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I am looking to get a handheld radio that does digital.

Requirements

•The most open-source, tweak-able system that I can mess around with.

•The lower end price wise

•A system that actually gets used, something that I will be able to talk to other digital friends on.

It seems like every company has their own system, so which mode should I go with?

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  • $\begingroup$ Since you talk about handheld, I take it you are referring to digital voice transmissions? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 25 '15 at 22:45
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Answer: It all depends. No one system is clearly "better" technically and cost-wise IMO. It's a network thing. You need to know what your neighbor hams are adopting and (probably) go with that. If you're the first in your area, you won't have anyone to talk to! At minimum, you need at least one active repeater in your area.

Actually, the incompatibility of VHF digital systems is a pretty good reason to stick with tried and true analog FM, and save your cash until the dust settles, if it ever does. In many areas, VHF activity is rather low. It's a shame if the relatively small number of active users is split up into incompatible "walled gardens".

On the other hand, a digital system linked through the internet can open up the whole world to your handheld device. Your choice!

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  • $\begingroup$ A repeater is not a requirement. Even a HT can do quite well when coupled with a half-way decent antenna. I have had 3-way QSOs with people in a triangle something like 70-100 km on the side with 5 W of narrow (12.5 kHz), analog FM, with no repeater involved and on 145 MHz. While I did use a FT-817 on external power, there's no reason a HT with good batteries, hooked to the same antenna, should have done significantly worse. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 30 '15 at 21:03
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The only open-source digital voice mode with any significant adoption on the ham bands I'm aware of is FreeDV. It's used with some regularity on HF, and some people are working on a constant envelope modem for VHF use. The voice codec used is codec2.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I am hoping for codec2 to take off on VHF. And I hope an internet link system similar to the analog AllStar link gets developed for it $\endgroup$ – Skyler 440 Sep 29 '15 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ That is a great link too! $\endgroup$ – Skyler 440 Sep 29 '15 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if codec2 and Opus were compared for radio usage. $\endgroup$ – Phil Jan 25 '16 at 4:29

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