Openspot DMR Hotspot
I've been trying to figure out for a few days how to write a blog page on the SharkRF Openspot . There really isn't a lot to say about it. First things first. As you enter the wonderful world of DMR radio there are essentially two ways to get on the network. One is through a physical repeater that you transmit to which repeats your transmission across the airwaves to the internet gateway or you can enter via a HotSpot which puts you right on the internet gateway.
As you talk to Ham's on the DMR network (or D-Star, and Fusion) you'll find that they love to talk about what gear they have. I would dare say a great percentage of people on DMR have a SharkRF Openspot. it's really amazing how many folks have them.
One downside is it will cost you about $230 or more to get one and with the influx of cheaper hotspots out there like the $100 Zumspot and then even cheaper Chinese clones of the MMDMV_HS Pi Hat board for about $50 I bet the Openspot may become a little less prevalent.
However, if you have one of the other boards I just mentioned (or others) you have to dabble with the Operating System including installing it and Dear God it is LINUX, something not everyone is familiar or comfortable with. I've been using Linux / Unix since way before it was cool to do so, so slapping Linux on a Raspberry Pi is second nature to me.
Enter the Openspot. Cool little blue box, and the operating system is already installed and ready to be configured from the web interface.
To use the Openspot you plug it into your router (or network switch), find the IP address, and change like 3 or 4 entries in the configuration such as adding your Call Sign, your DMR ID number, and selecting whether or not you want to do DMR, or D-Star, or Fusion. I think most folks will start with DMR.
Here's the config page (advanced button not clicked).
- Homebrew Connector
- Simplex transmit and receive frequency
- DMR ID
not shown will be the BrandMeister server (usually US 3101 or 3102) and select Group Call for most of the boxes you can select.
That's literally it. At this point you're talking to people and your status page can prove it. Notice status says "In Call" as well. Cool.
Here's one thing I noticed about OpenSpot that I didn't like and your mileage could vary on this. I have a somewhat complex home network. I almost guarantee your network isn't as complex as mine.
Anyway you are supposed to be able to type http://openspot.local/ into a web browser and it should find the config page. Mine didn't. You can try http://openspot/ as well. Mine didn't work. I had to find and type in the IP. Not a big deal. Get an app called Find on your iPhone or Android and find the entry that shows up on your network called Openspot.
Here's my problem. The friggin IP address was changing constantly and I have no idea why. I spent half my time looking for it. I finally just set a static IP address which fixed that little red wagon. Highly recommended.
If you want to override the DNS servers, click the box and that sends you to 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 which are Google DNS servers. They are generally (but not always) faster than your ISP's DNS servers. I do not use that because I have a hardware switch on a VLAN into a hardware firewall. My DNS on the switch is the VLAN gateway IP address however on the hardware firewall it is the Google DNS servers so I'm using them even though my box is not checked.
Also highly recommended is the Beta Firmware. I installed it and it has been without issue so far.
There are a lot on configuration options and I could go on, but I won't. Buy Openspot, open package, plug into wall and ethernet, change a small handful of entries in the configuration and talk to Ham's.
That's about the gist of it. No wonder everyone has one. Nobody wants to do the Linux on Raspberry Pi thing (except for me).