APRS - my 2 options for Man Portable

I spend a lot of time when I am ‘playing radio’ in places that have little to no mobile phone service. This is both a blessing and a curse. It means that it likely means I am in an RF quiet environment from 3-30mhz on HF, however should I want to tell my non radio friends that I am running late but not to worry, or I want to check what repeaters are around me  - then I am out of luck.

 

There is a data mode called Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) - when it was created it was designed as a ‘intelligence gathering tool’. If you were plonked in another city with only your radio and a Terminal Node Controller (TNC), within 10min or so you could gather all you needed, from repeater information, local radio nets and know how to contact nearby stations in simplex as well as send 2 way short text messages. As time has gone on it has sadly fallen away to mostly be seen as a tracking device, showing where different stations are.

Just some of the fun things OTHER THAN TRACKING that I have found out is possible.


 

How do I use APRS when I am portable?

I always carry a small Android Tablet with me when I am operating portable for logging or using the raspberry pi for digital modes (http://wadeabout.com/blog/portablepi-a-raspberrypi-for-amateur-radio-portable-opers)  so since I am carrying the tablet it makes sense to use APRSDroid app. I connect a tiny match box sized Bluetooth TNC from http://www.mobilinkd.com/ - I have connection cables for all of my radios - my Yaesu FT60R (my primary HT), my back up HT a Baufeng UV5R, and a cable for my FT817ND which all allow connection to the Mobilinkd 2.

MobilinkdTNC1-Black.png

This allows me to send location data, receive repeater information, and send 2 way text messages.

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Recently I picked up a 1w APRS Radio with built in thermometer and GPS. Essentially is a fully self contained APRS unit.

1w APRS.jpg

 https://www.aliexpress.com/item/AP510-APRS-Tracker-VHF-with-GPS-Bluetooth-Thermometer-TF-Card-Support-APRSdroid-KISS-Model/32392912633.html it also has bluetooth inside so like the mobilinkd it can be used with the android tablet for 2 way communication, however in stand alone mode it beeps out location data based on your speed and recent movements so to not jam up the single APRS frequency.  I had read online that many spoke negatively about its meger 1 watt. I have not found an issue in residential Canberra. (VK1)

A look at a recent trip around the suburbs of Canberra. NB I am using an external Mag Mount antenna in the car.

A look at a recent trip around the suburbs of Canberra. NB I am using an external Mag Mount antenna in the car.

A zoomed out view of the stations that either digipeated or igated my 1w packets.

A zoomed out view of the stations that either digipeated or igated my 1w packets.

If you are still asking what is APRS? Here is a video by the guy who invented it: 

PowerFilm LightSaver Max

PowerFilm LightSaver Max - a rollable solar lithium battery  

Stats: 

18000 mAh

2x 2.5A USB

12v max 5A

Rollable solar panel

 

Solar charge 6-8 Hours

Wall charge (USB-C) 3 hours

My desired use:

Directly connect the LightSaver Max (LSM) to my Yaesu FT817ND for extended portable Amateur Radio operations, additionally allow charging of my mobile phone, my 7in android tablet used for logging in the field along with assorted miscellaneous charging such as GoPro for recording, my headlamp for night operations etc.

During the day time I would like to see if the, when unrolled and placed in the sun, will the solar panel pass an increased voltage spike along to the radio. Based on the provided specifications from the suppliers, the following use times are calculated:

LSM contains an 18000mAh battery that would allow

Yaesu 817ND

TX      2000mAh       9 hours total transmitting

RX      450mAh        40 hours total receiving

Charging               

iPhone 2900mAh       6 times from 0-100%

Tablet  3450mAh        5 times from 0-100%

Please note these are not combined or simultaneous use calculation but individual single item calculations.

 

Conclusion: as per the video the LSM performed brilliantly. Delivering a smooth quiet 12.2v for over 2 hours of use, plus charged my phone and tablet to get the battery down to 6/10.  

 

 

SOTA: Double Activation today - VK2/IL-001 & VK2/IL-005

Thanks to @VK1AD for the suggestion of 2 summits close by each other that allows a fast double activation.
As you can see from the log, the calls came thick and fast.

Odd trig point hidden amoung the bushes

Dual summit log

This was also my first activation with my partner. He wasn't too keen on the sitting around while I was having the fun.

I think I counted 5 or more S2S, in fact IL-005 was activated in short order with just S2S!

