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Unread 05-19-2007, 01:33 PM   #1
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Default APRS Automatic Packet (Position) Reporting System

I would like to open a thread to discuss APRS.

Click here for more info on APRS

I am planning on getting an APRS setup. Is anyone else interested?
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Unread 05-19-2007, 02:05 PM   #2
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I would defintiely be interested. I still need to do a lot fo reading on ham, and get my setup. Unfortunately it will only be later this year.

It seems like there will be a lot of possibilities, one of the most important will probably be to track others down on a map. Will make getting hold of folsk by a camp much easier, especially at night.

As I said I have still got a lot fo homework todo, but I would like to see the integration back to the GPS map. So another person becomes visible or can be imported as a GPS waypoint on the GPS itself, or at least GPS software on the lap top.

I should have access to my old work laptop for car use soon. Might have to look seriously at getting that seat mount system for it. That will force me to clean up the wiring adn all the accesories in the truck.

I see a lot fo possibilities with this though, especially the ability to track folks fro convenience (meetup), but more important for emergencies as well.
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Unread 05-19-2007, 03:34 PM   #3
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Most garmin GPS units have NMEA in/out so it is possible to display the location of other persons on most garmin gps units. Of course if you want the ultimate setup a laptop is very nice.

The Dayton hamfest is this weekend and it is very likely that Kenwood will introduce the TM-D710A which is rumored to be the replacement for the TM-D700A. I will likely go for this unit unless the price point is too high.

Other very cool products to check out are the Byonics TinyTrac3 (the tinytrac 4 will be released soon). The TinyTrac 4 will have the ability to output waypoints to the GPS. Also if all you want is a tracker the Micro-trac 300 is pretty cool.

THe Tracker2 is also in beta now and will be released soon.
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Unread 05-19-2007, 03:54 PM   #4
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Cool, maybe it will pay to take my time and do some homework. Sounds like some cool new products are on the way.

I would prefer a setup than can link both to the GPS directly as well as a laptop. The GPS will work easier while driving, but the laptop will provide far more functionality and much easier to use. Unfortunately with usign a laptop it will require me to stop.

Maybe wait and see how your setup turns out and lessons learned form you in the field with it
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Unread 05-19-2007, 04:12 PM   #5
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you can find me now at:

http://www.wulfden.org/APRSQuery.shtml

Type in KE7MWY

under "location of call"
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Unread 05-19-2007, 04:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegas Runner View Post
you can find me now at:

http://www.wulfden.org/APRSQuery.shtml

Type in KE7MWY

under "location of call"
Cool and dangerous. I can see the nekkid women in your pool on the sat map

Will do wonders on future trips to find the campsite or lost/stuck souls on the trail.
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Unread 05-20-2007, 01:14 AM   #7
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OK, I'll start some discussion because I'm lost in APRS.

Lets use the rationale that we are using APRS to find campsites or vehicles.

Firstly, let me get this straight. "A" needs to be found. "B" will come looking for "A". Having APRS will only help B find A if either

1. they are in range of each other to recieve an APRS signal either by repeater or simplex mode or
2. if B has a laptop with internet then he could track down A using map software and the APRS signal from A

Am I correct so far?


Ok lets look at some senarios....



Lets say we want to locate a campsite or another vehicle. In the majority of cases we have already determined what the CB station number or Ham radio frequency is, that we will be monitoring. We have also shared cell numbers but will find this useless in remote areas.

So "A" wants to be found.

"B" wants to find "A".

Both A and B have GPS and Ham.

A provides GPS co-ords to B via cell, CB or Ham

B plots a route based on GPS co-ords and finds A.

Follow me so far?

Well that seems fairly easy and is something that has been done many times in the past as way to find each other.


Next senario...

Now if B has a laptop, the routing will be easier to see and more software provides improved mapping ability compared to a tiny mobile GPS screen.

So here's where I get lost on APRS. APRS allows A's Ham radio to transmit a location marker to other Ham operator radios. It also allows transmission of the same marker that can be searched and found by anyone with internet access and A's callsign.

