Chip posted this the other day titled “Open Letter to MMDVM Board/Hotspot Vendors”.
I don’t have much to add. I’ve been bitten by this too. Many hotspot vendors are skimping on quality or other various aspects, or otherwise sell you something that is artificially limited.
I figured I’d link his post for what little extra attention it might gain his message, and mention a couple sellers that are good while I’m at it.
Repeater-Builder is the standard for repeaters.
There are other options too, but these are excellent ones.
The only boards I’ve had consistent issues with were from Amazon and Ebay sellers that aren’t really ham or even radio focused.
The radio and DIY focused sellers, regardless of platform, seemed to consistently be better. Makes sense!
Update: Chip says this:
I have countless boards that I’ve tested, used and abused. The ones that continually pass the “W0CHP tests”, are boards by KI6ZUM, BI7JTA, N5BOC and DB9MAT/DF2ET (if you can still locate the authentic ones from Germany). All of these use top-quality components and have been the most stable boards I have ever used. The clones always seem to have terrible solder jobs, low quality oscillators and need all kinds of offsets and calibrations, etc. Some just outright fail with time. Not the case with the boards that pass my stress tests.