Successful tests with D-Rats 0.2.9
Recently I updated the shack computer to xubuntu 8.04 and have been updating the amateur radio software too. One of those packages was D-RATS. This is a program that allows connection of computers to D-Star radios and I have previously reported on it. The software has been available (for free) for about a year now and it is interesting to see how far it has come. Beside the keyboard to keyboard communication it includes the ability to send files, including images, mapping of stations and also the ability to send e-mails. I wanted to test these features out, so with the two D-Star radios I have I set one up as the base, with the ability to push e-mails onto the internet and the other radio went portable with me. I then connected through to the base station on simplex and sent files, images and some e-mails. All transferred successfully, as shown in the screen grab below.
What impressed me about this setup is how compact it is. All you need is a computer (running D-Rats), a cable to your radio and the D-Star radio (plus antenna of course). No TNC is required, unlike with packet or APRS. If the radio is a HT and the computer is a laptop then they come with their own battery power too. So here you have a system that can support
- digital voice,
- station to station messaging,
- position mapping,
- image transfer,
- e-mail support,
- even TCP port forwarding.
This is quite a list and just using one piece of software and your D-Star radio.
D-RATS is maturing nicely, although still not a stable release. If you have a D-Star radio then give it a try and see what you can achieve. One can see why emergency measures groups are interested in D-Star. I need to test it now with the local D-Star repeater.
A big thank you goes to Dan Smith, KI4IFW, for creating such a flexible piece of software.