Frequently Asked Questions
A FAQ for the gmsk_dv_node Yahoo Group
Setting up a GMSK Modem-based system
Will the board work with my radio?
What's Linking? What are the different linking systems?
What's callsign registration? What should my Node Callsign be and must I register it?
What is Callsign Routing and what is ircDDB?
I have enabled ircDDB in WinDV, but it keeps disconnecting me. Why?
I'm trying out my Hotspot for the 1st time, and I can't get the receive test (e.g. RF Read) to work. What should I do?
I'm trying out my Hotspot for the 1st time, and I can't get the transmit test (e.g. Echo Test) to work. What should I do?
I can connect my Hotspot to a repeater and hear them, but they can't hear me. Why?
When my Hotspot transmits, the audio is a little garbled/R2D2. What is causing this?
The text message on my D-Star radio is often garbled and not what was transmitted. Why?
I get the message RICHTX32.OCX is missing when running DUTCH*Star NATools programs. How do I fix?
Installing DUTCH*Star NATools/driver fails on Windows 8/8.1/10. What do I do now?
What are recommended settings for my D-Star radio?
WinDV reports "Routing for xxx failed: CALLSIGN UNKNOWN" What's the fix?
The short answer is -- if your radio provides access to the receiver's discriminator without filtering, and access to the transmitter's modulator without filtering, then yes, your radio will probably work. By far the easiest way to ensure the above is to use a radio that supports 9600 Data, typically for Packet. Many of these radios provide a standard 6-pin Mini DIN connector on the back, but some radios use a DSub9 or other connector.
If thinking about buying a particular radio for your Hotspot, find that radio's manual on the internet and check the back panel documentation for a Data connector.
You can also check the Radio Files section of the gmsk_dv_node Yahoo Group to see if anyone has already documented that radio for use with a Hotspot.
Note: if you are adept at reading schematics and can add a small modification to a radio, you usually can find the tap points for discriminator and modulator and convert radios lacking the 9600 Data port.
DPlus was the first and arguably still the most popular linking system. It was developed by Robin Cutshaw AA4RC to make it easy to connect repeaters to other repeaters. He also created the DPlus Reflectors, named REFnnnx as in REF001C. Hotspots running DVAR, WinDV, G4KLX and similar software can be configured to link the Hotspot or homebrew repeater to DPlus Repeaters and Reflectors -- as a DPlus Client. So you can link OUT to DPlus systems. Normally you cannot have ICOM G2 repeaters find your homebrew system and link IN. DPlus authenticates by verifying the callsign is registered at a G2 repeater/gateway. See more about registration here. You can see a list of REF reflectors here.
DExtra was created by Scott Lawson KI4KLF. DExtra reflectors are named XRFnnnx as in XRF001A. It does authenticate to the G2 database, so registration is less of a problem. It uses different procedures to "talk" between a client the the reflector. XRF reflectors will also support DPlus-style link requests, to allow DPlus-only clients to connect and talk. Ramesh Dhami VA3UV now supports DExtra as part of the FreeStar system.
DCS is an extension of DExtra, but DCS reflectors do not support DPLus linking requests. DCS reflectors are popular in Europe, but can be found worldwide. You can see a list of DCS reflectors here.
DVAR can link to DPLus systems. WinDV, G4KLX and some other homebrew software support linking to all three types of reflectors.
Most people want their Hotspot to be able to issue DPlus Link requests so they can connect to DPlus-enabled repeaters and connectors, so this answer will focus on that need. However, if you don't plan to do DPlus linking, rather DExtra to XRF reflectors or DCS linking exclusively, this answer does not apply to you.
DPlus is an application that repeater administrators add to their gateways, and most reflector owners choose to utilize the DPlus Reflector application. DPlus, in an attempt to ensure only authentic callsigns are allowed to connect and transmit over remote repeaters, checks to make sure the callsigns involved are already properly registered terminals on a US Trust-connected repeater. See Step 1 at http://www.k6jm.com/hs-setup.htm.
