DMR vs D-Star My take on the battle for digital supremacy

Here’s what I know or what I hear,
Digital FM is growing fast and I hear a lot of guys blaming the solar cycle for driving them off HF. DMR is growing fast mainly because the radios are fairly cheap. Anywhere from $80 to $300 USD. Hams being hams, many DMR users swear by DMR and say they’ll never go back to D-Star because of the sound quality. Most of those guys havn’t heard a D-star radio for 7-10 years and just don’t realize the new D-Star radios sound just as good as any DMR radio out there.

I’ve been using D-Star radios for about 8 years now. I’ve seen the progression from clunky kludge style programming of the ID-880H and 92-AD radios of 10 years ago with very warbly sound to the new Kenwood radio with every bell and whistle you can stuff into an HT that sounds awesome. I just started playing with DMR radios a few months back mainly to do reviews on the radios. Main differences I see in the two platforms are:
D-Star Radios were designed and built to be ham radios. They are easily programmed from the keypad including PL tones, offsets and VFO tuning. DMR radios are designed and built for business and government use. Channels are grouped together in “zones” of 16 channels and then need to be changed to load another group of 16 channels. The radios must be programmed on a computer and there is no real way to program them on the fly in VFO mode. This is done by design because the main buyer of these radio systems are enterprise companies who don’t want users to be able to reprogram the radio. Most of those users have no radio knowledge.

Features: D-Star users enjoy things like VFO tuning, scanning frequenies, wide band receive and my favorite, having the other guy’s name and call sign pop up on your screen right out of the box. DMR users can download hacking tools and preload the entire DMR userbase into their radios but that eats up most of the radios memories. Like I said before DMR radios must be preprogrammed by computer by building and loading a Codeplug. Listening around most of the DMR users rely on others to build the codeplugs for them. I learned how to do it and have built several for different radios.

Construction: While the current crop of D-star radios are well constructed, I love the heavy duty look and feel of the DMR radios. They are small, built like a brick shithouse, equipped with color screens and keypads and for the most part are very durable. I equate walking around with my DMR radio like carrying a very well constructed Baofeng. I’m not afraid to take it anywhere and for the money, I wouldn’t cry if it got destroyed during an adventure. I’m almost scared to take the $500.00 Kenwood out of the house even though it my favorite HT of all time.

Cost: As of today, only Icom and Kenwood make D-Star radios. Icom also make D-star Mobiles and two HF/D-star base stations (IC-7100 & IC-9100). Kenwood is rumored to be building a D-Star Mobile. To get into D-star you can expect to spend a minimum of $300.00 for the Icom ID-51a Plus. $500.00 for the Kenwood D74. Baofeng makes a UV5DR for around $70, Most other DMR radios come from China also and average about $120.00

Repeaters: We currently have two D-Star repeaters that are useable here in the foothills. KS6HRP in Folsom and W6CX on Mt. Diablo. There are no DMR repeaters in our area. According to Richard, The D-Star repeaters are able to do analog or D-star depending on the signal. DMR repeaters are DMR only.

Hope this helps the group

Why arn't you like most of the other (Email Response)

Todays blog is a response to an email I recently received. I posted it here because I think some of you are asking the same question

I appreciate criticism & I don’t take it personally at all. I purposely did this video like I did and gave full disclosure about my six hours of experience with it with a purpose. Most of my audience are new guys to the hobby and like me come from a non technical background. I learn by doing. I’d never given DMR much thought in the past because it’s almost non existent here in the land of pave paws. Our one guru quit playing with it due to lack of interest in this area. The idea of a dmr / analog dual band HT was appealing to me because It can be used as a regular HT on local repeaters. Now I gotta tell you Don is an engineer and works with Kenwood very closely so yeah, he is much more knowledgeable than I am. As far as the D-Star information included in the transmission packet, That is done entirely peer to peer. The trust only sees the subscriber number on the back end and either allows the packet across the network or kicks it if theres no registration associated. Thats why I can change any of the displayed information at will and transmit it instantly from repeater to hotspot visa versa or in any combination. Honestly, I don’t really care how it works it just does work and thats what us regular guys care about.

I do dig into a lot of deeper ham radio subjects because I’m interested. That doesn’t necessarily translate into an entertaining video. My main focus in video making is producing an entertaining show above all else. Each week I make a conscious decision on how the show is going to look and feel. My audience has come to expect a fast paced show that wets the appetite for more knowledge and other creators on youtube. As I stated before, I’m not a technical type, I don’t pretend to be an expert in ham radio and frankly I choose not to make the same videos as the other guys here on youtube. Maybe thats why My videos generally get 60% to 70% more views in the first week than most other ham radio channels. I made my own way, use my own formula and alway remember that I’m a video creator first. It not for everyone & I know that.

What I will tell you though is, I have received thousand of emails and comments from guys who decided to get into the hobby or get back into the hobby based in part from my videos using humor and better production values than 90% of the others out there. My hope is the other guys evolve their film making skills and we get a whole bunch of well thought out entertaining videos that also give guys like you the detail your looking for. Hope that answers your comment. Now I would like to know more about how to do more with DMR as so far it seems a lot like D-star for me at least on my hotspot.

Bob Brodovsky (K6UDA)
The K6UDA Radio Show on YouTube
Elmer with Attitude
(916) 871-0726

On Jul 1, 2017, at 14:22 PM, Dick Linder <> wrote:
Most folks do not take criticism too easily, and sure as certain not in a public venue. Hence he email.
I watched your video on the TYT, I own the single UHF band, I have been using DMR 2 years, using d-Star since Dayton. We both like and own the Kenwood Ht

But I gotta tell you Bob when I am looking for a new radio, Sometimes, I want a guy that who knows something about the radio, the "out of the box" "no instruction manual" only goes so far. Example, "the radio only displays the DMR", number, that CCS7 database number is also used for D-star when setting up almost any of the hotspots, I wanted to remind you that D-Star has to download its database in the Kenwood and Icom to find the closes repeater, and it uses and, for Chinese expensive "mode" GPS to do that search. The DMR will find the guys name and call if the contacts are installed right along with the freq data same software.

