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Open Letter to MMDVM Board/Hotspot Vendors

Do you want to sell more units and make more users happy with your products? Keep reading…

An open letter to vendors who make and/or sell cheap and commodity MMDVM boards and hotspots.

First and foremost, please stop shipping your boards/hotspots with the STM32 device locked/read-only. It makes it very difficult for our thousands of users to upgrade their MMDVM firmware. Users should have absolute freedom and ease to flash their devices, natively, via GPIO, etc.

Secondly, please start shipping your devices with the latest MMDVM_HS firmware1 (which is Version 1.6.1 as of this writing). I am still receiving boards/hotspots for testing with outdated firmware, and so are users! You see, our users are:

  1. Stuck with old versions of the firmware on your devices, which is missing important fixes and new features (e.g. M17 Mode/Protocol), and more.
  2. They can’t upgrade the firmware themselves easily if the STM32 chip is locked.
  3. If the STM32 chip is locked, users can’t successfully run the native WPSD firmware upgrade programs that are shipped with WPSD.

Who I am/who we are, and why all of this is important:

I am the founder and principal developer of the very popular WPSD project. WPSD is installed on thousands of personal hotspots and repeaters around the world. My project is very fortunate, in that we have on our team, and work closely with, major players in the MMDVM and digital voice for ham radio landscape. We are developing and releasing new technologies on a very frequent basis, and we are constantly improving and evolving amateur radio and digital voice.

While my WPSD project has very major open source players on its team, my project is now under the M17 Project umbrella. This means more users, more innovation, more evolution of the hobby and its technologies, and even more major players all working together to improve ham radio.

When you ship products with outdated firmware and software, you are doing a frustrating disservice to your customers, and in the end, our users. As a result, users are left with a poor experience due to missing modes and bugs on their modems.

You took an open source hardware design, and now profit from it. Unfortunately, you ship the devices much of the time in a crippled state, with old firmware and locked STM32 chips; making it nearly impossible for many users to leverage the full capabilities. This is quite insulting to we developers, and especially your and our users.

In conclusion

Please make it easy for users to flash the firmware on your devices, and ship the devices in a fully-open and unlocked state. And please start shipping them with the v1.6.x version of the MMDVM_HS firmware2. You owe it to all of the developers who created all of this wonderful set of technologies in the first place…to get it right. More importantly, you owe it to the users of your and our products and projects.

  1. Pre-compiled official MMDVM_HS firmware binaries 

  2. If you would like to compile the official MMDVM_HS firmware source code yourselves, G4KLX now has taken over maintenance, and you can find the source code in his GitHub repository

Document Version: 63b2c5b -- Last Revision: 1/10/2024
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