Hacking Away at D-STAR Hardware

dstarWe’ve been looking at optimizing the performance of the D-STAR repeater here in Monument (W0TLM, 446.8875 MHz), so I’ve been searching the web for information on what other groups have uncovered. Not surprisingly, there has been some creative reverse-engineering and re-engineering of the ICOM D-STAR repeaters.

Here’s a summary of some Good Stuff that I found:

1. NU5D paper on DSTAR Repeater Modifications & Interference Testing

2. A good overview of the ICOM D-STAR repeater block diagram and a few modifications to the ICOM repeaters on the dstar.ca web site

3. The N5EBW LED Board – a drop in board to add transmit/receive LEDs to the ICOM D-STAR repeaters

4. The Utah VHF Society D-STAR page — some of the best technical information and practical evaluation of D-STAR technology

5. A Look Inside D-STAR Modulation – an article I wrote for CQ VHF magazine that explains the vocoder and modulation scheme in D-STAR.

If you come across other D-STAR resources, please let me know.

73, Bob K0NR

This Spewed Out of the Internet #10

Here’s a few more tidbits of internet brilliance that caught my attention:

K3NG noticed that a pirate radio broadcaster told the FCC that he is not under their jurisdiction because he is in the Republic of Texas. Don’t Mess With Texas.

Looking for professional grade audio performance? Then you need this Audio Grade Power Outlet. Be sure to read through the comments.

The Fall ritual of changing our clocks due to Daylight Saving Time is over. While some of our politicians keep telling us this saves energy, that theory has been largely discarded.  My proposal is to have everyone on the planet switch to UTC. Seems simpler to me — fewer errors in my log book.

Its official: Laptop computers fail way too often. Square Trade published a study that compares laptop and netbook failure rates (all of them are too high). What ever happened to Total Quality Control?

Cracked.com made a run at describing what the world would be like if the Internet disappeared today.

NASA has concluded that there is water on the moon. Holy Cow, really? This is a major discovery. Of course, some people are upset that NASA is abusing the moon by crashing spacecraft into it.

One final thought: Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, so stop your whining and find something to be thankful for.

I will if you will.

73, Bob K0NR

2009 June VHF QSO Party Results

arrlnewlogo-transThe results of the June VHF contest have been published online and in the December issue of QST. I operated from our cabin in DM78, near Trout Creek Pass with temporary antennas up for 50 MHz and 144 MHz (3-element Cushcraft Yagi on 50MHz and a 2M9 on 144 MHz)  It was mostly a two band effort in the low power single operator category, with a few additional contacts on 440 MHz FM.

VHF contests are mostly a regional competition since the scores depend so much on adjacent operating activity. Here’s the scores for the Colorado Single Operator Low Power category:

# Call Score QSOs Mult Class Section
1 N0POH 73,225 419 145 A CO
2 K0COM 38,532 322 114 A CO
3 N0HF 29,718 254 117 A CO
4 K0NR 28,197 238 117 A CO
5 N0YE 14,112 154 56 A CO
6 KB0YH 13,855 163 85 A CO
7 W0EPC 7,812 126 62 A CO
8 WB5PJB 6,050 97 55 A CO
9 K0CS 4,928 88 56 A CO
10 K0UK 1,316 47 28 A CO
11 KC0VFO 1,140 53 19 A CO
12 W0PSS 621 26 23 A CO
13 AB0SF 440 22 20 A CO
14 N0HIO 352 22 16 A CO

Congrats to Wayne N0POH for leading the Colorado Section (and the Rocky Mt Division).

My 28k score is less than the 39k I scored in 2008 (See Awesome June VHF Contest).  I have shifted my focus in the contest to picking up new grids, especially on 144 MHz. I qualified for VUCC on 6M, 10 GHz and Satellite years ago but have never confirmed the required 100 grids on 2 Meters. If I was after the best contest score, I’d be trying to add higher bands to the portfolio, especially 1.2 GHz.

73, Bob K0NR

Colorado QSO Party Results

colorado-flagThe results of the Colorado QSO Party have been posted on the PPRAA web site. I had previously written about this, but I never got around to posting my score after the contest.

Here’s the email I sent to the various club email lists:

The CO QSO Party succeeded in getting me back on the HF bands. I operated from our cabin in Park County with 100 Watts to a half-size G5RV in the trees. I also had 50W to a 2M yagi (2M9) antenna. Only worked WA7KYM in Wyoming on 2M SSB and he was not working the contest. I did pick up a few contacts on 2M FM, which was fun. All contacts were on phone.

I spent a considerable amount of time on 40M but it did not yield much. The exchange of “name” was quite natural on phone and added to the laid back flavor of a state QSO party. All in all, a very fun time.

At times, there were 4 contests running near 14.250 MHz: CoQP, Hiram 140, All Asean DX and another one I did not identify. Lots of “CQ Contest” and lots of confusion 🙂

Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec   Mul
   7       3      6    1    1
   7       1      2    1    0
  14      70    152   31    0
 144       5     10    3    1
 144       1      2    1    0
 420       1      2    0    0
Total      81    174   37   2
Score: 6,786

I placed 3rd in the In-State Low Power Phone – Single Operator category, behind Dan W0RO and Brian N5ZGT. A highlight during the contest was working my good friend Denny KB9DPF in Fort Wayne on 20 Meters. It has been years since we had made contact on the HF bands.

Thanks to the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association for sponsoring this contest.

– 73, Bob K0NR

This Spewed Out of the Internet #9

0511-0701-3118-0930I have been traveling quite a bit lately for work, so here’s a catch up on a number of things spewing forth from the interwebnet.

I’ve recently re-discovered High Frequency Electronics Magazine, edited by Gary Breed, K9AY. This is a top quality trade pub that targets RF design engineers. In Gary’s September editorial, he highlighted the environment that the college class of 2013 grew up in….such as “text has always been hyper.”

I came across this summary of Top Ham Radio Blogs. They clearly have excellent judgment, since my blog is listed.  🙂

Computer World published this article,  Want to bone up on wireless tech? Try ham radio, a good read on the experimentation side of amateur radio written by John Edwards, W6JE.

Google’s Eric Schmidt talks about the future of the web…some interesting thoughts.  I hope his prediction of 100MB broadband comes true…but I am not expecting it to come down my road any time soon.

KB9MWR posted an interesting article about the radio range of D-STAR.

Ham radio saves the world (again)…. hams assist rescue on Catalina Island. This reminds me of when  I was out climbing Uncompahgre Peak and radio’d in a fallen hiker report.

Last weekend was the CQ Worldwide DX Contest (SSB version), so I did get on the air for a few hours. Mostly, I got clobbered on 20 Meters with my 100-Watts-to-a-dipole station being overrun by the Big Gun Stations. I did manage to work some DX on both 15M and 20M.

The FCC actions concerning EmComm and Part 97.113 have exposed different views on the role of amateur radio in emergency communications. See the comments on my blog posting, this article by Steve K9ZW and N5FDL’s blog. There seems to be some pent up frustration with ham radio EmComm folks coming from some corners of the ham community.

I encourage everyone to go back and read Part 97.1, the Basis and Purpose of the Amateur Radio Service. It lists five different items as the purpose of amateur radio, all of which are relevant and important. I’d also suggest that everyone lighten up just a bit (and be sure to stay on your meds).

73, Bob K0NR