||Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
|I have a DV4mini AMBE and a DV4home V2 (upgraded from the V1) and the DV4home V2 is now useless. |
The OEM never completed the firmware, only offers very limited BM and other TG support with no way to add/update, no FW updates and the worse part: NO COMMUNICATIONS! No updates, status, answers to requests, etc.
The concept was great BUT the execution was horrible. I heard "through the grapevine" that they lost their FW programmers in Europe. Although sad to hear the OEM could at least have the decency to share the status with us users who paid $$$ for this "then" promising device.
If there was a way to add/update TGs I would be glad to do it but the OEM hasn't responded to anyone who asked.
They took our $$$, promised a great product then decided that it was better for them to abandon their users, to remain silent, rather than sharing and asking for help.
I will stay away from any product offered by WH or any of their team as one risks winding up with a piece of expensive abandonware.
Sorry ... but that's how I feel looking at this VERY LIMITED and bugged V2
|The DV4Home V2 is unfinished and forgotten product.
||Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
|I have owned the DV4Home V2 since September 2017. It does not live up to it's marketing.|
The Wireless Holdings web page states that a PC is not required for using the DV4Home, but that is not entirely true. In order to use the DV4Mini (which plugs into a dedicated USB port in the back), you have to run the DV4Mini software on a Windows only computer. Once you set up your favorite reflector or talk group, it will remember the setting, but if you ever want to make a change you will have to fire up the computer and software again. I use a Mac computer and this is a real nuisance. There isa menu in the web based interface to deal with the DV4Mini, but it is greyed out and not accessible because the firmware is not finished. My Windows machine will no longer access the DV4Mini which seems to be a common occurrence with these dongles.
Support for Brandmeister is there, but just barely. The Brandmeister talkgroups come in the form of a pull-down list, most of which is actually DMR-MARC talk groups. You will not find any of the most popular Brandmeister talk groups in this list, including the very popular TG3100. This is extremely disappointing because the list is fixed in firmware and, therefore, cannot be changed. This alone is a huge fail!
The original DV4Home gave you some control using the front panel - Not anymore. There is one button on the front. Push the button quickly and it will switch between VFO A and VFO B. Turn the button to control the volume. You can push the button to actually turn on the DV4Home V2, but it will not shut it off. You have to disconnect the power to turn it off. At this time, that is all you can do from the panel.
To set up wifi access, you will have to purchase a USB wireless adapter. In order to configure the wifi, you will need to plug in a monitor or TV via the HDMI port. There is only one USB port, so you will also need a powered multiport USB extension to do the initial setup. The wifi dongle, a keyboard and a mouse will need to be plugged in. You will also have to insert an ethernet cable into the RJ-45 jack during setup to have internet access.
The website claims that the firmware is upgradable directly over the internet. This is not true. A USB thumb drive with the image must be plugged into the USB port on the back, and the upgrade is done thru the thumb drive. All of this means you have to get out that keyboard and mouse again, then plug in your TV, do the upgrade and go thru the setup all over again.
All of this might be worth it when and if the DV4Home ever lives up to it's expectations and hype, but right now I feel as if someone just stole $500.00 from my wallet. The last firmware update was in September 2017, and I was told there would be an update "in the very near future". That was 8 weeks ago. If I were holding my breath, I would be long dead.
|DV4Home V2 is great
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|I own a version 2 since 2 months, in Europe it was released first and it works great with the new firmware 1.21. The only thing that could be better is the microphone. DMR, Brandmaster, Dstar and C4FM works perfect with great audio quality.|
|Version 2 a great improvement
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|This mini-review is strictly done from the user/operator point of view and is done spontaneously upon delivery of my DV4 Home Version 2. It represents my first impressions of the system. I will leave the in-depth technical review to Hams with a lot more knowledge then I have.|
The original DV4Home was an IP Transceiver with 2 incorporated AMBE decoders allowing transmission directly on the web reflectors and transmitting DMR, NXDN, Fusion and Dstar modes. It had to be controlled by a external web browser. A DV4mini could be inserted in it and thus could be used it as an independent relay for walky-talkies of the appropriate mode without having to plug-in the DV4 mini into a dedicated computer. The DV4 Home held solid promises but, unfortunately, it had a tendency to saturate and crash after numerous hours of use or during a busy net. However its ease of use held me captive of its use nevertheless: I would just reboot the system and continue.
