I am super impressed with how easy it was to get my DMR hotspot up and running. Now my handheld communicates globally over the BrandMeister Network.
Ad described previously, this spring I get started in the world of Digital Mobile Radio. I purchased a DMR handheld as well as a MMDVM Jumbo-SPOT-RTQ from China. My TYT MDUV-390 provides up to 5 watts on VHF or UHF. It lets me communicate over the local DMR repeater in Calgary, as well as traditional analog FM.
On the other hand, my DMR hotspot lets my handheld radio connect to digital repeaters and other hotspots all over the world using the Internet as the backbone. My Jumbo-SPOT hotspot is a combination Raspberry Pi and radio hardware card that acts as a gateway between my radio and the Internet. I bought it for $66 delivered, which is pretty cheap.
You will find this hotspot design is common at the lower end, and is called an MMDVM or multi-mode digital voice modem. Generally, these run P-Star firmware, as shown with my DMR hotspot above.
I decided to connect my DMR hotspot to the planet using the BrandMeister Network, which is designed to connect thousands of repeaters and hotspots. As I write this, around 5,000 local repeaters and 16,000 hotspots are online. Right now, I am listening to a ham in Ontario chatting with Junior 9Z4JC in Trinidad on the Worldwide Talk Group 91. Both are using handhelds with hotspots.
From the time the mail lady delivered my hotspot, I had signed up to BrandMeister, installed my Jumbo and re-configured my radio in less than 12 hours.
My DMR Hotspot Easy to Set Up
You will find lots of information online, including videos, on how to set these things up. With a bit of preparation, I found set up and first use very, very easy. Just write a configuration file containing your WIFI information onto the SD card, and the MMDVM boots with the Pi-Star Dashboard in your browser.
Signing up to BrandMeister is simple and free, and you get approved in a few hours. BrandMeister also has a self-care Dashboard where you link to your hotspot. Configuring Pi-Star is mostly about choosing the mode (DMR), entering your ID and selecting a frequency for your handheld to use.
Programming your radio is a bit more work. I just started by setting up some of the more common talk groups, and will learn more as I go along. In short, getting on DMR is cheap and easy. Just get down the learning curve on doing a bit of configuration.