With the club heavily invested in D-STAR repeaters,  and mobile and handheld go kits for use in the public service and ARES groups. it had become apparent that we were not making the best use of this technology.

A small group of volunteers set up some D-RATS testing to use data over D-STAR. D-RATS is a computer program created by an Australian ham for computer to computer communications primarily using D-STAR data transmission, but it can also use AX.25 packet radio and wired/wi-fi Internet communications when available.  It has a single user interface for chat, email, mapping, formal and information messaging and file transfer. It is also open source and runs on Windows, Linux and other platforms.

In a early test, several of the volunteers set up in various locations around York Region. Some direct communications were possible, but the mountainous area we live in did cause issues for some, but communications is possible all around the region. An important finding was that D-RATS data messages run through the repeater with no further work on the repeater site/software, so that certainly provides increased coverage.

More recently, several members have been testing D-RATS from their home stations both direct and through the repeater. It looks like it will be a useful tool for point-to-point communications when there is no other supporting infrastructure.

Contact our emergency communications director, Mike VA3MCT, if you'd like to be involved in the trials.

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