D-STAR on FLEX-6000

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  • Idea
  • Updated 3 years ago
  • Planned
Dear FLEX:
Any chance that D-STAR can eventually be incorporated into the FLEX-6000 series? I assume the AMBE vocoder and the D-STAR modulation type (GMSK) could all be coded into DSP within the FLEX. The D-STAR standard is an open source, and was jointly developed in Japan with JARL taking the lead in managing the standard, and its initial development. I assume DVSI, Inc. would charge their fee for the licensing rights to their AMBE 2020 vocoder, whether it would be incorporated into a custom hardware chip, or integrated into on board DSP in the FLEX via coding. Given that Icom incorporates the DVSI vocoder in their D-STAR radios (IC-7100, 5100, etc.), I assume the licensing fee is a hurdle that is not so big as to be economically prohibitive. Hams who wish to have D-STAR on their FLEX-6000 radio could easily enough opt to pay FLEX for such an optional feature, covering the licensing fee for DVSI, FLEX’s R&D development, etc. This could get pretty interesting, as other digital modes, like APCO P25, MELPe, etc. could be added, again, with the cost of features being an optional choice for any given user. BTW, don't take me overly literally here. Things like MELPe would have significant regulatory issues, such as occupied BW, FCC mask requirements, ITU matters, etc. as various digital modes get into a variety of international standards bodies matters. My point here is that while all of this stuff needs to be factored in, it is awesome that the FLEX platform makes almost anything in this regard technically doable. Once these hurdles are assessed, it is a matter of a business decision for FLEX, given market demand (or lack thereof). Something not even a possibility with the best iron boxes of the day. This is where FLEX totally has the best platform for going forward in time.

Of course, FLEX would have to weigh the pros and cons of implementing such digital voice modes via outboard hardware/software boxes and driving that in/out of the FLEX radio, versus directly incorporating such capabilities directly into their radio. That’s a matter of engineering, cost tradeoffs, etc. but is a detail that can get tackled down the road.

Larry
WA7LZO
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Larry - WA7LZO

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Posted 5 years ago

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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Looks like somebody figured out how to decode DStar in software.  What would it take to get this (or any other digital decoder like JT65/9) built into SmartSDR on the radio?

http://forums.radioreference.com/digital-voice-decoding-software/215282-decoding-d-star-any-success....

(file this under "I wish I was independently wealthy and retired" so I would have time to play with it and write the code!)

-Robbie

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James Nelson

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Not that what I have to say answers your AMBE (dstar) codec question however open source codec 2 (AKA freeDV) is welcoming anyone who wants to use or integrate it. The freeDV app is my analog and digital combined voice processor via digi in with great success, so much so all voice goes that way due in part to the excellent filter equalization within the freeDV app itself.
A small group of us down here are really endorsing/promoting this project as perfect partner matierial with SmartSDR/Dax/Plantronics headset.

James VK2JN
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Cool! I downloaded FreeDV a while back but didn't do much with it.  I'll have to go back and check it out again.
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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We are SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to incorporate CODEC2/FreeDV before we would look at D-Star. Having said this, if one of you passionate D-Star folks wants to negotiate for the rights to the software on a "we'll pay you X per license you sell" basis and provide me with the algorithm, we'll do D-Star too.  It would likely be an option and we would pass along the licensing costs to those that want to use it.  The hard part is not getting it into the radio -- the hard part is getting the software and the license.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Steve,

Can you elaborate if any deal has been advance with Joe Taylor K1JT and JT65/9 software programs?


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Kevin Hogg

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Has flex tried to negotiate DSTAR themselves yet and hit a brick wall?

I'm concerned about the success rate of new systems with no infrastructure, there's a reason people like DSTAR, they have reflectors, repeaters and can talk to other people all round the world easy as 1,2,3.  Can you say that of the other DV systems? 



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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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I remember answering the question about JT modes, but I don't see the answer here... I spoke with Joe 6-12 months ago and he said that the code is open source and we're welcome to use it within the guidelines in the source (paraphrasing here). I haven't yet decided if it would be better to add a direct interface to our radios in his code or to add his code to our radios. The former would make it easier for everyone to get updated as time moves forward -- when Joe releases something new, it would immediately work in native mode with DAX (no windows sound would be the goal along with auto detection and connection to the radio).

By putting the modes in the radio, you wouldn't need an external computer to run them, but we would have to handle the updating whenever Joe makes a changes, introduces a new mode, etc.

