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!


Tickly said...

How were you able to get HRO send it? Their web site seems to prevent credit card orders without jumping through numerous hoops....perhaps the manufacturers want to keep this device a USA only item, as none of the UK suppliers seem to know if they will stock it!

Tim said...

Mark KJ4VO in the Atlanta store couldn't have been more helpful. If you need his contact details e-mail me at tim at g4vxe dot com and I'll be pleased to put you in touch.

I spoke to Robin AA4RC a while ago and he is committed to getting the DVAP to Europe, but I suspect CE approval may take a little longer (my guess, nothing that he said...)

g4ilo said...

Hi Tim. I may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick - wouldn't be the first time - but I think you still need to apply for an NoV even to run an attended node. Reading about this gave me the idea to set up a very low power EchoLink hotspot for my personal use and my researches suggested that an NoV is required. The application procedure is simpler - you don't need to nominate closedown operators since the node can only be used whilst you are on the premises - but you still need to apply and be granted permission to use a particular frequency, which lasts for one year.

If I'm wrong about this or there's an exemption for the very low power used by the DVAP Dongle I'd be interested to know.

Johan, PA3ANG said...

To Tickly ... I ordered the DVAP at HRO. The cost are $34 to ship the DVAP to the Netherlands. Apperently HRO in Atlanta owns the DVAP stock, so send them an email. They are very helpfull in getting your order through.

Tim said...

Hi Julian,

I made some quick enquiries via the RSGB's ETCC and it seems there's no concern with DVAPs or hotspots as long as there's no third party traffic.

Maybe worth investigating the Echolink hotspot a little more. Sounds a great idea. I like Echolink too :-)



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