The Lakeway Digital Group was formed in 2014 by N4FNB to promote the development of digital radio programs in the Lakeway area.  The first area focused on DSTAR radio that had been developed by the Japanesse Radio Relay League in the mid 2000.  A hotspot was put on the air and a not for profit organization was chartered in the State of Tennessee for the educational and developmental purposes of digital and related radio services.  The organization joined the Southeast Repeater Association (SERA) and frequency coordination was obtained for 144 MHz and 440 MHz DSTAR repeaters to be placed in the Lakeway area.  The repeaters were ordered and after several weeks of learning the linux operating system, the repeaters took to the air in mid 2014 in a temporary location in west Morristown.  With the FCC call sign of W4LDG ( Lakeway Digital Group) on frequencies 144.920 / 147.420 MHz  and 444.475 / 449.475 MHz   W4LDG  C  and W4LDG  B as they are know in the DSTAR world came to life.  The two repeaters offer a link to the DSTAR network thru W4LDG  G  gateway, opening the entire world up to the operator to work and make contacts.

Digital  communication has not been limited to voice and radio.  Several hams have ventured into the world of mesh networking.  Using the Broadband Hamnet mode developed in the western US, members were involved in flashing WRT54G Linksys Modems with the Hamnet firmware and developing intranets for local use in the amateur 2.4 GHz frequency range.  At least two intranets were used in area Field Day events for logging using the Hamnet systems.  Work continues in this area, expanding now that firmware has been developed for the more powerful Ubiquiti brand devicies allowing distances that were measured by yards to be measured by miles.  Expansion of internet services to repeater sites by broadband hamnet seems to be one of the next items for the W4LDG group. 
DSTAR is not the only digital voice mode being developed in the Lakeway area.  Currently two new Yaesu DR-1X repeaters are on there way to be placed at repeater sites offering continued analog voice repeater services and adding Yeasu's new C4FM digital mode as a new mode for area hams.  The Lakeway Amateur Radio Club (LARC) will be replacing the 147.030 repeater with one of the machines on Clinch Mountain giving both voice and digital service over the same frequency.  W4LDG also will be placing a repeater on the VHF band offer the same analog and digital services  for the Lakeway area. 

W4LDG plans to move the DSTAR repeaters and the new Yaesu repeater to a new site some time this spring as weather and work schedules permit.  Preliminary work has been done but lots of items still remain to get internet service in place and secure computer operations at the site, but all is targeted to be completed by June 1.  Standby for better coverage for DSTAR in east Tennessee in 2015, and if you have some time and would like to help, let me be the first to encourage you to volunteer.
Both Icom and Yaesu have developed excellent VHF/UHF dual band radios that operate in both analog and their own digital modes.  The digital modes for each manufacturer are different and will not work each other; only Icom digital will talk to Icom digital and Yaesu digital will only talk to Yaesu digital; however the analog modes are the same ole mode we have been using for years.  The Icom DSTAR repeaters will not repeat an analog signal, only the digital signal, however the Icom repeaters do act as an internet gateway opening the operator up to a whole world of contacts thru other repeaters.  Yaesu repeaters do not yet offer a gateway or internet connect except thru their WIRES existing system, but the repeaters will pass both analog and digital modes, and have a mode that will translate digital signals so analog listners can copy all stations.  For more information, click on the images on this page. 

I have been fortunate to own several of the radios on this page and can say that in 34 years of being a ham, these are the most enjoyable radios I have ever owned.  I received the Icom 7100 a week before Field Day last year and had just enough time to figure out how to set it up on HF and connect a tuner and off we went.  The receiver was great and the reports even on Field Day were very good.  I put the 5100 in the car the first day it got here and quickly learned that was a mistake.  Not that it was overly complicated, however you need to take some time to learn all the features of the touch screen and "feel" your way around the radio before you hit the road where it's eyes on the road, not on the radio.  I am still learning the features and loving it more everyday.  I ran across a heck of a deal on eBay on an ID-31 for just over $100, and after operating it, I knew the ID-92 would take back seat to a 50th Anniversary ID-51E which came in last week. 

Yaesu says the C4FM repeater will ship in the next 30 days so it a call to HRO and have Mark send up a FTM-400DR and start learning another radio. 
But don't take my word, QST has reviewed most all of these so I have provided links to allow you quick access to each article.  Enjoy, isn't that what a hobby is suppose to be about.
QST Review of the Icom 7100 Click here.
QST Review of the Icom ID 51A Click here.
QST Review of the Icom ID-5100A Click here.
QST Review of the Yaesu FTM - 400DR Click here.