We have been shipping our hotspots with Pi-Star 3.xx. Pi-Star 4 slowly worked its way through the beta test process and was recently released as a final stable build on the Pi-Star website. Version 3 has been very stable and other than a few small issues, we have seen no reason to start shipping our hotspots with version 4.
Now that version 4 is an official release, we have been evaluating the new version to determine if there is 1) some compelling reason to upgrade, and 2) if there are any problems or glaring issues that could cause issues for our customers.
The answer to both of these is NO. For users that are primarily interested in DMR, you won’t notice any difference. Version 3 is pretty solid, and version 4 will not “enhance your experience”.
That said, there are a few reasons why you might want to upgrade. Part of that upgrade includes an upgrade to the Raspbian (Raspberry Pi OS) operating system used by the Raspberry Pi. That alone might be worth the upgrade. We have read good reports about improved WiFi performance, something we all depend on while using our hotspots.
We have done a lot of testing on upgrade procedures so that we can advise our customers. There is a relatively quick and easy way to do this. We’re not sure that this will work perfectly for everyone, but for our basic DMR configurations, this has worked great.
The first thing to remember is DON’T use your original micro SD card. Leave that alone because you can always use that as a fallback if something goes wrong setting up Pi-Star v4. Purchase a new micro-SD card. We only use Sandisk Class 10 SD’s. They always work, and are always dependable and fast. Just get a 16 GB SD card. You will never even come close to using that much space and anything bigger is a waste of money.
Before you do anything else, you will need to make a backup of your current hotspot configuration. Log into your hotspot using http://pi-star.local or however you normally log into it. Then click on Configuration on the top menu, then on Backup/Restore. You will see this screen:
Click on the “Download Configuration” image on the left. It will take a few seconds, and the download should begin automatically. It usually puts this file in your default Downloads folder.
For purposes of this discussion we are going to assume you know how to image your SD card with Pi-Star. There are all kinds of tutorials out there if you don’t. You will need to download the image and flash it on your new SD card. This site has very good instructions on how to do this.
Depending on your operating system you will need to look on your desktop or in your file explorer for a volume or disk letter called BOOT. On Windows it will look like a drive letter, on Mac it will appear as a volume on your desktop.
Locate your hotspot backup. The file or folder name will begin “Pi-Star_Config”. On Windows it will be a ZIP file. On Mac computers, it may either be a ZIP file or it may be a folder. If it is a folder, right click on the folder and choose “Compress ………. ” from the menu. This will create a ZIP file of the same name. Copy this file to your BOOT drive/volume.
Make sure you properly EJECT the drive/volume and install this new SD card into your hotspot. You can then apply power. It will take a few minutes to complete, but all your previous settings including WiFi credeitials will be restored exactly the same as it was with Pi-Star 3.
It is really pretty easy and and doing it this way allows you to update to new Pi-Star versions without having to go through the setup process.