1999 – Funded by the Japanese government and administrated by the JARL, investigation was put into finding a new
way of bringing digital technology to amateur radio.
2001 – D-Star is published as the result of the research.
Icom enters the construction of the new digital technology by offering the hardware necessary to create this technology.
The conclusion of all this work is the digital technology for amateur radio called D-Star.
Icom announces the availability of Gateway 2.0 software.
Icom and US Trust Server administration announce the shutdown of the Gateway 1.0 U.S. Trust Server will occur at
00:00 UTC on June 1, 2008, at which time all systems should have transitioned to Gateway 2.0 software and the new U.S. Trust
D-STAR transfers both voice and data via digital encoding over the (VHF), (UHF), and (1.2 GHz) amateur radio
bands. There is also an interlinking radio system for creating links between systems in a local area on 10 GHz.
Within the D-Star Digital Voice protocol standards (DV), voice audio is encoded as a 3600 bit/s data stream using proprietary
encoding, with 1200 bit/s FEC, leaving 1200 bit/s for an additional data "path" between radios utilizing DV mode. On air bit
rates for DV mode are 4800 bit/s over the 2 m, 70 cm and 23 cm bands.
In addition to DV mode, a high speed Digital Data (DD) Mode can be sent at 128 kbit/s only on the 23 cm band. A higher
rate proprietary data protocol, currently believed to be much like ATM, is utilized in the 10 GHz "link" radios for site-to-site
Radios providing DV data service within the low-speed voice protocol variant typically use an RS232 or USB
connection for low speed data (1200 bit/s), while the Icom ID-1 23cm band radio offers a standard Ethernet connection for
high speed (128 kbit/s) connections, to allow easy interfacing with computer equipment.
Importance of Digital Technology and D-STAR
As long as the signal strength is above a minimum threshold, and no multi-path is occurring, the quality of the data received
is better than an analog signal at the same strength.
The system today is capable of linking repeaters together locally and through the Internet utilizing callsigns for routing
of traffic. Servers are linked via TCP/IP utilizing proprietary "Gateway" software, available from Icom. This allows Amateur
Radio operators to talk to any other Amateurs participating in a particular gateway "trust" environment. The current master
gateway in the United States is operated by the K5TIT group, in Texas, who were the first to install a D-Star repeater system
in the U.S.
Another important aspect of D-STAR technology is its ability to send large quantities of data to emergency responders in
the event of a disaster. Served agencies can instantly relate to sending "email" or a "word files" to someone. The data sent
can be high-volume, where traditional amateur radio "modes" are capable of getting a message through albeit slowly, D-STAR
can place documents into the hands of those that need them most - fast image, text and document data exchanges.
D-STAR has been criticized for its use of a patented, closed-source proprietary voice codec (AMBE). Hams do not have
access to the detailed specification of this codec or the rights to implement it on their own without buying a licensed product.
Hams have a long tradition of building, improving upon and experimenting with their own radio designs. The modern digital
age equivalent of this would be designing and/or implementing codecs in software. Critics say the proprietary nature of AMBE
and its availability only in hardware form (as ICs) discourages innovation. Even critics praise the openness of the rest of
the D-STAR standard which can be implemented freely. An open-source replacement for the AMBE codec would resolve this issue.
Gateway Server Information
The current gateway control software rs-rp2c Version 2.0, more commonly called "Gateway 2.0", runs on virtually any Linux,
but the Icom supported/recommended configuration is CentOS 5.1 on a Pentium IV 2.4 GHz or faster machine.
Recommended Configuration utilizes Linux CentOS 5.1 with the latest updates, typically running Kernel 2.4.20. glibc 2.3.2
and BIND 9.2.1. The CPU should be 2.4GHz or faster and the memory should at least be 512MB or greater. There should be 2 network
interface cards and at least 10GB free of hard drive space which includes the OS install. Finally for middleware, Apache 2.0.59,
Tomcat 5.5.20, mod_jk2 2.0.4, OpenSSL 0.9.8d, J2SE 5.0 and postgreSQL 8.2.3 are utilized, but these can be different as updates
Along with the open-source tools, the Icom proprietary dsipsvd or "D-Star IP Service Daemon" and a variety of crontab entries
utilize a mixture of the local PostgreSQL and BIND servers to look up callsigns and "pcname" fields (stored in BIND) which
are mapped to individual 10.x.x.x internal-only addresses for routing of both voice and data traffic between participating
During installation, the Gateway 2.0 software installation script builds most of the web-based open-source tools from source
for standardization purposes, while utilizing some of the packages of the host Linux OS, thus making CentOS 5.1 the common
way to deploy a system, to keep incompatibilities from occurring in both package versions and configuration.
Additionally, Gateways operating on the U.S. Trust server are asked during initial setup to install DStarMonitor which
is an add-on tool that allows the overall system administrators to see the status of each Gateway's local clock and other
processes and PIDs needed for normal system operation, and also sends traffic and other data to servers operated under the
domain name of "dstarusers.org". Installation of this software also includes JavaAPRSd, a Java-based APRS interface which
is utilized on Gateway 2.0 systems to interface between the Icom/D-Star GPS tracking system called DPRS to the more widely
known and utilized Amateur Radio APRS system.