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, Mobile)

Let’s assume you have the same gear as I have. One 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-578UV QTH none, static local connects to repeaters nearby, always the same ones
D-878UV Always with me, beltclip often, dynamic Europe or Countries I will travel to connects to repeaters when available but mainly to a hotspot
D-578UV CAR mounted often, dynamic Europe or Countries I will travel to connects to known repeaters or hotspot, roaming should be enabled for common regions

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 with a little twist.

The D-578UV in the QTH knows only my hotspots at home and 8 repeaters I can reach from here. BUT I have multiplied each repeater 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 DO0ERK as DO0ERK World, DO0ERK Germany and so on. In the channel list is for each channel of the same repeater a different TG associated as you can see here in the snippet (for a download of the whole file click here):

Channel Name Receive Frequency Transmit Frequency Channel Type Transmit Power Band Width CTCSS/DCS Decode CTCSS/DCS Encode Contact Contact Call Type
DO0ERK World 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM World Group Call
DO0ERK Germany 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM Germany Group Call
DO0ERK Regional 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM Regional Group Call
DO0ERK Local 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM Local Group Call
DO0ERK Europe 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM Europe Group Call
DO0ERK German 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM German Group Call
DO0ERK DACH 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM DACH Group Call
DO0ERK DL-TAC 1 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM DL-TAC 1 Group Call
DO0ERK DL-TAC 2 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM DL-TAC 2 Group Call
DO0ERK DL-TAC 3 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM DL-TAC 3 Group Call
DO0ERK DL-TAC 4 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM DL-TAC 4 Group Call
DO0ERK DL-MultiM 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM DL-Multimode Group Call
DO0ERK EMCOM112 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM Emcom(112)EU Group Call
DO0ERK SachsAnh/ 145.71250 145.11250 D-Digital Turbo 12.5K 67.0 Off BM SachsAnh/Meck Group Call

The zones I have defined are the analog repeaters nearby, the digital repeaters with associated TG’s and my hotspots. The TG-List is still there with all TG’s available worldwide, but for nomal use, I just need the channel knob to switch between repeaters and their associated talkgroups. Very convenient. A roaming list is not needed, as this radio normally do not move.

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. DO0ERK has two entries DO0ERK-1 and DO0ERK-2 For -1 the TG Germany is associated, for -2 the TG World is associated. That saves channel entries.

I have in my channel list all (and I mean ALL) European repeaters after this methodology. Countries can be selected by the zone list, where each country has its own entry with the corresponding repeaters associated. With one look at the repeater name I can see 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. In such a case I have LTE connection for my DMR hotspot to the WLAN routher in the car. In addition I have created a roming channel list and a roming 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.

The handheld radio has the same channel-list and zones, but as I use mostly my hotspot with the handheld, that’s why I did not create a roaming channel or roaming zone list.

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