Callsign Routing is an excellent feature of the D-Star specification, but it is a little harder to use that first time, so many (most?) people get started using only DPlus linking. But as they get more knowledgeable, many people also learn to use Callsign Routing. There are two major reasons:
You can Callsign Route to a friend who is mobile or travels, and you don't necessarily know what repeater or reflector he's hanging out on right now. Callsign Routing allows you to ask the D-Star network to find the most recent repeater where he's been heard, and route your transmission there. This is neat stuff.
You can use the STARnet Digital system of creating or joining various groups, so that you can easily contact hams in a group without having to know where in the D-Star world they are right now. Click here to join the STARnet Digital Yahoo Group.
Your Hotspot can be configured to do callsign routing and accept incoming callsign routing transmissions. DVAR software does not support this, but the DUTCH*Star WinDV does, since it supports ircDDB (learn more). In addition to WinDV, people also use Jonathan Naylor G4KLX's Repeater Controller with his ircDDB Gateway software, but for simplicity, this FAQ will focus on WinDV. The following assumes you want to be able to do both Callsign Routing and Dplus Linking.
ircDDB requires that your Hotspot or full duplex repeater must have a different callsign from your own personal MyCall callsign. This is your "gateway callsign." These callsigns are obtained in different ways in various countries. For example, in the US, this is gotten by forming a club and requesting a club callsign (http://www.k6jm.com/usasetupclub.htm).
See the above question, but the short answer is you need to register you callsign in the ircDDB database. Click here to go to their registration page.
The cause is either DPlus authentication or your hotspot software is rejecting your RPT1 or RPT2 settings.
Authentication -- Remember that the MyCall in your D-Star radio must be a registered terminal, but also your Node Callsign and your Auth Callsign must also be registered terminals. Note: when Hotspots were starting up, the Node Callsign did not have to be registered, but DPlus was changed to now require this. (The easiest way to comply is to use your callsign with a blank suffix for all three of the above. But many people prefer a different convention and end up setting up three terminals with different suffixes. See the callsign registration question above.)
RPT1 & RPT2 -- Programs like DVAR and WinDV have a setting which will check if your RPT1 and/or RPT2 values are valid or "proper." If your D-Star radio is set for simplex operation (not DUP), then remember the radio ignores what you programmed in RPT1 and RPT2 and simply transmits "DIRECT" for those values. The quick fix is to uncheck the setting ("Require proper RPT..."). Another way is to program your radio for DUP mode with a zero offset.
In the D-Star protocol, the user message data is transmitted without error correction.
Normally when people test at their QTH, their HT has excellent signal strength, so typically garbled text is not caused by a weak signal. Some possible causes:
But there no standard solutions and each case is different.
NATools programs use Visual Basic and need that module. Until recently, Microsoft automatically installed the VB runtime library when Windows was installed. With recent versions of Windows, that no longer happens, and you need to get the missing library, or in this case, .OCX file, yourself. You can install it by following these instructions.
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Different models have different terms, but in general, turn off AUTO_RX and AUTO_RPT. Force your radio into DV mode, rather than having it dynamically decide between DV and FM mode -- this helps recover from a brief signal level drop that can confuse the receiver.
If your Hotspot software has been configured to Check for Valid RPT1 and/or RPT2, and you are operating in simplex mode (TX and RX frequencies the same), then be sure to trick the radio into thinking it's in Duplex mode by turning on DUP with an offset of 0 (zero). D-STAR radios only transmit your programmed RPT1 and RPT2 values if the radio is in full DUPlex mode.
To be sure about what's going on, temporarily turn on logging. Go to WinDV's Tools > Options and click the Enable Logging box, save and restart. Then when you get an error, go to File > View Logfile to see details about the problem. If you can't fix the problem, then go to Help > Report a Problem or Idea to send the details to DUTCH*Star.
In this case, the problem may already have been fixed in version 1.5.7, but in general, follow the D-Star radio settings recommended in the question above. In particular, be sure to turn off AUTO_RX and AUTO_RPT functions.
D-Star® is a registered trademark used for communication equipment (repeaters and transceivers) for amateur radio communications, and owned by Icom Incorporated.