On Being Too Smart by Half – Lessons in D-Star Painfully Acquired

During my ongoing apprenticeship in D-Star, I continue to make mistakes and, mostly learn from them.

My latest: To “simplify” use of the DR feature of Icom ID-51A+, instead of loading all 750 repeaters the machine can hold, I loaded only those from areas where I expected to travel; i.e., Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and the Carolinas. Then, I promptly forgot having done that. Consequently, when I went to New York last weekend, I was dumbstruck that there were “no” D-Star repeaters in all of New York City or its environs. Flabbergasted, I was. When I saw the closest showing on my radio was in Ohio, I recollected what I’d done. So, what to do?

I traveled without my handy-dandy RTS programming cable and also sans computer; bringing only a tablet on this short trip. But, there is a micro SD card in the ID-51 and one in my tablet, so maybe I download the complete North America repeatercropped-id-51a info from http://www.dstarinfo.com to the tablet, format the tablet’s SD card in the radio, put it back in the tablet, copy the list to the card, put card back in radio and Bob’s Your Uncle I’ll be in business. I had several hours to kill and was situated in a warm and pleasant Italian restaurant in Briarcliff Manor at lunchtime with no crowd, so I could immerse myself in pizza, beer and ham radio fiddling with no pressure – perfect!

Well, actually maybe not so perfect; first, getting the SD card out of the tablet was tricky and ultimately required the use of a borrowed lady’s earring post to release the little door (we hams are resourceful!); then, I find out the repeater list will not download to an Android tablet and neither will the needed CS-51 program. But wait, there’s still hope: the repeater list can be downloaded as a csv spreadsheet file so let’s try that. By golly, that appeared to work as a download but alas, not as an upload. Nothing is as simple as it ought to be. Threw my hands up, downed my beer, and called it a day.

Days later, back home with computer I learned that the CS-51 (or the RTS equivalent) is totally necessary, and also that naming a new icf file has to follow the awkward format exactly, i.e., Set20180114_01 and not a more user-friendly “Jan 14 2018 settings,” even though the Nifty! Mini-Manual says you can. I did, however, learn how to program the radio using the SD card and not relying on the RTS cable which could be handy next time I’m in survival mode.

So now I have 750 repeaters loaded from all over the United States and Canada in my radio so I can’t run out unless I travel further abroad, and guess what, my HT is barely heavier than it was before!

Wayne Robertson, K4WK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Georgia, USA.

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