As for DSTAR, my assumption is that everyone has been thinking they want the AMBE codec over GMSK modulation along with the data/voice split. The other piece to DSTAR which was just mentioned by Kevin is the network interface piece. This is what resides in a repeater and allows the repeater to communicate with the Internet, link to other repeaters, etc. it's not clear to me what you would do with this on HF... Are you thinking about setting up a VHF/UHF/1.2 remote base accessible via an HF radio? I'm not sure this is even legal per part 97 (my recollection is that this must be done above 220MHz). Am I missing something else?

Before CODEC2 and FreeDV, I did ask several people that have played with DSTAR and have built products off of it what they were doing and in all cases I was told that the only cost-effective licensing mode for a small number of units (think in the thousands, not millions) was to buy the chip that does the mod/demod. Could we do this? Yes, we could probably stick it on a USB stick and plug it into the FLEX-6000 and run the bits through the stick. DVSI actually makes a USB stick with their chip on it. It's possible that those who I've talked to really don't know if the license for software only could be had for relatively small quantities. Let's see what kind of response this idea gets.
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Hm, I didn't realize DVSI had a patent on the ambe codec algorithm itself, I thought they just sold the chip.  Guess that pretty much kills any possibility if implementing it for free.  I was mostly curious just for compatibility reasons.

Suddenly, Codec2 is looking much more interesting. :-)

-Robbie

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KM6CQ - Dan

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Steve,
I will look forward to CODEC2. It will be great to have it as a mode in SmartSDR. Dstar would be great to if they would make the licencing cost reasonable for us.

Thanks,   Dan KM6CQ
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Thomas Sorensen

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I see this is an older topic, but would like to inject a thought.  Has anyone considered using a device like the thumbDV.  It has the ambe 3000 chip built in.  The chip covers the licensing fee.

I have just purchased a Flex 6300 and can't wait to get it.  Been doing a lot of reading to help with the learning curve.  Will see you on air soon!

AF5WO  Tom
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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I don't see the wisdom of incorporating D-Star into the Flex-6000 as I, as a D-Star user on VHF/UHF, do not believe it to be better that FreeDV for HF use.
My ICOM ID-5100 D-Star VHF/UHF TRX is surely better equipped for digital
use as a Flex-6000 TRX with D-Star and a transverter.

Equally incorporating JT modes would place a lot of strain on SmartSDR, which would be the program showing the user interface and it would be all in vain,
as Joe's WSJT-X works beautifully with SmartSDR and DAX and, with JTAlertX, is even capable to log QSO's automatically.
(Edited)
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Roy Laufer

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I'm sure that I am not the only 6700 owner that has turned their rig into an "all in one" transceiver thanks to a few extra parts courtesy of Down East Microwave. I would love to have the capability to go onto the random DMR, D-Star (and even Fusion, if they develop) Repeaters with my 6700. The problem, as I see it, is that DVSI, holds their AMBE algorithms closer than Colonel Sanders still keeps his fried chicken batter recipe! As I understand it, they don't fully publish the algorithms, but describe just enough of it to lock it down in patents. I don't think they lease out any software versions. If you want to "play" you have to buy their DSP/Dongle chip and incorporate it into any hardware design! The workaround would be to use an AMBE DSP chip on a USB connector wrapped around the proper software as a waveform application. Anything else would probably lead to a protracted discussion with DVSI's many lawyers.

Are there enough interested parties willing to pay $100++ for this added capability? Is there an intrepid software expert willing to undertake something like this for a limited market? I'm not terribly optimistic about any chance of seeing anything like this for the 6700. No doubt there will be receivers capable of all the incompatible digital voice technologies packaged into a dedicated receiver where the market might be significantly wider.

I hope I'm wrong on this - it would be a real nice extra feature...

Roy, AC2GS
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Thomas, FlexRadio hosted the TAPR Digital Communications Conference (DCC) in Austin last year. I met with the guys at NW Digital Radio (http://nwdigitalradio.com) at the conference and took a look at their board that runs on a Raspberry Pi (DV3000) that does D-STAR and I suggested that we would incorporate it on our end if they could make it into a USB stick.  Bryan (CEO of NW Digital Radio) agreed to do this and the result was the ThumbDV.  We have an engineer incorporating it into the FLEX-6000 as we speak as a "fun project."  We will release this as soon as we have something working, but my expectation is that this will give us D-STAR as well as the mode used by Yaesu System Fusion at a minimum.  This will mean that from an interoperability standpoint, the FLEX-6000 will speak "all languages" when it comes to digital voice.
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Roy Laufer

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If it is at all possible, it would be great if DMR could be incorporated into such a design/software. DMR seems to be a little ahead of D-Star right now in New York, as far as raw Repeater numbers,  in operation, with Fusion way back there somewhere. DMR uses the second generation AMBE implementation that is incorporated in DVSI's DSP chips.

What can I say? I'm greedy!

