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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 helped solve for the shortcomings prominent in AM, like noise/static. For decades FM ruled the radio world and still does in many cases, but more and more commercial companies are making the leap to digital which helps drive a lot of the amateur radio hobby.

Digital voice is a transmission of data rather than raw analog voice. The data payload sent with your voice can often carry identification information (like your call sign), GPS coordinates, short messages (Like texting), and even computer data. This data paired with the forward error correction that each mode utilizes makes for an efficient use of air time and often eases the users radio experience. Digital voice repeaters are designed to connect to IP networks (most have Ethernet jacks in them), which makes internet linking radio systems 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 Popular Digital Voice Modes:

FreeDV

Yaesu Fusion

D-Star

DMR (Digital Mobile Radio)

Apco Project 25 (P25)

NXDN

Comparison Chart

ModeAnalogD-StarDMRYaesu System Fusion
NetworksIRLP, ECO-LINK, All-StarREF, XLX, DCSBrandmeister, DMR-MARC, TGIF, Many 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.

APCO P25

Icom D-Star

Yaesu Fusion

DMR (Digital Mobile Radio)

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, Only Anytone's radios can when setup properly.
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 because of time syncing latency)

Place holder for Future “Educational Corner”

Updated: 06/04/2019