Given that people are talking here of having laptops in the vehicles, it would seem logical that you'd also use a wireless internet connection via satellite that would allow you to search and locate A's signal if you were out of signal range.

So the benefit of APRS in this situation would be that if you had no knowledge of A's GPS coords and no comms with A, you could still locate A via his APRS signal that is found on the internet, correct?

But then, this would be a really rare situation I would have thought.

More likely if A has APRS he will also have a laptop with internet access otherwise people can find him but he can't find them. If both A and B have internet, they can email each other or IM each other with GPS co-ords anyway.

The only time APRS will be of benefit to a vehicle with APRS only (no internet), is if you connect your APRS equipped Ham Radio to a mobile GPS and are in range to recieve A's signal, and have software on your GPS to convert the APRS reception signal into your GPS maps. But if you are in range to recieve a signal from A then you would have no need for APRS per se, because you could simply ask for their GPS co-ords by simplex or repeater and then map out your route.

So then we move to "A" and "B" both with APRS, laptop with GPS software and internet. Now they can share and search for each others location using the APRS signal and mapping software the same as posted in the link above. So that would be cool as long as both A and B have laptops with internet connectivity. But again why wouldnt you just use internet comms to supply the GPS coords?

Have I got this right?

BRAIN HURTS!
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Last edited by expat; 05-20-2007 at 01:29 AM.
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Unread 05-20-2007, 09:51 PM   #8
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I am really tired tonight but I will reply when I have some more energy. Great questions
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Donahoes, OME 895/N142S, Conferr Rack, Hanna Sliders, Cobra 75WX CB, ARB Air, Dual Batts (24v/12v), Shrockworks Bumper, PIAA 510s & 520s, Rear Floodlights, Oil Filter Relo & Fumoto Valve, BumBuilt Skids, ATG620 Laptop & Docking Station, Kenwood D710A w/ APRS, GPS60, MM 12,000lb Hydraulic Winch, Capstan Winch, Power Steering Cooler & Filter, 1/2" RogerBrown Bodylift
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Unread 05-21-2007, 07:22 PM   #9
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I will try to answer some of your questions


Yes you must be in RF contact directly or via a digipeater or digipeaters.

Yes if “B” has a computer with an internet connection, (assuming there is coverage in the area, more on this later) then “B” could track down “A” if “A” is within range of a digipeater which has contact with an igate. Note: an igate is a station that converts RF signals to internet packets.

At his time there are no mobile satellite internet solutions that I am aware of at reasonable prices. Satellite internet requires a satellite dish much like satellite TV. Most people using internet on a laptop use a cellular based service. For example Sprint has a very popular service. The limitation of this of course is you must be within cellular range. Therefore internet connections in remote areas are not practical under most circumstances.


Imagine this. “A” is equipped with a ham radio, TNC (terminal node controller), and a GPS. No laptop
“B” is equipped with the same.

OK so what is a TNC? A TNC is a “terminal node controller”. A very simple explanation on a TNC for our purposes is a device that allows the HAM Radio to communicate with other devices, for example a GPS unit. The TNC must have APRS firmware if you are not using a laptop. The Tiny tracker 4 which is in beta testing now has this capability. There may be others like the Tracker2 also in beta (I am not sure if the Tracker2 has the APRS firmware).

Ok so with this equipment, no laptop required, “A” can see “B” on his GPS unit as long as they are in RF range either directly or via a repeater. There are some limitations the GPS unit must be capable of NMEA “in/out not” just NMEA “out”. Many Garmin units have this capability.
Suppose there are 10 people in your group. If they were all equipped with the ham, TNC, and GPS you could see all of their locations on your GPS.
Some radios have a built in TNC and APRS firmware. An example of this is the Kenwood TM-D700a. Also the Soon to be released Kenwood TM-D710A (rumored to be August 2007). This is a really slick solution in my mind because you do not need the separate TNC and the radio also displays heading, speed, distance and other information of contacts right on the HAM radio display.