Thanks to Compton for trying both FM which I was just monitoring and 40m later too!

Fluffy carpet of soft moss

Did anyone follow on APRS? VK1FWBD-5. It if it useful for chasers to know my timing I am happy to run it again.

EDIT:  received a number of comments from other operators - NO I did not transmit on RF. I was using the phone network. Entirely within the rules. Checked multiple sources and multiple times. This was at the request of much more experienced and knowledgeable operators. 

Does this look like a rooster to you??

Does this look like a rooster to you??

Taking my summits to 13 since Mid Feb '17 when I was activated. I am out again tomorrow near UTC to keep an eye on sotawatch.

Wade
VK1FWBD.com

SOTA: VK1/AC-033 Bullen Range - Gates, Deer and DX- Summit 2/3 this weekendOTA:

Summit number 2 of 3 this weekend, I shall remember Bullen Ridge for 2 things - its gates (5) and the BIG Buck Deer that snuck on on me in the AZ while I was setting up.

This summit also saw my first DX stations on my own gear on 5w - 2 ZL stations.

LOG:

 

 

Some of the locals enjoying the afternoon sun:

QSO, including 2 ZLs

4 S2S 

Video:

Long video but its all good 

SOTA VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonan Summit 1/ 3 of the Easter weekend

I set myself the challenge of knocking over 3 summits over during the easter long weekend - and they are all more challenging than my others to date.

The Mt Mundoonan Summit is exactly 50km North of GPO Canberra city, just to the east of Yass NSW.

It was an absolute smashing day, no wind and with early low lying cloud - the summits was above them!

A great day on the radio, knocking over my 1st NSW summit along with my 1st of my weekend 3.

 

SOTA: VK1/AC-035 One Tree Hill

It was a weekend, so you guessed it. I was out playing radio.

IMG_1276.JPG

A few things waylaid me today by over an hour from my spot time, sadly this means 2 thing - Temp is up and the atmospheric layers have risen.

Never mind, more than activate. Managed more VK2s than ever before with even a station in Bondi coming back (VK2NNN from memory)

IMG_1275.JPG

Time(Z) Freq   Mode CS                    S2S?
0131 7.095MHz SSB VK3LED
0131 7.095MHz SSB VK3FQSO
0132 7.095MHz SSB VK2IO
0134 7.095MHz SSB VK2NNN
0136 7.095MHz SSB VK2YW
0138 7.095MHz SSB VK7FAMP VK7/SW-008
0142 7.095MHz SSB VK5IS
0145 7.095MHz SSB VK3WAR
0149 7.095MHz SSB VK1CT
0208 7.095MHz SSB VK3SQ
0218 7.095MHz SSB VK1DI
0228 7.095MHz SSB VK2UH
0318 145.9MHz FM VK1MA

There was not a breath of wind - was truly an amazing spot on the north border of ACT. I have included some pictures of the day. There wasnt much shade.. so I made my own!

A special thanks to the VK5 couple who waited on their summit before ceasing operations to work a summit to summit contact. 

IMG_1288.JPG

And YES there was another SNAKE! .. a big fat brown. Another top 10 deadliest.

 

SOTA: Activating Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048 - including a Snake!

2 summits in 2 days, starting to get regular SOTA contacts now

Turning around right on the heels of Activating Mt Majura yesterday, I thought I would give Mt McDonald a try. This trail was a different type to Mt Majura with less shade. I am also learning that I am hitting the trail as well as the airwaves too late in the day - noon local. Not only from a safety perspective but from a band conditions point of view.

This activation was a "just get it done" one for me. It was hot, dry and exposed. I only made 1 HF contact this trip. But 4 contacts is 4 contacts!

On the way back I even came across a small snake crossing the path. I think it was an Inland Taipan. Nothing to worry about, only the worlds' number 1 snake.

 

Log:

Time    Call    Band    Mode        Notes
01:34z  VK1MA   144MHz  FM      Matt S57 R59+
02:07z  VK7CW   7MHz    SSB     S52 R33
02:13z  VK1DI   144MHz  FM      S59 R59
03:00z  VK1XX   144MHz  FM      S59 R59+

Longest range contact on 5w again 700km: 

Gear:

HF:

Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND running on 5w using internal battery

Antenna: PAC12 QRP loaded vertical with ground radials

2m:

Radio: Baofeng UV5R, using SMA to BNC antenna connection

Antenna: 2m BNC antenna that came with the Yaesu FT-817ND