Thanks to John, VA3BL, for his mentoring I’m now active on DMR. 

I’ve programmed my TYT MD-380 to hear the DMR repeaters in Hamilton, Toronto and Niagara Falls. DMR is really simple to use. Once programmed with what’s essentially a word file, your DMR rig is ready to go. Most repeaters offer world-wide, North America, all Canada, local and specialized groupings like GHA on the Hamilton machine. Some of these talk groups are permanently linked on while others need to be “kerchunked” to create a timed (usually 15 minutes) link. On these talk groups it’s important to listen for a few minutes as the link doesn’t get established if there is an ongoing QSO until the next guy comes on. 

Then there is D-STAR. D-STAR is a lot busier than DMR. Google “last heard” on DMR or D-STAR and see for yourself. 

But this may change as more cheap DMR radios like the MD-380 ($165 CDN) come on market. Speaking of cheap but I bought my ID-31a for $199 (US) at Dayton several years ago.

DMR requires your ability to hit a local DMR repeater to reach the network. D-STAR can work through a local D-STAR repeater or via a computer dongle and headset or a DVAP and a D-STAR hand-held. Some guys even setup WiFi hotspots via their smart phones to connect their DVAPs to the D-STAR system.

DMR has an advantage in that it’s very robust and even hand-helds can work through repeaters some distance away. DMR is also either there or not there.  There’s not much in between.

D-STAR in comparison  can often be heard clearly but especially using a hand-held be unable to hold the repeater resulting in a garbled transmission that sounds like R2-D2 from Star Wars. 

With propagation on the HF bands ranging from poor to non-existent lots of hams from around the world (I’m listening to Jimmy in Dubia and another guy out of Hong Kong talking on D-STAR channel 1C.) are experimenting with digital modes. 

Amazing stuff. 

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