Digital Voice Ham Radio


Digital voice mode use on ham radio is expanding quickly, as more and more hams “go digital.” I’m a relative newbie on all but D-STAR, and usually monitor D-STAR reflector 4B and Texas-Nexis on Fusion.

Here are some handy links to keep track of it all. Suggestions welcome – n5csu at And click on the “Casey’s Place” text at the top of this page to check out my blog. Thanks and 73! 

D-STAR (Digital Smart Technology for Amateur Radio)

D-STAR, the first digital ham radio voice protocol, was developed  by the Japan Amateur Radio League in the late 1990s. In the U.S., it is supported by radios from both Icom and Kenwood.  There are also third parties that have developed dongles to allow hams to communicate on D-STAR via desktop computer.d-star


Display of Fusion contact on a Yaesu FT-991

Yaesu System Fusion

The System Fusion mode was introduced by Yaesu in 2013. It is available only with transceivers bearing the Yaesu brand. It’s sometimes referred to as C4FM, which is the type of digital voice technology employed by Yaesu. Coupled with their WIRES-X tech, worldwide QSOs are possible.

DMR (Digital Mobile Radio)

DMR was developed for the land mobile radio industry in 2005. Over the past few years, hams have also begun using DMR. It’s use is growing fast due to surplus commercial equipment and  the explosion of inexpensive imported transceivers.

The first ham specific model handie-talkie, the Connect Systems CS580, was introduced in late 2016. I’m using one and really like it!

SharkRF OpenSPOT Ham Radio Hotspot



The OpenSPOT from SharkRF is an innovative ham radio 430 MHz “hotspot” that supports all three digital ham radio voice modes. It also provides a way to cross link between DMR and Fusion. It just requires power and an ethernet connection to the Internet. I’m using one at home and love it!

Note: for cross mode use, set Modem to the mode of your radio, and Connector to the output mode. For example, setting Modem =  C4FM and Connector = Homebrew allows me to use my Yaesu FT-991 Fusion rig to communicate with hams on the DMR Brandmeister talkgroups. Unfortunately, OpenSPOT does not currently support cross mode use via D-STAR (but we can always hope!).




The DV4mini from Wireless Holdings is another ham radio “hotspot” that supports all three digital ham radio voice modes. VHF and UHF versions are available. It plugs into a USB port on a laptop. Wireless Holdings has other models for desktop and mobile use.

A Few Popular Nets (Times in CST)calendar

  • Sun 1900 – International D-STAR Net – REF001C
  • Mon 2100 – Raspberry Pi D-STAR Net – REF038C
  • Tues 1900 – Brandmeister Talkgroup 3148 Net – TG3148
  • Tues 1930 – Ark-La-Tex D-STAR Net – REF048B
  • Tues 2000 – Texas D-STAR Net – REF004B
  • Wed 2100HamNation After Show D-STAR Net –  REF014C
  • Thurs 2200 – D-STAR PAPA System Roundtable – REF012A
  • Sat 2000 – International Fusion Net – AmericaLink

Websites with Good Info on Digital Ham Radiowebsite