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ThumbDV™: Ordering is Now Open

Now available from NW Digital Radio, a USB based version of the popular DV3000 AMBE™ vocoder board. The new product is the ThumbDV™ (model number DV3000U) and is available for ordering for $119.95, plus applicable taxes and shipping. Initial shipments for the ThumbDV™ are projected for the 3rd week of December, however, we cannot guarantee the shipment date until the production run is completed.

AMBE 3000 USB ThumbDV™(Model DV3000U)


There are a limited number of ThumbDV™ units available in December, so get your order in early. We will do our best to ship in time for Christmas (US/Canada), pending any production delays. NW Digital Radio will be closed December 18th to the 29th.

Our DV3000 product, which is designed to be the vocoder for our forthcoming UDRX-440 digital radio, also acts as a popular add-on board to the Raspberry Pi single board computer and is now deployed in 25 countries around the world. This capability allows network communication through the Internet to the global D-STAR network using a computer with a microphone and speakers. The ThumbDV™ makes this functionality available on Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX* computers through a USB port in a thumb drive/dongle package. We invite developers to extend use to other platforms.

Current products in the AMBE USB space use the older AMBE-2000 series of vocoder chips which do not support additional digital voice radio standards such as DMR, System Fusion, dPMR, NXDN, P25 Phase 2 HR, and others, which can be addressed by the newer AMBE-3000 series vocoder chip as found in the DV3000 and ThumbDV™, pending further 3rd party software development.

Press Release

ThumbDV™ Resource Page

* DummyRepeater performance is currently not satisfactory on OSX and ircDDBGateway has not been ported. We do not recommend purchasing the ThumbDV™ for exclusive use on Mac OSX at this time.

AMBE is a trademark of DVSI.

ThumbDV™ and PiDV™ Resource Page

NW Digital Radio provides two AMBE-3000 based solutions for converting between voice and AMBE.

The ThumbDV™ is the currently recommend device for use with all computers having a USB port.

The PiDV™ can be used with GPIO on the Raspberry Pi or Odroid C1 single board computers.

PiDV™ is currently out of production, due to low demand.  If you wish to purchase a bulk quantity of PiDV™, contact about a manufacturing run.

An older but excellent guide is provided by Mike Morneau, VE3MIC, please obtain it at


NW Digital Radio is in the process of setting up various community groups at

Please create a personal account at Join the main NW Digital group by sending an email from your registered email account to and then send an email to Please use the group for questions and to share your experiences, so that all ThumbDV™, PiDV™, AMBEserver users can benefit from the replies.


Application Support

Applications to use the ThumbDV™ and PiDV™ with your computer are distributed and supported by independent software developers. These applications are not distributed by NW Digital Radio. Support for these applications is provided by the respective authors.


Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 Users

Please visit the Wiki for instructions on installing Compass Linux and the AMBEserver.


Windows Users (ThumbDV™)

When you plug in the ThumbDV it should appear as a new serial port under Device Manager, note which COM port it is on, and remember new ThumbDV™ are at 460800 baud (older models are at 230400). There is a very simple test program for verifying operation under Windows.  It can be found at  — it is called ThumbTest.exe

Execute it from the command prompt. Windows will warn you that it was downloaded from the net and give you the opportunity to override its block.  Make sure no other program is trying to access the ThumbDV™ and the program will prompt you for the COM port (e.g. COM3), which you should be able to discover in Device Manager, and baud rate 460800.  It should then return 3 lines:
Available Ports:
Enter COM port value (Default: COM1): COM8
Baud Rate(default:9600): 460800
a 9
a 0AMBE3000R
a 1 1V120.E100.XXXX.C106.G514.R009.B0010411.C0020208
If you are getting these 3 lines (the version number might be slightly different), then the computer is talking to the ThumbDV.

FTDI Driver

Windows should automatically install the FTDI driver, but if it doesn’t see:

BlueDV by PA7LIM

Recommended for Windows users — be sure to get the newer version that supports theThumbDV™ — David is active on the message list at if you have any questions or support needs.


DUTCH*Star WinDV/DV Node

Use Device Manager on Windows to see which USB serial COM port the ThumbDV™ is using.

This software works with the ThumbDV™, please visit for up to date information. Please make a donation to DUTCH*Star if you find this package useful.  (AMBEserverWin is not needed when using WinDV.)

You will need to create an account on the DUTCH*Star site and login to obtain the current WinDV software.

WinDV Configuration

G4KLX software

Join Yahoo! Group ircDDBGateway and retrieve from “Files” -> “Beta”:
ircDDBGateway-20140602.exe or newer

Join Yahoo! Group pcrepeatercontroller and retrieve from “Files” -> “Beta”:
DummyRepeater-20150209.exe or newer.

Android Users (ThumbDV™ and AMBEserver)

Contact PA7LIM for BlueDV for Android.  It works with AMBEserver or tethered to a USB port (including OTG with adapter).

Linux Users (PiDV™ and ThumbDV™)

Raspberry Pi is an experimenter’s platform which can run the DV3000 with AMBEserver, ircDDBGateway, and the ALSA version of DummyRepeater.  DummyRepeater and its GUI is usable but not optimal due to mediocre audio performance on the Raspberry Pi. Alternatively you may find running DummyRepeater on another, network attached machine, to be a good choice. AMBEserver + ircDDBGateway on the Raspberry Pi makes a good network service.  If you want to run everything on one board, we recommend the Raspberry Pi 2 or Odroid C1.

DummyRepeater now supports PiDV™/ThumbDV™ directly as a serial device.  Select DV3000 Serial and set the serial/COM port where the PiDV™/ThumbDV™ is located.  Support for AMBEserver is still available for network access.  You may run AMBEserver or Serial but not both at the same time.

