ThumbDV

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. [Note: the PiDV™ is not currently being produced or sold. Please use the ThumbDV™.  If you need a large quantity of PiDV™, 50 or more, contact sales.]

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 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.

John Speaks on DV Modes at MicroHams

WinDV Configuration

When you run WinDV (DV Node for Windows), for the first time you need to configure it for the ThumbDV. Make sure you have the latest version from DutchStar with support for the ThumbDV.

Select Tools-Options

Screenshot 2015-05-22 13.58.43

 

  • Select ThumbDV as your “RF Device”
  • Select the COM Port that the ThumbDV is connected to
    • Check Device Manager for “USB Serial Port”
  • Baud Rate must be 230400 for original ThumbDV, 460800 for Model A
  • Enter your Callsign
    • Callsign is used for connection to gateways. An A,B, or C is required to connect to DExtra  Reflectors (XRFxxx)
    • Auth Call is used with US Trust Registration to connect to DPLUS Reflectors (REFxxx)
    • Callsign / is used for ID
  • Configure the Sound Card to use your desired input and output
  • Select a Callsign Server.  DUTCH*Star and Free*Star provide additional reflectors.  If the server is down select another.

The default Tools-Settings will provide basic operation and don’t require any changes.

Close then restart WinDV

WinDV

The ThumbDV Status should be RUNNING and the Version is read from the AMBE3000 chip on the ThumbDV. If both of these are correct your ThumbDV is working properly.

Press XMIT, even if you are not connected to a Gateway, and the RED/GREEN LEDs on the ThumbDV will flash.

The ThumbDV is not connected to your network or sound system. If you are having difficulties with either of them, you need to trouble-shoot those as Windows System issues.

If you like WinDV make sure to donate to Fred!

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

 

 

Manufacturing Reliability Data

We have now shipped over 300 PiDV™, and the ThumbDV™ will soon pass it for units delivered. There are currently 200 more units in process.

Out of the Box MFG, our local assembly house in Renton WA, does a great job on their SMT line which includes automated optical inspection or AOI. We physically tested all of the first 100 units and found 1 failure, which was attributed to a bad AMBE3000 IC, probably due to hot plugging the board during test.

At this point we stopped functional testing and now rely on AOI to flag any assembly issues for operator inspection or remedy. We have had one working unit returned as suspect but it turned out to be a failed R-Pi and the PiDV™ was returned to service with no charge to the customer.

I want to thank Chad, Paul, Brian and all of the people at Out of the Box for their hi-quality and reasonable cost assembly services.

Bryan – K7UDR

Statement of Origin:

The PiDV™ and ThumbDV™ are assembled in the USA by Out of the Box from globally manufactured components obtained thru Dig-Key and Mouser. The PCB Fabs are made in China.

 

ThumbDV™ Passes FCC Approval

Because the ThumbDV™ attaches to a computer using USB, it is clearly a “Computer Peripheral” as defined by the FCC and is required to meet the Part 15 Subpart B standard for conducted and radiated emissions.

We sent a sample unit to Nemko-CCL, an accredited test lab in Utah, and they performed testing to the following standards:

  • EU: EN5022:2010
  • USA: FCC Part 15, Subpart B
  • CAN: ICES-003, Issue 5
  • AUS/NZL: CISPR 22:2009

After passing all tests, a Declaration of Conformity was issued by Nemko-CCL and as of today all units are shipped with a sticker on the back.

ThumbDV Passes FCC 15b

Do the ThumbDV™ and PiDV™ Sound Better Than the DV Dongle?

A number of customers have reported anecdotally that the ThumbDV™ and PiDV™ (formerly DV3000) have good audio, but is that just perception or is there some truth to it? I spoke with Rich Kovars, Applications Engineer at DVSI, who talked about the ThumbDV™/PiDV™ AMBE-3000 chip vs the Dongle’s1 AMBE-2020.

From the DVSI Website:

“DVSI’s AMBE-2020™ and AMBE-3000™ Vocoder chips, are both DSTAR compatible. iCOM originally introduced the DSTAR system based on the AMBE-2020™ Vocoder chip that utilizes DVSI’s AMBE+ technology. Since that time, DVSI has developed and produced the AMBE-3000™ Vocoder chip that implements DVSI’s latest generation AMBE+2 technology and is fully interoperable with the the AMBE-2020™ vocoder chip used for DSTAR. The enhancements of AMBE+2™ technology in the AMBE-3000™ vocoder chip can provide superior voice quality in some circumstances. The highest level of voice quality can be achieved when the AMBE-3000™ Vocoder chip (or equivalent software2) is incorporated into the equipment used on both ends of the radio link.”

So the answer is a definite maybe.

1 The DV Dongle is manufactured by Internet Labs.
2 Current ICOM D-STAR products use a software vocoder that incorporates the 3000 advancements.

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.