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:
NXDN (Kenwood calls it NexEdge, Icom calls it IDAS but they are the same technology)
|Mode||Analog||D-Star||DMR||Yaesu System Fusion|
|Networks||IRLP, ECO-LINK, All-Star||REF, XLX, DCS||cBridge, Brandmeister, DMR-MARC, Many others...||Wires-X, YSF, FCS|
|Server Nomenclature||Reflector||Reflector||Talk Group||Room, Reflector|
|Network interaction||DTMF||"UR" Field||Contact or channel selection||Dx Button, DTMF|
|Signal Validation||TONE, Tone-Squelch||RPT 1 (only for repeaters)||Color Code||N/A|
|Modulation||FM||GMSK||4-state FSK with TDMA||C4FM|
|Verbal ID Required?||Yes||No||Yes (if your radio doesnt support "Talker Alias")||No|
What the digital modes sound like to analog radios.
|Feature||D-Star||Yaesu System Fusion||DMR|
|Link directly to users (Networked callsign routing)||Yes||No||Yes|
|Link to repeaters directly||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Text Messaging||No||Sort of, Must be in GM mode.||Yes|
|GPS bearing of RX station on radio||Yes||Yes||No|
|Vendor locked||Yes, sort of, Icom and 1 Kenwood radio||Yes, Yaesu only||No|
|Auto switches between Analog and Digital||Yes, sort of, after ~10seconds||Yes, Instantly||Yes, only with certain model radios|
|TX/RX Computer data||Yes||Not yet.||Only certain commercial vendors and radio models|
|Can build your own network||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can work on HF||Yes||Yes||No (~900 mile limit)|
Place holder for Future “Educational Corner”