Surfin': Viewing the New Star of Ham Radio
By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Digital Smart Technology for Amateur Radio -- better known as D-STAR -- is a means of transmitting and receiving voice and data digitally, rather than via analog means. Developed by the Japanese Amateur Radio League (JARL) and championed by ICOM, the system first hit the airwaves in late 2004.
Like most things that were "new" in ham radio (such as SSB, FM and packet), D-STAR grew slowly at first, but began taking off during the end of the last decade and now has approximately 11,000 users today. Most of those users are on the air using D-STAR repeaters, which number more than 500 worldwide. Linking repeaters over the airwaves and via the Internet provides long range communications far beyond the normal boundaries of 2 meters, 70 cm and 23 cm, i.e., the bands where D-STAR operates.
If D-STAR is of interest to you, there are some Web sites that you should check out. Your first stop should be the D-STAR Information Site where you will find D-STAR news, applications, maps and a FAQ, as well as many other things that are D-STAR-centric.
Another place to stop is the Independent Radio Club D-STAR Tutorial Page that has a short and simple guide that explains the basics of D-STAR.
Last, but not least, be sure to check out the D-STAR hardware available from ICOM. Their site also has more details about the mode, as well as a FAQ.
Until next time, keep on surfin'!