As you first un-box your new D-STAR radio, the first thing to do is to make sure that it works on FM. So program your favorite repeater and try it out for a little bit. Once you know your radio is working, then it is time to start thinking D-STAR.
- · If at all possible, find someone to help you, an Elmer, someone who currently has D-STAR and can let you know what is going on in your area.
- · One of the first differences in D-STAR is that the radio needs to know your call-sign. So open your manual and program your call-sign into the MY call-sign slot. You can also add your name in the MY field beyond the /.
- · Talking simplex. While you might not have anyone to talk to, program a simplex channel first. One of the standard D-STAR simplex channels is 145.67, so let's use it.
- o Set frequency to 145.670
- o Set offset to none
- o Set mode to DV (probably was FM by default) (DV is the D-STAR Voice Modulation mode)
- o Don't worry about the RPT1, RPT2, and UR call signs when working simplex.
- · Finding a Repeater: More and more D-STAR repeaters are coming online everyday, so the first thing to do is to check out www.dstarusers.org for the repeaters close to you.
- o Set frequency to the repeater's frequency
- o Set offset to the repeater's offset
- o Set mode to DV
- o Sit back and listen. You should hear any activity on the repeater.
- · Programming a Repeater: Once you know the repeater that you want to talk to, go to D-STAR Calculator to find out what to program into your radio.
- o Use the D-STAR Calculator and enter the closest repeater into the source and destination repeaters. Select the same module for both source and destination repeaters. If the repeater has a gateway, select "Use Gateway"
- o Program RPT1, RPT2, and UR as the D-STAR Calculator indicates.
- · First Kerchunk: After your radio has been programmed, It's time for your first kerchunk. So go for it, press the PTT for about 2 seconds and let go. Didn't that feel good? As you un-key, one of two things will probably happen. You will get a beep or nothing. A beep is good, but nothing isn't necessarily bad.
Did it work?
Make a call on the repeater and see if anyone responds, that's a pretty good test. Don't expect to hear a kerchunk when you un-key, nor a courtesy beep. D-STAR repeater controllers don't work the same way that FM repeaters work.
If your repeater has a gateway and DStarMon running, then go to the Last Heard page of www.dstarusers.org and see if your call-sign appears. The site updates it's information quickly, so it only should take a few seconds to see your call. If you see it, then congratulations!
- · Watch your display: Normally, if everything is programmed correctly and the repeater can hear you, within a few seconds of your transmission, you will hear a beep and see the repeater's call sign appear on the display. This doesn't always happen, so don't freak out if you don't get it.
- · If you didn't hear a beep or see yourself on dstarusers: The best thing to do next is to try to find someone in your area to help you out. But keep listening to see if you can ever hear anyone. The coverage area should be similar to that of FM.
- · Check your work: I forgot to mention that when you are programming the RPT call-signs into your radio, the module identifier MUST be in the 8th (last) character position. This is probably the most common mistake that even diehards make.
- · Watch the Offset! Not all D-STAR repeaters use a standard offset. So always check the repeater offset to make sure that it is in the correct direction and is the correct split.
- · Register for Gateway Access To register on your gateway, check on dstarusers.org for the registration location. If it is not listed there, check your repeater's web site, or ask someone locally. For a good example of what you will see when you register, check the W4DOC registration site