Icom DSTAR – 50 States in 50 Days Project

Let me start with saying that I love having goals and challenging myself in different ways… I came up with a challenge that I didn’t think would be too hard to meet but would be fun and stretch my operating time a little more than I have been on the air in a while. I love DStar and the fact that I live in an Antenna Restricted area makes me try to be more creative than ever on keeping my radio skills high as well as having some fun doing it. 50 States WAS is always one of the first challenges people go after when getting on HF so I thought why not try to do 50 States on DStar and to make it interesting come up with a catchy way to say it so there grew: 50 States in 50 Days. Sounds catchy right? I thought so…

Honestly, it should be a very easy goal to attain from a technology standpoint I mean get on a Reflector and you could pick off 5-6 states on a major reflector in on setting. Also, just linking to 50 repeaters should only take you what a day or two to do if you just rush through it…. Here is what do you haven’t added… Full time job, wife, two kids with full schedules, 4 dogs, 15 other hobbies and the fact that I’m pretty tired at the end of my day!! I have thought about doing this project for a while but I jumped in with both feet tonight with some free time I had tonight….

With that said… Let’s get started!!


March 30 –

  • Linked to KI4WXS in the Charlotte area to talk to my friend John – KJ4KJM who I got into the hobby and we had a quick QSO on his way home from work.
  • Linked to AA1HD in Vernon Connecticut because I was on a roll at this point and reconnected to one of my oldest (no age but long term) friends in the hobby Fran (W1FJM)
  • Linked to AC7O in UT and I got a change to meet Bob – KF7LQS who just got a 91ad and was learning his way around DStar from Logan, UT. Really nice guy and someone you should connect with if your online
  • Linked to K3PDR in Philadelphia, PA as my wife happened to be in that area and I LOVE THE FOOD there. After a few calls… K3DS Dennis came back to me while he was putting some finishing touches on his Shack.

Since we have some thunderstorms coming through and tornado warnings in effect I decided to shut down and take the rest of the night off. I’ll be back to my quest tomorrow hopefully…
Nifty E-Z Guide to D-STAR Operation

April 3rd Trying a few more….

  • Linked to in W4PL in Chattanooga, TN – KA4ELN – Steve was in a QSO and just finishing up so I dropped in to say hello. Really nice QSO about antenna restriction and what band we stay active on.
  • Linked to KA4RVT in Dalton, GA – Bert N4BZJ was working on the repeater and didn’t have a lot of time as he was looking for someone local to test the new duplexer. I wish I could have helped…
  • Linked to WH6DIG in Honolulu, HI. Unfortunately, I believe the system was linked to a reflector to 12A and KJ6ACO was talking back home and I stepped on his conversation. He was nice enough to let me in and make the QSO to HI as he was over there on a work assignment. He understood as there is a delay on Dstar connecting and getting the stream of data coming back to a DVAP system. Lesson learned as you should also do… listen three times before you transmit once.
  • Linked to KJ4LNJ in SC but KJ4G was linked with his DVAP as well in Tallahassee, FL so I guess I will take FL as my contact here.  Found out that this machine was linked to a reflector as well, I will have to start to look at the reflector listings first to see if machines are linked in…

My learning today is that a lot of systems stay linked to reflectors quite often so my plan to work 50 states without reflectors could have to be modified a bit. Like I said earlier I’m not against reflectors to complete this task as some states don’t have repeaters and most likely I am going to have to find someone with a DVAP or Dongle that is connected to a reflector.

With that said, NC, CT, UT, PA and now HI, FL GA and TN are in the books. I think I’m going to call it a night for now. Need to charge the 92ad for my next adventure.

April 4th –

  • Linked to KT8APR in Lima, OH – Talked with K8KHW Randy in Newport, OH. Great guy on in a small farming community. I had a goal of making a few contacts tonight but Randy was a really nice guy and we ended up having a nice ragchew.

After a couple more attempts nothing heard on two systems in WI and K5TIT in Dallas so I called it a day for now. Off to make dinner for the girls.

  • After dinner and walking the dogs I decided to come back out and give it another try. I saw some activity on Reflector 14 so I figured I would give it a try for a little while. I picked up K6BRR in Packwood, WA as a new state – Dana didn’t have a lot of time but did come back and say hello.
  • N7JGX – Brad was in Reno, NV on an Amtrak on a DVAP and came back. Great to have another state in the book.