The DV4 Home Version 2 represents a progression by an order of magnitude. It is more powerful then its predecessor and can now supports directly an HDMI monitor (Linux Ambian standard interface), keyboard and Mouse USB interface (with an external hub) and Dongle WIFI (Edimax recognized automatically) thus liberating the need to be plugged directly in the router or need to have a computer on the side to program the reflectors etc.. However, it has retained this ability to be programmed using any standard web browser if you do not have additional HDMI independent monitor and mouse handy.
The 2 AMBE decoders work independently allowing dual reception: DMR, NXDN and Fusion on the first “VFO” side and Dstar on the second “VFO”. This separation prevents the creation of loops.
I am very satisfied with this my new Version 2. Of course the software/firmware represents work in progress: there is no manual for it yet and while there is a functioning cradle for my DV4 mini already there: one has to use the mini own dedicated control center to control it from another PC (pointing at the ip address of the DV4home}.; this worked fine but because the mini is not yet recognized by the resident DV4home software, we could not find yet a way to do crossmode using the mini.
Finally, I could previously read on the screen of the web browser of my original DV4home the traffic occurring in one mode on all reflectors: this does not exist yet with the Version 2 (however part of this role is now devoted to the incorporated screen of the Version 2: retaining the call signs of the stations having transmitted on the selected reflectors). This is quite sufficient to monitor the traffic on the selected reflector and in a sense less confusing.
One thing is sure: the version 2 represents a major progression and a solid promise for the future and we hope that further enhancements to the software come soon.. For a video showing the appearance and use of the Version 2 please refer to Laboenligne.ca video on YOUTUBE.
|DV4home - in detail
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|Recently got a DV4home last week and have been doing a bit of playing around with it. I reported the numbered issues below to Wireless Holdings and they replied back that they sent them to the developer however I have not heard back anything else from them or the developer so I'm releasing my findings to the public so they might be better informed on this product.|
Here is what I've found so far:
1) Audio quality is excellent both inbound and outbound.
2) Does not do Brandmeister "officially" - more on that later.
3) You can connect to both DSTAR and DMR at the same time however it will not play both at the same time - whichever one keys up first you'll hear.
4) On busy DSTAR reflectors the main display will crash after 10-15 minutes and the entire thing will be in an unusable state.
5) On busy DMR reflectors when not connected to a DSTAR reflector as well, eventually the main screen will stop displaying call signs and information. The green RX LED will also go solid. When it's in this state DMR still works, you can still transmit/receive however after about 10-15 hours in this state it will eventually stop working entirely.
6) The buttons on the handmic do nothing, just the PTT switch.
7) The rotary encoder is jittery - spin the knob "too fast", i.e. at any rate other than "dog slow" and it's either non-responsive or the counter starts going in the opposite direction.
8) The speaker in the box itself is only "OK". You're going to want to use to an external speaker. I use an old Kenwood comms speaker I had laying around.
9) On the web page interface the "unlink" option in the DCS menu doesn't work. The only way to unlink from a DMR reflector is to link to a different reflector. There is no "4000" option to hard unlink entirely.
10) No way to hard-reset the box back to factory defaults that I can find if you screw up entering your callsign and DMR ID so make sure you NEVER, EVER screw up the initial setup web page process.
Now for some internal discovery.
This box runs both an SSH server as well as a mini-httpd webserver.
The web server runs the webpages that allow you to connect to different reflectors.
Over the weekend I was able to guess the root SSH password and login to the box. What I found is:
SPECS: 128MB of RAM and 4GB of internal flash storage.
I haven't opened the box to see if the flash is chip-based or card-based.
There is also an internal 2-port USB hub. One USB port for the DV4mini and the other obvious port on the back for a future wifi USB adapter I guess.
CPU is an ARM926EJ-S rev. 5 (ARMv5TEJ), all info taken from DMESG.
1) DV_SERIAL. That's right. Our old friend dv_serial makes an appearance!
When you plug in a DV4mini and power up the box, after the main process "sees" the DV4mini is plugged in it launches dv_serial and you control it using software on the desktop. There's no way to control it from the device itself neither from the front panel nor the built-in webserver that I can find. Same thing as if you had it plugged into a Raspberry Pi. DV_SERIAL does NOT control the rest of the box, just the DV4mini if you have it plugged in. This is the same dv_serial program that the Linux DV4mini software uses on the Raspberry Pi.
