Pi-Star troubleshooting

By Toshen, KEØFHS (Updated Jul 2018, CC BY-SA)
Most up-to-date version of this note:
www.toshen.com/ke0fhs/pi-star-troubleshooting.htm
PDF:  4-Pi-Star_troubleshooting.pdf

Part of the fun of exploring a feature-rich app like Pi-Star is to kick all the tires, flip all the switches, and jump through all the flaming hoops we can find.

Jumping through a flaming hoop
Flaming hoop vector art
by 31moonlight31, Shutterstock⩘ 

Of course, that means that sometimes things break or we fall down a rabbit hole and find ourselves standing before a door we don't quite fit through. When that happens, these steps may help:

  1. Toggle – If a feature isn't working correctly, turn it off, then back on.
  2. Update – Run a Pi-Star update via an SSH app like Termius⩘  or PuTTY⩘ .
  3. Apply changes – On the Pi-Star Configuration page, even if nothing there has been changed, click Apply Changes.
  4. Move radio – Try moving the radio; in some cases, being too close can desense the hotspot's receiver. Also, try turning your radio off and back on.
  5. Verify Radio/Modem Type – Make sure you have selected the correct Radio/Modem Type in the General Configuration section.
    Note: The JumboSPOT is not a clone of the ZUMspot, so if you have a JumboSPOT, don't select a ZUMspot Radio/Modem Type.
  6. Change frequency – Try a different frequency. To find the range to choose from, see your country's band plan (U.S. Band Plan⩘ ) or the info that Ron, VE1AIC, has posted: Digital Voice frequencies⩘ .
    Important! Avoid frequencies used for other purposes, for example, 435.000 - 438.000, used internationally for satellite communication, which can be easily disrupted by even low power hotspot transmissions..
  7. Reseat & reboot – If you're using a modem mounted via a GPIO header to a Raspberry Pi or similar, remove and reseat the modem, double check that you have the correct modem type selected in the General Configuration settings⩘ , and then reboot the hotspot. Can't hurt to also reboot the computer you're using to navigate to the Pi-Star dashboard.
  8. Banish typos! – Double check your IDs and passwords:
    • Double check that your callsign and CCS7 ID are correctly entered in Pi-Star General Configuration and also in your radio or codeplug.
    • If Pi-Star isn't connecting to your WiFi network, double check that you entered the network name and password correctly. Typos happen! Also, be aware that a space in the network name can cause problems connecting to some routers. Might help to reboot your router, too.
    • If you're having trouble connecting to Pi-Star from within a browser, make sure you're using the hostname that is entered in Pi-Star General Configuration (default = pi-star).
  9. Special characters – If you're having problems logging into Pi-Star via SSH, note that some special characters work for directly accessing Pi-Star Admin and Configuration settings, but not for logging into Pi-Star via SSH.
  10. Power supply – Try using a different power supply (steady 2.5A output is key), and then perform a hotspot shutdown, power off, and restart.
  11. Live logs – Take a look at Pi-Star Live Logs view⩘ . It can be helpful to open Live Logs view in a new tab or a different browser so you can look back and forth between the dashboard to run the feature, and then the log to see if you can spot the problem. Hint: There's a link at the bottom of Live Logs view to download it as a text file.
  12. Factory reset – Perform a Pi-Star factory reset, and then restore a previously backed up configuration.
    Note: A factory reset sets all the configuration setting back to what they are when a fresh image is first installed, with two exceptions: your WiFi setup is retained, and if you have enabled the BrandMeister Manager module, your BrandMeister API Key is retained. It does not affect the Pi-Star update dashboard version nor the Pi-Star upgrade version.
  13. Flash fresh image – Try using a different, good quality microSD card, and then download and flash a totally fresh Pi-Star image⩘ .
  14. Re-flash firmware – Perform a re-flash of the hotspot firmware⩘ .
  15. Take a break – At this point in troubleshooting, I usually turn everything off and walk away for a few hours or a day or two, and then return with a fresh mind to try troubleshooting again. That sometimes helps.
  16. Getting help on the Pi-Star User Forum – Ultimately, if I'm unable to figure out how to solve an issue myself, I visit the Pi-Star User Forum⩘  and ask for help. There are some very smart, experienced people sharing their expertise there, including the core members of the Pi-Star team: Andy, MW0MWZ, Adrian, M0GLJ, and Craig, W1MSG.
    Be detailed! When reporting an issue on the forum, the more details the better. In addition to the description of the issue itself, share your Pi-Star version and dashboard date (for example, v3.4.15, dashboard 20180609), the model and version of the modem board you're using, its firmware version, related log entries, and any other details you can think of that can help others understand the issue.