Dual band mobile with APRS

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by KD5RJZ, Jun 2, 2018.

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  1. KD5RJZ

    KD5RJZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am looking to replace an FTM-100DR that has annoyed me since I installed it. The radio was user friendly and easy to program but the APRS features are unusable.

    What does everyone suggest for a dual-band with built-in aprs. I am using this in a company vehicle so it is important that the unit be self contained and a remote head is also a must have. I am also a fan of programming the radio with the SD card. Is the FTM-400DR worth the money (more than a used HF mobile seems excessive, but it seems like the only viable option at this point)?

    73 de KD5RJZ
  2. WD9EWK

    WD9EWK Ham Member QRZ Page

    If APRS is what you're looking for, take a long look at Kenwood's TM-D710GA for a mobile. It is probably the most flexible mobile for APRS, and packet in general. No programming via SD card, but not hard to set up without a computer. Kenwood's APRS-ready mobiles and HTs in general seem to handle APRS/packet better than Yaesu's equivalent offerings.

    You can download the manuals and compare functionality, to see which radio would fit your situation best.

    Good luck, and 73!
    KD5BVX and KD5RJZ like this.
  3. KJ4ADN

    KJ4ADN Ham Member QRZ Page

    We have 2 of the Yaesu FTM-400XDR radios, (KJ4ADN-9, KJ4ADQ-9 - you can look us up on aprs.fi). One is in my COMPANY TRUCK, the other in my wife's truck (she or the kids frequently shut it off... grrr....). Both radio bodies sit on the center consel, the radio head (with the mount attached), is wedged into a dash crack on my 2014 Silverado's dash, right above the radio... looks like it belongs there. On Wifey's 2017 Nissan Titan, the CD rom player is the highest thing on the dash... a couple of fuzzy sided velcro strips, and it slips into the CD Rom slot (without damaging it)... also looks like it belongs there.

    I need to get another radio for the house, so if one of us is home, we can message each other, without having to listen to everyone else on the repeaters... no offense, guys, but, she's Scotch-Irish, and that sweeeeeet, irresistible voice.

    What don't I like: not enough APRS compatible repeaters linked to the internet ... in some rural areas, makes tracking sketchy. A better antenna would be a BIG help, but a little mag-mount, eh, the boss doesn't mind it. Programming issues - people complain all the time about programming anything, I decided RT-Systems would be my solution. How do I turn the APRS BEEP off...? I only want a beep when someone in our "group" sends a message.

    What I do like: Once I had RT-systems for programming, did the SD chip, and DONE! Since I'm NEW to APRS... and impatient, I called a friend in Wyoming who has one, and he walked me through the setup for APRS, it works the same for me as it does for him, only the call sign is changed. My Wyoming friend has a handful of SD chips, programmed for each area (state) he frequently travels through, since he has residences in Wyoming and Las Vegas. He simply pops in the pre-programmed SD chip, does a restore, and he's set up for that area's repeaters! I like that idea for traveling too! Once we had one radio set up the way we liked it, we did the SD chip swap, and set up the 2nd radio, changed the call sign, saved the config - DONE. The multiple SD chips for the area's repeaters is the BEST idea I can pass along - if you do any kind of travel, pre-program them for your suspected route, pop it in, do a restore, and hit SCAN for the repeaters.... what a slick idea!

    What the BOSS likes: no holes in the company truck, no extra wiring (cables to the battery), doesn't have that "CB radio look", and the extra features of APRS stations, weather reports, direction/heading, etc., "quite useful, when you're off road to have your GPS coordinates, realtime" Cellphones have spotty coverage in some of my areas.
    KD5RJZ likes this.
  4. KC5SAS

    KC5SAS Subscriber QRZ Page

    "doesn't have that "CB radio look",

    What in the heck does that supposed to mean? What's he got against CBs? Was he molested by a Cobra 148 as a kid? It's a radio for goodness sake. They all have some basic features such as volume and channel/freq knobs, displays and attachment for the microphone.
    KD5RJZ likes this.
  5. KD5RJZ

    KD5RJZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I appreciate the suggestions everyone.

    The Kenwood units are on my radar as well. They seem very APRS friendly, I wish they had C4FM support as there are a ton of Fusion repeaters in the midwest now.

