D-Star? Yes!

When I got licensed, I immediately got my General. And while I did get a mobile and a portable VHF/UHF radio, I never used them much. There was no digital voice back then on ham radio, and the local repeaters were pretty much quiet.

In 2023 when I made the decision to get back to ham radio, I started with VHF/UHF. I had the (old) gear, and I could put a simple vertical out on my deck without attracting undue complaint from the only neighbor who could see it.

I started playing with APRS again, as I had done years ago (and my Kenwood TM-D700 was already setup for it). I quickly discovered that there was a really high noise level on 2m that comes and goes; Some days APRS reception was awesome, with a report being received every few seconds (!!) and other days I’d only hear from one or two stations in a whole day. I’ll write more about APRS later.

I had read about digital voice, and before moving I had even briefly been active on DMR. I had also read about digital Hot Spots, so I got an OpenSpot4. In my first 30 minutes of using my new OpenSpot, I had talked with hams in Serbia and South Korea. I was immediately hooked!

This lead to my acquiring a Icom ID-5100. I quickly discovered that, all the encouraging listings to the contrary, the nearest actual working D-Star repeater was more than 25 miles away (WB1GOF, in Westford MA). It’s an exceptionally welcoming and well-run repeater, and I can hit WB1GOF C (2m) most days.

D-Star is quirky, and fun, and still actively evolving. I’m really enjoying learning about how it works, and even reading about the “politics” of the callsign routing options and repeater hardware.