At Dayton, I picked up an ICOM IC-91AD handheld radio, with D-STAR capability. The thing is, there are no D-STAR repeaters within range of my house. Fortunately, Elliott KB0RFC also picked up a D-STAR handheld and we arranged a sked on 2M simplex. The de facto calling frequency for D-STAR is shaping up to be 145.67 MHz, so that is what we used.
I have to admit that the audio quality was better than I expected. When the radio is not dropping bits, the audio is quite clean and clear. When the Signal-to-Noise Ratio degrades, you do start to hear that digital twang as the vocoder does its best to recover the audio in the face of digital errors. Overall, I was favorably impressed.
Tonight, we did some additional testing with DV mode and were surprised at the range of the handheld on 2M. The 70 cm band seemed even better, apparently due to the improved efficiency of the handheld antennas on that band.
There is lots more stuff to play around with, so stay tuned.
Digital voice on the ham bands? Must be the 21st Century!
For more info on D-STAR, see my article from CQ VHF.
73, Bob K0NR