Routing FAQ

What is Routing?

Routing is a powerful method to connect to individuals, repeaters or groups on a D-STAR network.

How does Routing work?

Routing is a connectionless protocol that does not require a Hosts.txt file to to connect. The QuadNet network server does all the heavy lifting for you. You just have to program your radio with the routes you want to use. If there is an individual, repeater or STARnet Group on the QuadNet network, you should be able to route there just by knowing the call sign, or in the case of Group Routing, a "subscribe call".

What are the different kinds of Routing?

There are three kinds of routing:

  1. Call Sign Routing is used to make a person to person connection. Just program you radio's YourCall (UR) with the call sign of the person you want to contact. QuadNet will look up the last repeater that call sign used and direct your voice data to that repeater. After announce yourself with with something like "This is A1AAA call sign routing to B2BBB", your contact can program his radio to Call Sign Route back to you.
  2. Zone Routing or sometimes called Repeater Routing will route you radio directly to a repeater on the network. It's just like linking to a repeater, but it's easier to do. Just program the UR field of your radio with the call sign of the repeater, prepended with a '/'. So to route to a repeater A3BCD C, your UR field would be "/A3BCD C". Just quick-key you radio and you will be connected to the repeater.
  3. Group Routing means routing to a STARnet Digital Group or our new Smart Group Server. A routing group is kind of like a reflector, but it is actually more like a repeater without the RF transceiver. A routing group can have many individual users "subscribed" to it. Anyone subscribed to a group will hear all traffic on the Group. Like a repeater, a routing group can be linked to a reflector. To listen to a group, just program your radio's UR field with the group's subscription call. The main QuadNet Smart Group is called "QNET20 C". Key you transmitter and when you get a confirmation on your radio, you will be connected. Now leave the subscribe call in you UR field and when you key up, you transmission data will go to the Group and then be redistributed to all the other subscribers. You disconnect with another "nsubscribe" call. You can disconnect from QNET20 C with "QNET20 Z".

I've never heard of this. Is D-Star Routing New? Who invented it?

Callsign and Zone Routing have been around since the earliest days of D-Star. It was built into the earliest networks in Japan. If you bought a D-Star ICOM radio new, you probably received a "D-STAR MANUAL" with your radio that discusses these two forms of routing. This manual discusses which buttons you press to do Callsign or Zone Routing, but are a bit short on why you would want to do Routing and how the D-Star system performs these routes. Hopefully, information here will greatly help with that. Group Routing is the new kid on the block having been introduced around 2011, and only available on IRCDDB networks. It was an idea originally conceived by John Hays, K7VE, that he called STARnet Digital and it was first implemented by Jonathan Naylor, G4KLX, as the StarNetServer. It's a brilliant idea and a logical next step into the evolution of routing on a D-Star network. Our new Smart Group Server takes this idea one step further by fully integrating the Group Server into our IRCDDB network.

I heard that routing was bad. Why does QuadNet allow it?

Routing is not bad! Like any powerful tool, it can be troublesome if improperly used. Call Sign Routing is the most potentially disrupting form of routing but there is a proper way to do it. Call Sign Routing requires "situational awareness" and what we mean by that is you need to know that you won't be disturbing an already in-progress discussion on your repeater or the repeater that your contact is connected to. As a beginner, you should limit your Call Sign Routing to when both you and your contact are using personal hot-spots. If you are sure you and your contact are both using hot-spots, give it a try. When you make your initial announcement, give your contact time to unlink if he was linked to something and time to program his radio with his Call Sign Rout back to you. On modern radios there is usually a key to program the return route: on an ID31 or ID-51, that key is called "RX→CS". That button label means you want to Call Sign Route using the last received transmission. In other words, you want to take the MyCall (MY) field from the last received transmission and put it in the UR field of your radio.

Zone Routing is usually very safe, as long as you are doing it from your personal hot-spot. You probably shouldn't Zone Route from a public repeater. Others using the repeater may not like it. Program your radio (see above) and quick key to connect. If you don't hear any traffic from the repeater, you can announce yourself: "A4AAA listening". Some repeater owners block routing. We can't do anything about that. If you want to Zone Route to a public repeater, it's probably a good idea to check with the repeater owner first.

Group Routing is the safest routing mode. Try subscribing to QNET20 C! Listen for traffic, and then put out your call with QNET20 C still in your UR field.

Group Routing sounds like fun. What other routing groups are available?

That's easy! Just go the the "ROUTING GROUPS" page on this website. It shows you all of the Smart Groups and STARnet Groups that are connected to the QuadNet server and their subscribe and unsubscribe callsigns. This page also shows you who may be currently subscribed to each Group. The newer Smart Group Servers also report other status information, like the reflector to which they are linked.

