Finally getting back to setting up a MMDVM-based multi mode Hotspot. MMDVM board plugged to an Arduino DUE running MMDVM firmware plugged into a Pi 3 via USB running MMDVMHost, ircDDBGateway etc. D-Star came up right away. Next – DMR. I will not be able to test Fusion/C4FM until my lent-out FT2D radio comes back.
Trying to get out of the weeds and think about the bigger picture:
The reason why multi-mode is becoming so popular is not just because it is the latest and greatest, but because it widens the audience -- One modem product that covers needs for • Newbies at home interested only in a D-Star Hotspot • Newbies “ DMR Hotspot • Newbies “ C4FM Hotspot • Newbies “ P25 Hotspot • Advanced experimenters with multiple radios of different modes (this was the original target audience) • Homebrew repeater owners providing services for all of the above, that is, various single mode users • Homebrew repeater owners with a single mode, just not using the other modes
Excluding repeater owners, the above list also applies to boards with a radio chip (Multi-mode DVAPS).
So single mode modems for higher power Hotspots, and single mode low power access points, will increasingly become less popular.
All that has to happen is for MMDVM and DVMEGA to become more usable by non-experimenters. I really believe that will happen, maybe in a year or two. Three things need to happen: • Better testing/config tools, along the line of Satoshi’s and Fred’s Read and Echo Test programs. MMDVMCal is great for experts, but not newbies. At the simplest level, people should not have to chase active DMR talk groups in order to tune their transmitter. There should be a program that simulates incoming transmissions and sends out DMR. Once TX works, then an echo test program would also be useful. • Documentation written for non-experimenters, something reasonably smart people who can read and follow directions can do. That was always my target audience, and I had many people who were doing their first DV DIY project end up being successful, even though they had known nothing about DV, Linux and the rest. This documentation should be as brief as possible and simple. • Pi images that are actively maintained, easy to configure and understand, and easy, easy to get: KB5RAB image, Utah image are well known. Adrian VK4TUX has a great image. And you can start with a westerndstar.co.uk image and add the MMDVM software.
This part of the hobby is really moving fast. I love it.
The MMDVM board is reasonably priced, but installing and configuring is still best done by experimenters. But it works. It needs to be connected to an analog radio for simplex or two radios for full duplex. I am running a full duplex Hotspot running about 10 watts, giving me fairly wide coverage in terms of miles.
I am also a big fan of DVMEGA (I have both their GMSK Modem Arduino Shield and their Dual Band radio Arduino Shield, but not the Pi version of the radio board). I currently have their D-Star firmware loaded on the Arduino, but my next project is to load the multi mode firmware and use the Dual band radio board with MMDVMHost software. This will give me basically a multi-mode "DVAP" or low power access point, ideal for using around the house and yard and when travelling.
In practical terms, the Pi version is simpler and most people should probably get that version. My Arduino version uses USB to connect to a PC or Pi, giving me more options, and the Arduino is pretty small, but still, I would recommend getting the radio board that plugs into the Pi.
Update -- At Dayton, I bought a DVMEGA dual band radio board for the Pi, along with a BlueStack board and have used it with my Android phone and the BlueDV app. Great functionality and very small and light for travel. I documented what I did (not a real review) at www.k6jm.com/wp/multi-mode-dvmega-access-point/. This setup currently supports D-Star, DMR and Fusion. Linking is done via BlueDV's GUI -- RF commands for linking control are not in this version of BlueDV. Otherwise, this is an excellent setup for multi-mode travelers.
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