New APRS iGate Hardware

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SirSmith

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My immediate area is out of nominal range of an iGates so I have been thinking about putting one together myself. I think I'd like to start as receive only and then make it a digirepeater later. It has taken me a while to figure out the steps but I think I'm also to the point of committing. My question is about hardware. I was thinking about just buying a cheap 2m radio as it would be dedicated to that purpose. What are your feelings about the Kenwood TM-281A?

Also for a TNC would the Signalink SLUSBRJ1 be appropriate? No where does it specifically states it supports AX.25.

Last question is that the computer I am planning to hook this up to I am already using to stream a radio reference feed. As the TNC acts as an external soundcard via USB does this allow me to run both with the same computer. (It is a Dell XPS running Windows XP).

Thank you!
W8TDS
 

ve3zo

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I use UIview for my APRS Igate. It's ran flawlessly for 5 years, however the software is not and probably never will be upgraded. There are many add ons for it though
 

kayn1n32008

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For $95 buy an OT3m from Argent Data, make or buy an interface cable hook it up to your radio. Configure aprsis32 to use the usb port on the OT3m and it will gate your packets to the 'net. VERY simple to set up, and if you need a local Digipeater the OT3m will do that, with simple setting changes to the OT3m.

Myself and a couple of others are creating a rather large network of Digipeaters in Northern Alberta using the OT2/3m devices. They work well and allow remote configuring, telemetry and remote control (a member here uses his OT2m to monitor his battery stack at his cabin, remotly turn on and off his x-band repeater as well as fridge and heat). I figure, not including radio, power supply, and antenna, you can have an iGate up and running for less than $120USD. No need to re-invent the wheel. Argent Data makes great products and Scott is great to deal with. www.argentdata.com although the store only shows the OT2m it is discontinued and replaced with the OT3m, similar size with more capabilities.

Also, if you have a D710 or have the ability to send and receive messages, then make it a 2-way iGate so that you can send AND receive messages from other users.
 
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AK9R

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I do not recommend using a soundcard-based TNC, like the Signalink, for a permanent digipeater or I-gate. It's not that it won't work, but I think a hardware-based TNC, will be more reliable in the long run.

The TNC-X is a nice device, but it's just a KISS TNC. Nothing fancy and it will require you to run an APRS client program that does KISS. Of course, that's necessary for digipeating anyway.

Argent Data's OT3 product line is very new and looks like it has all the right stuff. I've been an Argent Data customer for several years. Great products, though Scott does run into product supply problems from time to time. A possible consideration that hasn't yet been mentioned is Argent's T2-135 product. This is a board that goes inside an Alinco DR-135T 2m radio. Works great and can be configured as a standalone digipeater.

Byonics also makes good products and their TinyTrak 4 can be configured as a KISS TNC.

Of course, the old stand-by is the Kantronics KPC3. New ones are too expensive, in my opinion, compared to the TNC-X, OT3m, and TT4. If you can find a used one for less than $50, go for it. For a standalone digipeater, try to find one with the version 8.3 or later firmware.

There was a Polish ham who showed an interesting device at the APRS forum at the Dayton Hamvention last year. It was an APRS digipeater, weather station encoder, and I-gate all in one package. Just connect a radio and the Internet. I know a guy who has one, but he's never done much with it. Google doesn't turn up anything, so the product may have died.

As for radios, most any 2m radio will do. The radios that have a jack for connecting a TNC (typically a 6-pin mini-DIN connector) are easiest to wire and they give you direct access to the discriminator audio which will help the performance of your TNC.

As for software, UI-View is the long-standing king of Windows APRS clients. The author died a few years ago and asked that the source code be destroyed upon his death. That means UI-View is no longer being developed, but the user community is very strong and there's still lots of support for the program.

APRSIS/32 is the new kid on the block. This is a very capable program with lots of features, including I-gating and digipeating, and it's currently being actively developed. I have pretty much dumped UI-View for APRSIS/32.
 

SirSmith

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Thank for all the information! With the OT3m and APRSIS32 would I also still be able to use the same computer for the radio reference feed? Thanks.
 

kayn1n32008

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Should be able to, you do not need a sound card if you use the OT3m. The OT3m Uses either a serial port or a USB port.
 

KE4NYV

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I do not recommend using a soundcard-based TNC, like the Signalink, for a permanent digipeater or I-gate. It's not that it won't work, but I think a hardware-based TNC, will be more reliable in the long run.
Agree 100% Anything that is going to be setup and expected to run for any length of time should be standalone and robust. Anything software based is going to be buggy at best. Stick with a hardware solution.

The TNC-X is a nice device, but it's just a KISS TNC. Nothing fancy and it will require you to run an APRS client program that does KISS. Of course, that's necessary for digipeating anyway.
I stand by all five of my TNC-X units. I have units from the first model through the current revision. Rock solid hardware and John at Coastal Chipworks is a great guy! I have been friends with him for years.

Argent Data's OT3 product line is very new and looks like it has all the right stuff. I've been an Argent Data customer for several years. Great products, though Scott does run into product supply problems from time to time. A possible consideration that hasn't yet been mentioned is Argent's T2-135 product. This is a board that goes inside an Alinco DR-135T 2m radio. Works great and can be configured as a standalone digipeater.
Another great option. The previous Tracker2 and now the OT3 are really feature rich and can cover most applications in the single box. The real nice thing about these are the dual serial port support for GPS, WX Station, ect. Scott with Argent Data is also a great guy! I have been friends with him as long as John.

