In an effort to get more people on digital ham radio easily, I posted a video about how to put together your own multi-mode digital voice hotspot device very inexpensively, and with little effort. I have put together several of these and the work pretty well. Kind of like an oil change, almost anyone can do it.
I admit, I used to have a purist mindset about ham radio. All these Internet-dependent modes such as Echolink, IRLP, and even analog repeater inter-linking over the Internet had me thinking “but what happens when the grid goes down?” I’ve experienced some pretty bad fails as a systems & software engineer, and also as a site reliability person constantly on-call, so I’ve come to expect that even on the best of days, parts of the Internet like to fail spontaneously and without provocation.
So it is with this mindset that I originally approached personal digi-mode hotspots when people started raving about them. However after using them, my attitude has completely changed. Yes, I always keep in the back of my mind that they are fragile systems that have any number of failure points (especially on DMR!), but when everything falls into place they sure are super convenient, even a joy to use.
So what I learned was: Don’t dismiss a ham mode just because it seems dumb or problematic to you. I learned a great deal while building and configuring these hotspots, and stay in more contact with other hams on this mode than any other (except for maybe Slack, but that is not really a ham mode).
If you have a HT that is digital mode capable, be it Yaesu Fusion, DStar, or DMR, expand its capabilities and experience the clear audio of these digital modes by talking worldwide with hams via hotspot.