A ham radio hotspot offers you a means to connect to a particular digital voice system using a digital handheld transceiver. You can connect to these systems from anywhere you are located even in the absence of a repeater.
Hotspots can connect to YSF rooms, P25, DMR, D-STAR, NXDN reflectors, and so forth. It is no wonder ham radio hotspots are sometimes referred to as micro repeaters.
However, ham radio hotspots are available in a broad range of options. To make things simpler, we spent several hours researching the best ham radio hotspot.
Outlined below are our top 5 options. There is also a buying guide so you know what to look out for when shopping for one.
Top 5 Ham Radio Hotspots
|#||Ham Radio Hotspot||Specialty|
|1||All-New Duplex MMDVM||Best Overall|
|2||Bewinner MMDVM Hotspot||Best Range|
|3||HKCNMA Hotspot||Ease of Use|
|4||AURSINC MMDVN Hotspot||Cross Mode Capability|
|5||Bewinner Assembled MMDVM Hotspot||Best Price|
The Best Ham Radio Hotspot: All-New Duplex MMDVM Hotspot
If you are seeking a duplex hotspot that comes fully assembled, this All-New MMDVM hotspot may be the perfect choice for you. A duplex ham radio hotspot supports dual time slots. Thus, you can broadcast even while your radio is receiving.
This feature is beneficial because it allows you to disconnect manually from a chatty talk group. This is possible even when the users within the talk group do not leave breaks between their broadcasts.
This device is Pi-star loaded. Thankfully, the firmware is preconfigured to match the hotspot’s modem and display.
If you use Bandmeister and DMR networks, you have to input your DMR radio ID, callsign, frequency, plus bandmeister security password. The hotspot offers you an initial wifi network with which you can log into the system and set the above parameters.
It may take a bit of time before you master how to configure the Pi-star software. However, you will find loads of info on the web (including youtube videos) that will help you do that.
Besides, the user manual included within the package contains concise instructions for setting up the pi-star software.
You can connect this hotspot to the internet via wifi or Ethernet. If you prefer the wifi option, note that this device requires the 2.4 gigahertz frequency.
The benefit of this wifi frequency is that it offers a broader coverage area. It also works great at penetrating solid objects delivering 50-70 Mbps usable speed.
The disadvantage is that it is highly vulnerable to disturbance and interference and its data range is somewhat low.
If you do not have a 2.4 GHz wifi connection, then you should get a matching ethernet adapter such as a USB OTG Ethernet adapter. With this adapter, everything should be plug n play.
This All-New Duplex MMDVM Hotspot supports DMR, P25, and D-STAR. It supports both VHF and UHF in simplex mode. In Duplex mode, it works with UHF channels.
The hotspot features an OLED display screen. This screen is sufficiently bright to read the text without stressing your eyes. You can power it by using a mobile charger.
It can also be powered from a computer via a USB cable. The All-New Duplex MMDVM Hotspot is highly portable. You can use it in your automobile if you tether the device to your smartphone.
- Software: Pi-Star
- Weight: 0.29 pounds
- Support: Duplex mode, simplex mode
- Support: P25, DMR, D-STAR
- Supports both VHF and UHF
- Wifi SSID: Requires the 2.4 gigahertz wifi connection
- Power supply: USB cable linked to your computer or a mobile charger
- Two-time slots – broadcast in one frequency and receive in another
- Excellent build quality
- Great tech support
- Reliable duplex hotspot
- Easy to configure and use
- Reasonably priced
- Reception antennas are not so reliable
- A few users report that the unit was shipped with old software
User Review and Feedback on All-New Duplex MMDVM Hotspot
Fans of the All-New Duplex MMDVM Hotspot have had many positive things to say about the product. Several customers are happy that the product arrives with several things already configured.
Many users report that the hotspot took only 5 minutes to set up and it worked flawlessly at the initial trial. Users who had a hard time setting up the device say they found tons of beneficial information on the web.
Most users are pleased that the hotspot can be connected to the internet via ethernet cable and wifi. Several users who did not want to fiddle with 2.4 Gigahertz wifi report that using an ethernet adapter was just fine.
Most users describe the duplex functionality as excellent. These customers note that the device works perfectly in both simplex and duplex modes provided it is well configured.
Several previous purchasers say the tech support is fantastic. Many of these customers report that the tech support responds to customer queries very quickly, typically within 6 hours.
Several users have praised the hotspot’s build quality noting that the metal enclosure adds to its durability. Most users agree that the product is offered at a reasonable price.
While most previous buyers have had positive things to say about the product, a few users have had some problems with their purchases.
The major user complaint has been about the antennas. Some customers report that the sensitivity of the RX antennas is not so reliable and that they had to change them.
These customers say the hotspot failed to receive signals from the radio when the user is approximately 6 meters away from the hotspot. These users report that they were able to resolve this problem by getting a good mobile antenna.
