setting up aprs

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by NR4CW, Apr 6, 2012.

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  1. NR4CW

    NR4CW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm looking at setting up aprs for my yaesu ft-2200 in a mobile environment. I need to know what I need and how to set it up. I have a gps in my truck already. Cheap is the way to go for me as I do not have very much money. Any input is welcome.

    Thanks and 73s
  2. AC2EV

    AC2EV XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It doesn't look like that radio has integrated APRS so unless you have 2 radios in your truck your out of luck with just one.

    The Kenwood D710 supports APRS.

    I have this in my car:

    The T2-301. To it I attach my Nuvi 350 which supports Garmin Fleet management mode. The T2-301 sends APRS data as waypoints to the Nuvi and messages. The 350 has a unique "bug" in it that when an APRS waypoint changes it deletes the old one and shows the icon at the new position. All the other compatible Nuvi don't delete the old point so you get a breadcrumb trail.

    You can also hook a GPS that outputs NMEA to the T2-301. Some of the the "pocketable" car gps do this but most don't

    What are looking to accomplish?

    Do you want a two-way system that supports messaging?
    Do you want a one-way tracker?
    The cheapest possible solution to say you have APRS?
  3. NR4CW

    NR4CW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well I want to be able to use aprs to its full potential. I guess I will have to wait till I can afford a better radio
  4. N5RFX

    N5RFX Ham Member QRZ Page

    You will need a TNC. The one I use is here. You will need to connect the audio in/out of the TNC to the mic jack of the FT-2200. The mic jack has both TX and RX audio. Next you will need to connect a GPS to the TNC. NMEA 0183 is the most common protocol. Some TNC's do understand the Garman proprietary protocol, but the choices there are very limited. I use a very simple GPS from Deluo.


    Mark N5RFX
  5. W9GB

    W9GB Ham Member QRZ Page

    For the appliance operator (plug-n-play), that is the course of action.
    It also creates a common complaint with recent radio amateurs -- you need $$ to play.

    However, 3 of the 5 principles stated in FCC Part 97.1 address technical knowledge and abilities.
    As you master those skills -- $$ is much less of an issue.
    It is your abilities & knowledge to build with what you have.

    Those of us, in this hobby for 35+ years, who started as poor middle-school or high school students -- learned that self-reliance and survival meant reading & experimenting with build solutions ( high school workshop skills ) to get what we wanted. It also meant a solid foundation to learn the new technologies, that are always happening!!

    You need a TNC with recent firmware that supports APRS and a GPS unit that can output data in NEMA 0183 format.

    eBay, swap meets and handsets have those raw materials to DIY build a solution.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  6. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It can be done, but there are some considerations.

    First, if you want to be able to do APRS and also do voice on the same radio at the same time, the rig you have isn't going to work. But, if you just want to do APRS on the national VHF APRS frequency, 144.390, you're set. I strongly recommend the Kenwood TMV71A or TMD710 if you want to do both things at once - you can assign the APRS to one VFO and voice to the other. The Yaesu rigs don't work like this - the digital follows the active VFO.

    If you have a laptop that will work, you can avoid the TNC, and might even be able to use your existing GPS. It might be a very good idea to look for an older laptop that you can beat up without any tears - you can find them pretty cheap. I found that older Lenovo/IBM Thinkpads will run fine on the 13 volts available in a car. You may be able to use your existing GPS if it will output NMEA-compatible data. Most GPSs don't have serial ports anymore, they only have USB, and many of those that have USB aren't set up to send the NMEA data, so you will need to look into that. If the GPS will send NMEA data via USB, you can use it with a laptop running an APRS program. Some of the APRS programs out there will support the AGWPE packet engine program, which emulates a TNC in a PC. Then, you just need to construct a soundcard interface to the radio, or buy one.

    Now, I've done exactly what I describe here, using a RASCAL soundcard interface and an old IBM Thinkpad and a handheld Garmin GPS. It all worked, most of the time, though the laptop was a little too slow to keep the software happy. I ran UI-View and AGWPE - along with a mapping program - quite a load for an old laptop, but more recent ones should handle it OK. It took a lot of fiddling and advice from others to get it running. I couldn't use it in motion and I suspect that having the laptop running on the seat next to me would get a ticket in a lot of places.

    Anyway, the first time I saw an old Kenwood TMD700 for sale cheap, I pounced on it, and I haven't regretted it at all. I've since upgraded to a TMD710, and I like it much better. But, the learning exercise of getting it to work a different way was probably worth the effort. It will certainly not be 'plug and play', though. Even the Kenwoods require a bit of setup to get everything working, and they both require a GPS with a serial NMEA output. On the D710, I use the neat little GPS module from GreenLight Labs. I used the old Garmin and some small GPS receiver modules with the D700.

    The only way to really get all the function out of APRS is to use a computer and APRS software. But the Kenwoods will do almost everything.
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