The gateway programs used by repeaters, hotspots and accesspoints need a way to know about all the current reflectors that are available, and their current IP addresses. These programs use host files that must be kept up to date. A few hams help all of us by setting up servers from which we can download the latest hostfile information. Here are several of the best alternatives:
Hint: If you want to manually update your host files, you can right-click on each of the links below, then select Save link as, Save target as, or similar choice offered by your browser. You still need to know where your gateway program expects to find its host files, and how they should be named. Normally, your gateway program's documentation will tell you what you need to know.
W6KD Host File Server
This may be the best and most accurate of sources. Use of this source is automated in the HOSTUPDT command in the D-Star Commander Pi image, but other scripts and manual updates can also use this server.
Amateur Radio DNS Server
This source was created by John Hays K7VE. It uses automation to update many times each day. A few errors have been reported, but it probably discovers new or changed reflectors more quickly than other sources.
The arrg.us NO9S Server
Steve NO9S maintains up to date host files at www.arrg.us. David PA7LIM, recommends using this source for his BlueDV application.
Western DStar GW6WTK Server
GW6WTK has a widely used script klxupdate (in /usr/local/bin). Command "klxupdate hostfiles" gets its data from NO9S and VK4TUX. These files are available at:
What You Need to Do
Many D-Star hams use Hotspots on Pi's built from images that contain scripts that can automatically update hosts files. In these cases, you only have to be sure the script is run periodically. Other systems may require you take manual action to update your host files. The above lists should give you a head start in finding the latest information.
D-Star moved from good to great when 3rd parties invented the ability to link repeaters and homebrew hotspots to reflectors, which essentially are confernce bridges. Currently there are 3 different but related reflector protocols -- DPlus, used by REF reflectors, DCS, used by DCS reflectors, and DExtra, used by XRF reflectors.
Reflectors are basically computer servers, often located in Data Centers. They have no radios or RF connections to the outside world. But they allow gateways associated with repeaters and hotspots to connect and have their digital audio bridged to other repeaters and hotspots. The end result gives users on those repeaters and hotspots access to many, many other hams.
These reflectors are normally funded by hams who want to give back to the community. They stand up a reflector using the best information and software they can find. As new reflectors are put into service, the various gateway and hotspot software need a way to learn about currently-operating reflector names and its IP addresses. So all gateway programs expect up to date host files. Location and naming differ, depending on the program, but luckily, all existing programs use a similar format.
For example, the G4KLX ircDDBGateway well-known gateway program used on both moutaintop repeaters and low power hotspots and access points expects to find host files named DPlus_Hosts.txt (with REF reflector info), DExtra_Hosts.txt (XRF) and DCS_Hosts.txt.
When you install programs like G4KLX ircDDBGateway, WinDV, ConDV, BlueDV, SDV etc., typically the installer includes starter host files, but they may already be dated. This is why you need to run the update script or otherwise update your own host files with the latest information.
D-Star® is a registered trademark used for communication equipment (repeaters and transceivers) for amateur radio communications, and owned by Icom Incorporated.
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