NO2Y - JumboSpot premium hotspot

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Equipment Reviews' started by KV4JW, Dec 10, 2018.

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  1. KV4JW

    KV4JW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Recently I was in the market for a new HT, and felt compelled to give the DStar world a whirl. With the purchase of an Icom ID51A, I quickly understood the need for one of those little hotspot things so I could access DStar reflectors. I had two main reasons for purchasing a hotspot.

    1. I didn't want to congest my local DStar repeater.
    2. My local DStar repeater is not "very" local, so with an HT I'd need to stand on one hand, hold the HT with my left foot, and put the antenna in my mouth to get into it. We all know how that goes.

    A hotspot only seemed logical to me. Now I'll go ahead and put it out there, I am STILL totally green to DStar and how it works. It's some kind of ham-voodoo magic that I don't totally understand, but I'm learning as quickly as I can. When I bought this hotspot, I had NO IDEA how it worked. I just knew roughly what it did and that it would be handy to my DStar hamming activities.

    I'll also add in here that this hotspot is NOT DStar only. It does it all. DStar, DMR, Yaesu System Fusion, etc. It's a very versatile little gadget.

    Additionally, these hotspots can be purchased on the internet for LESS than what I paid for this one. These also require assembly, complete configuration from the ground up, and some other stuff that I didn't have time for or know anything about. I paid $120.00 for the JumboSpot Premium and I'm glad I did. I paid more, but I didn't have to fool with putting it together, testing it, etc. I knew it would work when I opened the box - and it did - with some minor tweaking.

    So the meat and potatoes. Mike, the seller is a great guy and great to deal with. He and I exchanged several emails before I even made a purchase. He took the time to go over what he offered, pricing, and availability. He ran into a little bit of an availability problem, as he was sold out of hotspots at the time that I wanted to purchase. That wasn't a problem for me, I wasn't in a hurry. I just asked him to let me know when his next shipment arrived and I'd pay him immediately. In a few days, he emailed me to let me know the eagle had landed. I shot him a paypal payment and it was that easy.

    Mike just needed some basic information from me. A DMR ID (even though I was to use the hotspot with DStar), my call, and my home wifi information. Once that was supplied, he got to work quickly, and the hotspot was in the mail the next day.

    In a couple days, it arrived. Quicker than what the tracking was showing. Mike packed the hotspot well in a little cocoon of bubble wrap. It was well protected. Inside the box he included an alternate top lid, and the needed hardware to install an external antenna. Which brings me to my next point - an external antenna IS NOT REQUIRED. There's a little ceramic looking "bar" antenna inside the hotpot that works well for closer range. There was also a Micro SD card inserted in the hotspot - what's on it, I don't know - I didn't remove it and don't plan to.

    There is NOT a Micro USB power cord or power adapter included. That's fine - I knew this from the beginning, and I had several of these cords laying around. If you don't have one, they're inexpensive from Wal-Mart or even your local dollar store. My local Dollar General has them for about $5, and the wall plug USB power adapter is another $5 or so.

    After unboxing the hotspot and examining it, one thing is apparent. It screams quality. The clear plexiglass enclosure is very nice and it all feels solidly assembled. It's also small. Easily hidden somewhere.

    I plugged up the Micro USB power cord and it lit up. This is where things became a little tricky for me. I didn't know what to do next. I just paid $120 for a clear plexiglass flashing disco cube on my desk and I have no idea how to use it. This was partly my fault - I should have taken some time to read about JumboSpot and get some basic information beforehand. Luckily, there were a couple local-ish hams who took a couple hours out of their evening to guide me through everything. I did email Mike, and I got the feeling that he didn't know I was a total n00b to this.

    No worries.

    After getting logged in to the hotspot (I didn't know I had to use a web browser to actually access it) I was able to see that DStar wasn't turned on, and that a couple things needed to be tweaked for my specific situation. This wasn't a big deal because I had some help to do so. For someone who is 100% n00b to this, it can be very intimidating if you don't know where to go or what to do, or how to do it. In my case, I needed to toggle "ON" DStar mode, set up the default reflector I wanted the hotspot to link to when powered on, and input some other tidbits. The whole process took five minutes. As Mike promised though, my home WiFi was already configured, the operating frequency was also. I didn't have to fool with any of that stuff.

    Once the setup was complete - I was on the air. I programmed the frequency of the hotspot into my HT, kerchunked it, and boom. I was on REF056C. I've grown a little accustom to Icom's DV mode, so how you program your HT may be different.

    A note, to make things SUPER easy, download an app called "ircddbremote" and set it up with your hotspot. You'll need the hotspot's IP address, and once all configured, you can control the hotspot with your smartphone. I can link/unlink/point to reflectors all with my smartphone. I mean, I can do it with the HT too, but using the app just makes it faster and easier for me. This is totally NOT required to use the hotspot though.

    After using the internal bar antenna, I decided to just go ahead and change out the top lid and add the external antenna that was included. There's a whole process on doing this though, it involved snipping a small coupling capacitor, soldering on the SMA antenna connector and swapping the lid. Again, this is NOT required to use the hotspot - but it DID help with my range in which I can use the HT with it. If you plan to be outside in the yard or if you have a larger property, I'd recommend using the external antenna. If you'll only ever use the hotspot inside your home, in closer proximity, you'll have no need for the external antenna.

    Overall, I'm happy with my purchase. Dealing with Mike was great. The product he offers is great, and the price point is great. Paying a little more for convenience, assembly, and testing was worth it to me. So far the hotspot has performed flawless and it's opened up a new realm of ham radio to me - a rather fun realm, might I add.

    I'd change only one thing, and that's "cleaning up" the set up process. If I hadn't have had some help, I'd still be sitting here gazing upon the flashing disco box - waiting on it to do something. Perhaps I should have researched about "how to use" it beforehand, in any event, I would have felt better if there was at least a "quick-start" slip of paper included.

    In any event, I recommend the JumboSpot, and what Mike offers. You can't beat the price, the product is lovely. I'm having a blast with mine.
     

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    NO2Y likes this.
  2. NO2Y

    NO2Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you very much for your review. I apologise for not being more helpful in email. If you reply back and explain you're totally lost even with my explanation, I'll go into more detail. I've even been known to hunt down YouTube videos for people to learn how to build their own codeplug for their particular radio. It's a service i provide, but it's also become part of my hobby.. There's a satisfaction to getting someone on the air.

    Again, thank you for your kind words
     
    KV4JW likes this.
  3. KN4LCV

    KN4LCV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I read your post on the jumbospots and saw your reply on parts availablility. I do like the the premium as well and would like to buy one. I have a fusion ftm100d mobile and have a FT2DR on order. i am new to fusion and jumbospots like Ky4JW. My email is jvolmer@comcast.net for my info. Thanks John, KN4LCV
     
  4. NO2Y

    NO2Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    About to email you now Sir and I'll start emailing all the others ASAP
     
  5. WB2LBV

    WB2LBV Ham Member QRZ Page

    The SD card is the "hard drive" for the Raspberry Pi that runs these things. The operating system and hotspot software are on it.
    Remove the card and you've got a small brick with blinky lights. ;)
    I just put a similar unit together, I can definitely see the added value of a prebuilt one for those who want the function of the device but not the science project.
     
    K7ART likes this.

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