So You Want To Build a D-Star Repeater?

Congratulations on your decision to build an Icom digital repeater. Our goal with this article is to help make your install experience as smooth as possible. Unlike traditional FM repeaters, D-Star repeaters require some special attention.  It is also important to mention that this article assumes you are going to attach your repeater to the internet to make use of the world-wide linking capabilities (Gateway).

The first thing you will need is a call sign for the new repeater.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is actually a fairly common misconception.  FM repeaters can share your call sign and it doesn’t affect the operation of the repeater or your radio.   Because call-signs are used in routing traffic through the D-Star network, your new repeater must have its own call sign (you can not share call signs).  Individuals cannot have multiple call signs in the amateur service, so you will likely have to go the way of a club call sign.  Note: If you pick a call sign now, plan on sticking with it – changes to the call sign will likely require a complete re-installation of the software and require extensive clean-up work for other repeater owners.

You will also need a frequency.  Talk to your local frequency coordinator and get that lined up.  Once you are assigned a frequency you can order your duplexer, pick out your antenna, and amplifier (if you so choose).  We have found that a pre-amplifier helps with reception in our applications.

Icom makes several different repeater modules. You will need the ID-RP2C (Repeater Controller) and at least one repeater module.  You will also need “Gateway Software” to facilitate the internet linking features that D-Star provides.  US sales of Icom Repeater systems are said to include the Gateway software, providing that you have completed Icom training and certification.  The cost (for one admin) is included in the cost of your repeater purchase.  You can have other administrators take the course too, the pricing will vary.

Now you have the basics, but we’re not done yet.  The next need you have is for the Gateway (Internet) computer.   Icom’s requirements are a 2.4 GHz computer with at least 512 MB of RAM and two network cards.  However, the Nebraska D-Star Club is recommending that you have at least a 2.4 GHz computer with 2 GB of RAM and two network cards.

We also recommend the following to help your installation process move more smoothly.

  1. 3x 6′ ethernet cables (straight through).
  2. Linksys WRT54G (Family) Routher with DDWRT firmware
  3. A laptop computer with the Icom repeater controller and repeater programming software installed
  4. a small Ethernet switch (will be used for programming the repeater/repeater controller)

These are just some suggestions for you to consider as you contemplate building a D-Star repeater.

73, and good luck
Myron (NGØM) | Nebraska D-Star Club Vice President

3 comments

  1. JAMES E. POWELL JR. says:

    73’s TNX. I appreciate the info especially the amount of RAM & THE AMOUT of disk space required . I am figuring on a
    2.6 ghz CPU & a 100gb solid state hard drive & 2 GB OF RAM . I am talking to The Computer Shack ( who builds my computers / they have already told me that this will be a small machine and will not be very expensive ).
    I am proceeding and will buy the controller & (1) 2 meter digital voice module & (1) 70cm digital voice module ……..later this week while ICOM has it on sale . Once again 73’s ………..James E. Powell Jr. W5DVC

  2. Jack Grim says:

    I have a working 440 repeater and was thinking about replacing it with D-Star, what will I need and how much will it cost?
    Thanks for your time jack.

  3. myron_ng0m says:

    At a minimum, you’ll need the dstar repeater controller and the 440 dstar repeater node. If you want to link the dstar repeater around the world, you’ll need a computer and icom’s gateway software. The article above spells out many more details.

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