My Recent Adventures in Fixing my DMR Hotspot

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Two years ago I bought a cheap DMR hotspot on Amazon for about $100. I went to use it for the first time in a while but I discovered it was broken.

I took the SD card out of it and put it into my laptop and discovered it was corrupted, as it was giving tons of I/O errors.

So, I decided to spend a weekend tinkering with it.

For the record, the model I bought is,

After taking it apart I discovered it is running a Raspberry Pi Zero W v1.1, which is a bit dated, and Pi-Star and even W0CHP-PiStar-Dash (WPSD) don’t really support it. Either way, I decided to take my chance on WPSD and install it on my hotspot.

I decided to try my hand at WPSD.

The first time I burned WPSD to an SD card I had trouble as it wasn’t connecting to my Wi-Fi nor setting up a hotspot of its own to be configured via. I scoured for logs on the SD card, but it appears it wasn’t booting into the OS. I tried numerous times burning WPSD to the SD card and different combinations of Wi-Fi configurations, but nothing seemed to work.

Eventually, I decided to order a smaller SD card (64 GB) and this time, I have some success!

It appears, that the 128 GB card I first tried was too big or error-ing out before the OS could load.

With the 64 GB card, I was able to connect to the Pi-Star Setup access point that the hotspot created and then configure my Wi-Fi details. The Wi-Fi I used to use to connect my hotspot to was my phone’s hotspot, which I did again, so I can have a somewhat portable operation with this.

It took some tinkering with the format of the Wi-Fi configuration, but ultimately, I figured out that even though the Wi-Fi generation page for WPSD makes a hex value for the passphrase, that my set up needed a non-hex value for the passphrase of the Wi-Fi, and that seemed to have worked.

After getting it on the Wi-Fi the first time, I had trouble with the Configuration page not saving any information I put into it. Out of the desperation, I ran a script provided by the WPSD Discord that downgrades the dashboard to Pi-Star sans WPSD. However, that configuration page failed too. A bit of a WARNING, once you downgrade to the Pi-Star dashboard from WPSD, you can’t go back to WPSD without doing a full wipe of your SD card.

Next, I decided to try to wipe the SD card one more time and see if there might have been an issue with the set up, as I did have to manually install PHP7.4-fpm the first time around, as it didn’t finish installing. The trick was being patient, and letting the OS do its setup/install before jumping in to test the dashboard.

With this next attempt, I was able to get in to the hotspot, but without PHP failing to install this time. I did pistar-update and let it run.

I should mention, I’ve been doing this via termux on my phone since, the DMR hotspot is connected to my Wi-Fi hotspot on my phone.

With the updates complete, I gave the Configuration page a try again and it appeared to be working this time around!

I set up my call sign, DMR ID, and enabled Brandmeister (since that’s what my AnyTone 878 UVII Plus is configured for at the moment), set the TX/RX frequencies. I did a kerchunk on the radio, and …


I was able to get the connection to list on the dashboard. Nobody came back to me, and I have yet to make a contact, but I can confirm via the Brandmeister website that I did connect to their network!

Next on my agenda is to configure my hotspot for FreeDMR and possibly try to set it up as a D-Star hotspot too.

I hope you enjoyed these trials and errors by me, and it might help you or someone else in the future someday.

If you want to see my play-by-play on Mastodon, you can follow the thread here.

73, K8VSY

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