Sunday, May 27, 2012

Inovative Solutions

With a big part of my day spent away from home, I like to stay connected, and for the past several years, I have been running APRS in my mobile.

APRS is digital communications information channel for Ham radio. As a single national channel, it gives the mobile ham a place to monitor in any area, at any time to capture what is happening in ham radio in the surrounding area. Announcements, Bulletins, Messages, Alerts, Weather, and of course a map of all this activity including objects, satellites, nets, meetings, Hamfests, etc.

For some time, I have been wanting to have the capability of running a APRS mapping system in my mobile with telemetry being downloaded from my Kenwood TM-D710A, that also includes a GPS 710 receiver. I recently downloaded APRSIS32 on to my netbook, that would allow the netbook to control the tnc built in to the Kenwood TM-D710A operating panel.With APRSIS32 running on my netbook, I have been pleasantly surprised by how well it works, and how many features it implements. It uses OpenStreetMap to render the maps. You can do messaging, APRS email, iGate, station tracking, callsign lookup on QRZ, and just about anything else you want it to. APRSIS32 uses the Internet or RF as a signal source, and its a real pleasure to have a real keyboard for messenging. So whether or not your mobile, or using your home computer, it's worth downloading and trying out the software.

My photos of the various displays depicts some of the information that is displayed on the screen of my Kenwood TM-D710A as information is received as raw packets from the radios of other Hams, digipeaters, and Igates.As you can see, the information is of importance to a Ham who may be from out of town and mobile, and is looking for a local repeater that is monitered by Hams in the imediate area. Or possibly you are looking for a local coffee klatch to meet some of the Hams whom you have talked to on one of the local repeaters. Another screen is displaying the frequency of the SARA Trunk, that has a IRLP NODE 1260 available for Internet linking. Other radio screens show local Hams and in this case that would be my handheld radio VE6AB-7, indicating that it is beaconing through my mobile VE6AB-9 set up as a mobile digipeater, which in turn is displaying the address for my website, or can display different information on any given day, depending on what information that I wish to get out to the ham community.

Normally you would not see your own mobile (VE6AB-9) beaconing on the screen of your own radio, but in this case, I had my netbook connected to my TM-D710A, and its actually my netbook connected to my TM-D710A, that also has a callsign (VE6AB) that allowed me to do this. In actuallity, I am beaconing with three radios, and if you were to bring up on your computer, you would see my two radios and my netbook (TM-D710A - VE6AB-9, TS-VX-8R - VE6AB-7, and my netbook - VE6AB) depicted on Google maps. That's when I'm beaconing of course. While mobile and with my Kenwood TM-D710A receiving beacons, expanding on anyone of these items, allows me to see more of the information being provided. There are more screens available showing more information of interest to you, including a screen showing your heading, speed of your vehicle, your lat/long cordinates, and other information to help you navigate safely.

Again, APRS is about getting information out there for other Hams, and keeping you informed as to what is happening in the local Ham community.Oh, one last thing about the information depicted, once you highlight the object of interest, you can navigate to where that coffee klatch is being held, or whatever object, by simply clicking the apropriate button, similar to hitting go on your Garmin Nuvi to begin navigation. If you look at the bottom right corner of the various screens, you see the compass rose, with the direction and distance from your location to the object of interest. This is possible of course, because of the GPS receiver attached to the back of the control-head of my TM-D710A.

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