There was a Polish ham who showed an interesting device at the APRS forum at the Dayton Hamvention last year. It was an APRS digipeater, weather station encoder, and I-gate all in one package. Just connect a radio and the Internet. I know a guy who has one, but he's never done much with it. Google doesn't turn up anything, so the product may have died.
I'm willing to bet it was Mateusz with Microsat and he showed you the WX3IN1. The WX3IN1 is a digipeater, iGate (standalone) and WX Station Gateway all in a single box. The iGate feature is the most attractive to me since you only need a LAN (CAT5) connection from it to the internet to create an iGate. No separate computer required! We recently became a US reseller for Microsat and we have the WX3IN1 available through our website (not complete, but is posted so orders can be submitted):

http://www.rpc-electronics.com/microsat-wx3in1.php

As for radios, most any 2m radio will do. The radios that have a jack for connecting a TNC (typically a 6-pin mini-DIN connector) are easiest to wire and they give you direct access to the discriminator audio which will help the performance of your TNC.
Again, agree 100% with the packet port comment. Any radio with the six pin mini din packet port is a perfect match for packet...that's what it's there for! The Kenwood TM-271 was a perfect radio for this. Even though it's Euro twin brother had this port, the US version did not. However, the main board still had the solder pads for the connection. You only needed to add a pigtail with the female mini din connector and you could add this function to the radio. Sadly, the replacement radio, the TM-281 does NOT have the port AND the pads were removed. Kenwood got smart and realized everyone was buying the $150 TM-271 and adding in the port for nothing with a scrap PS/2 extension cable. Normally they reserve the packet port option for the higher dollar (usually dual band) radios.

APRSIS/32 is the new kid on the block. This is a very capable program with lots of features, including I-gating and digipeating, and it's currently being actively developed. I have pretty much dumped UI-View for APRSIS/32.
Lynn has done a phenomenal job with APRSIS-CE and continues to expand it! The main point here is, it's ACTIVELY BEING DEVELOPED! So many people bought into other clients (WinAPRS, MacAPRS, ect.)just have support completely dropped and pulled out from under them. Even better, Lynn has not asked for a single cent for his work. He really wins the gold star for all of the work he has DONATED to the APRS community.
 
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AK9R

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The previous Tracker2 and now the OT3 are really feature rich and can cover most applications in the single box. The real nice thing about these are the dual serial port support for GPS, WX Station, ect.
Jason, I know you know, but in case it's not obvious to others, the T2-135 is also a dual-serial port device. Port A is the DB-9 on the back of the radio and Port B is the "DATA" jack on the front of the radio, though it is limited to GPS use (and it provides power for a GPS hockey puck).

We recently became a US reseller for Microsat and we have the WX3IN1 available through our website (not complete, but is posted so orders can be submitted):

http://www.rpc-electronics.com/microsat-wx3in1.php
Good deal. My friend who bought one last year had some trouble getting his order shipped from Poland.
 

W5BFF

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Actually, we are: http://www.rpc-electronics.com/microsat-wx3in1p2.php

...and I have several in stock right now, ready to ship!
AMAZING!!!!

I got a wild hare (or hair?) recently and decided to put up a digipeater. Since I'm gonna erect a small tower for the project, I figured I'd add a wx station. Of course, I miraculously have DSL at the house, so why not go ahead and pipe it through to the net? I started looking into an iGate.

Then, I got turned on to BBHN, and figured I'd add a node. After all, I wouldn't wanna put up a tower *JUST* for an APRS digipeater, right? Well, since I have DSL, I figured I'd pipe the BBHN node to the internet, as well!

After more brain storming, I decided I'm gonna add a BBHN node piped through to the internet, and route the iGate from inside the BBHN! After all, they're both one-way-to-the-internet HAM services!!!

THIS is the appliance that will make it easiest!

...so Merry Christmas to me, you're shipping me one??? :D

Put one back for me. I'll be ordering one soon. VERY soon!
 

KE4NYV

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AMAZING!!!!

...so Merry Christmas to me, you're shipping me one??? :D

Put one back for me. I'll be ordering one soon. VERY soon!
We have more in stock now and ready to ship. Get your order(s) in now. Typical shipping in the US is 2-3 days.
 
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Again, agree 100% with the packet port comment. Any radio with the six pin mini din packet port is a perfect match for packet...that's what it's there for! The Kenwood TM-271 was a perfect radio for this. Even though it's Euro twin brother had this port, the US version did not. However, the main board still had the solder pads for the connection. You only needed to add a pigtail with the female mini din connector and you could add this function to the radio. Sadly, the replacement radio, the TM-281 does NOT have the port AND the pads were removed. Kenwood got smart and realized everyone was buying the $150 TM-271 and adding in the port for nothing with a scrap PS/2 extension cable. Normally they reserve the packet port option for the higher dollar (usually dual band) radios.
I don't think there is currently a single band radio sold in North America with a mini-din port. The "standardized" port is kinda useless if you have to buy a $350 dual band radio to use it. That's why more digipeaters are built out of surplus commercial rigs that cost $20. I know people who ran older GE Mastr II, GE Custom MVP, Motorola Mitrek, and Motorola Micors as dual duty digis. Two TNC's, and you could have a traditional packet digi and then on a secondary channel (with secondary use) you'd channel it for APRS.

Honestly, It's hard to beat a surplus 16 pin Motorola Radius series radio with the 16 pin to mini-din adapter offered from Argent Data for $8 or a headless high power Spectra (which had a standard DB25) for digi use.
 
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