P.S. anyone want to buy an expensive DMR Radio that has now become redundant ?

  • Mark W4ITG:

    If you remove the radio it’s no longer ham “radio” just a conference call that could be done with a cell phone. Please please please let’s keep the radio in the equation before we lose our frequencies.

  • Bobby Joe Harrison WD5BPX:

    what about those of us running Android or Linux? will this work under Wine on Linux?

    I have mixed emotions about operating without a radio, but we are about any and all means of communicating.


  • Paul K2PMS:

    I agree with Mark. It’s amateur radio not amateur computer. Computers have their place in amateur radio but not as a replacement. What’s the sense of fighting for our frequency bands if fewer hams are going to use them. I am not a rich person, but I own several DMR, P25 and D-Star radios. Let’s keep the radio in amateur radio.

  • Doug KA6CAT:


    Does anyone on here use Droidstar? I am to the point of deleting it as I cannot get it to work at all. I keep getting a popup that says Invalid Credentials”. I have valid credentials, I have a callsign KA6CAT that I have had since 1978. I registered for a DMR ID on and I received it. I registered successfully on BrandMeister and created a Selfid password and I have used the “Update Hosts” and “Update Files” buttons, under “Settings”, numerous times, I see the entries in the Log.

    I get this same error on multiple Android devices and even when I turn off connectivity to the Internet the message popup is the same. It is interesting as it says “DudeStar”, but I think that is just a source code oversight. I downloaded DroidStar from the play store.


  • Doug KA6CAT:

    I met “SelfCare” on BrandMeister, sorry not Selfid above


  • Bob K7DC:

    To start off with, I don’t need to be given the “It’s not radio” lecture. Just making a point. If you want to use your PC/Laptop, you can get on DMR, etc. with nothing more than an android emulator and DroidStar. No other hardware needed. Not that it matters to me. I have radios that I use for the mode.

    Bob, K7DC

  • Robert 2E0GQL:

    I n life things progress at a pace that some struggle to come to terms with ! I do FT8 , DMR , and also HF , USB , and LSB , plus i use the local repeater . In the solar minimum that we have been going through , they all provide different plusses , and minuses . The objective of all of them is to communicate for many incapacitated hams DMR provides a welcome chance to participate with other hams, even if they are unable to leave their homes in these tough times .

  • POB/K8LEN:


  • Donald KX8K:

    I got a 404 page not found error on the link to the USB dongle.

  • KE0YZY:

    Digital has been great. I have a friend in Sedona, AZ without a digital capable radio so he’s dropping into the Denver area digitally and I’m using a digital capable radio but on a local repeater so that doesn’t matter.

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