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canav844 12-22-2009 3:11 AM

What is your APRS Setup?
I'm looking into taking the time effort and spare $ and assembling an APRS setup, initially I'm planning on just starting with the GPS beacon in the car; and depend upon how smoothly that goes, getting more complex from there. Are there certain TNCs that are easier to work with than others?

What are you using (Transceiver, TNC, etc.)?
How do you like it?
Do you have any photos?


What are you using it for (messaging, GPS beacon, view other nearby HAMs)?

(This seemed more HAM specific, so I didn't think it fit in as well in some of the photo/install threads)

W9BU 12-22-2009 5:25 AM

I have three configurations that I use in my vehicle:

1. W9RXR-9 -- Argent Data T2-135 APRS TNC installed in an Alinco DR-135 radio. The T2 gets its GPS data from a Deluo puck GPS receiver. This is my day-to-day "dumb tracker" configuration.

2. W9RXR-7 -- Kenwood TM-D 710 which is connected to a Garmin GPSmap 276C. This configuration lets me see stations around me (data on the Kenwood screen, map locations on the Garmin screen). This is also my back-up tracker if the T2 fails. The Garmin uses an external antenna and is hardwired to the vehicle for power. The Garmin is mounted to the vehicle dashboard with a RAM mount and is easily reached with my left hand while driving.

3. W9RXR-12 -- IBM ThinkPad T23 laptop computer running UI-View32. The serial port on the laptop is connected to the T2 and uses the KISS protocol for communications. One of the USB ports on the laptop is connected to the Garmin via a USB-to-serial converter. The Garmin serial output is electrically paralleled between the Kenwood and the USB converter. On the laptop, I run Franson's GPSgate software so the GPS data can be shared between multiple programs. That way, UI-View gets GPS data and I can also run Delorme's TopoUSA for topo maps and trip routing. UI-View is set up with the Pmap server so I get pan and zoom street maps in UI-View. This configuration gives me a full-featured APRS station with the ability to handle APRS messages and objects. Because of the equipment and complexity, I usually only run this configuration when I am traveling or working a public service event (marathons, bike rides, etc.).

All of this equipment is mounted in a Ford Expedition using a Jotto Desk center console in place of the stock console, an additional box off the back of the Jotto Desk console that I built from MDF, and a RAM computer mount. The Kenwood is wired to a Larsen NMO2/70B antenna on the roof and the Alinco is wired to a Larsen NMOQB antenna also on the roof. Additionally, I have a Kenwood TK-790H and a Uniden BCD996T in the console each wired to their own antennas on the roof. Sorry, I don't have any photos at this time.

bReed11091 12-27-2009 1:06 PM

For KD8FJI-9, I use a Kenwood TM-D710A in my vehicle with a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx. I recommend buying any Garmin GPS interface cable from a retailer rather than making your own.

petnrdx 12-28-2009 8:07 PM

I have been on APRS in different combinations for about 15 yrs.
As one of the above stations, I have had both "trackers" and "full" stations.
I thot I would use the "full" station more, as it was originally conceived by its "inventor" (Bob Bruninga) with messaging and status being the main focus.
But, I found that I just didn't use the full system enuf to keep up with it.
I have made many trips across the whole US, and when doing that the messaging, etc. of the "full" station is handy.
But, it became more work than it was worth to me.
I ALWAYS have a tracker on my car when it is running. I use an old IC-2AT (cheap) and a TinyTrak III as my encoder. Makes a easy cheap durable tracker.
For a "full" setup, I use a Compaq laptop, a KANTRONICS KPC-3+ and an old Maxtrac.
For just a partial "messaging" station, I use the D7 handheld.
I have put together maybe 25 or 30 tracker systems for people, and I REALLY like the TinyTraks.
I have heard that there are other "encoders" that work well also.
Figure out which you are really wanting.

newsphotog 12-29-2009 2:16 AM

For K0KDS-7, I once used a 75-watt 2-meter rig Icom V8000 connected to a TinyTrak4 and a Byonics GPS. It was a "dumb tracker" meaning that it did nothing but poop out a beacon every so often.

So, I got sick of that, because I decided I wasn't furthering the APRS network in my area if I can't interact with others or others can't interact with me. There was a whole world of APRS I was missing.

I manned up and got a Kenwood TM-D710. Now I use it not only for broadcasting my position to others, but for tracking my buddies, sending/receiving messages, getting weather conditions, weather warnings, road hazards, all that jazz. One of my favorite things about APRS is that people broadcast the frequencies and other information for local repeaters. So if you're in an unfamiliar area and you don't have any local repeaters programmed in, you just look for the nearest repeater in the station list and click the "tune" button on the D710 and it'll tune right to that repeater with the offset and PL correctly set. I must say, it is a traveling ham's best friend. It's a shame more people don't take advantage of ALL of APRS' capabilities.

bsdam 12-29-2009 12:16 PM

I've got a Kenwood TH-D7A that is interfaced with a Trimble Placer 450, powered by a 12v 4Ah SLA. It's a surprisingly portable combination (at least in a back pack). I also purchased a bunch (15 or so?) ET-102 SIRF GPS modules on eBay from a seller for $2.50/ea IIRC. Initial testing indicates great performance from a very small unit.

