Using the DV Dongle

  1. The DV Dongle has four LED’s which indicate the current operating status.  The blue LED shows data is being transmitted from the PC/Mac to the device.  The yellow LED shows data is being transmitted from the device to the PC/Mac.  The green LED shows the mode of operation, slow pulsing indicates idle and fast blinking indicates running.  The read LED shows overruns or underruns between the PC/Mac and the device and should normally be off.  If you notice frequent red LED activity, your PC/Mac may not be sufficiently fast to operate with the device or you may have other programs running that are taking CPU cycles away from the DVTool application.

Status indicators:

Operating notes:

  1. The DV Dongle is a high speed, real time device.  It communicates with the PC/Mac at 230Kbps and needs adequate CPU speed and time to operate properly.  Many operations on the PC/Mac can interfere with normal operations.  These include screen savers, web browsers, instant messengers, etc.  For best operation, avoid running CPU intensive applications when operating the DV Dongle.

Start the DVTool application by double clicking on the DVTool icon on your desktop.  This brings up the main application window shown above.  If you receive a popup dialog stating that no devices were found, close the application and make sure your DV Dongle is plugged in and the green LED is slowly pulsing.  You may need to install the FTDI USB device drivers by following the steps in the Installation page above.  You should have a device shown in the “DV Device” box.  On Windows, this will look like “COMxx”.  On Mac O/S X, this will look like “/dev/cu.usbserial-A9xxxxxx”.  On Linux, this will look like “/dev/ttyUSBx”.

Enter your amateur radio callsign in the “My Callsign” box and enter up to 20 characters of custom user message in the “My Message” box.

Click the “Open” button to open the DV Dongle.  The application will connect to the gateway/reflector name server and retrieve the list of currently available systems.

Once opened, you should see the gateway/reflector list in the box next to the “Connect to Gateway” button.  You will also see a module in the “Module” box.

Click on the gateway/reflector list arrow to see the list currently available for connection.  You can customize the list using the Setup->Gateways tab.  You can then click on the “Favorites” checkbox to show only your custom list.  Instructions for customizing the list is further down on this page.

Select the module for the remove gateway/reflector using the “Module” box.  Module “C” is the most common.  If you select the “*” module, you can monitor all of the modules on the remote system but you cannot transmit.  Once you hear a conversation, switch to the module used by the talkers so you can transmit.

To customize the gateway/reflector list, make sure the device is opened and click on the “Setup” tab and then the “Gateways” subtab.  Click on your favorite systems in the “All” box on the left.  Then click “Add>>” to add them to your favorites list.  You can change to order of your favorites by clicking on a system and then “Move up” or “Move down”.  Use the “Delete” button to remove the selected system from the list.

Sometimes, your internet connection can be a bit flakey.  You can click on the auto reconnect checkbox to have DVTool automatically reconnect to the system if you loose your connection.  If you have connection issues or dropouts, try using a hardwired network connection rather than WiFi.

If you click on the favorites checkbox, you will see only those systems that you customized earlier.

Click on the “Connect” button to connect to the system in the box to the right.  Once connected, you should see the green, blue, and yellow LEDs flicker.  You will also here the “comfort noise”, showing that your sound card is working.  You can disable this white noise using the Setup->Audio tab.

When someone keys up on the connected system, you will hear them and see their callsign information as shown above.  You can respond by clicking and holding down green PTT button on the lower right and then talking into your mic.  If you click on the lock box to the right of the PTT button, you don’t need to press and hold PTT button.  Click once to start transmitting and once to stop.

You can click on the mute checkbox to temporarily mute the audio from the connected system.

The clock on the lower right will show how long the remote user is talking.  It will also show you how long you have been transmitting.  There is a 3 minute limit on transmissions since most gateways will stop transmitting after that time.

You should test your audio levels before transmitting to a connected system.  Use the “Audio” subtab on the “Setup” tab for this.  Select your Audio Input and Output devices and then click on “Test Audio Using DV Dongle”.  Anything you say into your mic will be sent through the DV Dongle and then back to your speakers.  It is best to use a headset for this.  Adjust your mic level using operating system audio controls.  The mic level indicator above the timer clock should show your audio in the yellow level with brief red levels.

You can disable the comfort noise by clicking on the “Disable Comfort Noise” checkbox.

While you are connected to a gateway/reflector, click on the “Info” tab to get information about the connected system.  Click “Get Gateway Info” to retrieve linked repeaters, DV Dongle, last heard users, and local date/time at the system.

Click on the “History” tab to see the history of each user that has keyed up on the connected system.  If you are running a net, you can use the “gray dups” checkbox to highlight only new users that have keyed up and the “Clear” button to clear the list.  To save the history to a CSV file, enter a filename and click the “Save File” button.

Click on the “Data” tab to see the raw data from the D-STAR protocol.  This can include GPS, typed text, and D-RATS type data.  You can send a message by typing it into the box next to the “Send” key and clicking “Send”.  You can also send/receive files.  Use the “Clear” button to clear the data info box.

You can record and play DVTool/DVRec files using the “Utilities” tab.  These files can be used to record announcements for your local repeater or customize the audio from DVTool like “Remote System Linked”.

Use the DVRec file format unless you need a legacy DVTool file for older software and systems.

You can customize the look and feel of DVTool using the “Look and Feel” subtab under the “Setup” tab.  Try changing the Style and Colors to see the options.  You can also change the font size using the slider bar.  This can help when you change the operating system default font size.