What Makes All-New Duplex MMDVM The Best Ham Radio Hotspot?
The All-New Duplex MMDVM Hotspot supports both simplex and duplex modes. When in duplex mode, the product can receive and send on both time slot 2 and time slot 1 concurrently.
The device connects to the internet via ethernet cable or wifi. It comes with an OLED display screen that helps with checking your settings.
The product is also broadly compatible as it supports P25, DMR, and D-STAR. These features and more makes this product the best ham radio hotspot on the market.
4 More Top Rated Ham Radio Hotspots
1. Bewinner MMDVM Hotspot
This digital hotspot from Bewinners comes completely assembled so you can start using it straight out of the box. The unit is powered by MMDVM open-source firmware plus Pi-Star.
It works with digital amateur modes such as P25, system fusion, DMR, and DSTAR. The device’s aluminum casing gives it some resistance against bumps and shocks.
To power the device, you will require a mini USB cable that is connected to your computer or laptop. You can connect it to the internet employing wifi.
The unit delivers powerful and stable performance – thanks to its quad-core A71.2 gigahertz processor plus 32-bit ARM processor.
The Bewinner MMDVM Hotspot RAM is 512 megabyte DDR3. It also comes with an 8-gigabyte TF card so you have more than enough storage room. Most previous buyers rate the OLED display screen very high.
This screen displays the system status, for instance, call sign, talk group, and an indicating mode. The hotspot has an SMA detachable antenna that ensures clear signal reception. It works with 420-450 MHz UHF.
This MMDVM Hotspot comes with pre-loaded firmware so there is no need for any special programming. It is also very simple to upgrade the firmware via software.
The manufacturers advise that you do not upgrade the firmware manually. Weighing a paltry 0.18 pounds and with a dimension of 2.9 x 1.3 x 0.9 inches, this device is truly a compact and portable MMDVM hotspot.
- Excellent range
- Portable design
- Powerful performance
- A bit pricey
- A few users say it takes a long time to program the unit
2. HKCNMA MMDVM Hotspot
Ease of Use
If there are no digital repeaters in your locality, this HKCNMA hotspot may serve your needs perfectly. The product arrives fully assembled meaning you can begin using it immediately.
It runs on the Pi-Star software, which makes it even simpler to use. You can also tweak it to your particular requirements and uses.
Note that the preloaded Pi-Star software needs to be updated. Nevertheless, updating the software will not be a challenge as it requires only a few clicks from the web browser interfaced dashboard.
The product also comes pre-configured to work with a wifi network. You will need to set up a temporary wifi network using your home router or access point. Once the device is connected, you can then access it via your web browser with Pi-star.
A user manual is not included in this package. However, you will have no difficulties using this completely-assembled unit particularly if you have set up similar units.
The HKCNMA MMDVM Hotspot is well constructed and the metal case is nicely labeled. With a dimension of 2.8″ x 1.3″ x 0.9″, the device is compact enough to be transported with ease. You can use it in your vehicle with your smartphone’s internet connection.
- Compact construction
- Easy to use
- Arrives fully assembled
- Fantastic quality
- Comes pre-configured for wifi connection
- Comparatively pricy
- A few users say the product is somewhat complicated to use
3. AURSINC MMDVN Hotspot
Best for Cross Mode Capability
Like other MMDVN hotspots, this device is designed to connect your digital radio to a far-flung repeater/reflector via the internet. Being a multi-mode hotspot, this device supports DMR, P25, D-Star, C4FM, YSF, and NXDN. Several users report that the hotspot also transcodes on certain modes.
Setting up the MMDVM hotspot is a fairly easy process. The unit connects to the internet via ethernet or wifi and the hotspot is powered by the Pi-Star operating system.
Once you switch on the MMDVM, wait for a few minutes and the device will generate a temporary wifi network. You can then use this initial wifi to connect the unit to your smartphone or PC. After that, you can configure it to use your smartphone, or PC’s wifi.
If you have no experience with Pi-Star software, you should thoroughly read the setup guide included within the package. You may also want to spend some time researching the internet for setup assistance.
This hotspot comes with 1 micro USB cable for charging the unit. You can connect the USB cable to your power bank, laptop, or computer when you need to charge the device.
If you plan to use wifi to connect this unit to the internet, you should set the wifi network to WPA security. This is important as this unit does not support WEP security.
Also, you should connect with 2.4 gigahertz SSID as 5.8 gigahertz SSID is not supported on this unit. If you intend to use ethernet, note that the device has two micro USB ports.
You need to plug the ethernet cable into the appropriate port for it to function properly. With the device facing you, the outermost micro USB port is for power. The one left to the power is for the ethernet cable.
Since this unit works with both VHF and UHF, it will pair well with your mobile ham radios. Overall, the AURSINC MMDVN Hotspot is an extremely great value.
