[Linux-ham] Fwd: [KD4RAA-K4JDR Rptrs] RARS Testing UHF D-STAR Repeater

Tanner Lovelace kb4tye at arrl.net
Wed Oct 24 15:46:39 EDT 2007

Hi Gary,

I have a few questions about D-STAR. If you don't mind spending a
few moments on them, I'd really appreciate it.

One of my friends notes that in response to a letter in QST that
was critical of D-STAR (and was a response to your article there)
you wrote:

"I appreciate the compliment!  There has been a furious debate on
Internet message boards about whether or not D-STAR is proprietary.  It
isn't.  The AMBE vocoder, licensed by Digital Voice Systems, is the only
proprietary component, and anybody can buy one.  I wrote the article to
give the average ham an idea of what was coming down the road, and so
far, only ICOM has taken the gamble on VHF/UHF digital technology with a
full system that makes the radios more than a novelty.  If it find a
market, others will follow.  Right now some hams are building their own
D-STAR radios and repeaters with non-ICOM components."

Yet, as another friend of mine points out from

"AMBE is controversial in that the licensing terms are very restrictive.
While a licensing fee is due for most codecs, DVSI does not disclose
software licensing terms. Anecdotal evidence suggests a minimum fee from
$100,000 to $1 Million. PC implementations are not allowed. For the purposes
of comparison, MP3's licensing starts at $15,000. For small-scale use and
prototyping, the only option is to purchase a dedicated hardware IC from

So, I'm trying to reconcile both your statement where you contradict
yourself by saying D-STAR isn't proprietary yet then go on to say
that it is (because AMBE is) and the other statement about AMBE
wherein licensing is outrageously expensive with prohibitive restrictions
on it.  What, exactly, does installing a D-STAR system gain us as

Does it let us advance the state of the art in learning and implementing
communication technologies?

Does it bring hams together by giving them a common platform that
people can use without having to spend lots of money on new equipment?

Does it help us in the mission of emergency communications?

Can I as a software engineer code up a program that will implement
D-STAR as a software defined radio and fully interoperate with installed

As it is now, my understanding is that the answers to all of those questions
are no, but I would love to hear your side of the story?  I don't mean to
rain on your parade, but it just seems to me like we're getting further
away from our original beginnings and much closer to "black box radio"
where no one knows anything except how to push the power button.

Thanks very much for your time.  I eagerly await your response.

Tanner Lovelace

Tanner Lovelace
clubjuggler at gmail dot com
(fieldless) In fess two roundels in pale, a billet fesswise and an
increscent, all sable.

More information about the Linux-ham mailing list