Alfonso Faustino: TGIF Spot: Dual Band: 3.5-inch Nextion (Touch-screen) Hot-spot

If you’re looking for a digital-mode hot-spot (e.g., P25, DMR, Fusion, D-STAR, and NXDN), check out Robert Bretzman’s (K4WZV) TGIF Spot.

What do I like about Robert Bretzman’s TGIF Spot?

  • 3.5-inch Nextion Color Touch-screen,
  • FPP: Front Panel Programming,
  • Wi-Fi Scan,
  • Adjustable BER Settings,
  • Looks cool via the C4 Labs Clear Casing,
  • Pre-programmed and ready to play right out of the box,
  • Reliable TX and RX,
  • Dual Band: UHF and VHF,
  • 360-degree Dashboard,
  • 1:1 Talk-group relationship between transceiver and hot-spot, and,
  • Most importantly, EXCELLENT customer service pre and post sale.

I am so sick and tired of trying to access the openSPOT3’s web-server page to make adjustments to my openSPOT3’s hot-spot settings. In my experiences, I seem to run into a lot of Unable to access the server error messages on the openSPOT3, and I’m stuck with the settings until I can get into the web-server page. It became such a pain-in-the-ass, I ended up searching for an alternative to my openSPOT3. (The picture, supra, is my openSPOT3’s server IP: 10.0.0.114 — I have been unable to access my openSPOT3’s web server page to update my new Wi-Fi settings — it’s been going on for one hour straight — despicable!)

After about a month of researching, I came across Robert Bretzman’s TGIF Spot. I saw a YouTube video about it; and, I was sold. I immediately ordered one.

The TGIF Spots uses a 3.5-inch Nextion Color Touch-screen; and, Nextion screen was one of the key reasons for my purchasing decision. No more having to access the web-site to change the settings on my hot-spot. All the settings are accessible via the 3.5-inch Nextion Color Touch-screen, which displays all the settings you need or want to access to tune the TGIF Spot to your liking.

If you wanna access P25, just click on the Links button, and you are driven to the Links Page that has all the digital mediums you wanna access, via a touch of a button.

How about Wi-Fi?

Well, the TGIF Spot has a really nice feature — it will scan your area for available Wi-Fi networks; and, you can store it in the TGIF Spot’s database for future reference and access. If your Wi-Fi network is hidden, no problem; you can easily type in your SSID and password, and access it via the TGIF Spot. This feature is accessible via the TGIF Spot’s Links Page.

How’s the BER?

With the TGIF Spot, you can manually adjust your offset to get the best BER percentage. All you do is access the Links Page via the Links button, and click on the Receive Offset. From that page, you can adjust your offset to get the best BER percentage — anything below 1% is good.

You can also go to the pi-star web-page to make the offset adjustments, along with other settings you might wanna change.

Does the TGIF Spot come assembled in a case or do I have to purchase a case and put it together myself?

The TGIF Spot uses a C4 Labs clear-case, and Robert Bretzman assembles it together for you. It really looks great: it is sturdy and designed to keep the Raspberry Pi nice and cool.

Do I have to program it?

No. If you give Robert Bretzman your information, he will do all the programming for you; so, once you get it, you just power it up, wait for the Wi-Fi signal to connect to the TGIF Spot, select your digital medium, and you’re ready to RX and TX with an operator on the other side.

Of course, you can also program it on your own via the FPP on the TGIF Spot; or, you can go to the Raspberry Pi website and do the programming on the website.

How’s the reliability and voice quality?

Excellent — the TGIF Spot sounds great on the TX and RX. I got positive 100% audio reports from all the P25 operators with whom I spoke while using the TGIF Spot. My BER, through the ability of manually setting the offset, is .1% to .7%. I average ~.2% with each TX.

Does data come up on the TGIF Spot?

Yup — you bet. The TGIF Spot provides you with all types of data to give you a birds-eye view of the health of your TGIF Spot, operator information, Wi-Fi information, talk-group/reflector information, and so much more.

Is the TGIF dual-band?

You betcha! You can change the frequencies via the FPP; or, you can make the frequency changes in the pi-star web interface, as noted earlier in this BLOG; and, you get your choice of VHF or UHF frequencies.

How is the pre and post sale support?

EXCELLENT! Robert Bretzman is so patient and knowledgeable. Once you get the TGIF Spot, you can call him, and he will resolve any TGIF Spot issues you might have — he helped my with my BER settings all on one call.

With openSPOT, I didn’t get a reply to my email; the only time openSPOT replied back to me was via Twitter — poor customer service.

Robert Bretzman is on it! He wants you to have a trouble-free experience with his TGIF Spot, and he backs it up by being available, via his mobile phone, to help resolve any issues that you might have with the TGIF Spot.

EXCELLENT customer support!!!

What is my hot-spot network?

I use my TGIF Spot exclusively for P25; because, I’m on P25 a lot these days. It is tuned for my Motorola APX 8000HXE.

