The Northern Alberta Radio Club has established a series of D-Star repeaters at its main Club site on the East side of Edmonton. The D-Star repeaters use the callsign VE6KM and are co-located with the VE6HM analogue repeaters. The D-Star system consists of three voice repeaters on the 2m, 70cm and 23cm bands, together with 23cm data equipment. D-Star stands for Digital Smart Technology for Amateur Radio; as its name implies, the system uses digital signaling. Currently ICOM manufactures a number of transceivers which utilize digital technology.

NARC DStar Repeaters

The use of digital technology permits much more functionality than analogue equipment. For example, users of D-Star equipment can route calls to a distant D-Star repeater, link direct to a friend if that friend is logged onto any D-Star repeater in the World, send and receive location information, send live text messages, stream video and send their callsign by data while they are using voice.

Note that if you have D-Star equipment and wish to use the VE6KM Gateway you need to register with the global D-Star system in order to communicate to other D-Star repeaters. If you’ve already registered on a D-Star system anywhere in the world, there is no need to re-register.

Registration is not necessary to use the VE6KM repeaters, however your transmissions will not be “gatewayed” to other D-Star repeaters unless you have a valid registration. There is no cost for registrations, and the entire registration process usually takes about 24 hours to complete.

For step-by-step instructions on how to register, please view the D-Star Registration Procedure page.

D-Star technology allows Amateur Radio Operators to communicate using Digital Voice and transfer Digital Data simultaneously. D-Star gives Amateurs the ability to contact a specific station without knowing what city or even country that station is currently in.

D-Star’s features allow you to access and link to other repeaters, link and use reflectors, run Echo tests, check the status of the repeater and simulcast on all local D-Star repeaters. This page will outline the operation of each of these features.

D-Star Terminology

MYCALL

This is very straight forward. You simply put in your call sign (for example, VE6RHS).

URCALL

This is either the station you’re calling, or a command for the D-Star system to execute. Entering CQCQCQ in this field indicates that you are calling all stations listening on the destination repeater.

RPT1

On some radios, this is Repeater1.

This is always the repeater and node your are going into.

For example, I am wanting to chat with someone and the repeater I am going to enter is VE6KM and I am on the 23CM Band, I would enter into RPT1 VE6KM♦♦A (It is very important that the A is in the 8th position).

NOTE: The “♦” character here indicates a blank space.

RPT2

On some radios, this is Repeater2.

This one controls where you are going on the D-Star system. If you want to only be heard on the repeater node you entered in RPT1 then leave this blank. If you are looking for someone on another node within our repeater then you would enter the repeater call sign and node as you did in RPT2 but this time keep in mind this is the output node.

For example, I want to talk to David VE6DXX on the 2 meter node and I am on the 23cm node I would configure my radio as follows:

MYCALLVE6RHS
RPT1VE6KM♦♦A (the node I am on)
RPT2VE6KM♦♦C (the node that David is on)
URCALLVE6DXX

This will allow my signal to repeat through the repeater system and be heard by David.

Another example, if I want to chat with Bill VE2LLM and I do not know what repeater he is on I can reach him by allowing the D-Star system to locate and route my call. I would program my radio as follows:

MYCALLVE6RHS
RPT1VE6KM♦♦A (the node I am on)
RPT2VE6KM♦♦G (the Internet gateway)
URCALLVE2LLM

This would push my signal out to the Internet, D-Star would locate VE2LLM’s repeater and node, and push my signal to that location.

Here is the tricky part. In the FM World when you call even on multiple linked repeaters no one really needs to know where you are. With the D-Star system, this is not the case. In order for David or Bill to answer me they need to know where I am calling from. So when I put out my call I call as follows: “VE2LLM – VE6RHS on VE6KM Node A, Edmonton, Alberta”. Now Bill knows that I am coming in via the gateway and can program his path appropriately. In the case of David he needs to know that I am on Node A so that he can set his RPT2 to VE6KM♦♦A.

Reflectors

Reflectors are an add on to the D-Star system. Linking to one reflector is not difficult and follows the exact same process as calling a station.

For example, I want to link to Reflector 001 Node C what do I do? I set the 4 items in my radio as follows:

MYCALLVE6RHS
RPT1VE6KM♦♦A (the node I am on)
RPT2VE6KM♦♦G (the Internet gateway)
URCALLREF001CL

Key up your radio for 2 seconds or more. You will hear a voice that says “Remote system linked”.

Here is the real trick here. Once you have heard the message you must change the URCALL to CQCQCQ. If you don’t, your transmissions will not go out to the reflector and you will hear “Remote system already linked”.

Once you are done with the reflector it is important to remember to unlink the repeater. To do this you do exactly as you did to link but in the URCALL you enter seven spaces and U (U=Unlink).

MYCALLVE6RHS
RPT1VE6KM♦♦A (the node I am on)
RPT2VE6KM♦♦G (the Internet gateway)
URCALL♦♦♦♦♦♦♦U

Key up your radio for 2 seconds or more. You will hear a message saying “Remote system Unlinked”.

Echo Test

The echo test is accomplished by putting in seven spaces and E (E=Echo) in the URCALL.

MYCALLVE6RHS
RPT1VE6KM♦♦A (the node I am on)
RPT2VE6KM♦♦G (the Internet gateway)
URCALL♦♦♦♦♦♦♦E

Now whatever you say will be echoed back to you.

Check Link Status

To find out if a node is linked or not you put in seven spaces and I (the letter i, I=Info).

MYCALLVE6RHS
RPT1VE6KM♦♦A (the node I am on)
RPT2VE6KM♦♦G (the Internet gateway)
URCALL♦♦♦♦♦♦♦I

Key up your radio for 2 seconds or more. If you hear nothing then the repeater is not linked, If it is linked you will hear “Remote System Linked”.