Hotspot recommendations

Discussion in 'Digital Radio, DMR, Fusion, Wires, DSTAR' started by W1AMI, Jun 16, 2021.


Which Hotspot do you recommend?

Poll closed Jun 21, 2021.
  1. Zumspot

  2. TGIF

    0 vote(s)
  3. Other (comment)

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  1. W1AMI

    W1AMI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok Y'all, I need your help. I want your hotspot recommendations! I will use it for DMR and YSF. I am looking at the TGIF 3.5 or the Zumspot 3.5 because I like how it is touch screen configurable. Anyone have either one of these? Plus and minuses of each? Other recommendations?
  2. AC5A

    AC5A Ham Member QRZ Page

    OpenSpot 3 is a good option also. Have used their products for years with no issues.
    WD9EWK likes this.
  3. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use a home-brew built with a Raspberry Pi 3, an MMDVM card purchased on ebay for about £10 and a Nextion touch screen display. It works very well and cost about £60 to build. It is pretty much identical to the Zumspot at about one third of the price.

    Martin (G8FXC)
    K2CQW, KY4GD and W4NNF like this.
  4. K6EEN

    K6EEN Ham Member QRZ Page

    openSPOT3 here.
    WD9EWK likes this.
  5. N3CLA

    N3CLA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a PNWSpot (PNWSpot MMDVM HotSpot – PNWSpot) which I absolutely recommend, but the fellow who makes them is out-of-country for school and I have no idea if he has any way to make more.
  6. KY4GD

    KY4GD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It depends upon how much you want to put into it. If you are comfortable with Unix and SBCs like the Raspberry Pi, just drop $35 or so on a Pi-Star Pi hat, and you will have everything you need.

    I knew exactly zero about DMR, hotspots and codeplugs, and it took one single afternoon of dedicated thought to assemble a functional hotspot and program a blank DMR radio. I am listening to it right now, it is awesome. Crystal clear audio from around the globe.

    I cannot specify a favorite brand, but literally every day, I see ads for assembled hotspots that cost > $100, and I feel a little anger, because they should cost so much less. Ham operators deserve better. But then, I remember that I personally paid a guy $25 to rewire my Astatic D104, because soldering is not my strong point (poor eyes), and 95% of the people reading this would look down on me for that, so to each their own.
  7. W4EAE

    W4EAE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am an avid user of hotspots, so I am not knocking them; but if this is your first hotspot, I would advise spending the least amount of money you can. What can initially seem like 'must have' features may never be used, or you may just find that aren't that interested in using a hotspot after you've lived with it for a while.

    You mentioned a screen. When I built my second hotspot, I really wanted a good screen on it; so I built it with a 3.5" screen and configured it do to everything I wanted. However, I found that when using the hotpsot, I was most often not even the same room with it. Add to that that any serious configuration changes are easier and faster through the web interface vs a 3.5" screen.

    For me, the most important feature of the OpenSpot2 or 3 is that they don't need to be gracefully powered down like all Pi-Star hotpsots do. For this reason, I use the OpenSpot in the car, where power is cut when the engine is not running. You could do this same thing with Pi-Star, but it is gamble. It might run fine that way for years, or it may corrupt the SD the very first time you do it.

    I would recommend the OpenSpot3 or a used OpenSpot2 for mobile operation. For home operation, Pi-Star is fine. For that Pi-Star hotspot, I would recommend building it as opposed to buying it. Put you money into quality components as opposed to paying for assembled lesser components. Since you are using it with DMR, I would definitely recommend a duplex board; and they best one of those is here: If power consumption isn't a prime issue, the I would also avoid using the Raspberry Pi Zero W. It will work just fine, but it will take forever to boot, to run updates, and to make substantial configuration changes. I settled on the Raspberry Pi 3 A+ as a still small and efficient, yet much more powerful board.
    W4NNF likes this.
  8. WB2LBV

    WB2LBV Subscriber QRZ Page

    I can agree with much of the above. However a new OS3 is now pushing $400 US which is a lot of coin for a hotspot. I've put together a bunch of Pi-Star's and they don't add up to nearly that much.
    If the features of the OS are important then by all means go for it if it's in your budget. The cross-mode ability is nice but these days there are other options such as bridges that handle cross-moding online.
    I've got Pi-Stars semi-permanently installed in a few vehicles and I just let them go on and off with the car power. Haven't trashed a card yet and if I do it's no big deal to re-image the card or swap in a spare (there is a learning curve for doing this but once you have it down it's a quick process).
    Yes the large displays and touch screens are nice but I too have little use for them. Currently I'm using my Pi-Stars for D-Star and all my reflector switching is done from the radio. If I need to look at the Pi-Star for some reason I use the dashboard via my PC or phone depending on where I am. I don't even bother with the small OLED's, on the ones that have it I turn it off and when building a new hotspot I don't install one.
    You can assemble a basic "Chinaspot" for $50-60 or even less if you shop around. Yes the Pi Zero is slow to boot and takes time for updates but once it's up and running there is no functional difference from a more powerful Pi. The Zero does have the lowest power consumption and heat generation as well as the smallest form factor.
    One of my Pi-Stars is a portable hotspot with a Pi Zero and a small lipstick battery, it all fits in an old Blackberry phone case. It's no Openspot but works great and was cheap to make.
    The little Pi-Stars are like rabbits, you start out with one or two and next thing you know they are multiplying-
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  9. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been using a Zumspot I got from HRO for the last....oh...going on four years I guess. This is the early model without the touch screen. Or any screen. If you're going to use the spot mobile/portable getting one with a screen is a good idea. But if just at home, you really don't need it. Anyhow, it just sits in a corner and does its thing day after day, week after week with minimal attention. I did find that power glitches would occasionally knock it offline, so I bought an inexpensive UPS designed for routers that has USB outputs and power it with that. No further problems. :)
  10. W1MNH

    W1MNH Ham Member QRZ Page

    the OpenSpot3 sounds like the cats meow except for the price $400 US. definite deal breaker. I use a cheap Pistar hotspot at home. I want to go portable but I use iOS phone , can't seam to get pi Star to work on it and Im not changing over to a droid px. I was wondering is there an hotspot like the Open Spot that's works on iOS that i could take my Phone , Hotspot device, portable battery solar charger and my HT. So I could go just about anywhere and talk digital , like hiking in the mountains or on a lake anywhere I could get wifi on my phone that is? Im open to suggestions hoping someone in the USA has made something like the OpenSpot that cost more than your radio.

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