Frequently Asked Questions

What is it?


  1. When a DV Dongle is connected to a PC or Mac and used with DVTool software, an amateur radio operator can connect to the international D-Star gateway network and receive/transmit just like a D-Star radio user.

How does it work?


  1. Each D-Star radio includes an AMBE2020 voice compression chip provided by Digital Voice Systems, Inc (DVSI).  The DV Dongle includes an AMBE chip and logic to connect it to a USB port on a PC or Mac.  This allows the computer to “speak” the same voice protocol as D-Star.  The DVTool software connects to participating gateways and encodes/decodes the voice using the DV Dongle.

What kind of computer is needed (what ports)?


  1. A minimum suggested configuration includes a PC or Mac with 2.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM and a USB 2.0 full speed port.

What software is needed?


  1. The DVTool software runs with Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), or most Linux distributions.


  1. Operating system notes:


  1. Ubuntu Linux distributions include a braille terminal package, brltty, that must be removed for proper use.


  1. Windows and Linux users must download Sun Java JRE or SDK 6.  A compatible version is included with Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.  Mac OS versions earlier than 1.05 cannot be used due to the lack of compatible Java software.


  1. Windows and Mac OS X users must download an FTDI USB device driver.  Linux includes a native driver that is compatible with the DV Dongle.

How does one get started and who does the authorization?


  1. If you are already registered on the international D-Star gateway network, you are ready to go.  If not, please contact your local D-Star repeater manager for registration.  If you don’t know where your closest D-Star repeater system is located, use a web browser and go to http://www.dstarusers.org/repeaters.php for repeater locations.

Is there a cost to register?


  1. No, there is no fee.

Can Non Licensed Operators use it?


  1. Users must be licensed and registered in the gateway system. 

Are there limitations as to how many gateways you can access?


  1. Local gateway administrators must permit the connections from DV Dongle users.  There are currently over 30 gateways around the world that allow connections from dongle users.

What mic/headset should I use?


  1. There are several good headsets on the market.  We’ve tested many from Logitech and Heil and they work well.  The Logitech USB headset seems to work the best.  Be sure to test your mic using the “Audio Loopback Only” function in DVTool before you try to transmit on a repeater.

Where do I buy the DV Dongle?


  1. The DV Dongle is distributed and sold by the following authorized dealers:

  2.         Ham Radio Outlet                  - US -    http://www.hamradio.com/

  3.         Amateur Electronic Supply    - US -    http://www.aesham.com/

  4.         SSB Electronic                      - DE -    http://www.ssb.de/

  5.         Waters & Stanton                  - UK -    http://www.wsplc.com/

  6.         IFR Communications             - IT -     http://www.ifrcommunications.com/

I plug in the DV Dongle but DVTool doesn’t show the device name/serial number when I click “Open”.


  1. There are multiple things that can cause this to happen.  The FTDI device drivers may not be installed properly, you have windows firewall or a 3rd party firewall installed and blocking the TCP/IP ports used to communicate, you have an instant messanger program open and locking the audio input/output devices.

It doesn’t work on my Apple Mac.


  1. If you have a multi-CPU Mac, you may need special drivers from FTDI.  Check out their web site http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/ and search for their latest drivers.


  1. Some external audio devices, especially those that are firewire based, do not work well with Java and DVTool.  Try a USB headset.


  1. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and earlier are not supported due to the lack of compatible Java support.  You must upgrade to Leopard.


  1. Currently, only Intel based Mac’s are supported.

How do I use the DV Dongle with the dstar decoder from the Yahoo dstarsoftware project?


  1. Plug the discriminator/packet audio from your radio into the line in jack on your PC.  Open a command box (Start>Run>cmd) and start using “dstar 6116”.  You should see the headers decoded in the command box when you key up.  Using DVTool, select the action “Connect to Peer” and enter 127.0.0.1 and 6116 for the Port.  You should hear the audio from D-Star transmissions.  For more information, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/dstarsoftware/

I get a message “Cannot exec ambe server” or “Cannot find ascpseriald.exe” and it doesn’t work.


  1. The Java program DVTool.java calls the included ascpseriald.exe (or .lnx or .mac) and must be located in the same folder.  If you move DVTool.java to another folder, you must also move the ascpseriald program.  If you create a shortcut to DVTool.java, you must set the “Start in:” folder to the folder that both DVTool.jar and ascpseriald are located.

When I click on DVTool.jar, nothing happens.


  1. This is almost always due to the mic input not being provided from the Windows O/S to the DVTool.java program.  Check to make sure that another program doesn’t have the mic input open.  This can lock the mic out from DVTool.jar.  For those that have experienced this problem, plugging in and external USB headset (such as a Logitech) has almost always solved it.

I receive choppy audio or it disconnects from the gateway.


  1. The DVTool program is a near real-time application.  If you have programs running at the same time or have others on your networking accessing the internet, you might not get packets to/from the internet at the rate that is required.  Also, some gateways don’t have sufficient internet bandwidth to handle several dongle users.  Try a different gateway to make user the problem isn’t on their side.  Reflector 001 has a large internet pipe so that is a good place to test your dongle.  Remember that the suggested minimum configuration for a PC is 2.0GHz CPU with 512 MB RAM.

What are the gateways REF001, REF002, etc?


  1. These are “reflectors” that work in a similar fashion to the reflectors on IRLP/echolink.  A large number of gateways and dongle users may connect to a reflector at the same time.  This makes for a nice conference of users.  Reflectors 001, 002, and 004 are in the US, 003 is in Australia, and 005/006 are in London (with 005 usually linking UK gateways and 006 linking German gateways).  Reflector 001 module C has become the popular “chat” location for multiple gateways and dongle users in the US.