Monday, November 6, 2017

Going to a new chapter, digital voice!

It has been quite a long time we did our last post in this blog. It seems to be abandoned since 2015. Anyway, we've gone through quite a quiet period since then.

For the past few years, the taking up of digital voice has been quiet phenomenal. However, due to the competition between the major players, we haven't seen any one standard that we can easily adopt. ICOM has come up with DSTAR, though it is an open standard created by JARL, as of now, only ICOM is the only major player. However, Kenwood has recently introduced a handy talkie which has DSTAR and APRS combined. Yaesu has taken a different approach, by introduction a Yaesu Fusion which utilising C4FM technology. In countries where Yaesu has bigger market like US, Australia, Europe and China, Yaesu has made available a program which clubs can have their DR1X for a song (USD$500) and recently with DR2X, they've given a great discount for their repeaters. This really has shoot up the number of Yaesu Fusion repeaters installed worldwide. The last but not least is DMR which is an open standard created by DMR Associations where company like Motorola, Hytera and other companies that produce commercial radios are in it. With many Chinese companies coming out with a cheap DMR radios, the interest on DMR seems to be quite high right now.

In Malaysia, due to the cost of buying these digital rigs can be a costly matter, the take up on digital voice radio is quite slow. The first Yaesu DR-1X repeater went alive was in March 2016 when MARTS put the first digital Yaesu Fusion repeater replacing the ageing 9M2RKL (UHF). Along with it, MARTS temporarily put up a replacement for 9M2RKK (VHF) at the same site. Both repeaters were running on AMS mode. At a later stage, the 9M2RKK was replaced back with the old Kenwood and the DR-1X repeater becomes an experimental repeater. Since then, there are few other repeaters that have been put up, all of them running in AMS mode including two in Melaka, 9M4RHE and 9M4RMU, one at Ulu Kali, 9M2RUK and one in Ipoh, 9M4RIC. Out of these, only two repeaters are connected to Wires-X through gateway which is 9M2RKL and 9M4RMU. The list of latest Yaesu Fusion repeaters can be found on MARTS official website.

On DMR, only one is running right now, 9M2RBB in Penang and this is running stand alone and in dual mode. However, a group of DMR enthusiasts are planning to have few DMR repeaters installed hopefully by end of this year. Though their plan is to have them running in stand alone mode. Hopefully this can be materialised.

We do not have any DSTAR repeater at all for now. But  for those DSTAR radio owners, please be patient. There is an open source project which can transform most radios or repeaters from analog to multi-mode digital system. The MMDVM project has been really active, thanks to the creator, Jonathan Naylor (G4KLX), a genius really. MMDVM stands for Multi-Mode Digital Voice Modem. With this, many new projects and products have been created which allows many of us who're far away from any digital repeaters (or with no access at all) to be able to communicate world wide as long as we've internet access. There are few other companies that already come up with their specific implementation of hotspots too including Wireless Holding with DV4Mini series, SharkRF with OpenSpot etc.