Setting up hotspots

My first hotspot was a ZUMspot from HAM Radio Outlet, which I bought in Plano,TX. Well it is a PI-Zero in a nice housing, running in simplex mode and has a small OLED display. It worked fine at the beginning but for whatever reasons (never investigated deep into it) it became unstable. As I had to Raspberry 3B at home I ordered two china-made Dual-Hat MMDVM’s for the pistar software. They run much faster and quite unproblematic and in Duplex mode. My setup here is that one Hotspot run’s DMR, the other DStar with the latest pi-star beta-software. The DStar one has an OLED display the DMR one has a colour Nexion display which needs a bit more attention in terms of configuration and preparation for this job.

The latest hotspot I bought is the SharkRF openSPOT3 which plays in a much higher league than the MMDVM ones, as it starts within 5 sec. has a build in lithium battery which is nice in the car, cause starting the car always takes for a short moment the power away and the raspberries do not really like it (use a power-bank in this case).

The MMDVM is quickly installed to the raspberry pi, the only soldering work are the antenna sockets which have to be soldered on the PCB and maybe the connectors for the displays. The OpenSPOT3 comes ready made and needs some easy configuration, much easier than the pi-star software.


If you want to know much more about hotspots, try this website, it gives you tons of information. In addition the pi-star website maintained by Andy Taylor (MW0MWZ). Information about the openSPOT3 can be found at the SharkRF website.

I will not dive deeper into the technology or configuration of hotspots, as there are thousands of excellent articles about it in the internet – google is your friend.

Hotspots are ideal if you have antenna restrictions, or you are on the road and do not want to have a repeater list for your whole country or state in the radio, you are in a hotel, clinic or too far away from a repeater. Together with your mobile in tethering mode (mobile is set to WLAN access point) or you have a small LTE/WLAN Router, these hotspots are simply great. Especially the SharkRF one, as it can bridge by hardware transcoding automatically with the built-in AMBE® vocoder chip to other technologies for instance to DMR from C4FM, DStar and vice versa. 

Codeplugs for specific use (QTH, Car, Portable)

Let’s assume you have the same gear as I have. Three D-878UV Handheld, two D-578UV mobile radio’s, one in the car, one in the QTH. Just by their use they are different.


Radio Where located Movement Repeaters in Codeplug Remarks
D-578UVPlus QTH none, static local connects to repeaters nearby, always the same ones
D-878UVPlus Always with me, beltclip often, dynamic Europe or Countries I will travel to connects to repeaters when available otherwise to a hotspot 
D-578UVPlus CAR mounted often, dynamic Europe or Countries I will travel to connects to known repeaters or hotspot, gps-roaming should be enabled for common regions. “Normal” roaming should be configured after your countries band plans

I am lazy and want to get what I want without pressing to much buttons or crawl in lists. That’s why I created three different CP’s each developed with the best performance for the specific use in mind.

QTH: The D-578UV in the QTH knows only my hotspots at home and 8 repeaters nearby. BUT I have multiplied each repeater (channel) 23 times. As the codeplug software does not accept duplicated channel (repeater) names, each repeater name got an addition which represents the TG. I.e. you will find the repeater DB0ANT as DB0ANT World, DB0ANT Germany and so on. In the channel list a different TG is associated for each channel of the same repeater as you can see here in the screenshots:

Zone Edit - pointing to the channels with TG for the QTH zone
Zone Edit – pointing to the channels with TG for the QTH zone

Part of the channel list, repeaters with TG's directly associated
Part of the channel list, repeaters with TG’s directly associated


The zones I have defined are the digital repeaters with (QTH) or without (CAR, PORTABLE) associated TG’s, my hotspots, PMR, analog repeaters and European DMR repeaters as seperate zones for each country. The TG-List is still there with all TG’s available worldwide, but for QTH use, I just need the channel knob to switch between talkgroups by using the Channel/TG combination. Very convenient. A roaming list is not needed, as this radio normally does not move.

CAR: Differently constructed is the CP for the D-578UV in the car. Each repeater is marked with the associated Timeslot (TS) and my most used TG. That means i.e. DB0ANT has two entries DB0ANT-Germany (TS1) and DB0ANT-World (TS2) associated by me as a default. That saves channel entries and is used in all DMR zones.

I have in my channel list all (and I mean ALL) European DMR repeaters after this methodology. Countries can be selected by the zone list, where each country has its own entry with the corresponding repeaters associated twice (TS1/TS2 = Germany/World). With one look at the repeater name I can imagine my TS and my TG is also displayed underneath the repeater name. Of course my hotspots are also there, in case I can not reach a repeater and I have a hotspot with me. In such a case I have LTE connection for my DMR hotspot to the WLAN router in the car. In addition I have created a roaming channel list and a roaming zone list for my state, where I travel most. With the roaming switched on, the radio in the car chooses by itself the next reachable repeater. GPS roaming is also switched on.

PORTABLE: The handheld radio has the same channel-list and zones plus the QTH zone with the Channel/TG combination settings. Furthermore it uses roaming zones and roaming channels as well as GPS roaming. Also my hotspot can be used with the handheld, either in the QTH or i.e. in a hotel with internet access or using my portable router where LTE is available.

I hope that my ideas behind these different CP’s became clear to you, if not pls. blame me as I must have explained it in a wrong way.