Sunday, April 04, 2010
Setting up the DVAP or, D-STAR coverage in the henhouse
I was delighted that on Thursday, my DVAP Dongle arrived from the USA. I've mentioned the DVAP Dongle before. It runs, in conjunction with a PC or MAC and your Internet connection in providing 2m D-STAR coverage using a small 10mW transceiver built into the dongle.
The idea is that the coverage is limited to 100 feet or so around the dongle (actually it seems a little wider than that!) allowing you to use your D-STAR handheld around the house. This is ideal for me here as I have limited D-STAR coverage available via RF. The DV Dongle has proved a real boon in the shack, but it's nice to be able to have the HT with me out in the garden, when I'm cleaning out the henhouse or attending to other little jobs. Julian, G4ILO raised a very valid point on his blog about the licencing issues around unattended operation. I'm only using the DVAP when I'm in the house or round about, so shutdown is a matter of seconds - so I'm considering that my DVAP operation is 'attended'. If you want to restrict use of the access point to your own callsign, you can do that, or you can open it up to other calls, if you wish. I've actually also reduced power of the DVAP to around half power, as the coverage at that level is more than adequate.
Set up of the DVAP was really simple. You need the FTDI drivers on your PC, which I already had by virtue of the DV Dongle. I then downloaded the DVAP Tool program and installed it. That was it as far as the PC is concerned. You just open the virtual com port and set the frequency where you want to use your access point. I determined that 144.750 was quiet locally, so I've used that, but it's easy to set the DVAP to any frequency you like.
Connecting to reflectors and D-STAR nodes is all achieved from your D-STAR rig and is really straightforward. If you want to connect to REF001C it's just a question of setting REF001CL in the UR call field. Blip the transmitter up and you should quickly get a voice announcement from the DVAP saying 'Remote system linked'. Change the value of UR to CQCQCQ and you're all set to go.
You can do an echo test (locally) with the DVAP. Just put DVAP E in the UR field and transmit and the DVAP will echo your audio back to you. Or DVAP I will identify the access point - useful for checking coverage of the access point.
Lots of nice QSOs so far - my wife Julie was impressed with a chat with KF7DQF/M in Utah when I was sat on the sofa next to her.
So there it is. I'm enjoying the DVAP. I got mine from the USA. It was a bit pricey to bring in, once VAT and Parcelforce's handling charge were taken into the account, but that's what you pay for being an early adopter. It's a super bit of kit and it's really expanded my D-STAR horizons.
And Pru the chicken can listen to my D-STAR contacts when I'm cleaning out her house!
Posted by Tim at 11:04 AM