Looking for a mobile with APRS

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darg

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Hi Guys,

I'm planing on buying a mobile radio and since I'm doing a lot of off-roading I'm looking into a possibility to track my steps but also to as an emergency backup use the HAM as emergency communication tools and I think APRS is a good possibility to let my people know where I'm at. My first radio is the VX-8DR but I'm afraid the 5W power output will be not enough to bridge APRS into the receiver stations somewhere in the desert like Death Valley or in Moab so I was looking around for a mobile with at least 50W power and the possibility to have APRS with GPS in one device. Yaesus FTM-350R and IComs IC-2820H have dual VFOs and the possibility to upgrade it with GPS/APRS. Kenwood has only an add-on unit to normal radios which still needs a GPS so I think something like this is not what I want.
Further more it's important to have the radio somewhere under the seat and just the control unit mounted on a floor stand or so in the Jeep.
The FTM is pretty new and I have read about some issues with the first series of radios. I'm also not sure if there is a possibility to connect a seperate microphone to it since I'm not a fan of built in mics.
I'm still checking the ICom but I think it's similar to the Yaesu in regard to the features.
How is your experience with these two radios?
Are there any other units out which do the same, have dual VFO and VHF/UHF and maybe also 6m and 10m in?

Thanks

Axel
 

W9BU

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...so I was looking around for a mobile with at least 50W power and the possibility to have APRS with GPS in one device. Yaesus FTM-350R and IComs IC-2820H have dual VFOs and the possibility to upgrade it with GPS/APRS. Kenwood has only an add-on unit to normal radios which still needs a GPS so I think something like this is not what I want.
Kenwood TM-D710 has a built-in TNC with APRS functions. You will need to add a GPS receiver. If you already own a GPS receiver that can output NMEA GPS data over an RS-232 serial port (not USB), it can be connected to the D710 to provide GPS data to the TNC. If not, two possibilities are the Green Light Labs GPS-710 or puck-type GPS receiver like the Garmin GPS-18 or the Byonics GPS2. A puck GPS receiver will require a cable to provide power to the GPS and route data to the D710. I own a TM-D710 and I highly recommend it. It's been on the market long enough that the bugs are worked out and when Kenwood updates the firmware, it can be downloaded to the radio by the user.

Yaesu FT-350 also has a built-in TNC with APRS functions. There are optional internal or external GPS receivers available for this radio from Yaesu. By the time you buy the radio, the external GPS and the required cables, you will be way over the price of a TM-D710 plus a Byonics GPS and cable. Based on what I'm reading, the FT-350 has some issues that will probably be worked out in time. However, I don't think the firmware is user-upgradeable, so the radio would need to be sent back to Yaesu for any upgrades.

Icom IC-2820 is not an APRS radio. With a GPS receiver connected, it can send D-Star data with your position encoded, but it's not the same as APRS.

I'm also not sure if there is a possibility to connect a seperate microphone to it since I'm not a fan of built in mics.
The FT-350 comes with a hand mic.
 

darg

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Well, I did not consider the Kenwood since it seems to be more like an add-on, it's not integrated into the device it self like the Yaesu has. System-intergration is a lot better, especially in a car which might get extreme dirty or even partially flooded :)
The add-on for the Kenwood looks improvised even with the nice black cube. What is this TNC add-on from KW? Does that contai a GPS?
 

W9BU

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The Kenwood TM-D710 has a complete TNC with APRS features all built into the control head of the radio. The only thing missing is the GPS receiver. One option is the Green Light Labs GPS receiver, the black cube you are referring to. The other options would be an external GPS receiver. The guys who are using the Green Light Labs GPS receiver say it works fine, but I'm skeptical that it can get a clear enough view of the sky from within a closed vehicle. That's why I'd lean more towards an external GPS receiver no matter what radio you choose.

If you are looking at the Kenwood RC-D710, that is an add-on TNC with APRS that can be connected to any radio. The RC-D710 is essentially the control head for the TM-D710 but sold separately from the radio.

Once again, the TM-D710 is a complete radio and TNC with APRS. You only have to add a GPS receiver.
 

W9BU

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If all you are interested in is vehicle tracking (APRS can do much more), then there is another option:

The Argent Data T2-135 is a full-featured APRS TNC that mounts inside an Alinco DR-135T radio. Once you connect an external GPS receiver, the T2-135 is pretty much turn it on and forget about it. You could then pick the dual-band radio that suits your voice communications needs and let the Alinco radio with T2-135 handle your APRS tracking. Yes, it's two radios and two antennas, but it does give you more options.
 

darg

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Well, it's mainly tracking but also setting a message while on the way. The idea is, since my family is sitting in Europe and I'm wheeling here in US in areas where they can't reach me and you can get lost and things can go dirty pretty quick that it gives me a possibility to send a note to them via aprs.fi. The system needs a little power to get through the cells and I hope 50W are enough. Even when the car is not mobile anymore but I can walk, I can take a mobile antenna up a mountain/hill to get out in the cell system. I checked availability in the questionable areas and it should be fine.
 

N0IU

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The only issue I have with this is if you are going to be in the middle of Moab or Death Valley, none of this technology will help you if no one can hear you! To be honest, I am not familiar with the repeaters in those areas, but if this proposed system is for use in an emergency while off-roading, the first thing I would do is make sure there are working repeaters out there. After all, Death Valley got its name for a reason!
 

darg

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The only issue I have with this is if you are going to be in the middle of Moab or Death Valley, none of this technology will help you if no one can hear you! To be honest, I am not familiar with the repeaters in those areas, but if this proposed system is for use in an emergency while off-roading, the first thing I would do is make sure there are working repeaters out there. After all, Death Valley got its name for a reason!
I checked the repeater coverage and it's not as bad as I thought. The only thing you need is a little bit more power, like 30 or 50W for the APRS. Moab is pretty good covered and I was suprised but still a reality check is better.
Even when you don't have coverage directly in an area where you breake down somewhere you are leaving a trace and this can give a recovery team an advantage.
 

darg

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The nice thing with APRS is it's free. This service cost minimum 100 bucks and you can not talk via the system :)
 
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