Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Home-build D-Star radio

Years ago, after I built my Elecraft K2 I had the idea that I would only use home-built radio equipment. However I found that it was no longer possible to buy a kit to build a 2m FM radio. This afternoon I visited a site mentioned by Tim, G4VXE in his latest blog posting and was intrigued to find that a Dutch group is working on a design for a VHF/UHF transceiver kit. Not only that, it is apparently being developed in consultation with Elecraft and is built into an Elecraft EC-1 (K2) enclosure!

The basic kit will be for an analogue FM transceiver with modules for 2m, 70cm and 23cm (it isn't clear to me whether you must choose one of these bands or whether you can fit all of the modules.) But with the addition of another module it can also become a D-Star transceiver!

Now I have never made any secret of my dislike of D-Star, mainly due to the fact that one manufacturer has a monopoly on the provision of radios. But a home-brew D-Star transceiver that doesn't require you to buy anything from Icom and would sit neatly alongside my K2 in a matching enclosure could just be the thing that makes me swallow my objections. Yes, it will still have an AMBE chip containing the proprietary codec. But most of my radios contain chips with proprietary firmware so I don't think that's a good enough reason for continuing to avoid D-Star.


SV9OFO said...

if you can build it, it's ham radio.

As for AMBE, still there would be alternatives.

is the rest of the rig' software open sourced? if so, a future revision of codec2, on hardware, should be able to work with the rest of the d* implementation.

Fenris said...

Indeed. Codec2 is the way to go in the absence of any other patent-free codecs.

As for Julian's comment about proprietary firmware, if it can be reimplemented legally then it's fair enough to use it in your radios as they only barrier is one of time and effort. With AMBE, the algorithms are patented, so any reimplementation that is covered by those patents will still be illegal. In my mind amateur radio should be completely separated from such concepts.