I also have a OpenTracker 1+ from Argent Data Systems, I've interfaced it to countless radios and it works great. I highly recommend them if you are looking for something simple, cheap and reliable. The kit is easy to assemble and configuration is a snap.

I've been looking at the D710 but probably won't entertain something like that until (if) the prices drop a bit.

I am really impressed with the D7A (G 2.0), great radio, aprs tracker and packet tnc.

I'll take some photos of my setup in a bit..


w2lie 12-29-2009 5:13 PM

my simple mobile setup is an Argent OT2m and a Garmin Nuvi 350.
Both tied together show me my surrounding APRS activity, I tx and rx messages and bulletins, and when I hook it up to a spare 2m radio - its a very affordable setup.

I purchased the Nuvi used on Amazon for under $100, or you can find them referbed every so often on Radio Shack for about the same price.

ve3zo 12-30-2009 2:13 PM

Using a TM-D710 in the car I have been using the radio for 2 years... I love it

KC9AXZ 12-30-2009 10:13 PM

Have Kenwood D710A ----> Radio Shack (Delorme) DigiTraveler
Also have a Kenwood D7A

Had Yaesu FT-8800R ----> Tiny Trak3 ----> DigiTraveler

If you plan to really USE APRS you want the Kenwood D710 or D700. If you only want to be seen then go with a tracker system. You get the best bang for the buck going with a real APRS radio though. No need for a laptop with the Kenwoods (but you can if you want). The D710 also has a real nice "tune" function if you travel alot. Other D710's can send their current recieve frequency in a packet. There are a lot of people putting objects out for local repeaters to "tune" to also. I think if you're looking for a long term investment Kenwood is the way to go.

W9BU 12-31-2009 7:28 AM


Originally Posted by KC9AXZ (Post 1226913)
If you plan to really USE APRS you want the Kenwood D710 or D700....No need for a laptop with the Kenwoods (but you can if you want).

If you read my post earlier in this thread, then you know I run the gamut when it comes to APRS set-ups.

While the Kenwood APRS mobiles provide a lot of information to the user, they still lack some important APRS functionality--the ability to send messages is limited by the input method, no ability to send objects, and no ability to see positions on a map. To really access all that APRS can do, you still need some sort of computer.

However, the Kenwood and Yaesu APRS radios are a great way to get started in APRS. A Kenwood TM-D700 was my ticket to APRS. I bought it not for it's APRS features, but because it was the only dual-band mobile that met my needs. After I had it for a while, I started dabbling with the APRS features and, well, I got hooked. :lol:

dsviper22 01-01-2010 8:24 AM

I use a Yaesu VX-8R with the GPS module mounted on the radio or i'll mount it on the yaesu hand mike. Use it for APRS messaging and as a basic beacon.

WX4EMT 02-02-2010 10:15 PM

I have been using an Argent Data T2-135 / Alinco DR-135 TNC-Transceiver FMI interfaced to a Garmin Nuvi 350 for a couple of years now for the mobile system. Being able to actually "SEE" other stations on the GPS screen opened a lot of possibilities. But I wanted more (most HAMs do) so I took the plunge and bought the Kenwood TM-D710 / AvMap G5 combo. It's supposed to be the ultimate in mobile APRS. Hopefully I can install it this weekend and find out for myself.

For the house I'm setting up UI-View with a KPC 3+ into a Motorola Mostar, just waiting on the Mostar to get back from the shop being programmed and aligned. Next project is the Davis Vantage weather station. After that I'll pretty much be maxed out on APRS.

W9BU 02-02-2010 10:38 PM


Originally Posted by KG4LEO (Post 1251894)
But I wanted more (most HAMs do) so I took the plunge and bought the Kenwood TM-D710 / AvMap G5 combo. It's supposed to be the ultimate in mobile APRS.

I don't know if I'd call that set-up the ultimate.

My idea of the ultimate mobile APRS set-up involves running a full-featured APRS client, like UI-View or Xastir, on a laptop computer connected to a KISS TNC, like the T2-135.

WX4EMT 02-03-2010 9:00 AM

The laptop can connect to the serial port on the control head of the D710, no?

The setup you choose is ultimately dictated by the needs and finances of the operator. That's why I said........ "SUPPOSED to be" and not "DIFINITIVE". Yet another reason why I love this hobby, the possibilities are endless as is the debate.

W9BU 02-03-2010 4:47 PM


Originally Posted by KG4LEO (Post 1252060)
The laptop can connect to the serial port on the control head of the D710, no?

