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Author Topic: Practical messaging on UHF/VHF?  (Read 888 times)

Posts: 54

« on: October 17, 2017, 11:54:59 AM »

I'm interested to hear what features are practical for messaging on 2 meter or 70cm.

Normally I lean toward the idea that amateur radio isn't just a consumer product or service that one buys and uses, but I'm going to be in need of practical coms this winter and 2m fits the bill.  It is likely I will cease to have a cell phone and I will be working on a 10,000' mountain where cellular service is poor or unavailable anyway.  The mountain does have 2m repeaters for amateurs on the summit and my wife and home are in the valley below.  I will probably be working on the face that is 90 degrees to the valley so simplex could work or it might not.

I have a 2m mobile with 5/8 vertical and a no-nonsense 2m HT.  I'm thinking of putting another mobile in the house for a base and 3x5/8 vertical on the roof (Diamond F23).  My wife has a Technician's license.

At the moment I'm expecting to just use phone, but looking into messaging.  I played around with APRS for a few years but didn't really do anything with it other than send GPS coordinates to internet gateways to make tracking maps.  I know there are dozens of ways to message from a PC at home, but the only practical thing for me would be done via an HT.  I looked into APRS messaging via HT and it looks incredibly lame.  This is the screen from a FT2DR:

Most HT's don't even have touchscreens and so there is just the numeric keypad or dial wheels to encode text.

So do I understand right that this is the current situation and there's really no better option for radio messaging without lugging around some kind of TNC with a keyboard?

If simplex doesn't work out, I won't be able to continuously listen to all the repeater traffic.  I have a job to do.  The repeater is already using PL.  Is there a way I can layer an additional CTCSS or DCS tone using an HT so only my wife's transmissions through the repeater open my HT's squelch?

Posts: 5250


« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2017, 09:15:20 PM »

Selective signaling seems to be what you'd want, but make sure whatever scheme you choose (read: brand specific) make sure it can be used/enabled at the same time as PL/CTCSS.  I know on less capable radios you only get to pick one, and if you need to go through a repeater with PL you'll need to encode PL *and* transmit your selective call code/tone.  The least common denominator scheme would be DTMF, but sometimes repeaters will mute DTMF so you'd have to test it on the repeater you'll use.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Posts: 1561

« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2017, 11:41:27 AM »

NEVBEN, you might be interested in reading my article that I that was published here on eham on May 6 2015....

Are Today’s HT's Still Behind The Times?

"Are today's HT's still behind the times?

The reason for the article is because while today's HT's are technologically advanced than they were 20 or 30 years ago. They are still missing some key features that would come in great use for times of emergency or very helpful in search and rescue or just some ham related event.

If one wanted to get information out from one area to another with photos of a flood, aftermath of a tornado or an ice storm and the cell towers are down and so is the Internet. Important information still needs to get out. Having the ability to send send lists of items needed, photos or even maps with an HT would not only be useful. But potentially lifesaving. This is the reason and the basis for the article. An HT with built in text messaging, file transfer and image sending and receiving could end to saving lives or property. I think, in my opinion that these features should be included in all new HT's. Not for photos selfies or transferring music, but valuable data in times of an emergency.

Despite all the great exciting new digital radios that hit the market. Why is it that we still cannot buy an HT that has the same ordinary features like a $50 Smartphone has?

Why is it in 2015 we still require outboard camera mics, equipment, software, adapters, interfaces, PC's or tablets to connect to our HT's to send text, photos, videos or send files like a simple $50 Smartphone does.

Yaesu's FT1DR HT can send pictures with the optional camera mic . Great, right? Well not really. You cannot view the photo someone sent from their FT1DR to your FT1DR. Adding to frustration and expense is the extra $129 cost of this accessory. Why did they make an HT where you can send pictures but cannot receive with it?

With Icom's ID51A HT you can send photos, videos, do text, send files. That is if you cough up the extra $70 for the optional OPC-2350LU cable and then have an Android Tablet. And (according to Icom's literature) you need the newer 50th Anniversary Edition or the "Plus" edition.

Why couldn't Icom or Yaesu include a camera built in their latest radios and added a touch display like a smartphone has?

Here is where I think they missed the boat. Icom and Yaesu both could have exploited and capitalized on their different digital offerings by including a built in touch keyboard, camera and common USB output. Hams who might have been on the fence with either D-STAR or Fusion HT's probably would have opted for the HT with built in handy features such as text and photo sending. Just like their Smartphones in 2015.