The beautiful thing about these routing groups is that your system doesn't need to know the IP address of them. Even if a group changes addresses, QuadNet will know and it provides all the information you gateway need to know to connect. Isn't that better than having to update those troublesome Host files?

I have some really great ideas for using a routing group! How can I have my own Group?

The Jonathan Naylor (G4KLX) software, ircDDBGateway, supports a mini-STARnet Server with up to five different groups. Just configure them and go. Be sure you check the ROUTING GROUPS page first to be sure that the name of your Group(s) is/are not already being used! If ircDDBGateway was compiled with the proper switches, you mini-STARnet Group channels can be linked to a XRF or DCS reflector, depending on how it was compiled.

A full STARnet Group Server is also available from Jonathan. Another, newer, smarter server is being actively developed especially for use on the QuadNet network,if interesed, see N7TAE's git hub repository. Please be aware that these full STARnet Servers require a unique QuadNet login callsign and they need to be running on a unique IP address. Usually a club callsign is used for these full servers. (Note that the ircDDBGateway mini-STARnet Server doesn't need a unique login or IP address. The ircDDBGateway program will share the QuadNet connection between the STARnet Server and the Gateway).

If you want to set up a STARnet Group with some ham-oriented theme that would appeal to a broad audience, let us know, we might be interested in hosting it on one of our servers. We would be especially interested if your group was about developing or promoting routing!

How does Routing differ from linking?

Linking is a connection-based protocol. You have to link to a repeater or a reflector before you can use that node. You can, in general, only link to a single node. In contrast, you can subscribe to several routing froups. When you are connect to multiple groups, you will hear traffic from every group. If you are familiar with the way the DMR works, this is very similar to have multiple talk groups in your receive group. When you key up your radio, your voice will only go to the Group in you UR field. Subscribing to several groups at the same time works best when the groups are relatively quite.

This sound like fun. What software should I use?

Most good software packages are based on programs that Jonathan Naylor, G4KLX wrote, either the multi-mode-digital-voice, MMDVMHost/IRCDDBGateway combination, or the older DStarRepeater/IRCDDBGateway combination. If you are new to this, look at the PiStar software. PiStar supports most of the devices listed on our home page. This includes both the single-board-computers (SBC) that PiStar supports and radio modems that handle the RF. If you have a Raspberry Pi and one of the supported devices, you can download an image, burn it to an SD card, plug in the card and power up the Raspberry Pi. Then just use a browser from a computer on the same network to configure PiStar. You'll be up and running in no time!

Okay, what else do I need to know?

Routing requires access to UDP port 40000. This port is usually closed on most home networks, so you have to configure your network to forward that (and other ports) to the SBC where you hot-spot is running. You might not have to do anything if your home router uses uPnP. See the "Port Forwarding" section on the MAIN page for more details. We've heard several reports that some users don't have to do any home network port forwarding. It seems the common circumstances are that these users are on very modern networks with the latest home network routers. If this describes your situation, try routing without configuring any port forwarding.

Unfortunately, all phone companies that we know of block port 40000 on their network, so routing is not possible when your personal hot-spot is tethered to a cell-phone for it's Internet access. We wish it was possible. That would make Call Sign and Group Routing an extremely powerful tool for Emergency Communications!

I'd like to try Routing, but I am afraid of making a mistake. Can you help?

Absolutely! At QuadNet, we strongly believe in the experimental nature of ham radio. Making a mistake along the path to learning is part of the process. If you really don't want to try Routing without some hand-holding, link up to XRF757 C and talk to us. There is usually someone around that can help. We also can provide other options to communicate, if your still in the "What do I need?" phase. See the HOME page.

I won't ever use Routing. Can I still use QuadNet?

Yes, you can. We won't stop you. But were not sure why you would want to. You don't need an IRCDDB network if all you are going to do is to link to reflectors. You just need the IP address of the reflectors in you system's *_Hosts.txt files. Your kind of missing the whole point of QuadNet if you don't do any routing. You can route to other hams, repeaters and Groups, and you don't need to know their IP addresses. The QuadNet Routing Network tells your system where to find them. It knows what IP addresses they are at because they are connected to the QuadNet Network. If your sure that you never will route to anything (or some of your friends will never route to you), just leave the ircddb network field in your software blank. You don't need us.

But we hope you will remember us when a reflector that you use changes its IP address and you can no longer link to it. As you trying to remember where those Host.txt files are, and what the heck is the new IP address of that reflector, you might think, "Isn't there a better way to do this?" Well, yes, there is.