April 5th –

  • Linked into K4DSO – Birmingham, AL – KW4J was in a QSO with K4QVC. They let me jump in and what a couple of nice guys and were interested to hear about my project. They gave me AL and then I moved on to see what else I could find on Dstar for the night.
  • Linked into the REF009 Reflector – KG4TRI in AZ. He was trying to get his 92ad working but couldn’t hear me through that… was on his 880 and worked fine. I had to jump out for some personal business but wanted to stay longer and help.
  • Linked into the REF004B Reflector – NU5D came right back to me so put TX as another worked but he told me that after reading my article he had tired callsign routing to me which I didn’t even think about. I have been using my DVAP to link to reflectors and repeaters I didn’t think people would be trying to find me. I guess word is getting out from my posts to the Yahoo Group as well as the webpage. I will start to ensure I’m connected and normally you could find me at NI4CE Dstar machine. Thanks for TX!
  • Linked into the W1AAD System in Newport, RI – W1GRI Ted was running a net so I hung around to listen, check in and he also give me RI as a new state. I got a chance to talk about my 50 in 50 quest and many others heard so I was grateful.

April 6th –

icom IC-2820H Dual Band 2M/440 D-Star Capable Tranceiver

  • Linked into the WB1GOF System in Westford, MA – Rich AB1HD in MA. Had a really nice conversation on his commute into Waltham which is a place in the Boston area that I used to work in myself. The only problem after this conversation is I’m going to spend more money on Ham equipment. He was telling me about a dipole system from PAR Electronics that sounds very interesting and I’m heading to do some research.
  • Linked into Reflector 14 for a little while – NN6J Joel – WW6USA / KD6RC were all in a QSO. There was an opening so I through my call in and picked up CA and met a few nice gentleman.
  • Linked into NV4FM in Fairfax, VA – W4IFI Randy in VA. We did have a short QSO but due to his mobile location he was in and with a lot of R2D2; since we got to exchange calls and names I’ll put VA in the books as well.
  • Linked into K5RKN in Brandon, MS – Talked with KB5LCL Ricky – while he was mobile. He gets all over the state and was just leaving Jackson, MS.
  • Linked into Reflector 20  – VE2HOT came back to me from Montreal came back to me. I was looking for NY/NJ but sometimes this is the way it works. VT – N1XOA John came back to me which was a nice pickup. K2GB – Salem, NY Rick came back to me as well.
  • Linked into KC9LKZ Port C – Got an email from KC9ONY Milwaukee WI and I dialed up Tom for a quick QSO. I was on the radio all day so I couldn’t spend too much time but I will reconnect with him so I could hear more about the Brewers and how they are going to do this year. Thanks Tom for the email!!

Had the great pleasure of going to the Masters in Augusta, GA and enjoyed myself so much. I have been away from radio for a little bit but getting back to my project.

April 12th –

  • Linked into KJ4BWK Port B – Stan N3LU in SC came back to me for a quick QSO. Picked up SC so I’m happy. That’s most of the Southern States so moving on west at this point.
  • Linked into WA5WX Port B – KF5AAE West Monroe, LA Mark came back to me and picked up LA. This should complete the South at this point. I couldn’t forget my friends in LA.
  • Linked into KD0NJC Port B – WB0VHB Randy in Southern IA and I have been emailing for a few days. I finally had a chance to set up a sked and it was well worth it. I didn’t have a lot of time but I want to reconnect with Randy. What a great and interesting guy to talk too and I highly recommend linking in and saying hello. He is building this system himself and is trying to build a Dstar market in IA. Give him a call.

April 14th –

  • Listening on Reflector 01
  1. KC8REH – MI finally!!! Lowell, MI Thanks for the contact!
  2. KC0FOW – Rob Rochester, MN

April 15th – Tax Day!!

  • Linked into Reflector 20A
  • Bill – WA2WJC in NJ came back to me – we were talking about the weather coming through the Southeast. We were both Skywarn spotters so we were talking though the CLT /ATL and the challenges it’s going to make for travelers.
  • N2KTO who had suggested this reflector was nice enough to get me another needed state. He brought over N1XOA for me in VT but then I realized that I already had VT and needed NH. It was nice to see that people were willing to help!!

After these contacts N2KTO told me that I would be able to find MD and I did….

Linked to Ref 25B and Phillip was there…

  • W3ICF – Phillip Fredrick, MD and I were able to connect. This was a great pickup and thanks for the connections to N2KTO! He was great helping me!!!!


April 18th

My wife is out of town so I figured I would try to do some linking tonight. Was getting a little frustrated due to not making any contacts. Linked into a reflector and popped in the middle of a net. So I decided to go to the big Reflector.

