We’ve seen rapid evolution and migration across a string of digital voice options over the last decade. From Echolink to IRLP to D-STAR to AllStar, DMR and Fusion. It’s a confusing mess of non-compatible protocols each vying to become the de facto standard. Worse, many who live on that bleeding edge can’t seem to make up their own minds, let alone influence others. I know one fellow who has been a tireless promoter of digital voice who first championed D-STAR then a year later I saw him speaking at a hamfest promoting DMR and just last month he was at Dayton extolling the virtues of Yaesu’s Fusion system.
Keeping up with a rapidly moving target can be expensive, especially since each has its own hardware requirements. But that may be changing. Clever hams are figuring ways to get around these protocol silos. Inexpensive add-on hardware and software is increasingly available that will permit even ‘classic’ analog FM gear to work on any or all of these digital protocols.
In this video session from the 2015 MicroHAMS Digital Conference, John Hays K7VE provides an interesting comparison of the most popular digital mode options. But it’s at the 42 minute mark that he reveals the controller board he’s developed that puts three different modes on a single repeater.
Turns out, the future of digital voice for radio amateurs doesn’t have to be driven by manufacturers. It’s in our hands.