Posted by: GW7AAV | January 29, 2011

Is N.Wales D-Star a good move?

I noticed from the website of the North Wales Amateur Radio Society that…

An NOV application to host a DV access point has been submitted to the ETCC and we are hopeful of a positive outcome very soon. This will be the first GMSK node in North Wales. We have had discussions with the suppliers and once frequencies have been allocated we can have the equipment within a few days. The system has been well researched and we are confident of a smooth install.

At last all you frustrated D-Star radio owners will be able to connect! For those of you that don’t have a D-Star rig, NWRS have decided to install one in the club shack which will be available for members to stick their toe in the D-Star water!

Actually all the flustrated Death Star owners I know have sold up due to the complete lack of repeaters and the fact that were they have access they are finding no-one to talk to.

Now me saying that will probably bring a rush of people to the defence of this mode but the problem is the system is not functional due to the lack of repeaters where needed and the fact that those there are, in the main, not intergrated with either Internet or site to site connectivity enough to form a usable backbone for the network to function. They therefore are just a digital version of the analogue repeaters we already have with a very tiny number of amateurs actually having the equipment and inclination to get involved.

Although I wish the guys behind this every success I don’t believe there is enough interest in D-Star to warrent the outlay.

The alternative that may drive the final nail in the coffin of D-Star is Codec2 the open source digital speech codec.

Codec2 is an open source low bit rate speech codec designed for communications quality speech at around 2400 bit/s. Applications include low bandwidth HF/VHF digital radio and VOIP trunking. Codec 2 operating at 2000 bit/s can send 32 phone calls using the bandwidth required for one 64 kbit/s uncompressed phone call. It fills a gap in open source, free-as-in-speech voice codecs beneath 5000 bit/s and is released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

The motivations behind the project are summarised in this blog post.

You can help and support Codec2 development via a Donation.


  1. Readers who would like to see and hear current Codec2 in a typical ham conversation, might enjoy the video ZL3IN and I put together:

    I think it is important to see Codec2 as something different than a Dstar-2-killer. It would take quite a bit of additional work to emulate the network that dstar provides, and it might be very hard to graft codec2 into the current D-Star digital voice data stream.

    But because c2 is open source, we can do all sorts of other things with it. What about digital voice over a low-bandwidth digital signal sent by light? Now you don’t need to wire up an AMBE chip to a serial line in order to do so.

    It’s a means of having fun in grand ham style, and our work on it will help others who need a low-bandwidth voice codec for free, too.

    • “emulate the network that dstar provides”

      The problem here and no doubt in the rest of the world is most D-Star repeaters are not connected to that network, because a/ Internet connectivity is expensive or not available at the repeater site and b/ because there are no other D-Star repeaters within range.

      Take away the network and all we really want is a narrow band digital voice mode that we can use with our existing rigs and a PC. It can all come built in later. So Codec2 looks like a good contender for what most of us want. That and the fact we hate that only Icoms have D-Star and that is from an Icom lover.

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