Best portable APRS solution?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by N8MLP, Mar 16, 2019.

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  1. N8MLP

    N8MLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I want to do more/learn APRS. I currently have a ID51 that will update only my location to I am more interested in the messaging features also.

    What is the best APRS solution when portable? I am thinking about finding a second hand FT2.

    I am a devoted Apple/iOS user, but also have a android tablet for ham things.
  2. K3RLD

    K3RLD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think there is a solid answer to your question. "Best Solution" is always going to be subjective. Other options include the TH-D72 and TH-D74. Something coupled with APRSdroid will probably give you the most functionality, though.
    WU8Y and WD9EWK like this.
  3. KE0SBF

    KE0SBF Ham Member QRZ Page

    the Mobilinkd TNC is a good system. It's a modem that you'd plug into your ID51, and control from your phone / tablet. The Mobilinkd TNC3 works with Android & iOS, but I don't know what software is available for iOS. APRSDroid is on the Google Play store, or can be downloaded for free from their own site (I bought it on the Play store to support the project). The Mobilinkd TNC2 is Android only, about half the cost, but also has far less bluetooth range. I have a TNC2 and a TNC3. I've only used them with Android and a Baofeng HT, but they work great.

    I have a TH-D74A and a TM-D710G. Both run APRS natively and can message between each other or message to my Mobilinkd TNCs. That ax.25 protocol messaging cannot be exchanged directly with an ID51 / ID31 / IC-4100 / etc ... For that reason I'm kinda avoiding Icom radios. In my personal opinion and for my use, APRS is more important to have than any other digital mode.

    The ID51 is getting position updates to using their Icom specific D-PRS system. When the D-STAR network picks up your location info, it pipes that info into the APRS-IS. So it's a sort of third-party inject. I believe D-PRS has been incorporated into D-STAR v. 5.0, but I'm not sure. Either way, it is NOT using APRS to get your info onto

    Just some options that support APRS:

    Kenwood TH-D74
    Kenwood TH-D72
    Kenwood TM-D710G
    > The Kenwoods each support full access to the ax.25 modem, so you can use them for packet radio easily as a KISS TNC.

    Mobilinkd TNC. (probably your least expensive option)
    > The Mobilinkd TNCs are only really modems. They don't do APRS themselves since they need a third part app controlling them. They're also only really designed to do APRS, but people use them for a lot more than that.

    Yaesu FT-2DR
    Yaesu FTM-400xdr
    Yaesu FTM-100dr
    > Note that the ax.25 modem on Yaesu radios isn't exposed to outside interfaces, so you can ONLY do APRS with them and nothing more.

    I am probably going to get a couple FT-2DRs in the future to use for outdoor activities. When I take them out, I'll be talking voice using System Fusion simpex with my group, but I'll have APRS available if desired or needed. I choose APRS over systems like D-STARs D-PRS because it doesn't need a D-STAR network access point to get my info out. Simple ax.25 APRS is far more established and can work without the internet.

    (You should also check out It loads a lot faster for me.)
    KB0MNM, N8MLP and WD9EWK like this.
  4. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes, Mobilinkd is the way go if you have an android tablet available. You'll get full function APRS for a low price. We're working on using the tablet to do other kinds of digital stuff for emergency comms, as well.

    There is some magic required to get it to work with Baofengs, but all my other HTs work just fine with it.
    KB0MNM likes this.
  5. N8MLP

    N8MLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    So I can use Mobilinkd on my android tablet without a data plan?

    Will it work with my ID51?
  6. KE0SBF

    KE0SBF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes you can use it on an Android tablet WITHOUT a data plan. I do this almost every day with a tablet that has no data plan, and after properly setup does not even require WiFI.

    1) Get the cable for your radio:

    2) Under APRSDroid Preferences, go to Connection Preferences, then go to the Connection Protocol, then select TNC (KISS)

    3) You'll also want to download the off-line maps for your area. Instructions for it are here:

    Like I said above, I do this almost daily and it works great. I live in Augusta GA and I can see stations, mobile, and portable users as far up as Asheville NC. I'm using a TNC3 (sometimes my TNC2) connected to a Baofeng FB-F9 V2 (8W, but I usually operate on 4W) wearing a Nagoya NA-771 antenna. Make sure to place a ferrite choke on the cable from the radio to the TNC. I just put the radio/TNC combo out in my back-yard, and monitor/message from inside. It's nice being able to see stations on an actual map vs just a list of stations with coordinates and vectors as on my TH-D74 and TM-D710.
    WD9EWK likes this.
  7. K3RW

    K3RW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just picked up a hamfest special on a TNC2 from Mobilinkd. It uses a cable from my HT to the unit and Bluetooth is the linkage to my Android phone, with the $5 app APRSDroid as the interface.

    Worked great. Highly recommend. Next I would like to figure out how to get a IC-7100 or 706 to do the data handling on it for 2m and also HF APRS. For me thats another cable for those rigs (no biggie) and messing with a data port/accessory port setting. But also how to run perhaps VFO A while mobile and have it periodically flip to VFO B to send the packet. This part isn't clear to me on how to do it without making the rig a full APRS-only rig, or periodically (and unintentionally) bursting a data packet in someone's ear on 20m phone :eek:

    I used a Baofeng HT on my last trip for the Mobilinkd. Some of the APRSDroid settings took some experimentation, especially when it was not within a cell/data service area to upload position reports. Changing it from internet reporting to traditional TNC style, really depended on having a very nearby digipeater or a very good signal to one. Rural coastal Oregon had a few digipeaters but very few. I several places I sent/received packets where cell service was none. Just needed a digipeater to kick it to the world.

    I have yet to figure out (and may be wrong), but it appeared with APRSDroid one didn't need a radio at all to do Internet spots (?). Perhaps as long as you have cell service it will send packets via APRSDroid to the internet (?).

    The ability with the TNC2 and APRSDroid to do full messaging was outstanding. Trackers are cheap but this is what I really wanted. Hiking in the Cascades involves a lot of fringe cell service areas and I am getting into SOTA.
  8. K3RLD

    K3RLD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Correct. APRSDroid will forward your beacons and messages to the APRS-IS system whenever it has network connectivity. I believe you can turn that off if you wish, though.
    K3RW likes this.
  9. KE7RGP

    KE7RGP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Backcountry Navigator app can interface with APRSDroid if you want nicer maps. As far as I can tell, APRSDroid does not support MicE so you cannot send an emergency beacon.
    K3RW likes this.
  10. N8MLP

    N8MLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Awesome conversation guys! So if i get the cable from Mobilinkd, how do I know if my tablet passes data on the 3.5mm port?

    If it helps I use a Lenovo Tab 4 8"

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