My openSPOT Blue, which is an awesome device, is set to DMR; and, it is tuned to my Motorola XPR 7550e.

I use my openSPOT3 strictly for mobile use.

Depending on my mood, while in the air traveling to SoCal for my auditions, I will set the openSPOT3 to P25, DMR, D-STAR, or Fusion.

I gave my openSPOT2 to a HAM buddy of mine.

Does TGIF have a One:One Talk-group Relationship Between Hot-spot and Transceiver?

Yes! What you see on your screen when you turn your transceiver’s channel knob to a specific talk-group, is what you get when you talk and receive on the talk-group that shows up on your transceiver’s screen (display).

TGIF Spot does not require you to route your RX to a static talk-group.

My TGIF Spot is on 24/7, and it is set on P25. I can easily change talk-groups with a twist of my APX 8000HXE’s channel knob. I don’t need to set the TGIF Spot to a static receive talk-group (e.g., Talk-group 9) like the openSPOT3.

With the openSPOT3, I have to access the openSPOT3’s web user-interface and direct the P25 talk-group to a static Talk-group 9 or whatever talk-group I want the receiving traffic to access in order for me to hear the RX on my transceiver; then, I have to program that receiving talk-group (e.g., Talk-group 9) into my transceiver’s code-plug.

This means, each time I turn the channel knob on my transceiver, I will not hear any RX unless I have the Talk-group 9 being scanned in my Zone or I set the channel knob to Talk-group 9 AFTER I select the talk-group I want to activate.

When I look at my screen, I will be on Talk-group 9 even though I am transmitting on Talk-group 858.

So, the way I work around this is I create my Zone, and I create all my P25 talk-groups in the Zone’s Channel, and I include Talk-group 9. Then, I create a Scan List for that Zone. I write the CPS into my Motorola APX 8000HXE.

So, now, I select the P25 talk-group I want to use via my Motorola APX 8000HXE’s channel knob…say, Talk-group San Diego 858. I push the pickle for the openSPOT3 to set itself on Talk-group San Diego 858. I turn the scan on, so my transceiver will scan Talk-group 9 to hear the incoming traffic from Talk-group San Diego 858.

This allows me to know that I’m on Talk-group San Diego 858; but, when the RX comes in, the scan will pick up the incoming traffic on Talk-group 9, which will show up on my Motorola APX 8000HXE’s screen. After the RX is complete, my screen will go back to display Talk-group San Diego 858. DUMB!

Check out the video clip, below, to get a practical understanding of my assertion.

REALLY DUMB of openSPOT3 to operate in this fashion for P25! DUMB!!!

If I turn off the scan, as shown in the video clip, supra, I will not hear the RX from Talk-group San Diego 858; because, the Talk-group San Diego 858’s RX is going through Talk-group 9, which I set in the openSPOT3’s settings field and set in my code-plug. This is so dumb of the openSPOT3 to make the RX talk-group static — it should be dynamic — when I change the talk-group, via my Motorola APX 8000HXE’s channel knob, the RX talk-group in the openSPOT3 web-settings should also change to the talk-group I selected for TX and RX, in this example, Talk-group San Diego 858. I SHOULD NOT have to use the static Talk-group 9 nor any other static talk-group in the openSPOT3’s web-settings page.

This is counter-intuitive and lacks common-sense in the programming of the CPS, the setting of the openSPOT3, and the operator’s use out in the field.

TGIF Spot did it RIGHT and with COMMON SENSE!

The TGIF Spot behaves in a common-sense manner. As an operator, my common-sense behaviour is to program all my P25 talk-groups into my channels page of my Motorola APX 8000HXE’s CPS.

Once I write the CPS into my Motorola APX 8000HXE, my common-sense behaviour is to twist the channel knob to change to the P25 talk-group I want to use. In this example, Talk-group 858. It should be no different than changing the channels on your television set or on your car stereo. If you change your TV’s channel to channel 4 you get channel 4 — it is a 1:1 relationship. Channel 4 on your TV’s remote control gives you channel 4 on your TV’s monitor.

The TGIF Spot’s RX and TX are aligned, and the relationship is 1:1. In other words, I select Talk-group San Diego 858, and I RX and TX on on Talk-group San Diego 858. I don’t have to scan a different talk-group to get the RX for Talk-group San Diego 858. I stay on Talk-group San Diego 858, and I RX and TX on talk-group San Diego 858.

This is important to me; because, I wanna see the talk-group I’m using in my screen. When I’m out in the field, and someone asks me, what talk-group are you on?

I can easily look at my screen and tell them, I’m on 858.

The TGIF Spot provides this data to me; and the TGIF Spot behaves in this common-sense manner unlike the openSPOT3.

I’m so happy with Robert Bretzaman’s TGIF Spot. If you’re in the market for a digital hot-spot, check out the TGIF Spot.

Check 6!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)