At this time we recommend using DummyRepeater with AMBEserver for best performance and reliability.


Setup for ircDDBGateway and DummyRepeater is the same for both devices as documented in this article.

Mac OS® Users

We recommend Buster, a native Mac OS® (10.9 and above) application, by Jeremy McDermond (NH6Z), which can be found at

Buster works with the native FTDI driver supplied by Apple. DO NOT INSTALL THE DRIVER FROM FTDI!

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

Jeremy has made the source code  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.

Source Code

Source for all G4KLX programs used with these devices can be found on GitHub.  DummyRepeater for Linux now uses ALSA audio for better performance.

Source is available to build and install the AMBEserver at ambeserver-install on Github.   It likely could be built or easily ported to other operating systems.

Technical Support for the ThumbDV™ and PiDV™

NW Digital Radio will gladly help you verify that the ThumbDV™ or PiDV™ is communicating with your computer. If you are unable to verify communication via the Python scripts or, please use the community support at

As we are not the authors of the software packages, we encourage you to use their respective support contacts for software support.

Note: ThumbDV dongles shipping from 13 July 2015 forward run at 460800 baud rather than 230400 baud.  A new version of AMBEserver may be built from the GitHub repository which implements a -n parameter to support the new speed.

Note: The Odroid C1 will mate with the PiDV™ and you do not need to reconfigure boot.txt.  The PiDV™ will be at /dev/ttyS2


ThumbDV, Digital Vocoder Card USB Interface
HW only, see the Resource Page for SW options.

See ambeserver-install on Github for current AMBEserver source and support files, including an install script.

DCC 2014 in Austin

I know many of you have already seen this. There are really 3 Presentations, so I broke them out for you:

UDRX-440 Update

And now for something completely different – The ARETF

John talks about the DV3000 AMBE Applications

Thanks to Gary Pearce of for his videography.

Adding a Display to AMBEServer

An AMBEServer provides a great platform for supporting applications like DummyRepeater, which need a platform to convert audio to AMBE and back again.

In previous blog posts we have discussed using the AMBEServer with DummyRepeater, but have always used a display on another computer or HDMI monitor to accomplish this task.

I decided I would like to see if I could get a Raspberry Pi display attached to an AMBEServer for user interaction without the need for a remote computer display or HDMI connected monitor.

I decided to try the Adafruit Pi TFT as a display.  Here are the early results.  After receiving the PiTFT, I followed the assembly instructions and software install instructions. I used the deb file method rather than loading a new image.

The display came right up.  Here are the results.


DummyRepeater display on PiTFT


Stacked DV3000 and PiTFT on Raspberry Pi

Stacked DV3000 and PiTFT on Raspberry Pi


End view of DV3000 and PiTFT on Raspberry Pi -- Need supports

End view of DV3000 and PiTFT on Raspberry Pi 


As you can see this all stacks up nicely, I just need to come up with a support and a case to hold it all!

The current UI isn’t optimized for the 320×240 display yet, but as you can see the touch PTT/Transmit button is clearly visible and the TFT touch function of the board works.  The board also supports 4 buttons that UI designers could use for a menu operated or similar system.  Additionally, adding a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse are supported.




Notes on Using AMBEServer with Dummy Repeater

These screen shots are from a Windows 7 notebook running Dummy Repeater and ircDDBGateway with a Raspberry Pi on the LAN with the DV3000 installed.

First install an AMBEserver — directions

Next, obtain the latest Dummy Repeater at

Install Dummy Repeater

Select Edit Preferences and configure all tabs on the Dummy Repeater, I am just including the two tabs that setup the networking for connecting to the D-STAR/Reflector net and the AMBEserver.
Since we are running Dummy Repeater and ircDDBGateway on the same notebook, we will use the ‘localhost’ interface of for both Gateway and Local Addresses. Ports must be unique and these are good defaults. [It is possible to run the gateway on the Pi or another computer, adjust the address/port accordingly.]

Dummy Repeater Preferences

We also need to tell Dummy Repeater where to find the AMBEserver by selecting DV3000 and the IP address of the Raspberry Pi (ifconfig on the Pi will tell you what it is) and port number (default is 2460).– substitute your Pi address (something like for the in the illustration.

Dummy Repeater Preferences 2

Select OK, to save, then exit and restart Dummy Repeater.

Install and Configure ircDDBGateway

Download from
Using the very newest beta may not be advised. I can confirm 20140305 on Windows works.
Now we setup ircDDB Gateway by using the ircDDBGateway Config program. Review all tabs, I will just show those to configure the gateway and Repeater 1 (which will be Dummy Repeater).
Under Gateway, put your gateway’s callsign in the callsign (If you are not registered on as a fulltime repeater gateway, just use your own callsign).

ircDDBGateway 1

Next tell the gateway where to find the Dummy Repeater. I find selecting “Homebrew” works in this configuration.


If you are not a registered ircDDB 24×7 gateway on, select one of the test or quadnet servers (those not ending in — put your callsign in as Username and no password. If you are registered, use your username/password credentials and the group servers.
Save the configuration and startup ircDDBGateway — it may take up to several minutes for the ircDDB database connection.

ircDDBGateway 2

Overview of connections

AMBEServer with DummyRepeater and ircDDBGateway

AMBEServer with DummyRepeater and ircDDBGateway

Well that was quick …

The first 100 DV3000s are sold at the intro sale price and have been shipped to 10 different countries. We have started a new build cycle and are accepting back-orders. We intend to maintain units in stock after that.

Thanks for getting this off to a great start!