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Welcome to another digital voice resource for ham radio operators. The goal of this site is to be educational and informative for all things revolving around digital voice in the amateur radio hobby. New to Ham Radio? Click HERE to get started.

Why Digital Radio?

It’s a natural progression of radio. Consider it evolution of RF rather than change. Way back in the day, AM was the defacto modulation type. AM was noisy, but it got the job done. In the 1930s the FM modulation type was invented and introduced into Radio. FM was invented to help solve for the shortcomings prominent in AM, like noise/static. For decades FM ruled the radio world and still does in many cases, but digital is here to overtake the modulation throne.

Since digital is a transmission of data rather than raw voice, it can transmit more information in a payload when the PTT is pressed than just your analog voice. You can send identification information (like your call sign), GPS coordinates, short messages (Like texting), and even computer data, all with the quick push of the PTT. Digital repeaters are made to be connected to an IP network (most have Ethernet jacks in them), which makes internet linking radios extremely easy allowing people to connect all over the world via ham radio.

Prices are coming down on radios, especially in the used market. Hams around the world are building cool new tools and accessories, tinkering with this new frontier of radio. I urge you to take the dive into digital voice, no matter what mode you choose and give it a whirl.

Current Digital Voice Modes:

FreeDV

Yaesu Fusion

D-Star

DMR (Digital Mobile Radio)

Apco Project 25 (P25)

NXDN (Kenwood calls it NexEdge, Icom calls it IDAS but they are the same technology)

Comparison Chart

ModeAnalogD-StarDMRYaesu System Fusion
NetworksIRLP, ECO-LINK, All-StarREF, XLX, DCScBridge, Brandmeister, DMR-MARC, Many others...Wires-X, YSF, FCS
Server NomenclatureReflectorReflectorTalk GroupRoom, Reflector
Network interactionDTMF"UR" FieldContact or channel selectionDx Button, DTMF
Signal ValidationTONE, Tone-SquelchRPT 1 (only for repeaters)Color CodeN/A
ModulationFMGMSK 4-state FSK with TDMAC4FM
CreatorN/AJARLETSIYaesu
Verbal ID Required?YesNoYes (if your radio doesnt support "Talker Alias")No

What the digital modes sound like to analog radios.

(from http://www.w2sjw.com/radio_sounds.html)

APCO P25

Icom D-Star

Yaesu Fusion

DMR Repeater

NXDN

Feature Comparison

FeatureD-StarYaesu System FusionDMR
Link directly to users (Networked callsign routing)YesNoYes
Link to repeaters directlyYesYesYes
Text MessagingNoSort of, Must be in GM mode.Yes
GPS bearing of RX station on radioYesYesNo
Vendor lockedYes, sort of, Icom and 1 Kenwood radioYes, Yaesu onlyNo
Auto switches between Analog and DigitalYes, sort of, after ~10seconds Yes, InstantlyYes, only with certain model radios
Lone workerNoNoYes
Man downNoNoYes
TX/RX Computer dataYesNot yet. Only certain commercial vendors and radio models
Can build your own networkYesYesYes
Repeater RoamingNoNoYes
Can work on HFYesYesNo (~900 mile limit)

Place holder for Future “Educational Corner”

Updated: 06/04/2019