Roy, AC2GS
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Steve - N5AC, VP Engineering / CTO

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Once we get everything working, we'll look at how many modes we will support.  Some will not even be legal on the ham bands, but I would expect that we would try to do DMR/P25 if they are easy.  We'll know more a little later and will check back in once we know.  If you are someone who would like to test and have other folks you can talk to with other modes, it would be good to know.
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Roy Laufer

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Feel free to count me in. I'm a member of two local clubs - one has a new Fusion Repeater, the other is setting up a DMR Repeater, and my "other" Radio is an Icom with D-Star!

Roy, AC2GS
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Norm - W7CK

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I would like to be included in on the test.  We have both D-Star and Fusion systems here in the Phoenix area.

I can vouch for the fact that the 6700 works great with the Down East LDPA and a USB device to include additional DV modes would be pretty cool.  I'm guessing the USB device would be inserted into the port on the Flex and not on the computer?  If it is to go into the Flex, is there a way to put it inside the case?  I haven't looked inside the 6700 to see if there is an internal USB port.   Internal / external either would be fine though.

This whole approach of providing accessibility to multiple digital systems from a single system is wonderful news.  There is nothing like the open system approach!

Norm - W7CK
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Larry - WA7LZO

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This opens up a pretty big can of (digital) worms. For instance, what about Icom's IDAS mode, and various other digital voice modes? P25 Phase II TDMA comes to mind, at least for for repeater (e.g., no talk around/simplex mode) operations. I only mentioned dstar in my original post, as dstar is by far and away currently the most prevalent digital voice mode in amateur radio, at least as of right now.

Larry

WA7LZO

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Roy Laufer

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I think the numbers of "who's on what" digital mode is confusing at times and often released by marketing types. D-Star came out strong from the gate, but DMR is getting an increasing number of inexpensive Chinese radios (the cheapest current DMR is $140 - let's see Icom compete at that price point). This race horse is far from over. My hope is that "the digital mode that is yet to be" will become the winner. Most of what I have seen is "half-baked" and kludged from a commercial feature set.

Still, the more modes my 6700 is capable of, the merrier!

Roy, AC2GS
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John Hays

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Kent Hufford

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International DSTAR HF Testing NetSUMMER Schedule

Use your ICOM 9100/7100, or STAR Boarded non ICOM DSTAR HF, or THUMBDV FLEX

We routinely have two way communications coast to coast and North to South, South to Canada, Europe and Australia. We have had two way contacts to Japan. And have been heard in South Africa.

We are on each band only for 2-5 min. or so as to spend less time, if the band is dead we move on earlier. You can go back to a good freq after the net.
MONITOR REF030C to coordinate. WE may need to move early or if the freq is busy. We do not want to step on any AM or SSB activity.

We also use a web page to keep track of who and where we are at -     http://hf.dstar-relay.net/

You also can check-in to this web site anytime 24/7 to find a DSTAR HF Ham to talk to.

We will have a PRENET for 30 min. before the start of the scheduled time. This PRENET is for ‘FREE FORM” contacts. One should check the web site  http://hf.dstar-relay.net/  sign in and find a working freq to work on. When the net starts at the scheduled time, please join the net and follow the freqs.

We have a post-net (Hot Wash) at the end, on REF030C and report on our 1 way and 2 way contacts. This is done by the QUICK KEY method.


DSTAR HF VOICE SCHEDULE (SUMMER)

Sat PM 7:00 E (2300Z)

Sunday AM 10:00 E (1400Z Sunday)(Spend more time on each open band, and start on 80m)     

Sunday PM 7:00 E (2300Z)

Tuesday and Thurs night at 8:30pm E (0030Z Wed and Fri)

Check USB/LSB on freq to make sure the freq is clear.
SUNDAY AM, we start with 80m and work towards 6 meters.


6 mtrs 51.180 DV for 2 mins

10 mtrs 29.480 DV for 2-5 mins

12 mtrs 24.938 DV for 2-5 mins

15 mtrs 21.380 DV for 2-5 mins

17 mtrs 18.148 DV for 2-5 mins

20 mtrs 14.325 DV for 2- 5 mins

40 mtrs 7.285(or another open freq) DV for 2- 5 mins

75 mtrs 3.880 DV for 5 mins Backup is around 3.725.

NCS will check the freq ahead of time to make sure we don’t step on anyone 3KC up and DOWN.

See how to do DSTAR HF with an ICOM at-   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGF-qkdoid4

 "Digital voice is defined in the Commission’s rules as voice (i.e. phone), not data, per Section 97.3(c)(5) of the Rules." Check out the most recent comments by the ARRL:  http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7521063715

Kent

KQ4KK