Adventures in Callsign Routing

Callsign routing has been around since the earliest days of D-Star. It has also been little used. However, with the proliferation of Pi-Star based hotpots, callsign routing and D-Star have been given new life. Your Pi-Star installation includes a piece of software called ircddbgateway. It truly is a gateway to a whole new way of looking at D-Star.

The first piece of the puzzle is to get comfortable with callsign routing. I invite you to give me a direct call on my D74A HT. To do that, you’ll need to configure your radio with a memory that is setup to use your Pi-Star as a gateway. While that is outside the scope of this article, the general idea of the D-Star configuration (using the ficticious callsign N0TME) is:

 R1: N0TME B ; For a B (70cm) module
R2: N0TME G ; To use as a gateway
MY: N0TME ; My callsign

Now for the fun part. Normally, you’d use CQCQCQ as the destination callsign. This is the standard if using a repeater or a reflector. But, you COULD put a callsign in that destination field. Put “K2DLS P” in the destination and if I’m around, I’ll answer. Note that the P identifies my portable and must be in the 8th character position of the destination (UR) field.

There are also destinations that are not individuals, but are Smart Routing Groups. Try DSTAR1, for example. That is a very active routing group operated by the folks at QuadNet and it offers a lot of multiprotocol connectivity. There is even a net where users check in from D-Star, DMR, and Fusion and everyone can hear everyone else! Be sure to disconnect when you’re done (DSTAR1 T).

You can also configure your own legacy Starnet group on your own Pi-Star for you and your friends to chat on. This can be found on the expert menu for ircddbgateway. We’ll talk more about this in a future post.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for your call.

17 thoughts on “Adventures in Callsign Routing”

  1. so if I am using a Zumspot do I unlink from the reflectors and then just use k2dls p in the UR field and fire it up?

    1. Technically, you don’t have to unlink if things are quiet at the remote end. The reflector won’t hear you if you change the callsign destination! But it is good practice to avoid confusion if you have both links and callsign routing at the same time.

      1. Is the “P” important? How do you know it is a “P”? If I overhear someone on a reflector and want to direct call them, can I go to the recent RX history to get his Call then use that in the To field?

        1. I’ll answer your 2nd question first. Yes, you can use the recent RX history to get their Call into the To field (URCALL).

          As far as the P, that is specific to my callsign, now K2IE. I use a P in the 8th position to identify a portable. Another portable is Q, my base is H (for home). So you’re able to call me on a specific radio. But for me, just my callsign would not work as I don’t have a D-Star radio configured with just my callsign and no identifier.

          1. So how would I program a direct connect through a repeater? I am wanting to setup a direct dstar call to my buddy on the north side of town which out of reach for simplex. How do I add his call sign in and use a repeater as the gateway?

          2. If you’re both on the same repeater it won’t be an issue. You’ll hear one another without having to jump through hoops.
            And, if you don’t want the conversation to go out over any connected reflectors, you could disconnect the reflector during your QSO.

  2. Rilliant post. I know you said it’s outside the scope of the post, ut where can I find info on how to program a channel in my MD380 dedicated to use pi-star as a gateway? Hope to be calling you soon!

    1. So, if you’re using an MD380, that means you’d want to come in from Brandmeister. That is a totally different story. But, what you could do is to program a memory for your Pi-Star using TG 31012, which is gatewayed into the QuadNet array. There you’ll talk to users who are on D-Star, DMR, Fusion and the Peanut app.

      On DMR, there is something called “Private Call” where you can put in the CCS7 ID of the station that you want to reach. You might want to look into that if you don’t have a D-Star radio.

  3. Hi Dan. Thanks for the mention in your article. I wanted to add that if anyone is having trouble call sign routing or using one of the QuadNet Smart Groups you may need to forward UDP port 40000 from your router to your hotspot. Most of the time UPnP will take care of this for you but it will also close down the port if no activity is heard – Jeff VE6DV

  4. I have tried callsign routing through my hotspot to a user on local PAPA System repeater and it doesn’t work… nothing is heard either direction. I have newest zumspot… ircdbb gateway appears to be the rr.quadnet one in expert setup…

    1. There are two DIFFERENT ircddb systems currently in use:, and the Quad Net Array (quadnet), and they do not talk to each other. only allows connections from real REPEATERS, no hotspots allowed.

      Most of the PAPA System REPEATERS are connected to

      quadnet allows connections from anyone, so this is what is used on your hotspot.

      Because the two systems do not talk to each other, when you try to callsign route between a hotspot and a repeater, it will not work, because the are each connected to a different database, and do not share information.

      The hotspot does know know what stations are connected to the repeater, and vice-versa, so it does not know where to route your voice traffic.

      Now, just to make it even more confusing…. there are some REPEATERS that are connected to quadnet, or both ircddb and quadnet….

      Embrace callsign routing as a new challenge in amateur radio, and learn how to research which repeaters are connected to each IRCDDB system. It can actually be fun!

      1. thank you for the detailed reply. that makes a lot more sense. how do you find out if a repeater is connected to or quadnet? other than realizing callsign routing is not working?

  5. Hi Dan,
    My twin in the San Diego area both have hotspots, and I know we can connect hotspot to hotspot, but is it possible for him to connect to a repeater in my area so when I am mobile we can talk? I know he cannot do repeater to repeater as his repeater is permalinked to REF012A (papa system), but is it possible to connect callsign to callsign around the PAPA system reflector without interfering with 12A?

  6. Thanks for the useful article Dan. I’m relatively new to DSTAR and while I understand the principles of call sign routing I’m wondering how to best configure my pi-star hotspot to give it the broadest functionality when it comes to using reflectors and also station-to-station calling. Right now I believe I’m using ircddb and while I have no difficulty connection to, for example, REF001C, I have yet to make a single routed contact to an individual station.

    With that, the comment from KF0DE makes sense, but if I understand it correctly I’ll either be configured for repeater use via ircddb or for hotspot use via Quad Net, unless the technology or implementation thereof has evolved since 2020. To complicate things slightly, I’m located in Europe and suspect that many references like PAPA etc don’t apply.

    Great hobby, this. 73! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *