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Introducing the UDRC

Universal Digital Radio Controller
–UPDATED–

Here at NW Digital Radio we are always looking at ways to enhance digital communications for the radio amateur. As we have been marching forward with the development of the UDRX-440 there have been a few products that have come to market both from us and from other manufacturers.

When designing the UDRX-440 we wanted to enable D-STAR voice communications and designed a daughter card to provide the AMBE vocoder. We choose the DVSI AMBE-3000™ chip which has the potential of providing superior voice reproduction on D-STAR, but also supports AMBE+2 which is used by other radio standards such as DMR, NXDN, Yaesu Fusion, APCO P25 Phase 2, … We created the DV3000, which is available as a standalone product along with the open source AMBEServer to make AMBE vocoding available over a network. This Raspberry Pi shield rapidly gained a following and hundreds are now deployed around the world. Later, we created a USB connected version of this device called the ThumbDV™, which has opened up AMBE vocoding to hundreds of additional users.

When Yaesu offered their new DR-1X Fusion repeater to clubs for $500  (updated information), the Northwest Digital Radio Club (not part of NW Digital Radio company) purchased one and put it on the air in Edmonds, WA as NW7DR.  The half rate digital voice is very good and the full rate voice is excellent. It wasn’t long before John (K7VE) looked at the external accessory adapter and wondered if the repeater could also do D-STAR. After considerable research and experimentation using a Raspberry Pi B+/2 for control and a DVRPTR V1 GMSK modem it was discovered that the DR-1X made an excellent D-STAR repeater. By comparison, John’s Kenwood based repeaters often run significant BER (bit error rate) on receive, at one location the Kenwood runs around 7+% BER, while the DR-1X is at 0%. (The repeaters are co-located and both use the DVRPTR V1.)

At first, the experiments ran into a known lockup condition when using an external controller in combination with Yaesu Fusion Digital mode. With the latest generation firmware the DR-1X is able to provide D-STAR, Analog, and Fusion Digital all on the same channel on a per transmission switched mode.  Mode control is accomplished using GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi.

NW Digital Radio looked at the Raspberry Pi control system and soon decided that a combination control board with integrated CODEC could be built as a hat for 40 PIN GPIO headers on the Raspberry Pi and thus is born the Universal Digital Radio Controller or UDRC.

With the addition of the UDRC, the DR-1X will operate in these configurations. (WIRES-X requires a Yaesu HRI-200 attached to an external radio)

  • With the latest 1.00 family of firmware on the DR-1X
    • D-STAR/Analog
  • With the latest 1.10 family (after December 2015) on the DR-1X
    • D-STAR/Analog
    • D-STAR/Digital Fusion
    • D-STAR/Digital Fusion/Analog

The UDRC does not transcode between D-STAR and Fusion, it allows the DR-1X to repeat D-STAR transmissions and use the ircDDBGateway to communicate with stations, linked reflectors and repeaters, STARnet Digital Groups, etc.  Analog, Digital Fusion, and D-STAR are switched at the repeater on a per transmission basis.

The UDRC is designed as a simple to install addition to the DR-1X, however, NW Digital Radio has kept the experimenter in mind by providing various headers to allow straightforward hardware modification for integration with other hardware and applications. The built-in CODEC also will be available via a amateur packet radio standard mini DIN-6 port for software developers to adapt other modes, e.g. Packet Radio, VOIP (Asterisk/IRLP/Echolink), Codec-2, … Additionally, all GPIO and audio pins are available as solder through pads.

Share your application ideas on the UDRC group.

Estimated price for the UDRC is $89.95

 

DMR / D-STAR Gateway

The Germans have done it again!

From the folks that brought us the ircDDB network, we hear from Hans-Jürgen Barthen, DL5DI, that there is now a gateway between D-STAR (DCS Gateways) and Hytera DMR Repeaters using the AMBEServer with either the PiDV™ or ThumbDV™.  This gateway is in use at a handful of DMR repeaters in Germany and Austria with systems soon to be implemented in Sweden and Switzerland.

You can download executables for the gateway and combine with the AMBEServer to create your own gateway. The software does D-STAR callsign to DMR radio ID mapping and transports audio between networks using the Hytera API.

Another step toward Universal Digital Radio from the community of amateur radio developers using products from NW Digital Radio.

 

ThumbDV™: AmateurLogic.TV Episode 77

Tommy Martin, N5ZNO, shares his experience with the ThumbDV™ on Episode 77

 

 

ThumbDV™: Budd Churchward, WB7FHC Video

Budd updates us on his experience setting up the ThumbDV™ under Windows using Node DV (WinDV) from DUTCH*Star.

