ircddb and quadnet, what is this all about ?

Following my previous article about the REF/XRF/DCS/XLX differences I will  try to explain what are ircddb and QuadNet and what they are good for. There is some misunderstanding about what those things are. Since its early days DStar has this wonderful capability of offering call sign routing. Without going too much into depth call sign routing is the ability to call any station worldwide without having to know on which repeater the station was last heard. If N0ABC wants to reach N0DEF he just keys the PTT and his voice call gets routed to the repeater where N0DEF was last heard. How this is exactly achieved from a user point of view will not be discussed her.

To make routing possible repeaters have to continuously exchange data about who is heard where i.e. each repeater connected to an ircddb network reports itself to the network and also report every single station transmitting over it. Within a few millisecondns all other repeaters connected to the network will know that N0ABC has been heard on repeater N1RPT. The data exchanged on the ircddb network is called “routing data” and the network is called a “routing network.”

The routing data is sent using specially crafted IRC messages. The data is distributed over all repeaters, hence the acronym IRCDDB which translates to Internet Relay Chat Distributed Database. There is a popular disbelief stating that audio data is transmitted over the ircddb network, this is wrong. Once call sign routed communication is established there is no more third party involved, both repeaters directly communicate together.

In the beginning of DStar there was another routing network which had several drawbacks. Data was slowly exchanged, leading to routing issues. To overcome this a group of german hams created the first ircddb network. For some reason I do not know until today (it was before I got into Dstar) this network only accepted registered real repeaters. No hotspots are allowed.

At some point the quadnet ircddb network was created where hotspots are allowed. This created some sort of balkanization as routing data was not exchanged between both networks. Eventually, I implemented code allowing G4KLX’s ircDDBGateway software to connect to multiple ircddb networks at the same time thus making full featured repeaters being able to report to up to 4 ircddb networks.

As i just mentioned ircDDBGateway Now i need to explain what it is. ircDDBGateway is thee software running right at the heart of your repeater and even your Pi-Star hot spot. It handles all the network side of DStar, call sign routing, reflector handling etc. It’s development started somewhere in 2010 as far as I know.

There is also some confusion about the Quadnet Array. The quadnet array is a name used by the people behind Openquad to name all their servers, including their XLX based reflectors. You can use their reflectors without using their ircddb network and vice versa.

6 Comments:

  1. This is pretty good information… there is some more to it. The Icom call sign routing which is built in to repeater owners who use the original repeater gateway software. IrcDDBGateway/G4KLX variations are “clones” of this software. The original Icom callsign routing managed via dplus was slow, it has since been upgraded to where it is much more robust. Then came a long ircDDB routing which actually could be added to the original Icom gateway G2/G3 systems. BTW…. G2 is used to reference “2nd generation” Icom gateway and G3 is “3rd generation”.

    Pi-Star users by default at connected to quadnet but can be changed thru “advanced” settings to use the ircddb network.

    • Hi Terry,

      Thanks for your comment, it’ll definitely help interested users. I knew that, but for the sake of not bloating the article I left it ou? ;).
      I made some contributions to the ircddbgateway code actually. The capability of being able to connect multiple ircddb networks is “my baby”. Back when quadnet started to gain popularity I was frustrated to not being able to route from my repeater to hotspots so I put my hands on it. This too can be activated under advanced options in pi-star.

  2. Thank you for this. I found this very helpful. I will reference and credit you when doing up my documentation

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