    After I figured out that the FTM-100D would beacon APRS data on repeaters when the 144.39 side was inactive I resorted to a Mobilinkd bluetooth TNC on an HT. I really like the bluetooth connectivity to the APRS app on my cellphone or laptop, but dislike having to have two antennas as it's twice as much work getting into a parking garage and twice as much to break when I go under tree limbs; and I am really wanting to downsize to a single radio to do everything. I have found that with a 5watt HT I can reach digipeaters for 80% of the route from Tulsa, OK to Pecos, TX. Luckily the number of bored hams with lots of time on their hands in oilfield areas leads to there being pretty good repeater and APRS coverage.

    I am don't really have to have an SD card. I have been able to fit most of the repeaters I use as I travel through TX, LA, NM, OK, MO, AR in less than 200 memory slots this far. I just usually take the easy route and only pick the linked repeaters in the DFW and Houston areas, otherwise you could have a radio filled between just those two metro areas. I always have a laptop with me, so I can just dump in a CSV with chirp if needed.
  6. KD5BVX

    KD5BVX Subscriber QRZ Page

    I second the Kenwood TM-D710G - superb radio and great for APRS.
    WD9EWK and KD5RJZ like this.
  7. KB0MNM

    KB0MNM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Many of the Fusion Repeaters will automatically switch from C4FM to regular FM on signal receipt, if that is any comfort. As to the TM-G710, it would have a few benefits: 1. Compared to an HT, you can expect a much greater range in high-power mode. 2. Built-in APRS, available on few HTs. This frees up the PC for other tasks, and means ( unlike the TM-G700a ) that you do not need to buy a separate NEMA-port 4800 BPS ( similar to RS-232 RX, GND ) GPS. 3. Convenient form factor: Control head and radio size are easy to fit into the tightest of mobile temporary installations. Do not forget that remote speakers may be needed with any remote chassis radio. 4. Pretty reliable- Same basic chassis design as Kenwood TM-G707a, TM-D700a, etc. This means that a magnetic-mount antenna with all of the issues associated should not result in premature failure, provided that the SWR is initially tuned or tested as normal. My experiences with the TM-D700a: Purchased additional outboard speaker ( Yaesu SP-4, I think- it had a great noise filter inside ). Numerous broken antennas on electrically-actuated NMO mount ( no issue with radio ). Had one volume knob problem- temporarily replaced knob with same from TM-G707 until new knob arrived. No need to apply chemical to shaft- built-in metal insert kept new one retained. Regretted sale, forced by economics of cross-country move.
  8. VE3WI

    VE3WI Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My 2¢ worth:

    I've had a TM-D710G in my truck for a couple of years now & really like it. Controls & menus are much more intuitive than the Yaesu FT-8900R it replaced. APRS was easy to set up.

    To date, my only real beef is that the display is hard to read on a sunny day. I would have paid more for a display like my Garmin. And I think all mobiles should have an SD card reader. Why do we still have to lug a laptop out to our vehicle to dump in a set of repeaters?

    RJZ: hope you get one that works for you.

    Dave, VE3WI
    WD9EWK and KD5RJZ like this.
  9. K6CPO

    K6CPO Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want the ability to beacon APRS AND talk at the same time AND wish to keep the System Fusion® functionality, then the FTM-400XDR is your only choice. I ran into this problem with the FTM-100 and replaced it with a 400 in my truck in short order. The 100 is now my 2m/70cm base radio in the house, where APRS is less important.
    KD5RJZ likes this.
  10. KJ4ADN

    KJ4ADN Ham Member QRZ Page

    LOL .... that's the term my boss used, "It better not look like a CB Antenna...!" the antenna is short, with a center loading coil - as for the Radio's "Head" it's far from a CB looking radio. There is no BIG CHROME RADIO sitting on the dash, on the seat or sliding around as I drive around the mountains. I did a LOT with CB radios & antennas as a kid, but quit altogether when the "channels" got filled up with perverted idiots, running illegal power and challenging each other to fights. (yes... I still have several CB radios, some I really liked, all of them are AM/SSB... use them any more...? nope!) BTW... my boss says what I have looks nice. Next week, I'll be covering for a guy on vacation... into the depths of cellular no-man's-land.

    Our FTM-400XDR's have been especially useful for KJ4ADQ & I. We set up APRS as memory slot #1 on the 2nd receiver, so we can turn it on and off by changing to a different memory slot - easy! I did take apart the microphone and replace that springy foam with a short spring from an ink pen.. a little epoxy, and done! It's got a nice feel to the talk bar now. We've used the micro-SD swapout for a couple of long trips - that alone really sold me on it. Buy 3-4 of them cheap, program them up, label them, and pop in what you need for your trip, memory restore, and off you go.

    KJ4ADN - Bill

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