Icom are one of the main manufacturers to embrace this open digital standard and have manufactured a range of equipment including Digital Amateur handportables, mobiles, base station radios and repeaters to work with this technology. However there are a number of different products that have arisen over the last few years that has broadened the appeal of D-STAR.
The DVAP is a dongle similar to the DV-Dongle but with a few differences. The DVAP has a little antenna that sticks out of the end. Otherwise the only visible difference is the colour. The DV Dongle is blue, while the DVAP is red.
A DVAP is a D-STAR voice encoder/decoder coupled with a micro transceiver that allows you to use your radio to connect to any reflector in the D-STAR network. It can be set to any frequency in either the 2 meter or 70cm amateur band. You control the DVAP with the same commands that you would use for D-STAR repeaters. This allows you to unlink and link different reflectors from your radio.
The range on the antenna is only about 100 metres so you can carry your handportable radio around the house or into the garden, but it’s not meant to be used as a public repeater.
Hotspots are very similar to the DVAP although DVAP's low power limits locally e.g. around the house, or maybe down the street if connected to an outside antenna.
A Hotspot on the other hand is usually connected to a higher power standard analogue VHF or UHF radio (with a 9600 baud packet port) and therefore has a lot more flexibility and range. With a sufficiently high antenna connected to a radio with a Hotspot interface, you can actually create what some might call a simplex repeater. Like the DVAP, the Hotspot is connected to an Internet enabled PC and the radio via the 9600 baud packet port. The radio is set to a D-STAR simplex frequency and you and your friends can talk all around the world from another hand-held or mobile radio.
The DV-Dongle is a small blue ‘dongle’ that looks like a big blue flash drive with a cable. It connects to a PC with broadband connection. Then with a standard computer audio headset with microphone and headphones, the DV Dongle allows the user to connect to D-STAR reflectors on the network and carry on conversations with other radio users through the repeaters connected to the various reflectors!