We receive a lot of questions from new DMR users about what kind of hotspot to buy. We offer three basic models, Duplex, Simplex with external antenna, and Simplex with an internal antenna.
First let’s talk about Duplex vs. Simplex. Simplex hotspots use a single frequency, single timeslot, and allow operation on a single talkgroup at a time. So, if you are currently working the World Wide talkgroup (91), you will stay connected to that talkgroup until activity ceases for a period of time, or you disconnect by keying up talkgroup 4000. If you have a favored talkgroup other than 91, you will not hear any activity while you are locked on 91. There are some tricks you can do on the radio side sometimes, but for purposes of comparing hotspots, this is how it works.
Duplex hotspots on the other hand, work like mini-repeaters. They use separate TX and RX frequencies, and allow the use of two timeslots just like a full size remote repeater. This allows you to work two talkgroups at the same time. You can have a favorite talkgroup on one timeslot and work a different talkgroup on the second timeslot. You can then monitor both and respond to either. You could even use two radios if you wanted and use different talkgroups at the same time.
One question we get frequently is whether you can use a duplex hotspot to use one timeslot for DMR and the other for D-Star or YSF. Unfortunately, the answer is no. When using DMR, both timeslots are used for DMR. That’s how it works. Neither D-Star or YSF support the concept of dual timeslots.
So, deciding on the type of hotspot to get depends on how you operate. If you are used to using a full repeater and want to be able to duplicate the experience at home, at work, or on the road, you will probably appreciate the Duplex models. You will be able to set your hotspot up to operate exactly the same as the repeater you are used to. Or you can set it up differently to suit your preferences.
If you mostly use a single talkgroup and only occasionally work other talkgroups, a Simplex hotspot may be a better choice. Operation is easier to understand and many Duplex functions can be simulated through programming on Brandmeister and on your radio. If you are new to DMR, definitely consider a simplex hotspot first.
If you intend to operate D-Star or YSF almost exclusively, a Simplex hotspot is all you need. There is no benefit in using a Duplex hotspot.
If you decide on. a simplex hotspot, then when antenna profile should you get? We offer hotspots with both internal and external antennas. I personally prefer the internal antenna version. It is more “rugged” in that there is no antenna to worry about, and for my operating style an internal antenna is fine. The internal antennas in our units are the highest quality available and with a recent N5BOC board design improvement, their range is almost as good as an external antenna. If you operate mostly within a 30 foot distance from your hotspot, an internal antenna should provide a solid connection and work well for you. An external antenna will add maybe 15-20 feet to that.
I hope we made the selection process clearer for you, but if you have more questions, be sure to leave a comment here, or visit our website and leave us a message there.