Now if you want you can add a laptop. This does not give you internet access for the reasons I mentioned above, what it does for you is give you access to better APRS mapping software for example, xastir, UI VIEW, or APRSPoint.

I also use other software not in any way related to APRS on my laptop while I off road. This includes the ability to track myself on aerial photographs and topographic maps using software like Topofusion.

The big advantage of APRS from my point of view is that your location can be viewed directly on the GPS or laptop while on the fly. You do not have to be asking the other person or persons what their location is. This is particularly useful when dealing with groups of people but even with just a couple people it is tiresome to communicate coordinates, plot them, etc, and the to do this repeatedly during the day.

It would also be really cool if suppose ten people go out for a run. But that’s a lot of people on one trail. You could split up into two groups and if both groups, or even just one person in both groups, had APRS then you could keep track of each other.

Now remember that I have not actually put together a system and don’t have any practical knowledge of the subject.
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Donahoes, OME 895/N142S, Conferr Rack, Hanna Sliders, Cobra 75WX CB, ARB Air, Dual Batts (24v/12v), Shrockworks Bumper, PIAA 510s & 520s, Rear Floodlights, Oil Filter Relo & Fumoto Valve, BumBuilt Skids, ATG620 Laptop & Docking Station, Kenwood D710A w/ APRS, GPS60, MM 12,000lb Hydraulic Winch, Capstan Winch, Power Steering Cooler & Filter, 1/2" RogerBrown Bodylift
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Unread 05-21-2007, 07:33 PM   #10
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Great Ed. Thanks. I think I understand this. My unit has the TCN connection but I do not have APRS. I wanted to keep my costs down and I know I'll never use all the functions anyhow.

Hell, I still can't work out why I can't download any of the maps Andries puts up in the routes section

One day when Andries is at my place I've got to get him on my computer to see what's up with that.

Likewise I'd really like to go wheeling with a few Hams and have a talk/play fest with the units to really understand the best uses.

I'd like to have a laptop in the truck too, just for the larger screen. So many toys....
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Unread 05-21-2007, 07:41 PM   #11
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What radio do you have?
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Unread 05-21-2007, 07:46 PM   #12
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Read my signature line oh enlightened one

(HINT: second line at the end...Yaesu...)
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Unread 05-21-2007, 07:53 PM   #13
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check out the Byonics tinytrak4
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Unread 05-21-2007, 08:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegas Runner View Post
check out the Byonics tinytrak4
You are the man Ed! Thanks for that link.

I guess I'd need to check and see if my Garmin iQue is compatible for the connections for APRS.
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Unread 05-21-2007, 08:17 PM   #15
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Damn it!

Q. Does the iQue 3200/3600 support a NMEA protocol interface?
A. Unlike most of our GPS units, the iQue does not output NMEA data, which is often used for real-time tracking and autopilot systems



"Darling???? You know that laptop I bought for you........???"
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Unread 05-21-2007, 10:06 PM   #16
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Isn't that the way it always goes "unlike most of our units"....
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Unread 05-21-2007, 11:17 PM   #17
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Very cool stuff!!! I definitely need to get all these toys at some point. WIll be looking forward to your updates as you test out different things.

EDIT: Stupid question on my mind. DO you need a dual band radio to use APRS? I assume while all the data is transmitted between units, audio won't work unless it can use another frequency? Or does it just chipper when polled by the GPS and Audio will be fine?
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Unread 05-22-2007, 06:19 AM   #18
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You either need a dual band or a dedicated APRS setup.
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Unread 08-07-2007, 02:27 PM   #19
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Default Kenwood TM-D710A Announced

Kenwood announced the TM-D710A ham radio. The next generation of APRS radios in their line. It will be available in late August and will cost around $589.00
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Unread 08-07-2007, 04:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vegas Runner View Post
Kenwood announced the TM-D710A ham radio. The next generation of APRS radios in their line. It will be available in late August and will cost around $589.00
I will start saving up then.
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