That is true. Reportedly, the TNC in the D710 does not have the small buffer problems that the D700 had.


Originally Posted by KG4LEO (Post 1252060)
The setup you choose is ultimately dictated by the needs and finances of the operator...Yet another reason why I love this hobby, the possibilities are endless as is the debate.

Absolutely. I don't run the laptop all the time because I don't like leaving my vehicle parked with the computer visible and it's a bit inconvenient to install/uninstall the computer. Most of the time, I let the T2-135 do it's thing and monitor local APRS traffic on my D710/Garmin GPSmap 276C. I can see the locations of the stations on the Garmin's map, but I sending messages with the Kenwood is a pain and creating objects is not possible.

WX4EMT 02-03-2010 5:39 PM

That's one thing I have to give the Nuvi 350 / T2-135 setup, sending messages is a snap. I haven't installed the G5 / D710 yet, that's this weekend's project.

kayn1n32008 01-26-2012 7:24 PM

Command list for NUVI 350
So I have taken the plunge into APRS, currently I have an OT3m (yes it is a '3') and it is interfaced to a NUVI 350 using a VX-170 for the RF connection.

With help from a member here on the board I have also loaded Slicerwizards TAFL database as a custom POI file. In addition I also have the complete Alberta and Saskachewen ham radio repeater database from loaded.

All I m missing now is a command list to be able to utilize the messaging features of the Dispatch mode of the 350. is there a list published? If so where can I find it?

Jay911 01-26-2012 7:43 PM

Right now, I have a Kenwood TM-D710A radio in my car (VE6SRT-9, see sig), hooked up (use the term loosely, for the wires are just twisted together and wrapped in electrical tape) to a Garmin GPS18x. The radio is also connected to the car's electrical system thru a cig lighter adapter, so I have 2 devices via cig lighter adapters I don't really want to do that way (the radio and the GPS). I already have a Garmin nuvi, an HP1 scanner, and another GPS18 for the HP1, all plugged in too.

Crawling its way to me at a glacial rate from HRO New Hampshire (shipped Jan 16, still in Jamaica NY as of tonight) is a GPS-710 from Green Light Labs, which will solve the issue of the cobbled-together GPS18x - and at the same time I'll be connecting the radio to the battery with an APO3 automatic-power-off relay inline, so all that will be removed from the cig lighter plug-in.

I have an Argent T2-301 as well for playing around with. It runs as either VE6SRT-12 or VE6RWM-1 depending on what I'm doing with it. Probably going to end up being VE6SRT-8 ultimately, plugged into my other vehicle as a tracker with an Argent GPS or the extra GPS18x.

Oh, and I guess VE6SRT is also up, using AGWTracker on my Win7 PC at home, currently connected only to the Internet (no RF).

I was going to use the T2-301 as a digipeater (hence the RWM-1 callsign) at my fire station, because the digis nearest me have spotty coverage in that area and points south (towards my home), but even hooked up to the spare antenna I have at the station, it doesn't help out. I think I need to repurpose one of my old VHF Maxtracs and hoof it up our radio tower with an antenna. The half-broken control panel I just replaced on my D710 (volume knobs broken off) would cover the necessary work as a digi TNC when hooked up to the Maxtrac, am I right?

LtDoc 01-26-2012 9:08 PM

I use a 'Byonic's "RTG" transmitter in the car. It furnishes a position report for the car from an attached GPS receiver, and does the reporting without tying up a radio. For monitoring APRS I use a lap-top and a scanner through the AGW sound card/TNC program and UI-View. It does just what I want it to do, so don't plan on changing anything (yet).
I also have a scanner/computer for monitoring in the house. I'm only interested in 'RF' since it's closer to "real time" than internet reports. I also have had a Kenwood '700 in the house for APRS, but recently 'up-graded' to a '710. It can do anything that the computer based reporting/display can do, but the maps, size, etc, from the computer based systems are just easier to see/read than a radio based system.
All of this is for local use during weather 'events' and such. It does just what I want it to do. It's not the "best" way of doing things, but that "best" depends a lot on just what you want to do, right?
- 'Doc

(That old '700 was moved to a high spot and is now an APRS digipeater. Moving it and doing that made for a very nice excuse for the '710! I also have a '71A in the car. Swap control heads with that '710 and there's no difference between that 71A and a 710. I think that's nice too. It ain't easy being this cheap!)

W9BU 01-27-2012 6:58 AM


Originally Posted by kayn1n32008 (Post 1689827)
All I m missing now is a command list to be able to utilize the messaging features of the Dispatch mode of the 350. is there a list published? If so where can I find it?

Download the OT2m manual from Argent Data. Page 12 talks about how to use the Garmin Fleet Management Interface with the OT2m. The command reference starts on Page 25. Yes, this is the OT2m manual, but the instructions and commands should still work with your OT3m.

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