KC0ARF Rating: 5/5 Jul 30, 2004 12:51
Effective Data Radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Up in Green Bay, we have used two D-Star units to test out the data connectivity for fixed points. Details of our tests may be found at http://astro.gmtc.net/dstar

In summary, we have two units about a mile apart, and we tested them for brute force data transfers, and determined an average rate of 90 Kbs per second, or about 1.5 times the speed of dial up connections. We downloaded a DVD worth of data over the course of a weekend... well over 24 hours of continual transmit / receive time. We also tested for network usefulness: we were able to support Novell Netware logins, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Macintosh.

Think of the D-Stars as a "wire" between the two networks. Yes, you need to do a little bit of setup to establish the frequency and ID, but aside from that, the radios behave just fine.

The D-Stars also come with a heat-sensitive fan that turns on when needed. On Low power, during the brute force test, my fan would come on for maybe a few minutes every 15 - 20 minutes or so in a room temperature environment.

All in all, the radios worked really well -- a pleasent surprise. While I am not sure if they will support a remote audio stream, such as an IRLP node on a repeater, they will support web browsing, checking email, and a number of other internet applications.

Christian Reynolds KC0ARF
N5ZPR Rating: 5/5 Jun 15, 2004 19:32
Great Radio  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have the other ID-1 mentioned by N5MIJ. I have a few additional comments. The USB interface can also be use to operate the radio, the control head is not required. The software that comes with the radio, gives you all to the functionality of the control head and will show a list of the stations that active on channel. I have a computer installed in my vehicle although that is not required; it does make it convenient to work with the radio.

An application note; On the Dayton trip we created a network link between my vehicle and MIJ’s vehicle. The ID-1s were each connected top a hub in each vehicle. We were able to maintain a solid connection over several miles. The other vehicles on the group were using 802.11 and could not get very far apart without losing the signal.

I have to agree with MIJ, the radios are great and have been fun to work with.
N5MIJ Rating: 5/5 Jun 15, 2004 16:46
Great Flexible Rig!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've had a 1292.6 MHz repeater up for over 10 years now. I've been through dedicated 1.2 mobiles, HT's, and multi-band units, including both the IC-901 and the Kenwood TM-742. The Icom ID-1 is one of the most exciting units to come along yet.

The ID-1 is a multi-purpose radio 1.2 GHz mobile radio, and takes a little effort to really utilize. It can talk to existing analog 1.2 GHz radios, including repeaters. It can talk to a digital voice repeater as part of the D-Star system. It can function as a high-speed (128K) ethernet bridge. And it does all this while hiding discretely under the seat or in the trunk.

There is a remotely-mounted control head, attached via a standard CAT5 cable. Other connections to the radio are power, an N-connector for the antenna, and a couple of unusual additions: a USB port and an Ethernet cable. The USB port allows use of a PC for programming, which can altenatively be performed directly from the control head. The Ethernet connection allows the ID-1 to function as a modem, bridging any local network to the network on the other end of the link (whether that's a D-Star repeater, or another ID-1).

In analog voice mode, the ID-1 behaves exactly like any other 1.2 analog mobile, with the expected programmable parameters like offset, PL, etc. Performance in this mode is comparable to other radios of similar power.

In digital voice mode, the ID-1 has surprisingly good voice quality for a purely digital radio, although it is still obviously digital. There is definitely a digitization delay, and voices are obviously recognizable, though not as clear as analog modes. One of the really neat features in this mode is that the ID-1 sends your ID, embedded in the data for every transmission. This callsign is displayed on the control heads of all receiving stations. No more forgetting to ID! Performance on this mode is roughly comparable to the analog systems.

In digital data mode, the radio just works. It's pretty interesting to be able to sit in the front seat of your vehicle, and work on your PC with access to email, Web, etc. All of this, by the way, is directly dependent on what's on the other end of the Ethernet link, their connectivity to the outside world, and how much bandwidth they're willing for you to use. Performance on this mode is good, but we see somewhat reduced range, which is expected with the wider bandwidth used for high-speed data.

There is also a mixed digital mode, that allows simultaneous voice and low-speed data transmission. We've not explored this one extensively yet. But it's absolutely ripe with potential for APRS, coordinated RDF, etc. Just think about the possiblity of sharing data in real time with several friends or teammates, and go from there. This mode also offers some interesting capabilities in emergency-response situations.

We've had two mobile units with which to work since early December of '03. During that time, we've learned an enormous amount about the new rigs. They absolutely require a good antenna. The old "just bend up a 1/4-wave" option just doesn't work very well. We were able to locate some relatively short (8") gain antennas, manufactured by Procomm, that worked very well, and still allow our truck & van into the garage. As with all 1.2 GHz installations, use of quality low-loss feedline is critical!

The ID-1 appears to be the first available radio in the new family of D-Star compliant radios. D-Star is an open standard, and I hope to see other options available. At first glance, the price of the mobile appears to be high. The pain of the sticker shock is significantly lessened when you begin to discover all that the radio will do. Hopefully, we'll see enough interest and demand that the price can be dropped accordingly.

My expectation is that Icom's D-Star offerings will begin to redefine how we perceive both mobile and fixed-station capabilities. As we develop ways to use the new capabilities, we'll open all sorts of new opportunities.

Summary - The ID-1 is a very interesting radio. Installation is typical of any mobile operating at this frequency. Operation requires a bit of study, but is quickly learned. The new features are an absolute blast, and I'm sure we'll dream up some interesting new uses, too. Overall, it's a good one.