APRS

  • Hi Guest, you may choose a LIGHT or DARK theme that works best for you with the "Style Chooser" button at the bottom left on this page!
  • HTML tutorial

Dusther210

Rank V
Member

Member II

2,377
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
First Name
Dustin
Last Name
Helms
Member #

24720

Ham Callsign
KD2UNH
Who uses APRS?

How do you do it? Do you use a separate radio? What is needed and how do you program/use it? Let's talk about APRS!

Share your setup, software and any tips

This was a great suggestion by @Prerunner1982

And as mentioned by @Ubiety there are some threads on Overland Bound that are great sources to research APRS. Including:









I have a radio in my truck and a Baofeng UV5R. I also have the MyAPRS app on my phone and a ham license and I want to get on APRS
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kirk M. and Ubiety

RoarinRow

Rank V
Member

Influencer I

2,301
Elk Grove, CA, USA
First Name
Rolando
Last Name
Nispiros
Member #

17011

Ham Callsign
KN6JJS

Ubiety

NorthWest Region Member Rep Seattle WA
Member
Supporter

Educator I

5,048
Sammamish, Washington, USA
First Name
Greg
Last Name
E
Member #

6193

I'l cover three scenarios to explain how to get to APRS - forgive me if this is too low level but it provides a foundation to eventually answer your questions
Disclaimer: APRS is fun and neat but should not be considered a safety net for travels in remote locales; for that consider a satcom device

There are many other threads in this forum that discuss APRS - you would benefit from searching the OB forums, and the internet, to learn more since this is a big subject.

Before I define the scenarios I should define the bits and pieces in the drawring below
  • Radio - Ham radio able to transmit and receive on 144.390 MHz (in the US). Analog realm
    • A dual band radio is a great choice as it allows APRS and voice operation concurrently
  • TNC - Terminal Node Controller (or a modem). Converts between the digital and analog realms and vicey versey
  • APRS Processor - Understands the APRS protocol, receives/decodes, encodes/sends, communicates with outside devices like a computer or phone/tablet, connected to GPS - Digital realm
  • GPS - provides position data to the APRS Processor
Three scenarios
  • Separate Components - Each component is a separate device that are connected together
    • Probably not what you are looking for - bulky, lots of wires
  • Mobilinkd Components - A Mobilinkd serves as the TNC and APRS Processor and is connected to a radio
    • A good solution if you already have a radio. Requires some new wires to connect the Mobilinkd to the radio (mic and speaker), requires power to the Mobilinkd, pretty sure the Mobilinkd has a GPS but mine has been loaned out for about a year and I am tired. Requires dedicated radio since it connects directly to the radio's mic and speaker.
  • All in one - A radio such as the Kenwood TM-D710 or Yaesu FTM-400 which contains all of the components
    • IMO the best option as all components are contained together and a dual band radio can be used for both APRS and voice concurrently
Then there is software, which "connects" to your setup (APRS Controller specifically) and serves as the user interface. The all in one radios mentioned are able to serve in this role as well. You mentioned myAPRS which I am not familiar with - but that fits in here. There is a lot more that I could ramble on about but its been too long of a day and I'll allow you to come up with some more questions and try to answer those. I hope that this helps you understand the hardware required to play with APRS.

1613649976696.png
 

Attachments

Prerunner1982

US Southwest Region Member Rep
Member

Traveler III

2,902
Navina, Oklahoma
First Name
Jon
Last Name
B
Member #

16274

My APRS Setup: Yaesu FTM-3100R 2m, Mobilinkd 2.? TNC bluetoothed to a 10" tablet running APRSdroid. I have run this set up for a couple of years and it works great including contacts through the International Space Station.
Previously I ran the same set up but with a Boafeng UV5r and I was not satisfied with the performance. Some people seem to have good luck with this set up but I had a different experience. It worked fine if I was closer to the digipeater but not so well out where I live, and I was using an external antenna. Going to the mobile 2m radio made an immediate and drastic improvement with very little setup/adjustment.

When I got into ham radio the funds were not available for a radio such as the Kenwood D710G or the Yeasu FTM-400 which had just come out so I went with a dual band Yaesu FT-8800r for voice as an upgrade from the Baofeng UV5r started with and figured I would put the Baofeng into service doing APRS. I later added an HF radio and finally the 2m mobile specifically for APRS. I pieced my capabilities together as I had the funds to do so over a number of years and ended up with multiple radios. This is not desired by many people due to limited room to mount multiple radios and antennas but I like the capability. I can use my dual band radio for voice and monitoring multiple frequencies while leaving my APRS radio alone to do it's thing. I often leave my APRS radio on while away from the vehicle. It's not for everyone and that is something that you will have to decide for yourself.
 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV
Here is an article I wrote about mobile digital mode operations. It covers a lot more than just APRS.
 

Ubiety

NorthWest Region Member Rep Seattle WA
Member
Supporter

Educator I

5,048
Sammamish, Washington, USA
First Name
Greg
Last Name
E
Member #

6193

My APRS Setup: Yaesu FTM-3100R 2m, Mobilinkd 2.? TNC bluetoothed to a 10" tablet running APRSdroid. I have run this set up for a couple of years and it works great including contacts through the International Space Station.
Previously I ran the same set up but with a Boafeng UV5r and I was not satisfied with the performance. Some people seem to have good luck with this set up but I had a different experience. It worked fine if I was closer to the digipeater but not so well out where I live, and I was using an external antenna. Going to the mobile 2m radio made an immediate and drastic improvement with very little setup/adjustment.