- Easy setup
- Works with both UHF and VHF
- Offered at a reasonable price
- Compact design
- Some users have complained that the usage instructions are not comprehensive
- A few users report that the display screen does not work properly
Jumbo-Spot-RTQ is another independent multi-mode hotspot from Bewinner. The unit works with DMR, system convergence, P25, and Dstar.
The unit arrives completely assembled. The setup is housed within a toughened aluminum case. The aluminum casing helps shield the hotspot from damage.
To begin using the device, all you have to do is power it with a mini USB cable either from a power bank, phone charger, or computer.
The unit uses wifi-based internet access. Jumbo-Spot-RTQ arrives with pi-star preinstalled and geared up to run on an 8 gigabyte micro SD card. Most previous buyers report that upgrading the pi-star image is a fairly simple process.
Another notable feature of this Bewinner hotspot is that both VHF and UHF frequencies are supported. Thus, with this hotspot, you can connect your digital ham radio to virtually any global network without being within a repeater’s range.
You can expect high performance from this ham radio hotspot. It features a quad-core A71.2 gigahertz processor that gives stable and robust functionality.
Most users are happy with the technical support from the manufacturers. These users note that tech support is highly responsive and offers precise solutions.
- Rugged casing
- Many programmable options using pi-star
- Easy to configure
- Good range
- User’s manual not included in the package
How to Select the Best Ham Radio Hotspot?
The appropriate ham radio hotspot for you depends on several factors. These include the type and model of radio you have and what you intend to use the hotspot for.
Nevertheless, here are the general factors you should look out for when shopping for a ham radio hotspot.
1. Internet Access
No matter the type of hotspot you chose, it must have internet access before it can link to DV systems. Most ham radio hotspots connect to the internet via wifi or ethernet.
So, when shopping for a hotspot, consider whether you need one that connects to the internet via ethernet or wifi.
The major benefit of wifi hotspots is that they are moveable. You can use a wifi hotspot anywhere if you tether the unit to your mobile device or smartphone.
Ethernet-only hotspots must be placed at a precise location but they are cheaper compared to wifi hotspots.
The All-New Duplex MMDVM and the AURSINC MMDVN Hotspots are the winners concerning how the hotspot connects to the internet. These units can be connected to the internet via wifi as well as through ethernet.
2. Pre-assembled Vs Unassembled Hotspot Modules
Some hotspots come fully assembled while others come as unassembled hotspot modules. If you are new to ham radio, you may want to opt for a fully assembled unit.
This way, you can begin using the unit without bothering about putting it together. However, an unassembled unit allows you some creative freedom. You can put the unit together to suit your particular preferences and needs.
The products recommended here come completely assembled and ready to use.
3. Ease of Use
When buying a ham radio hotspot, choose one that offers ease of use and can easily be configured to work with your radio. Some units are easy to configure so you do not have to spend several hours researching how to use them.
The products recommended here are all easy to use however, the HKCNMA Hotspot is the winner concerning ease of use. The unit comes with the latest version of Pi-Star.
This spares you the trouble of having to do a firmware upgrade. The AURSINC MMDVN Hotspot takes the runner-up spot for similar reasons. The device is powered by the latest Pi-Star V4.1.5.
4. Cross Mode Capability
The hotspot’s cross-mode capability is another important factor you need to consider when buying a ham radio hotspot.
There are a wide variety of digital voice modes including D-Star, DMR, and System Fusion. The good news is that some hotspots can transcode between modes. This makes them cross-compatible.
The AURSINC MMDVN Hotspot is the winner concerning transcoding capability. The manufacturers say the unit can cross mode DMR and D-Star.
5. Value for money
When in the market for a hotspot, select one that offers great value for money and suits your requirements. Remember that a higher price does not mean a better product. The hotspots recommended here all provide great value for the dollar.
Comparison of Top 5 Ham Radio Hotspots
|Ham Radio Hotspot||Weight||Software||Internet Connectivity||Dimensions||Power Supply|
|All-New Duplex MMDVM||0.29 pound||Pi-Star||Ethernet,Wifi||4.65” x 3.74” x 1.46”||Mobile charger, USB cable via a computer|
|Bewinner MMDVM Hotspot||0.18 pounds||Pi-Star||Wifi||2.9 x 1.3 x 0.9 inches||Mini USB cable via a computer|
|HKCNMA Hotspot||0.15 pound||Pi-Star||Wifi||2.83” x 1.38” x 0.98”||Micro USB cable connected to a battery pack or computer|
|AURSINC MMDVN Hotspot||0.29 pound||Pi-Star||Wifi, Ethernet||4” x 4” x 2”||Mobile charger, USB cable via a computer|
|Bewinner Assembled MMDVM Hotspot||0.15 pound||Pi-Star||Wifi||0.39 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches||USB cable via computer|
Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down the ideal ham radio hotspot for your needs. Always remember that the best ham radio hotspot for you depends on several factors including the type of radio you have.