So after months of fiddling with the board I got I decided to abandon that project and start with something pre-packaged.
After some reasearch I found the DVRPTR_V1 board that was originally built in Germany had been taken over by a group of hams here in Canada specifically in Montreal not to far from my QTH.
I sent and email and within a few hours was told they were sold out but a waiting list was being taken and that I can add my name to the list.
So I did. After being sent the info I was asked if I wanted an AMBE2020 board as an addon. Not knowing what it was I passed on it but curiosity got the better of me and after seeing a video from Michael Carey VK5ZEA (LINK) I knew that I had to have it.
Being able to connect an analog signal and have it sent to DStar was a plus I could use.
As a side note, my local club had expressed interest in looking into DStar. We have a network of analog repeaters covering Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and Northern New York so we figured why not add DStar. My only problem was tying to figure out how to link a DStar repeater to an analog network. The AMBE board was the answer.
Fast forward a few weeks and the board arrived all pretty and packaged ready for me to try out. I have a Kenwood D700 radio as a spare in the shack and it happens to have a TNC port on the back. What are the chances that the 6Pin DIN connection on this DStar board would connect straight up to the D700. ( My last board had a 9Pin DSub connection and that was a nightmare to get working with the D700 for some reason. I blame myself for the frustration )
I went thru the junk box and found a 6pin DIN cable and like magic it worked out of the box. I had previously set the TNC to 9600 baud before so I knew that was setup.
Plugged in the USB cable to my PC and installed the DV-RPTR CC software and VOILA! I was able to see my IC-91AD status show up on the screen of the CC software.
Now to connect this sucker to the internet and get some routing going. Opened up the firewall and checked the logs ( I was too lazy and partially wanting a challenge ) to see what ports I had to open. Within a few moments I had the firewall configured. Plugged in the Callsigns for the node and was able to connect to a reflector an hear some audio! That was a great moment for me. Not going to lie.
Now how can I test out the whole outfit. Well I connected to Reflector 1C which happens to be the MEGA reflector and made a contact. This was amazing. Within a few hours of getting the software setup i’m good to go. I have to give credit to Bruce Given VE2GZI. I had originally downloaded the wrong version of the DV-RPTR CC software but he sent me the proper link and I was good to go.
Now our club has limited space in the repeater cabinets and I wanted to keep this as small of a footprint as possible. Time to break out the Pi. RaspberryPi specifically.
I already has the Western Dstar image downloaded so I installed that to see how it would work for me. Within 20 minutes I had the Pi working and everything seemed to be too good to be true. I tried connecting to the local repeater reflector. VA3ODG is the local DStar repeater and they have a few other hotspots all connected thru XRF018B. When I tried connecting it told me that that reflector was Unknown. I knew that 18B was a FreeStar reflector so I sent Ramesh VA3UV a quick email. Ramesh is the FreeStar daddy. He gave birth to that project and maintains it meticulously. Within 10 minutes of my email explaining to him that it was not routing to the reflector he said that it was a route in the DExtra file and I just had to add the name and IP in there.
Ramesh was kind enough to point me in the right direction. I spoke to him a few minutes later on REF5B and he said that he didn’t know where the configuration was but on the DV-RPRT Repeater Yahoo group that there was probably information. I didn’t immediately find it so I hunted google and found what I needed.
I searched online for a few minutes and found that for this image the files are located in /usr/local/etc. All I had to do is edit the DExtra_Hosts.txt file and include the information and Voila. I was able to connect.
My next step will be to wire the AMBE board to another analog radio and see if my Analog/DStar project will work. The AMBE board uses a built-in audio amplifier to get the audio out. It’s specifically designed to use with a speaker-mic but I want to inject that audio into the Mic-IN of a radio. The documentation for the AMBE board specifically states that the Negative for the speaker is dedicated to the amp and not the same as the common ground on the board. So a quick email to Bruce again and waiting to hear back on options on how to do this without setting fire to the whole damn thing.
One thought was to use a transformer to try and match the impedance of the radio mic in but that’s a shot in the dark.
Hopefully this will result in some good Ham Fun in the next few weeks.
Here are a few resource pages that I used to get my project going.
DVRPTR Board http://www.dvrptr.net/
Wester DStar Group http://www.westerndstar.co.uk/
DStar Reflector List http://www.dstarinfo.com/reflectors.aspx
DStar101 DTMF Commands http://www.dstar101.com/DTMF.htm