When I got into ham radio the funds were not available for a radio such as the Kenwood D710G or the Yeasu FTM-400 which had just come out so I went with a dual band Yaesu FT-8800r for voice as an upgrade from the Baofeng UV5r started with and figured I would put the Baofeng into service doing APRS. I later added an HF radio and finally the 2m mobile specifically for APRS. I pieced my capabilities together as I had the funds to do so over a number of years and ended up with multiple radios. This is not desired by many people due to limited room to mount multiple radios and antennas but I like the capability. I can use my dual band radio for voice and monitoring multiple frequencies while leaving my APRS radio alone to do it's thing. I often leave my APRS radio on while away from the vehicle. It's not for everyone and that is something that you will have to decide for yourself.
What antenna do you currently use for mobile APRS? Thanks!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

Prerunner1982

US Southwest Region Member Rep
Member

Traveler III

2,902
Navina, Oklahoma
First Name
Jon
Last Name
B
Member #

16274

What antenna do you currently use for mobile APRS? Thanks!
I use a Larsen NMO150b, it's a 5/8 wave 2m antenna so it's a bit tall at about 51". Being a 5/8 wave antenna it is advertised at about 5dBi gain so it squishes the signal and directs more of it towards the horizon instead of up and out like a 1/4 wave antenna. I have it mounted on my roof rack to try and get as much distance as possible since digipeaters can be few and far between in some places. Many people don't like tall antennas, I don't have an issue with them so it's height on the roof doesn't bother me except with the number of tall antennas I have going through a drive thru isn't possible.
 

ChadHahn

Rank I

Contributor III

184
Tucson, AZ
First Name
Chad
Last Name
Hahn
Ham Callsign
KC0POB
My radio in the car has built in GPS and one band is set up exclusively for APRS. I've practiced sending texts with it. It's time consuming but seems to work alright.

I used an old Android phone with a cable that connects from the headphone jack to the inputs on a Baofeng radio for a mobile unit.
 

Boort

Rank V
Member

Advocate II

2,522
Colorado
Member #

9314

@ChadHahn

I used an old Android phone with a cable that connects from the headphone jack to the inputs on a Baofeng radio for a mobile unit.
I'd be interested to know more about this. I have access to a drawer full of old android phones and a Baofeng Uv5r.
What programs are you using to send texts/emails? Can you send to Non-HAMs or are you restricted to only those on the service?

Boort
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

ChadHahn

Rank I

Contributor III

184
Tucson, AZ
First Name
Chad
Last Name
Hahn
Ham Callsign
KC0POB
I have the APRSdroid app.

I also use smsgte.org to send message although you can use APRSdroid.

I can send messages to any cellphone altough you are limited to the number of characters. That's why smsgte is nice. You can create aliases to use instead of entering the phone number. It's a lot easier to send texts with the keypad of the Android than it is trying to enter a message with the keypad on the microphone of my mobile unit.
 

Ubiety

NorthWest Region Member Rep Seattle WA
Member
Supporter

Educator I

5,048
Sammamish, Washington, USA
First Name
Greg
Last Name
E
Member #

6193

What programs are you using to send texts/emails? Can you send to Non-HAMs or are you restricted to only those on the service?
You can send email to anybody that has an email address; however the message length is going to be very limited with APRS. If you want to send longer emails then you should look at something like WinLink. You will also need a device connected to your radio called a TNC - the Mobilinkd is a popular choice with folks that don't have an "APRS ready" radio - the baofeng uv5r will require an external TNC. You will also need to be within communication distance of an APRS iGate (or Winlink gateway if using that) and have a ham license to take part. Typically these services that require gating to the internet are great in more urban areas but non-existant in the wilder places though YMMV.

Example from the APRS-IS email page:
Send APRS message "email@address message text" to EMAIL.
APRS Format: URCALL-10>APRS::EMAIL :urname@urdomain.bogus This is a test.

Clarification - looking at @ChadHahn ‘s original message it appears that APRSDroid can act as the TNC. I don‘t use android so cannot use APRSDroid but have heard a lot of good things about it. Hmmmm, my son has an old android phone... ;)
 
Last edited:

ChadHahn

Rank I

Contributor III

184
Tucson, AZ
First Name
Chad
Last Name
Hahn
Ham Callsign
KC0POB
Clarification - looking at @ChadHahn ‘s original message it appears that APRSDroid can act as the TNC. I don‘t use android so cannot use APRSDroid but have heard a lot of good things about it. Hmmmm, my son has an old android phone... ;)
I forgot to mention that. Yes it acts as the TNC. It takes a little bit to get it working but once it's set up it works pretty well.
 

Ubiety

NorthWest Region Member Rep Seattle WA
Member
Supporter

Educator I

5,048
Sammamish, Washington, USA
First Name
Greg
Last Name
E
Member #

6193

I forgot to mention that. Yes it acts as the TNC. It takes a little bit to get it working but once it's set up it works pretty well.
I have had good luck running DireWolf on a ras pi for TNC goodness when using an SDR for RX only. What cable(s) are you using to connect your Android to your HT/baofeng? I have a mobilinkd that works well with my baofeng but all of that has been on loan to a friend since minutes before the zombie apocolypse which is going on a year now. Played with mobilinkd a time or two before loaning it out and it seemed to work well; bought it mostly to see what it was all about and to loan to my friend to egg him on. I'm not a big fan of cables so tend towards radios with inbuilt TNC.

Found my son's old Android and got it charged but found APRSDroid costs money. Not worried about the $5 to pay for it but not about to give the play store my credit card since we are all Apple users... Wonder if I could pay the creator directly and get a "redemption code" that is good on the play store???