Most of the fun from using D-Star comes from talking over links to users connected to reflectors. Reflectors are really conference servers. A transmission on any one of the connected systems is repeated on all of them. This means there are more people out there to talk to than just the people within RF distance of your closest repeater.
D-Star Linking and Reflectors were invented by Robin Cutshaw AA4RC. His system is called D-PLUS. This has really become the "killer app" that has caused significant D-Star growth throughout the world. D-Plus reflectors are named REFnnnx, as in REF001C.
Two other linking systems have since been written -- DExtra creates XRF reflectors and DCS creates DCS reflectors. They all operate in similar ways. W6CX, unlike most other ICOM D-Star repeater/gateways, supports all of these linking systems.
Linking is easy. The Administrators for most D-STAR repeaters allow registered users to issue link and unlink commands over RF – just put the link or unlink command into the URCall of your radio and hit PTT. For example, if you want your repeater to link to REF014C, just put “REF014CL” in URCall. The first 6 positions are for the name of the reflector or the callsign of the repeater to be linked to. The 7th position is the band module (normally A, B, C, D or E) and the 8th position is the D-Plus command. L is the link command, U is the unlink command. A common way to do that is to program your radio with several memories.
Every RF user can program their radio to unlink, then link to any of the above connections. Just dial up the memory with the linking or unlinking command, press PTT to ask the gateway to do the command, then immediately dial up your normal QSO setting like the W6CX example below.
Note: Users who have a newer D-STAR radio that supports DR mode (e.g ID-51A and ID-5100A) have some simpler options for DPlus linking, but the following will work for all D-STAR radios.
Let's assume your are in RF reach of D-STAR repeater W6CX module C on 2 meters. Shown below is an example of some memories you could set up in your D-STAR radio. The name of the memory isn’t important and is just to remind you what that memory is used for.
Note: for all of the following memories, you will need to set RPT1 and RPT2 as follows:
RPT1 = W6CX…C (3 spaces so C is in 8th position)
RPT2 = W6CX…G (3 spaces so G is in 8th position)
Name = W6CX (Normal operating mode)
YourCall = CQCQCQ
Name = UNLK (Unlink)
YourCall = …….U (7 spaces then U in 8th position)
Name = Info (Ask for link status info)
YourCall = ....LI (76spaces so lettesr LI are in 7-8th positions)
Name = LnkREF012A (Link to REF012A)
YourCall = REF012AL
Name = LnkREF014C (Link to REF014C)
YourCall = REF014CL
Name = LnkREF030C (Link to REF030C)
YourCall = REF030CL
Name = LnkDCS006B (Link toDCS006B)
YourCall = DCS006BL
Name = LnkXRF001C (Link to XRF001C)
YourCall = XRF001CL
Name = LnkRDCS006B (Link toDEC006B)
YourCall = DCS006BL
Name = LnkCCS1234 (Link to CCS id 3101234)
YourCall = C3101234
Name = UnlnkCCS
YourCall = CA
To be sure the repeater isn't already being used, give a call to ask if the repeater is busy and that you plan to link it. If it’s not busy, you can then switch to the Unlink memory, hit PTT. Then switch to the link memory you want and hit PTT. Then immediately switch back to your normal operating memory with CQCQCQ in YourCall, so the repeater isn’t trying to re-link every time you hit PTT.
That's all there is to it.