News

UDRC Status

The UDRC Rev 2 is now operating in the field with our Beta sites. Rev 3 pilot run should be completed this week and, pending confirmation, we will release it to production next week and start accepting orders.

We’ll be demoing the various modes at Dayton Hamvention. Stop by and see us at Booth EH0515 right around the corner from Yaesu.

Native MacOS Application for ThumbDV™ and PiDV™

 

 

Buster on App Store

 

Jeremy McDermond, NH6Z, undertook writing a native application for Mac OS® and it is now available on the  Mac App Store.

Buster is not a product of NW Digital Radio and support requests should go directly to Jeremy.

Jeremy has stated that the source code will be made publicly available via GitHub and he is open to collaboration for future versions.

It works with a ThumbDV™ on a Mac OS® USB port and with AMBEserver™, locally or over a network.  AMBEserver can support either the ThumbDV™ or PiDV™.

This application has been in beta for several months and is both stable and feature rich.  It takes advantage of several Mac OS® specific services.  For example, it will use Apple Core Location service to determine your current location and reports it via D-STAR.  It also provides mapping of remote stations who are reporting position.

There is one known issue:  The way that Mac OS® powers USB ports during its sleep state may cause communication issues with the the ThumbDV™ upon wake up.  Most casual users will not experience this condition. The condition is resolved by removing and re-inserting the ThumbDV™ into the USB port.  Linux and Microsoft Windows sleep state does not exhibit this condition.  Since FTDI USB drivers are not written by NW Digital Radio, buyers of the ThumbDV™ should consider this when making a purchase decision.

All trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade dress, product names and logos appearing on the site are the property of their respective owners, including in some instances NW Digital Radio. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved.

 

UDRX does Raspberry Pi 2

We have moved from our custom linux SBC to the Raspberry Pi 2. This has a number of advantages:

  • Higher Performance
  • Lower Cost
  • Better Software Support
  • Easier for Developers to migrate SW to the UDRX
  • Future processor migration path, assuming header pinout compatibility

Of course nothing comes for free and there has been additional SW work migrating from a 3.x to 4.x kernel. Packaging has also been affected, but the overall package is simpler and better for final assembly. We are testing now using our existing RF Deck and a 40 pin adapter cable.

Existing SBC

Existing SBC

 

SBC VS R Pi 2

SBC VS R Pi 2

 

40 Pin Remapping Header

40 Pin Remapping Header

 

Test Configuration with Optional Paper Clip

Test Configuration

We are engaging with a Contract Manufacturer for Turn-Key Production, including custom extrusions. Engineering is moving forward towards a pilot run, once the Pi2+RF Deck is qualified at full power.

Expect the next update in January

Jeremy McDermond joins NW Digital Radio

Jeremy McDermond, NH6Z, has joined our team.  Jeremy is Vice President and a member of the board of directors of TAPR (www.tapr.org) and well known in the amateur community for his work with Software Defined Radio (SDR). He is author of Heterodyne, a software defined radio application for MacOS X and iOS devices supporting the OpenHPSDR (www.openhpsdr.org) project hardware.  Jeremy’s latest creation is Buster, a recently released application supporting the ThumbDV and PiDV on MacOS X.

You may have seen Jeremy speak at a variety of conferences including Dayton Hamvention, MicroHAMS digital conference and TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference.  He has been active in the Summits on the Air (www.sota.org.uk) hiking to the tops of many mountains in the Northwest United States to make QSOs with his trusty KX3.  He also operates the T2OREGON APRS-IS server.

When not immersed in ham radio, Jeremy serves as Network Engineer for a small web hosting provider in Corvallis, OR and has been a UNIX systems engineer for nearly 20 years.  He is also a member of the Oregon State Bar Association and practices law in a variety of fields.

We are excited about adding Jeremy’s skills to the team and look forward to his contribution to the UDRX and other products.

FlexRadio Systems® and NW Digital Radio Offer D-STAR Compatible Solution

FlexRadio Systems®, the premier manufacturer of amateur radio SDR transceivers, will soon release an update to their SmartSDR™ software in support of the JARL’s D-STAR standard through installing the ThumbDV™ Waveform Module into SmartSDR™.

Owners of FLEX-6000™ Signature Series transceivers may add AMBE encoding/decoding to their radios by inserting the ThumbDV™ into one of the available USB ports.  Use of D-STAR digital voice mode will then be enabled through SmartSDR™ software.

“The partnership of NW Digital Radio and FlexRadio Systems forged at DCC last year has yielded a unique opportunity for FlexRadio owners to add the D-STAR mode to their FLEX-6000, as a component of our growing digital voice offerings.” said Steve Hicks, N5AC, VP Engineering for FlexRadio Systems®.

“It’s been great working with Flex to add D-STAR to their world class SDR and are excited about being a part of their ongoing development of digital voice modes.” said Bryan Hoyer, K7UDR, CEO of NW Digital Radio.

HF D-STAR is a growing mode with daily nets on all bands from 80-6 meters, as well as local VHF/UHF simplex and repeater networks.  For more information about HF D-STAR net operations please visit D-STAR HF Net

A real-time HF QSO finder can be found at HF D-STAR QSO Finder

The NW Digital Radio ThumbDV™ digital voice dongle will be available directly from FlexRadio Systems®, as well as from NW Digital Radio.

John Hays (K7VE) from NW Digital Radio and Steve Hicks (N5AC) from FlexRadio, will be available for questions, at the Huntsville Hamfest.

