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The TGIF Spot Sucks, and Why I'd Never Buy One

Let me get this out of the way first; I’m a fan of the TGIF Network. I really do like the admins and the community behind it. It’s vibrant, different and flexible. It’s a fantastic network and group of hams.

I also like the notion of the TGIF Spot hotspot, but it still sucks and I’d never buy or use it.

I am happy about Robert Bretzman’s (K4WZV) success with it, sincerely – just as I’m happy about BridgeComm’s SkyBridge hotspot success. But they both suck (for me), and I’d never buy or never use them. I even rave about BridgeComm’s success regarding their SkyBridge, but it still sucks.

TGIF Spot is Crippled

Having options is great for the consumer. I support that. But what I don’t like, are crippled and closed systems…

By “crippled”, I’m talking about the hotspots being simplex-only. While I find the TGIF to be a really decent value to most hams, it’s crippled (or, “challenged?”) by only having one timeslot available to hams. All of my hotspots are duplex, and without getting into the technical detail as to why duplex operation is superior, I cannot fathom digital voice radio and DMR with a simplex hotspot.

But there’s a larger, more fundamental issue at hand…

TGIF Spot is Closed

What do I mean by “closed”?

The Nextion Screen Layout, specifically.

If the Nextion display ever takes a crap, too bad. K4WZV and EA7KDO keep the layout source files under lock and key. Want to tweak or modify the layout, like lot of hams and hackers like to do? Out of luck. You’ll need to recreate it from scratch and you can’t use the TGIF Spot’s source files as a baseline. They are closed.

Now, one can load any Nextion layout they wish on the display - just not the TGIF Spot layout.

All of this proprietary garbage out there, hinders ham radio advancement and further fragments the hobby. And yes, the TGIF Spot’s Nextion screen layout is fucking garbage, as far as its design/UI is concerned. I like the TGIF Spot’s screen concept, where is adds all kinds of (superfluous) data and functionality; but it looks like ass. Sadly, buyers of the TGIF hotspot can’t even slightly tweak the layout’s UI/UX/design elements.

Irony That’s Plain-Old Insulting

Here’s what’s ironic about the TGIF Spot not making the Nextion layouts freely-available: The TGIF Spot would not even exist if it weren’t for the selfless hard work of the countless developers that actually make the hotspot function in the first place. There are myriad open source components of these “commercially available”, turnkey hotspots that actually make them work, And the display is optional…it’s not even fucking required to run a hotspot.

This makes me feel like the creators of the TGIF Spot are giving the F/OSS community a big “fuck you”… In that their hotspot would not even exist if it weren’t for the F/OSS developers and creators. But god forbid the TGIF Spot “developers” give back to the F/OSS community.

Based in this principle alone, I would not consider the TGIF Spot.

I support the notion. But not the execution.

Most Hams Are Clueless

To most hams, they could not care less about open vs. closed systems. And that is one of the many things patently wrong with ham radio today. It goes against the very open and experimental spirit upon which ham radio was founded.

And the fact that most hams could not care less is what’s most alarming, which has the consequence of making ham radio suck balls. Their ignorance leads to buying into and playing with whatever it may be, without a shred of curiosity of what’s under the hood or how to improve it. Companies eat this up, further fragment the hobby, and cash their big checks. Then these same “hams”, wonder why there aren’t any major innovations or advancements in the hobby.

It’s flat-out scary that most kool-aid-drinking hams don’t realize, that their ignorant purchase and usage decisions, directly influence how ham radio is and has been, progressively going down the proverbial shitter. They have no…fucking…clue.

Holy Shit! I’m Not Alone!

Can you imagine my delight, when I found that I was not alone in this principle(s) and line(s) of thinking?

I happened to stumble upon another ham, KD6QFO, who actually “gets it”. That ham left a review for the TGIF Spot, essentially stating that the closed nature of the hotspot display goes against his principles (scroll down for his review).

Of course a TGIF Network “regular”, VE3RD, just had to rebut KD6QFO’s honest review with ad hominem, ignorant garbage: “How many software packages do YOU have where you have the source code?” Actually, more than he thinks. And I bet he never wrote any of them. Fuckin’ clueless, luser fanbois everywhere!

But wait! There’s more! A Pi-Star forum regular and a very helpful ham operator, KE7FNS, chimed in on KD6QFO’s issue, stating:

I wish some software developers would realize that making their source code public would benefit the overall project and stimulate progress, and not focus on such silly things as protecting their code.

Later in that same thread, KE7FNS again commented:

If the code was so great and it makes everything so much better than all the other available designs, then making the source code public so that the rest of the community could implement those same features would stimulate progress in future designs. Instead the community gets fragmentation and isolation as a result.

(referring to the closed TGIF Spot display code).

It is incredibly refreshing to see like-minded hams out there, who actually get it.

Open Layouts are Available

Fortunately, there are folks out there, who love sharing, and have created many Nextion layouts for Pi-Star hotspots, including the actual source files for those who want to tweak and hack or use them as baseline examples. A cursory web search yields dozens of these available out there.

I Still Like TGIF

Again, I do appreciate the TGIF Network, Robert (K4WZV), and the rest of the team for providing hams with wonderful resources and alternatives. The entire TGIF team is sincerely a great bunch. Some things just aren’t for me and for other hams who actually “get it”. The TGIF Spot is one of those things that simply isn’t for me.

If you care about progressing ham radio in a more positive, open and innovative direction, the TGIF Spot shouldn’t be for you, either.

Ver. # f4c3dd4 - Document last updated: 1/24/2022
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