[aprssig] OT: DV Dongle a D-Star codec on USB.

Tim Cunningham tim_cunningham at charter.net
Tue Jul 8 16:40:58 EDT 2008

This is what disappointed many in the early development. Many have 
complained that there are several VOCODER's on the market that are good open 
source alternatives that do not carry a licensing structure to utilize them. 
Yes, it is true that it is just a chip, but AMBE cannot be integrated into a 
software defined radio without using that licensed IC chip. Software defined 
radio's could be created with optional CODEC's that are documented and allow 
software interface's to perform the coding. Unfortunately this would be 
incompatible with the existing infrastructure and not likely to happen 
unless another manufacturer decides to design with a different CODEC. 
Realistically, this could happen. A change in CODEC selection coupled with 
some hardware design changes and a modified D-STAR specification could gain 
some interest. The nice advantage of the software defined scenario is the 
ability to selectively change the CODEC algorithm on the fly in the future 
and not be bound by a hard licensed IC. Especially, when the parts go 
obsolete and you are forced to make a lifetime parts purchase or redesign 
your product! I think most manufacturers are in a bind from a marketing 
perspective over the ICOM implementation because they may be impacted by the 
ICOM proprietary gateway software. ICOM repeater controllers are installed. 
Marketing people have issues with these type of competitor wraps around a 
so-called open source like D-STAR. None of these are inherently bad things 
if the technology fits the end application, but they are issues for other 
manufacturers to jump on the same bandwagon. They are also issues for end 
users in the expansion of additional features. Things could have been 
handled differently, but the bottom line is it is still all about money. No 
company wants to give up proprietary locks on a market and this keeps a 
market uncompetitive. Not a good mix for the end user. Of course, if your 
company is not in the repeater business, none of this is a major concern.

Tim - N8DEU

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Scott Miller" <scott at opentrac.org>
To: "TAPR APRS Mailing List" <aprssig at lists.tapr.org>
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2008 12:07 PM
Subject: Re: [aprssig] OT: DV Dongle a D-Star codec on USB.

> We've been through this a bunch of times.
> The difference is that it's not just that you can only buy the chip from
> one place - you can't get the specs on how the encoding works, and you
> can't do it yourself without being sued, even if you did figure it out.
> Every other proprietary part in a radio (even the D-STAR radios) can be
> replaced by some other part or combination of other parts.  You have
> absolutely no options with AMBE.
> Again, it's not a technical problem, it's a legal restriction.
> To take your example of a DSP chip - you can buy any DSP chip you want
> and perform the same filter operations with it, you can do it with a
> general purpose processor, you can do it in an FPGA, or you can
> implement it in discrete TTL logic if you really want to.  For AMBE,
> your options are: 1. Buy an AMBE2000 chip, 2. Pay to license the AMBE
> CODEC (hundreds of thousands of dollars at least, by all reports).
> Even if those DSP chips you mention were doing something secret (or
> patented), it wouldn't be a big deal because if you're running SSB
> you're still able to communicate with other SSB rigs regardless of how
> spiffy your filters are.  No one else would have to worry about it.  But
> to operate on D-STAR, you pay your money to DVSI or you don't play.
> Let me say that again - Digital Voice Systems, Inc gets money for every
> D-STAR compatible radio sold.  You CANNOT build a D-STAR compatible
> radio without DVSI-licensed parts or IP.
> It's a very, very sad state of affairs for amateur radio that we've
> decided it's ok that we don't know how critical portions of our radios
> work and aren't allowed to find out even if we're so inclined.
> Scott
> N1VG
> John Habbinga wrote:
>>>> Just that the DVSI
>>>> AMBE2000 chip is I guess a single uniquely sourced part.
>>> Add to that: proprietary, closed source.  IMO, it has no business in ham 
>>> radio.
>> ???  What ham radio on the market today doesn't have a piece of
>> proprietary hardware in it?  That new IC-746 Pro you just bought, I
>> guess it has no business in ham radio, the DSP chips in there are
>> proprietary!
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