The Internet Labs DV Dongle was one of the first offerings to connect to the DSTAR network without using a radio. This handy dongle incorporates an AMBE chip which uses software on your computer for worldwide communications.
When a Internet Labs 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. There is no fee, but users must be licensed and registered in the gateway system. The DV Dongle uses three chips, oscillator, led’s, and discrete logic to implement it’s functionality. The chips are the FTDI FT232RL serial to USB converter, the Atmel AT91SAM7S256 ARM7 based CPU, and the DVSI AMBE2000 vocoder. 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 2.0 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.
The DV Dongle has four LED’s which indicate the current operating status:
- The blue LED shows data is being transmitted from the PC/Mac to the device.
- The yellow LED shows data is being transmitted from the device to the PC/Mac.
- The green LED shows the mode of operation, slow pulsing indicates idle and fast blinking indicates running.
- The red LED shows overruns or underruns between the PC/Mac and the device and should normally be off.
Frequent red LED activity indicates your PC/Mac may not be sufficiently fast to operate with the device or you may have other programs running that are taking CPU cycles away from the DVTool application.
DV Dongle System Requirements:
- PC or Mac with 2.0 GHz CPU
- 1 GB or RAM (or more)
- USB 2.0 Full Speed Port
- High Speed Internet connection (DSL, Cable, 3G, 4G)
- Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Mac OS X10.5 (Leopard), or Linux (most distributions)
- PC Microphone and speaker/s (headset preferred)
The DV Dongle is a high speed, real time device. It communicates with the PC/Mac at 230Kbps and needs adequate CPU speed and time to operate properly. Many operations on the PC/Mac can interfere with normal operations. These include screen savers, web browsers, instant messengers, etc. For best operation, avoid running CPU intensive applications when operating the DV Dongle.
More information about the DV Dongle can be found at http://www.dvdongle.com/DV_Dongle/Home.html
One of the challenges is finding the software to use with this amazing dongle since the website no longer has it. I've been fortunate to find two software packages for Windows OS and MacOS that can be used with the Dongle.
The first one is called DVTool by Internet Labs. This software works well with the dongle easily. The links to download it are here..
The second app is called WinDV. This software only runs on Windows and needs updated host files to connect to some reflectors. The link to download the files are here..
Updating the host files for WinDV is fairly easy. This website has the most current version http://arrg.us/HF/index.htm Scroll down to the bottom of the page to download the three text files. Now go to your WinDV installation folder "C:\Program Files (x86)\MicroWalt Corporation\WinDV" and find dcshosts.txt, dxhosts.txt, and dphosts.txt. Delete those files. Now rename the three files you just downloaded and place them in the WinDV installation folder as follows:
- DCS_Hosts.txt to C:\Program Files (x86)\MicroWalt Corporation\WinDV\dcshosts.txt
- DExtra_Hosts.txt to C:\Program Files (x86)\MicroWalt Corporation\WinDV\dxhosts.txt
- DPlus_Hosts.txt to C:\Program Files (x86)\MicroWalt Corporation\WinDV\dphosts.txt
Now you can run the software and enter your callsign and dongle details.