  • Linked to Refl01 and got
  1. W1CG Tom in Hampton, NH
  2. W0AO – Bob in Kansas City, MO
  3. KJ6MOX – Sacramento, CA came back as well. I had CA already but it was nice to have another contact as always.
  4. VA3HPR Ontario, Canada – I was just getting ready to unlink and herd Rodger call so I came back to him. We were both watching Hockey but I I was rooting for the Bolts!

April 19th –

Had a little time before work this morning so I thought I would try to catch the morning commute in a few states that I needed:

  • Linked into WD5AII in OK and got excited when N7LMJ came back to me. He was linked in as well from MI but I already had MI so we had a nice QSO. Still need OK so I will come back later tonight.
  • Linked into WL7CWI in AK as I saw a callsign pop up on the lastheard list but Dustin in NE LA came back to me to tell me he hasn’t heard anyone in this freq in a long time.

My hunt is still on… I have to head to work so maybe I’ll stop on my lunch break for a few more.

  • Linked into W9ARP on my lunch break – KB9KHM Mark came back to me. We were both on our lunch break so it was a short QSO but we got him in the books! IN Down now on to the next one.
  • Went back to Reflector01 for a little while as I wanted to see what was out there.
  1. AD3J Marty in DE came back to me. We talked about our Dstar equipment and what we were up to on the mode. Great guy and glad he came back to me look forward to finding him on APRS as well.
  • I saw KL7BK on the last heard so I ran into the shack to grab the rig. Linked to WL7CWI and KL7BK came back to me! Mike was a great guy and gave me Alaska! I was really happy to get this one in the log. Thanks Mike!
  • Linked into the W0MAO in Lincoln NE – KB0WZH Lee came back to me. Great to pick up another one!
  • Linked into the WD5AII – W5NZS Larry came back to me. We were talking about being 6 Meter operators and what it takes to be successful. Also had a great conversation about contesting which I miss so much!!
  • Linked into the W0CDS system in CO – KA0BBQ Barry came back to me and I just LOVED his call and had to have it in my log. It’s his novice call and I completely agree that I would not give that one up. Thanks for the contact and CO.
  • Linked into NM5WR – Talked with AD5RB Richard. I talked to him on email but I found him without setting up a schedule which is always nice. Great guy and really thankful for helping me.

After some hard work from my 92AD today the battery just died so I’m going to let it charge as its 6:30 here in Florida and I’m going to take a break. Hope to make some more contacts later this evening so if you’re out there in a state I need please listen for me as I’ll be hunting you.

  • Linked into W9BIL – Picked up KC9S Clint in IL. He was getting ready to drive into some weather so had to get both hands on the wheel but I will link back up and listen to move information about this machine. They had it on top of a Grain Elevator, sounded interested and wanted to hear more.

April 20th –

  • Linked into WA4YZY – AJ4G Ralph in KY setup a sched and told me he would be around driving today. I got him in KY and then he drove through a tunnel into TN but I already that state. Thanks Ralph for helping!!
  • Linked into REF01 and found KE7EZJ who was in Billings MT on a DVAP. He was driving an OIL RIG through Montana I didn’t want to keep him that long but wanted to make sure I got the state!!
  • Linked into K0HAM when I got an email from Jake WA0CMU  in KS had sent me an email and said he was listening so I jumped on to pick up KS quickly. Thanks for helping me out and good luck on the farm.

April 29th –

  • Linked into KB1VFA Port C – N1DOT is the Sysop of this machine and took the time to help me with Maine. I was happy to get New England completed. Now onto the rest of the country.

May 2nd –

  • Linked to Ref1C as Trever K9TVR in ID was nice enough to setup a schedule with me so I could get ID in the books. Great to get that one! Thanks Trevor!

May 16th –

  • Linked to Ref1C as Mike KD0LMB was in WV on a trip and we had a schedule setup. I have been lurking on Ref1C looking for the last few states but haven’t been lucky. Thanks Mike for WV.


After several attempts to get OR which there is activity I just couldn’t get my times synced with the hams in that area. Although I wasn’t successful in getting 50 in 50 I had a lot of fun working on this project and I could tell you I learned a ton about Dstar in the mode and operating in this new digital world.


50 in 50 was a fun project and my learning’s and people I met made it even more special to me…. at this time the project is over but I will tell you that my operating on Dstar is not! I had so much fun you will hear me even more often. What’s next? Well, I’m thinking 50 in 50 on Echolink… anyone game to work me?


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