Also, there is an updated setup guide from the folks at AmateurLogic.tv

ThumbDV™ vs PiDV™

We have received a few inquiries about the functional difference between the DV3000 and ThumbDV™.

The ThumbDV™ is a thumb or dongle type DV (digital voice) device for connection to a computer (PC, Laptop, Tablet, Raspberry Pi, Odroid, etc.) to provide access to AMBE encoding and decoding.  It is the more portable of the two devices in that you can plug it into any USB (2.0 or greater) port on a computer and access it as a serial port via appropriate software to get into the D-STAR system.

AMBE USB 3000 ThumbDV™

ThumbDV™

The PiDV™ is designed to use the GPIO UART pins on a Raspberry Pi (including Raspberry Pi 2 and compatible devices such as the Odroid C1)  to provide access to AMBE encoding and decoding.  It can be adapted to other similar devices using jumper wires to connect the UART, but only maps to Raspberry Pi GPIO pins.

PiDV™

PiDV™

From a software point of view they are equivalent and are accessed as serial ports (COMx under Windows,  tty? under Linux/Mac OS X, UDRx) at 230.4 kbps.  Software for using these devices includes G4KLX’s DummyRepeater,  DUTCH*Star’s Node DV (WinDV), and modified versions of DSD (developers have modified for use with the ThumbDV™/PiDV™ for monitoring DMR, Fusion, P25 Phase 2, etc. — contact the developers for more information).

Visit the resource page for additional information.

 

Budd Churchward, WB7FHC, explains the PiDV™ on Raspberry Pi

PiDV™ featured on Amateur Logic TV

AmateurLogic.TV highlights thePiDV™ (previously named DV3000) on the their videocast!  The segment starts at minute 51.

The referenced guide is at http://www.amateurlogic.com/downloads/DV3000.pdf thanks to VE3MIC.

One update: The latest G4KLX DummyRepeater gives the option of using AMBEserverGPIO or accessing the DV3000 directly as a serial device and directly supports ALSA audio.

ThumbDV™: Create a Handheld For Under $200

How would you like a handheld device with a 7″ touchscreen that can get you on the D-STAR network for under  $200?  KG7NKG alerted us that he successfully used a Winbook TW 700 tablet with the ThumbDV™ and we just had to give it a go.

We purchased the Winbook TW 700 tablet for $59.99 (plus shipping) from Micro Center.  Also available at Amazon.

Upon receiving the box today, and going through the basic configuration of the pre-installed MicroSoft Windows 8.1 on the device, a ThumbDV™ was plugged into the standard USB port on the tablet.  After allowing for the automatic installation of the FTDI driver, it was time to give this package a try.  KG7NKG used  G4KLX’s DummyRepeater + ircDDBGateway so we installed DUTCH*Star’s beta Node DV (WinDV) which supports the ThumbDV™.  (Both packages work.)

Once the Node DV software was installed, which took less than 5 minutes, it was configured and a connection was made to REF001C using the built-in microphone and speakers.  QSOs were a success!!!

Cost of project (sans taxes and shipping):

Windows Tablet  $59.99
ThumbDV        $119.95
Node DV   (Please Donate)
Total          $179.94

That is the lowest cost of entry into D-STAR, using new equipment, this author has seen.  Just the right gift for your Amateur Radio Valentine.

Winbook and ThumbDV

Windows 8 tablet with ThumbDV Installed

 

This unit operates on the 13cm band (WiFi).

HP makes a similar 8″ tablet with WiFi plus 4G cellular networking for life on the T-Mobile network (see site for details). The Stream 8 from HP does not have a full sized USB, you will need an adapter to micro-USB/OTG.

Come by our booth at Hamcation® in Orlando and you can purchase a ThumbDV™ (or DV3000 for the Raspberry Pi/Odroid C1) on-site.

 

 

 

ThumbDV™: DUTCH*Star Support Under Development

Fred (PA4YBR) at DUTCH*Star has been working on support for the ThumbDV™ in his Node DV/WinDV program.

It is now in beta test and working well.  Watch for more information at http://dutch-star.eu/

ThumbDV™: Now Shipping!

The ThumbDV™ first production run was completed and tested today and pre-ordered units will ship this week.  We have a bit of a backlog, so it may take a couple of days to ship all pre-ordered units.

To those who ordered in anticipation of the product, thank you for your patience.

This also means we have units in stock for new orders for shipment this week.