Well how long have cell phones been able to 'on the fly' text? A quick Google search shows the late 1990's. What about Camera Phones? Wiki says since 1997. It used to be that ham radio was considered to be the forefront of technological advances. In this case, we are 18 years late to the game, if not longer.

Modern Smart Phones have been around since 2007 maybe earlier. However Techhive cites smart phones being around a lot longer, since 1993.

Now there have been some earlier attempts by Kenwood to go in this direction. Kenwood introduced the Visual Communicator VC-H1 about 1998. It was an expensive add on SSTV unit for Kenwood radios.

Kenwood was also the head of the game with HT's with USB on their THD72A model. And for Packet Radio? Kenwood has several of their HT's have built in packet and been out since the 1990's.

Well what can we do in the meantime? How about an all in one compact device could be made that would make the "Rube Goldberg" approach much less tacky and simplistic without wires and adapters hanging all over the place.

The solution might be an inexpensive Raspberry Pi device with built in small QWERTY keyboard, built in camera, Smartphone screen with software that can take ANY HT and enable it to send and receive text, send, receive and view pictures, send and receive files with any HT Analog or Digital.

Make it compact enough to slide any HT onto the side of the unit and make it an all in one device that could be carried anywhere.

Your thoughts? "


The internet and cellphone networks are great until they go down, what then? Find out here.,111948.0.html

Using Windows 98 For Packet...

Posts: 69

« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2017, 07:39:40 PM »

Mesh Network for messaging like goTenna, openmarket, etc Problem might be isolation... not enough people in the area to support the mesh.

and then there is messaging via satellites  Probably expensive but most reliable I think.

Good luck and stay safe out there!

Posts: 9

« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 08:08:14 AM »

Wouldn't one of the digital modes solve this?

Not sure what the available repeaters support....

Posts: 498


« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2017, 11:03:07 AM »

Wouldn't one of the digital modes solve this?

DMR has a messaging function. D-Star will let you set up a short text string that goes out when you transmit; other than that, I don't think D-Star has that functionality like DMR.

APRS messaging is probably the closest we have to what the original poster was asking about, with the limitations on being a line of text and entered on the front panels and/or microphone keypads of APRS-ready radios. The Kenwood APRS-ready radios have the option to be connected to a computer/phone/tablet for other software to use the TNCs, but not the Yaesu APRS-ready radios.

APRS messages sent to recipients via call sign need to have something on to receive the message - an APRS-ready radio, or possibly some software/app on a computer or phone/tablet connected into the APRS network. The APRS network will attempt to locate the call sign of the intended recipient, and route the message over RF and - if needed - Internet to where the intended recipient's call sign last appeared. It isn't a store-and-forward system. I have sent and received APRS messages with other hams around the USA, and also with hams overseas.

I also use APRS messages to work other stations using orbiting packet digipeaters (ISS, NO-84, FalconSat-3, and NO-44 when operational). Most APRS-ready radios allow for prepared messages (sometimes referred to as "phrases") to be stored in the radio, and called up when you want to send them out. I keep a few messages ready to go to make these exchanges with other stations, but could also use them to send APRS messages if I needed to send updates to someone else - something I did a lot last year during ARRL's NPOTA activity, either through the terrestrial APRS network or through the orbiting digipeaters.

A very small e-mail message can also be sent from an APRS-ready radio, as long as the Internet gateway that receives the APRS message allows for e-mail messages to go to the Internet (some do, and some don't). Receiving very short e-mails from the Internet to your APRS-ready radio is possible, but requires some setup by the ham to allow e-mails from the Internet to enter the APRS network through a gateway.

To send more than small pictures, we need to have radios that get away from analog FM or the digital modes we currently use with limited data bandwidth. These radios would probably need to operate somewhere other than the traditional 2m or 70cm bands, where bandwidth is available. Icom's ID-1 1.2 GHz D-Star radio had 128kbps data capability and an Ethernet socket on the radio, and some D-Star systems include 1.2 GHz data to take advantage of that. But this was in a mobile radio, as opposed to a form factor like an HT. Is there any market for this functionality in HTs? Maybe. Then again, many are going toward the cheap Chinese-made FM HTs, and complain about the prices for HTs with more functionality like the TH-D74. The Chinese-made DMR radios may be trying to change that trend, but I'd rather not buy so many radios to try all of these modes. SDR may take care of this in the future, but someone has to bring the radio to market... a really small worldwide market for radios.


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK - Twitter: @WD9EWK

Posts: 583

« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2017, 02:40:17 PM »

Since the average person can talk at well over 200 words
per minute, you are hard pressed to beat that efficiency in most digital modes used by hams.

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