Press Contacts:
John Hays, Director, NW Digital Radio, k7ve@nwdigitalradio.com
Lori Hicks, Director Marketing Communications, FlexRadio Systems®, lori@flexradio.com


 

D-STAR is an open standard developed by the Japanese Amateur Radio League (JARL) under a grant from the Japanese Government
D-STAR is a wordmark of Icom Inc., in the United States and certain other countries.
AMBE-3000™ technology is developed and licensed by Digital Voice Systems Incorporated.
All other trademarks are registered to their respective owners.

ThumbDV™ – Model A

Beginning with orders placed after July 9th, 2015 a new revision of the ThumbDV™ will be shipped.

The only difference between the original ThumbDV™ and the new model ‘A’ is that the USB serial port will now operate at 460800 baud instead of 230400 baud.  Programs like WinDV, DummyRepeater, and AMBEserver have been updated  to support both baud rates.  It may take a few days for DummyRepeater to be pushed out with the change.

There is no change for D-STAR applications except selecting the faster baud rate.

Note: At this time we recommend using DummyRepeater with ‘AMBEserver -n’ (-n is for new baud rate) for best performance with model ‘A’.

The latest source for AMBEserver can be found at GitHub.

Why are we changing the baud rate?

NW Digital Radio has been working with some OEM customers who will be integrating the ThumbDV™ into their products, including DMR based systems, and their existing programs use the higher baud rate to communicate with the AMBE3000 chip.  Moving to the higher rate allows these customers to more quickly integrate these systems.

Will older ThumbDV™ devices continue to be supported and sold?

NW Digital Radio will support ThumbDV™ both original and ‘A’ models.

Our inventory of original ThumbDV™ dongles sold out on the same day that the new model ‘A’ was delivered from the Washington State assembly house.  We do not plan to manufacture any additional 230400 baud ‘original’ ThumbDV™ dongles.

All new orders will receive the ThumbDV™ model ‘A’

What about the PiDV™ (DV3000)?

There are no plans to move the PiDV™ (GPIO) to a different baud rate.  However, it is relatively easy for the user to modify the boards to support additional baud rates through trace cutting and jumpers.

There has been some confusion, hopefully the following will help clear it up.

The ability to do vocoding for DMR, D-STAR, Fusion, P25 Phase 2, etc. is built into the AMBE 3000 chip.  The new Model ‘A’ only changes the baud rate that the serial port passes packets to and from the chip.  It does not change any other capability between the original and Model ‘A’.

The 230400 baud rate is sufficient for all of these protocols.  The OEM(s) we are working with are swapping out another USB AMBE-3000 device with the ThumbDV. That other device was strapped at 460800 and they just want to swap it out.

It doesn’t make sense for us to make 2 models, one strapped at 230400 and one strapped at 460800 so we are now making all units strapped at the higher baud rate.

There is no secret, hidden, message here.  It’s a simple baud rate change that we wanted customers to be aware of, nothing more.

Here is the math:

The fastest input from one voice stream is 128 Kbps (8000 samples per second at 16 bits). So 230 kbps in is more than sufficient. The fastest rate out is Yaesu’s full rate at 7.2kbps, DMR, Fusion half rate,  and D-STAR are at 3.6kbps. (This is for encoding, reverse for decoding.) There is only one packet stream, so you don’t get any doubling of these numbers.

There is literally nothing different than the selected baud rate, implemented in an update printed circuit board that changes what lines are strapped down.

The AMBE 3000 chip provides the vocoding, and only the vocoding.  The various protocols embed the vocoding in their respective data streams.  The ‘devices’ (e.g. AMBE 3000 boards, dongles, etc.) are not involved in the actual protocols, only in turning voice into AMBE and AMBE into voice.

Please view John Speaks on DV Modes at MicroHams to see how digital voice systems are built up.

UDRX Update

Dayton Hamvention 2015
Dennis recently completed the Software Defined Receiver for the UDRX-440.  It now goes to Basil for integration with our framework.

This is a complete general purpose software defined receiver with a socket interface to support multiple protocols.   AGC is implemented in hardware as there is no conventional FM limiter which would prevent us from implementing other modulations. The MSK receiver utilizes dual software PLLs to implement Mark and Space separately allowing us to track not only carrier error but frequency shift as well. Lock times for a 100Hz frequency error are on the order of 15 mSec or about one and a half characters at 9600, reducing training time for TX/RX switching. There is a separate debug socket for reporting modem state suitable for advanced diagnostics. The fixed point DSP receiver uses less than 10% of available CPU cycles.

When combined with the previously implemented software designed transmitter, we now have a complete SDR transceiver.

The transmitter PA is now running at full power and initial thermal evaluation shows that we have met our goal of 100% duty cycle in a 20C shack without a fan. A separate temp-controlled fan kit will be available for high ambient temperature, continuous duty applications. Spurious emissions are less than -60 dBc.

These are the last significant milestones for the UDRX. Once integration and characterization are complete we will move the UDRX into Pilot Production on the full manufacturing line for field testing.

If you are at Hamvention, please come by our booth (EH0515) and visit with Bryan and John — we are thrilled to have reached this point.

 

NWDR Guarantee, Warranty Policy

Dayton Hamvention represents our first anniversary of shipping products. First the DV3000 and more recently the ThumbDV™.

We stand behind all of our products and it’s time to explicitly state our policies.

If you are unhappy with your DV3000 or ThumbDV™ for any reason, we offer a 30 Day Money-Back Guarantee.

In addition we offer a 1 Year Limited Warranty against defects in materials or workmanship.

The full text can be found under the Support Menu.

Thanks for your support,
Bryan K7UDR

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.