2) OLED - oled is the main process that controls the entire box, not just what is displayed on the screen. Upon power-on after the Debian Linux OS has booted up the oled program is launched and it launches two other additional programs - DCS and DMR. But the OLED program has a bit of a problem - it crashes with a segmentation fault after 10-15 of listening to a busy DSTAR reflector because it seems to not be able to handle corrupted DSTAR packets very well. The OLED program also doesn't handle the display very well leading to corrupted characters on-screen after a while when connected to a DSTAR reflector.
3) DMR - DMR is the program that handles DMR reflectors. It's rock-solid except for one tiny issue - upon every transmission it receives it spawns local UDP ports that it never closes. Over time on a busy DMR reflector it will eventually spawn hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of open UDP ports that never close and eventually ties up all the RAM causing the entire box to be non-responsive and stop working forcing you to power-cycle the box. On boot up it spawns 3 DMR processes.
4) DCS - DCS is the program it uses to connect to DSTAR reflectors. There seems to be conflict with the DCS program and the OLED program that initially calls it since on busy reflectors the DCS program causes the OLED program/process to crash out entirely leaving the control panel and display in an unresponsive state. Unlike the DMR process, the DCS process does not spawn a lot of UPD ports. Upon bootup 6 DCS processes are spawned and it keeps to that number over time.
5) DV4AMBE_1 and DV4AMBE_2. These two programs control the audio decoding/encoding. As you can see, there are two of them indicating there really are two AMBE chips in this thing. That's actually pretty cool.
5) LINK - Link is the program called by the user interface webpages that connects both DMR and DCS reflectors. you basically call "/media/data/system/link LG4369" and it will connect the DMR program to reflector 4369. "/media/data/system/link REF030C" will connect DCS to the famous reflector 30 Charlie. On the DMR side the link program is hard-coded to only be able to use 4-digits. More on that issue later.
6) USER - user is the program the initial setup webpage uses to populate the config.cfg file located in /media/data/system with your callsign and DMR ID. If you screwed up this setting in the beginning configuration page there's no way to edit this short of SSH'ing into the box and editing it using nano. Possibly by browsing directly to the config web page as well but I haven't tried that yet.
7) config.cfg - this file is located in /media/data/system and contains your callsign and DMR ID. It also contains the DMR_MASTER configuration, i.e. this is where it's setup to connect to a particular DMR_MASTER server located in Florida. It is possible to change this to point to a Brandmeister master server and I currently have mine pointing to the BM Dev server where it's working fine...well, as fine as the DMR and OLED and link programs allow.
I found a slew of leftover debugging and testing web files and other oddities while looking around in the box indicating the developer did not do proper cleanup prior to releasing the software.
Also, the link program itself is hard-coded to only use 4-digits meaning that after connecting it to a Brandmeister master server you can't go to a 5-digit talkgroup - at least as far as I've been able to find. Decompiling the link program itself didn't give me any clues either.
I find it very, very odd that they made the OLED program the main program that controls everything including the display. I feel the display controls should have been split out into a separate program entirely.
There is also no watchdog process in place to monitor the state of the running DMR, DCS, and OLED processes and re-start them if they crash. Once they crash - and the OLED process crashes a lot - you have to reboot/power-cycle the device to get it working again.
There is no real internal logging done on this device at all that I can see.
There are a few main things that really bug me about this box:
1) Every few minutes the device pings Google for one ping - and one ping only. This is probably a way to do some sort of poor man's network connectivity test. But if your DNS servers ever go down for any reason, not sure what will happen when it tries this single ping to Google.
2) Upon bootup (really upon startup of the OLED main program) it connects to and pulls down and saves the list of Brandmeister master servers. It also contains a list of Brandmeister reflectors/talkgroups. It does not use these in any way whatsoever during operation so not sure why it does this unless it's leftover code from the Linux version DV4mini control program being used in the OLED program. Also finding traces of DVRPTR-NET all over the place including the hostname itself.
3) Compiler tools are already installed on the device to include git. I was able to successfully git clone and compile the MMDVMHost software even if it was very slow to compile.
4) If something happens to the Linux OS inside the box there is no way for a user to reflash the OS to it that I can find. I'm sure there's some sort of undocumented process to do so but we're not being told what that process is.
My bottom-line review of this device is that while the hardware itself has potential, the software is very poorly developed and very buggy. From my limited research on the matter it seems code that was on past hardware DG1HT has worked on has been repurposed for this box as well. That would be fine if not for the fact that the code is buggy and prone to memory leaks (DMR UDP ports) and seg faults (OLED/DCS not handling corrupted DSTAR data properly). Again, these issues are all software-based and fixable by the developer.
Until they fix these issues I would advise against anyone buying a DV4home at this time.