You have to realize some of your audience does not need the "is it easy to work" review, but a Don W6GPS methodology, where he knows the product. The "just out of the box" experience is perishable, for me it lasts less than an hour, (Kenwood, well, a week and counting) .

Oh one more item, when I am driving around the "east coast" on DMR, a lot of guys in their states and "monitoring ALL talkgroups". When I pickup the mike and announce about 7 states will hear that, with an easy code-plug download. Or I can go to local, or I can go to "my machine" You "your machine" release the PRN... I can hit the Dillon SC machine from the home station. Don't want to come off as a DMR fanboy, just wanted to give you some review, while I was watching something I already knew about.

I watch some of your videos, they have great ideas, but I thought I'd give you a review bit more than your typical ass-kiss. I love your conservative views by the way, trapped in the Peoples Republic of California run by moonbeam, that kills me...


I am sure as you review these hotspots, DMR, D-Star, these guys that use them successfully, are "smarter than the average" bear.

Can we just have a good time?

I've heard it before, "This isn't a hobby, its a service". Thats the mantra of the FCC and the reason they allotted the ham spectrum to us. But to the ham, we do it because its fun. With few exceptions thats the entire reason this hobby exists. Its fun to experiment, build stuff, test stuff, talk to friends, associate with others that see the world as we do, make new contacts and new friends. For a very few, its all about public service, but I imagine they love it or they wouldn't bother. For some, it all about the zombie apocalypse. some get a license some don't. For those guys you probably wont hear them on the bands as the radio is simply another prepping tool.

For still a smaller group, its also about sharing the ham radio experience as video creators. My journey as video creator began 30 years ago when I was a working still photographer. Back then there wasn't a or any . com for that matter. There were gate keepers at all media outlets keeping the unwashed masses silent and invisible. The internet has literally unchained the gate to make it possible for anyone with a vision, a story or an idea to share it with the world. Now finally, 10 years after pioneers like K7AGE, KE0OG and the guys at Ham Nation first started using the internet to share their stories and love for the hobby, several more of us have joined the creator club.

I'm not going to bag on anyone for how they make their videos because quite honestly everyone has their own video ability, access to equipment, post production skills and most importantly a story to tell. I'm sure those early pioneers were constrained by the mainstream ham communities conventional thinking. What I mean by that is super intellectual, engineer, rocket scientist types who had typically dominated the hobby for the past 100 years or so. Fast forward to 2011 and enter guys like me, unrefined, working class dogs who like strip clubs, RV's, and fast cars. We started getting into the hobby for different reasons but none the less found it to be engaging and fun. Back to my point; Im a film maker who happens to be a ham. When I began this journey a little more than a year ago, I had watched many youtube videos and several ham related youtube videos. The over reaching theme I saw in the ham radio creator world was stuck on " power point presentation mode" While the videos had a story, the execution was often boring classroom fare. While guys like Dave Cassler had some brilliant production value and great topics, For me at least, it was still like watching a powerpoint presentation in a classroom.

Bob the film maker sat down one day and asked, can a video on something as technical and niche' as amateur radio be produced at a level that would appeal to everyone in the hobby? When I first made the decision to start this channel, I wanted to engage an audience. I wanted them to laugh, sit back and enjoy the experience of watching a show and maybe picking up a tidbit or two. More importantly, I wanted the view to want to come back for more. I'll be the first to admit, I'm not the best fit maker out there. But I'm trying to get there. I'm always pushing myself to bring more to the table each week. A lot of it most viewers don't even notice, but it adds to the total experience of the show. put enough of those little things together and you have an entertaining show.

If you have a comment or suggestion for show ideas, or something You think I can do better along with how to do it, send me an email at

So easy a girl can do it!!

To my patrons and my friends,
This week I bring total fun and frivolity. As a creator, I try my damnedest to put out videos that are entertaining to watch sometimes informative and different from everything else ham radio related. This week I opted for pure entertainment. MFJ was kind enough to send me this cobweb antenna over the winter and I struggled to think of an interesting way to present it without doing the run of the mill unboxing video. So I'm thinking to myself how do I show an assembly video without boring my audience to tears in five minutes. BAM!! Have your kid build it and show that even an untrained princess mechanic can figure it out. So here it is, enjoy.

Now, about my 7500 subscriber give away. I've decided that one of my patrons should get something. So heres the deal. there's currently four of you helping out and I'm giving away an antenna and now an openspot. one of those is going to a patron and one to another subscriber. I'll let you guys pick by vote which one goes to a patron. I'm thinking about doing something to do with an on air contact but I haven't figured out exactly how its going to work. Guys, I can't thank you enough for supporting the channel. The fact that your willing to put up your hard earned money means a lot more than the money does.

Tired of the same old unboxing videos

I'm tired of seeing boring unboxing videos, long drawn out videos of guys putting up antennas so I enlisted the help of these two to assemble an MFJ-1835 6 band cobweb. Yes, they did it all by themselves. I'm willing to take chances with my videos. So I asked Danielle and her friend Jenna to come over and make a video for me. The idea was to show how easy it is to unbox and assemble this MFJ-1835 Cobweb. After cracking open the box and seeing how many parts were involved, I started to have serious doubts about this project. After all, I know Danielle doesn't know a flathead from a phillips and I figured her friend would have roughly the same amount of mechanical skill. Boy was I wrong. They actually did a great job of putting my new antenna together. Thanks Girls.

DSC00114 (2)