I have waffled back and forth on my hotspot strategy. I initially wanted to monitor multiple digital voice reflectors (or talk groups, or whatever). So I thought having a radio for each mode and multiple home-built Pi-Star hotspots was the way to go.
Then I discovered the idea of cross-mode operation. Pi-Star was never very good at that. But with the openSPOT3, cross-mode operation became quite viable. So I bought one. I eventually accumulated four of these. This allowed me to monitor various modes all at once… just by putting my radio on scan… and all with one radio.
But the Pi-Star still had attraction. There is some really fun software written by Tom Early (N7TAE) that one can use as an alternative to Pi-Star. Of course this software will not run on the openSPOT.
When the openSPOT4 came out… I sold all my openSPOT3 devices. My intent was to go back to different radios for different modes. And I did this for awhile.
For my Raspberry Pi hotspots… I went with the Pi 400. Because all the other Raspberry Pi were impossible to get. The Pi 400 is essentially a Raspberry Pi 4 built into a keyboard. I simply zip-tied six of these units together into pairs because I used them headless with no need to access the keyboards. Then… I had six ZUMspot-USB devices. One of these plugged into each of the six Pi 400 units and I had six Raspberry Pi hotspots ready to rock. This was a happy solution for a while.
Then… SharkRF went and had a sale. Their prices were very reasonable. That’s when I decided two things.
It was time to divest myself of my Yaesu equipment.
It was time to go back to the openSPOT.
So I sold all four of my Yaesu radios and bought six of the openSPOT4 Pro devices.
So once again I’m able to do all the digital voice modes with one radio. And I can park on six different things at once. Add in two Allstar nodes and that makes eight.
Update 3/27/2023: In addition to my six openSPOT4 Pro… I am now running my six Raspberry Pi hotspots as well. I use the six openSPOT4 Pro to cross mode to DMR and YSF from D-Star. And I use the six Raspberry Pi hotspots to run native D-Star. If you count my two Allstar nodes… this makes 14 different local nodes I am typically scanning at any given time. Still a Yaesu-free shack.
I’ve had an ICOM IC-7300 for a few months. I knew it was only a matter of time before I would also end up with its VHF/UHF twin the ICOM IC-9700. These radios make a nice looking pair. Add a couple of matching speakers and walla.
I’ve done something new with these radios. I bought a Heil iCM mic for each of them. In theory this should result in very good transmit audio.
With this new addition to my shack, maybe now I can get a break from GAS (gear aquisition syndrome) for a little while.
I will admit that the IC-9700 is overkill for me. I don’t do satellite work. But I do have a horizontally-polarized dual-band antenna for it. This would of course be better if there was actually some SSB activity on VHF/UHF in my area. But there generally isn’t.
We have been thinking about being more prepared for awhile now. Simple things like having some extra toilet paper and non-perishable food on hand.
But we recently took a big step. We contracted with an electrician to wire the power panel of our house for use with a generator. This allows the generator to basically power everything in the house with no need to run extension cords and such.
There were two key components to the project. First… we had to add a circuit for the generator “inlet”. This included a beefy new circuit breaker and wiring that went from the power panel to the back patio. The second component was an interlock kit. This ensures that you can never feed power from the generator back into the power grid. The interlock kit is simply a sliding metal plate. It’s notched in such a way that it physically prevents the main power breaker from being on at the same time the breaker for the generator is on. Nice and simple.
A fair portion of the cost for this project was running the circuit for the generator all the way to the back patio. On the back patio there is an “inlet” for the generator to plug into.
We did spring for a “tri-fuel” type generator. This generator can run off regular gasoline, propane, or natural gas. There happens to be a natural gas outlet right out on the back patio next to where we placed the generator inlet. That should work nicely in most cases. In the case where the natural gas supply is disrupted, we can always fall back to using propane.
For the curious… the electrician work, wiring, etc… cost about three times as much as the new generator. But this “manual” solution is still only a fraction of the cost of those next-level systems that automatically switch over whenever the power goes out.